Ignoring Climate Change: Christianity and Anti-environmentalism




Ever since the 1960s when Lynn White pointed out the Abrahamic roots of anti-environmentalism, Christians have tried and failed to argue that they aren’t a part of the problem, but are instead the solution! So, they have paper drives in their churches and pick up litter on the highway. But, when it gets right down to it, environmentalism as a generalized ethic is inherently inimical to the Christian project. After all, Jesus is coming back soon, so he’ll clean it all up with his super duper Jesus powers. And, of course, all of that “environmentalism” is all fancy schmantzy scientism! Earth worship. Every good Christian knows that science is just a bunch of human arrogance designed to distract people from the true human condition, which is, of course, subjugation to the gods of Christianity.

Unfortunately, questions about climate change have been poorly approached in what few quality surveys we have remaining. The early GSS question asked whether or not respondents thought that scientists understood global warming. Notably, that’s not the same thing as whether or not respondents believe that climate change is real and caused by humans. Indeed, many people who understand that climate change is real and caused by humans may nonetheless think that scientists have a limited understanding of the processes. Another question was asked about whether respondents think that increased temperatures from climate change have an adverse effect on the environment. Another bad question, really, but still instructive in how it plays out. Above, you can see that religious beliefs play a strong role in structuring beliefs about environmental insult from climate change. ANY belief in the divine sanction of the abrahamic sacred texts reduces perceptions of the dangers of climate change. Less than half of bible believers thank climate change is dangerous, while more than one in five think it is not dangerous at all. In contrast, people who believe that the bible was written by bronze age goat fuckers tend to believe that global warming has dire consequences for the environment, and relatively few of them think it is not dangerous.


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