Many Evangelical Christians don't believe in climate change, despite the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence pointing to human activities as the cause of such changes as coral bleaching, sea level rising, greater intensity and frequency of major storms, and so on. In fact, only about one quarter of white evangelicals believe that global warming is caused by humans, and 24 percent believe it is "a serious problem." Compared with Americans as a whole, of which 70 percent believe climate change is occurring and 58 percent believe it is "caused mostly by human activities," these numbers are significantly low.
So why don't evangelicals believe that humans are causing our climate to change for the worse? Many believe that the fate of the Earth is in the hands of God, not humankind, and that the world will end when He decides, not by any other factors. They believe the idea that humans are causing climate change is "an affront to the concept of human existence based on God's intelligence design" -- another "liberal hoax" to take God out of the picture. For this group, it seems, statistics and scientific data aren't going to cut it, since nowhere in the Bible does it mention coral bleaching or warmer oceans.
However, the Bible does say something of particular note, in the book of Genesis: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion...over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." In the very first book of the Bible, the precedent is established that it is the responsibility of mankind to care for every living thing on the planet. The Earth and all its inhabitants, from the tiniest bacteria to the largest whales in the sea, was a gift given to mankind by God. By altering the Earth's climate and thus causing the extinction or endangerment of many species, we are disgracing this gift given to us by the Father himself. As climate scientist and evangelical Christian Dr. Katharine Hayhoe said, "if I say that I respect God, that I love God, and God has given us this incredible life-giving planet, then if I strip every resource at the expense of my poor sisters and brothers — one in six of whom die because of pollution-related issues, who are suffering and dying today — then I'm not somebody who takes the Bible seriously."
Thankfully, many evangelical Christians are pushing to take action against climate change. Organizations such as the Evangelical Environmental Network are practicing what they call "creation care," taking political action such as creating petitions and campaigning for clean source of energy in the name of protecting God's children from detrimental environmental factors caused by climate change. For example, in 2015, nearly 92,000 pro-life Christians from 21 affected states signed a petition demanding strong action to reduce pollution from leaks in our natural gas infrastructure and from venting and flaring" that leads to "birth defects, pre-term births, and low birth weight babies."
Though evangelicals seem not to be swayed by scientific data, glamorous models predicting different facets of climate change, and liberal arguments to pass policy harming businesses relying on pollution-creating practices, they are not a lost cause. Instead, it is the duty of environmentalists such as myself to present the facts in such a way that evangelicals will see how climate change ties in with their religion. We must remind these Christians to turn to their Bibles, as many do in times of doubt or distress, and read the word of God that encourages us to take action. The Earth was not given to man for us to destroy and denigrate it beyond repair; we must nurture the ecosystem and its inhabitants as God has nurtured us, and protect those who are weaker than ourselves, as God has protected us.