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Climate Change

With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, humanity has received enormous benefits. It is now becoming apparent that there are significant degradations of creation which have accompanied this growth: deforestation, species extinction, water degradation, the alteration of atmosphere, increase in toxic chemicals, loss of fertile soil.

Global Warming - An Explanation

'By absorbing infra-red or 'heat' radiation from the earth's surface, 'greenhouse gases' present in the atmosphere, such as water vapour and carbon dioxide, act as blankets over the earth's surface, keeping it warmer than it otherwise would be. Since . . . around 1750, one of these greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, has increased by over 30% . . . largely due to the burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas.[1]

Misuse of Creation

Most of the climate change problem is human induced and represents a misuse of God's creation: a distorted stewardship of God's earth. The result has been a patchwork mixture of apparent abundance alongside of wasteland, but with the waste increasing. There has been a degradation of creation as well as an unjust denial of God's bountiful resources to many people, especially in developing countries.

The Salvation Army affirms the Christian position that every part of creation is God's; that God created it good; and that God's ultimate intention is its redemption through Christ (Romans 8:22; Colossians 1:20).

International Responses

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations (IPCC) provides regular reports which analyse the scientific research pertaining to climate change and offer policy response recommendations. [2]

The 1992 Earth Summit resulted in the 160 participating countries giving their commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Agreement by the parties to the Framework included to 'take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures.[3]

These principles became the basis for the Kyoto Protocol which has since been ratified by 176 countries. Australia has been a signatory to all of these documents but did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol until 2008. [4]

With projections that the global average temperature could rise by between 2 and 6oC by 2100 and that, by 2050, sea level rises and changes in water availability could result in 150 million extra refugees [5], The Salvation Army advocates global participation by all nations in response to this situation.

National Responses

Based on the principle: 'From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked' (Luke 12:48), The Salvation Army believes that those nations which have both benefited from two centuries of industrialisation and have most contributed to such emissions ought to set the example in implementing policies and practices which reduce such emissions. We advocate improvements such as the efficiency of energy generation, development of non-fossil fuel sources of energy, and sequestering carbon that would otherwise enter the atmosphere. [6] We support government policies that provide incentives to individuals, and organisations, such as tax concessions or rebate programs, to encourage reduced emissions, energy efficient household appliances and carbon-free energy practices, provided that these policies do not indiscriminately impact on low income households.

Organisational Responses

Organisations (including The Salvation Army) need to engage in a process of actively reviewing strategic and operational decisions for their impact upon greenhouse gas emissions. Organisations as a consumer of products and energy derived from burning fossil fuels should develop policies and practices that reduce the demand for

fossil fuels. Such practices should, for example include intelligent building design, responsible energy use, a reappraisal of product sourcing, motor vehicle usage, and green energy sources. [7] The minimal ultimate organisational benchmark is for operations to be at least carbon-neutral.  Decisions will acknowledge the potential to merely 'export' the problem to elsewhere with a consequent degradation of lifestyle and/or environment in another part of God's creation.

Personal Responses

On a personal level, Salvationists will take heed of the word of Jesus that our lives do not consist in the abundance of possessions. [8] Salvationist responses will include:

Confession and repentance for attitudes which devalue creation and misuse that of which we have been called to be stewards.

Acknowledging the Creator's concern for all creatures. God saw all He created as 'good' and 'approved it completely'. [9]

Supporting the development of just and free economies which empower the poor, recognising that in many situations poverty forces people to degrade creation in order to survive.

Supporting investment, business and government actions that redeem the environment for future generations.

Aiming for a simplicity of lifestyle rather than over-consumption and greed.

Considered use of resources in places where we live, work and relax. These include energy efficient vehicles and appliances, recyclable goods and how we dispose of refuse.

Advocating for, and supporting the use of, renewable energy sources as well as ensuring that our homes are energy efficient.

Supporting organisational policies and practices which enhance the qualities of our rivers, land, sea and air.

By our responses we attempt to be proactive rather than reactive. We accept that at all times we, as God's people, can directly contribute to the solution by making personal decisions which have consequences within the context of both the local community and the world in which we and future generations will live.

Houghton J. 'Climate Change: A Christian Challenge and Opportunity'. Address to National Association of Evangelicals, USA. March 2005 at www.creationcare.org/resources/climate/houghton


Houghton J. 'Climate Change: A Christian Challenge and Opportunity'. Address to National Association of Evangelicals, USA. March 2005 at www.creationcare.org/resources/climate/houghton

www.dfat.gov.au/environment/climate ; www.teachingclimatechange.com.au

Houghton J. 'Climate Change: A Christian Challenge and Opportunity'. Address to National Association of Evangelicals, USA. March 2005 at www.creationcare.org/resources/climate/houghton


Refer to Positional Statement: 'The Environment'

Matthew 16:26; Luke 12:22-31

Genesis 1:31 (Amplified Bible)