Planet Gore

RE: Southern Climate Change

Two quick points about the Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change:

First, I think that, from a public policy point of view, the key paragraph in the new Declaration is the following:

Though the claims of science are neither infallible nor unanimous, they are substantial and cannot be dismissed out of hand on either scientific or theological grounds. Therefore, in the face of intense concern and guided by the biblical principle of creation stewardship, we resolve to engage this issue without any further lingering over the basic reality of the problem or our responsibility to address it. Humans must be proactive and take responsibility for our contributions to climate change—however great or small.

I guess what one thinks of this all turns on what is meant by “engage on the issue,” “be proactive and take responsibility,” and “our contributions to climate change — however great or small.” Anything that I’ve advocated fits under a reasonable interpretation of these phrases, as does anything advocated by the most radical environmentalist. It’s so vague that it does not foreclose any possible course of action.
Second, this Declaration should be seen in the light of the Southern Baptist Declaration from last year that more or less said climate change is not a problem. The prior Declaration, in effect, tried to establish this religious body as a scientific and economic authority. This prior Declaration was, I assume, in turn a response to the earlier National Council of Churches statement from last summer that did the same (from a liberal point of view), getting all the way down to asserting acceptable percentage reductions in emissions and acceptable number of degrees of temperature increase. 
My take on various churches weighing in on technical debates is pretty much summed up by the title of my Planet Gore blog post on the dueling Declarations last summer: “Stephen Hawking Opposes Designated Hitter Rule.”

Jim Manzi is CEO of Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), an applied artificial intelligence software company.

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