Is the war on religion hurting the battle against climate change?

Is the war on religion hurting the battle against climate change?

The New York Times reports on the increasing problems US homeowners are having with their foundations. I could perhaps meander on for a few paragraphs about the symbolism of a country that is built on runaway capitalism and militaristic patriotism having problems with its foundations, but having suggested the thought, I will leave it to you to complete.

Extreme weather possibly linked to climate change, as well as construction on less stable ground, have provoked unprecedented foundation failures in houses nationwide. Foundation repair companies report a doubling and tripling of their business in the last two decades with no let-up even during the recession.

(The phenomenon, of course, is suggestive of and consistent with predictions for the effects of human-induced global warming, but not in itself conclusive evidence.)

On a related note, and also from the Times, evidence that the culture war between science and religion is starting to hurt the momentum towards taking action on climate change:

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

Here, I suppose I should mention that I am a Buddhist, a religious atheist. I also believe in the correctness of the theories of evolution and of human-induced global warming. I believe that religion and religious practice, like science (and many other less clearly defined but nonetheless influential belief systems), should be open to fierce criticism, and deserve no special treatment.

But it seems to me that the all-out war on religion that is waged by people like Richard Dawkins is deeply arrogant and, now, it seems, also profoundly counter-productive. The future of our species may depend on persuading enough people quickly enough that the scientific consensus on climate change is correct. But religious conservatives are hardly likely to listen to scientists on climate change, when their perception is, correctly in my experience, that many scientists and scientifically inclined people have all too little respect for those with religious beliefs, no matter what the nuances of those beliefs may be.

For climate change doubters, a few links: Joseph Romm’s summary of the science of climate change on his blog, Climate Progress, the Goddard Institute of Space Studies’ summary of the evidence for warming, and a video on ocean acidification (caused by the seas soaking up increasing amounts of human generated carbon dioxide).

About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
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