Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Do Mormons Have Their Head in the Sand Over Global Warming?

Based on my unscientific observation, it seems that very few Mormons believe that people have much effect on the warming of earth. Does this mean that most Mormons have their heads in the sand? Does it make our Church look a bit hickish?

I think it makes us look kinda smart.

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In a recent letter to the editor of Brigham Young University's Daily Universe, a writer bemoaned the supposed sad state of man-made global warming acceptance at BYU:
The denial of global warming seems to be epidemic in Utah. Even among students at BYU, the reality of global warming has been treated with skepticism and even animosity. I can’t help but to ask, “Why?”...
Why? Because we've already found the true

Most Mormons would love to drive a hybrid car or put up solar panels and wind turbines in our back yard--if someone can get them in our price range.

religion, and the Church of the Man-Made Warming Globe isn't it.

Mormon scientists responded to the above letter with the following:
We the undersigned have studied weather, climate and climate change for years — and we can state with certainty that there is no unanimous view among scientists on the matter of man-made catastrophic global warming.

The media and political activists have also promoted policies that attack American liberties and harm and kill people, by diverting...resources from far more urgent and worthy purposes, such as reducing poverty, malaria and malnutrition and improving the living standards for everyone.

The issue of global warming is not a war of “expertise.” It is, or should be, an objective study of scientific measurements and data — which can now confirm atmospheric CO2 plays at most a minor role in causing weather and climate change.

BYU is an institution of higher learning that should promote the seeking of truth. Similarly, science is an objective assessment of hypotheses, testing concepts against actual data and observations; it is not a matter of votes, popularity or “virtual unanimity.” We are all harmed, if we allow our universities or our science to be politicized.

Put succinctly, Mormons want truth--not politics masquerading as such.

I can think of only one or two Mormons I know who think that people have

Most Mormons are thinkers. That's why so few of them are resigned to believe the theory that the actions of mankind are baking the planet in its own carbon juices.

any appreciable affect on the greenhouse gas emissions that supposedly cause global warming. Is this because Mormons don't have any critical thinking skills? Of course we do, but I suspect that doesn't stop a lot of anti-Mormons from using claims to that effect as selling points for anti-Mormondom.

Most Mormons are thinkers. That's why, I think, so few of them are resigned to believe the theory that the actions of mankind are baking the planet in its own carbon juices. The problem such a common

When people like Al Gore think it's okay to exaggerate and lie about the seriousness of global warming in order to promote earth stewardship, I think that's where a lot of Mormons got off the global warming bus.

viewpoint poses, though, is to give the impression that Mormons don't believe in taking care of the environment. In all probability, very few non-Mormons understand our belief that of the first commandments given to Adam and Eve when they left the Garden of Eden was to take care of the earth.

Mormons don't take kindly to lies, though, even if they are of the green variety. So when Thomas Friedman, in his book Hot, Flat, and Crowded, implies that it was okay for Al Gore to exaggerate and lie about the seriousness of global warming in order to promote earth stewardship, I think that's where a lot of Mormons got off the global warming bus.

In an article entitled Farmers Reject Global Warming (ironically, the title gets it wrong), Utah farmers talk about why they don't think that man is causing all that much warming:
The Utah Farm Bureau explained that carbon dioxide is needed in agriculture to grow plants and crops.

“I don’t think people realize where their food comes from or that we benefit from the increases of carbon dioxide,” Gappmayer said. “I’ve worked to take care of Mother Earth all my life and in turn she takes care of me.”

According to the panel, research done over the past eight years indicates there has actually been a global cooling trend. Although certain months brought record-breaking heat waves and droughts, overall, the average weather pattern has been a decrease in global temperature.

“To say global warming is a huge issue is ridiculous,” said Chamberlain, a sheep farmer in Kane County. “The media has created too much hype just for nothing. You never hear the other side of the issue, which makes me not believe in it even more.”

“The media is telling us farmers that we need to be afraid of these rapidly changing weather patterns, but I don’t think the weather patterns are any different than when I first started farming over 50 years ago,” Chamberlain said.
We Mormons think that stewardship of the earth is important. We believe that we should stop deforestation. We believe that we should keep the air and water clean. Most Mormons would love to drive a hybrid car or put up solar panels and wind turbines in our back yard--if someone can get them in our price range.

Mormons may not do a very good job of portraying the importance of earth stewardship as part of our religion, but it is nonetheless a tenet thereof. At any rate, we don't have our heads in the sand about global warming, about which most of us know there is surely no consensus.

There is nothing "virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy" about those who exaggerate and tell outright lies to further their personal crusades. Tell us the truth, and leave out the politics, and we'll all get along in our collective earth stewardship just fine.



4 comments:

  1. I haven't found a whole lot of Mormons who have shown much concern over the environment, namely clean air, water, and saving our forests.

    Of course there is talk at Church and in the gospel about being good stewards, but the talk doesn't even extend to members giving it any type of decent lip service. With little lip service it isn't a shock that there is then little to no action.

    Just my opinion and experience.

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  2. Mormons may not do a very good job of portraying earth stewardship as part of our religion...

    That's an understatement to beat all understatements.

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  3. Given that a majority of the Mormon community in the Book of Mormon belt seem to have been willing to reflexively believe that Dubya was a great president, that the War on Iraq was about 9/11, that the homosexual community is out to destroy marriage and that homosexual marriage will harm families, that the US was founded as a Christian nation, et al, I hardly think the evidence supports the contention that the Utah Mormon community bases it's political opinions on sound, rational thinking. I think it is more likely that their feeling about global warming, as on all of the above, has more to do with a general reflexive acceptance of conservative political dogma. In this instance, it is the conservative dogma which holds that capitalist activity unerringly and inevitably leads to good outcomes, and thus such industrial/commercial cannot possibly hurt the environment. This is, I believe, why the Utah Mormon community generally does a poor job of emphasizing earth stewardship, as you and both Jessica and Richard have pointed out: Why bother worrying about the environment when free market activity will invariably lead to the best possible outcome? The "invisible hand" will sort it out, so I don't need to. And thus we become, as a whole, mediocre stewards.

    (BTW, it is fallacious to assume Mormon culture is uniform with Utah Mormon culture; outside the BofM belt--Utah, S Idaho, W Wyoming, E Nevada, S Cal, and presumably N Arizona--there is a greater diversity among the Mormon population)

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  4. I'm LDS (active High Priest, with TR). I'm also a scientist. I don't know of any reputable scientist, Mormon or otherwise, who DOESN'T think that global warming/climate change, is a serious problem.

    Make sure that the BYU scientists you query are those who are actively doing research in their scientific fields, and not just those who are kept on the faculty because they teach a great Book of Mormon class.

    If they aren't DOING science, they aren't scientists.

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