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Published on June 16th, 2017 | by Austin Bonds

How Christian Teens Should Think About Climate Change

On December 12, 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 Signatories at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The aim of this landmark Agreement, in the words of Wired author Alexandra Simon-Lewis, is to “strengthen the global response to climate change by creating an international network of government bodies, all dedicated to lowering emissions” [italics mine]. Syria, which has been plagued by a sickening civil war, along with Nicaragua, both declined to sign the Agreement. A third country recently joined these two outliers – the United States of America.

Stating that he represents “the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” President Donald Trump removed the United States from the Paris Agreement on June 1st, 2017. According to Article 28 of the Agreement, the earliest that the United States can completely withdraw is November 2020, which, incidentally, is when the next primary election will unfold to a watching world with bated breath.

Speaking of Presidents, former President Barack Obama, along with countless world leaders, quickly frowned (or railed) on Trump’s decision as they defended the voluntary Agreement and what it can accomplish for a warming world. Note Obama’s optimism though: “I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.” Putting politics aside for a moment, how should followers of Jesus respond to this abrupt exit? How should this messy issue be addressed from a spiritual perspective?

1. Recognize that climate change is real and anthropogenic (man-made). An April 13, 2016, article in the journal Environmental Research Letters should expel all doubt, though some still do. “We examine the available studies and conclude that the finding of 97% consensus in published climate research is robust and consistent with other surveys of climate scientists and peer-reviewed studies.” In summary, humans are contributing to global warming.

2. Study the Scriptures for clarity. Psalm 24:1-2 is an excellent place to begin. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it upon the waters.” The sovereign God formed the earth, as a part of a grand and glorious universe, from his infinite wisdom and unrivaled ability of design. He formed a masterpiece from nothingness. Therefore, if God owns the earth and all that’s in it, he surely watches to see how it’s managed by the men and women he fashioned together in his own image (Genesis 1:26).

God cleansed the earth once with water (Genesis 7), and he will do so a second time – with fire (2 Peter 3). As the apostle Peter puts it, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” In light of this deflating proclamation, should care for the earth be abandoned? While some followers of Jesus are inclined to say yes, I say no.

Caring for creation matters. Peter exhorts us to be “holy and godly” people, which translates into caring about what God cares about. And since God loves people most, an indifference for the planet will surely affect the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40). Dr. John Piper cites Matthew 22:39 in a Desiring God article about creation care. In the enduring, profoundly difficult words of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Unchecked climate change will lead to a continued rise in sea levels, reduction of snow and ice, and a higher concentration of carbon dioxide, says Thomas Stocker, Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Loving your neighbor – serving the least of these, the disadvantaged of the world who will be most impacted by a warming planet, means taking action now. Or as Dr. Piper puts it, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. It’s his and he meant it to serve people. He put us here to enjoy it. So, if we mess it up we are hurting people.”

3. Get involved. Get others involved. Take action now. “Addressing climate change will not be possible if individual agents advance their own interests independently; it can only be achieved through cooperative responses, including international cooperation,” so says R.K. Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC. In other words, we’re in this together.

Practically speaking, start by reducing your energy output at home. Flip the lights off in unoccupied rooms. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Invest in a programmable thermostat. Recycle everything that can be recycled. Put the laptop to sleep when it’s not being used. Turn off the faucet during teeth brushing. Check the car tire pressure regularly. Finally, if you are politically inclined, find out where local and state leaders stand in regards to the Paris Agreement.

Though earth is marred right now by the lingering effects of sin, it will be fully restored one day (Revelation 21:1). Until that day arrives, however, God is asking us to be stewards of the earth so that our posterity can take in its splendor and wonder as they grow up, and, prayerfully, do the same for future generations who can look up to the sky and see how it graciously proclaims the work of his hands.

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About the Author

is a thirty-something, ragamuffin runner who lives north of Atlanta, GA. His musings on how running intersects with pop culture can be found at You can also follow him on Twitter (@austincbonds).

  • Seriously? The problem is thus: The climate changes off and off. You know as well as I do that via history the climate3 has changed off and on. Using your example on how the earth was destroyed by water at first and it will be destroyed by fire. Using that example from the Bible self contradicts your own claims. It shows that God can change climates any way he wants to and has tended to do so throughout history. Add in the fact the liberal global warming narrative DOES NOT fit the description depicted in Revelations. How can Climate Change be our fate if the narrative contradicts what the Bible says? Here’s what NASA’s site says will happen in the future:

    • John Chang

      What do you mean “the climate has change off and on” “via history”?

      • Throughout history climate has changed . Supposedly after the flood there was a ice age , before the flood there was no rain , climate change has continued throughout the years ever since .

        • John Chang


          • Genisis 2:5-6. The question on if there was rain before flood though is unknown honestly some people think there was not rain and those people use Genisis 2:5-6 but at the same time there’s not much else supporting the no rain before flood idea. And for Ice Age? After a worldwide flood it would be abnormal for the world to be the same climate as it was before especally considering the world had been as known before destroyed when the flood came so it makes no sense to think post flood the climate was the same

      • And if you don’t know what via means it means traveling through, or by means, overall.

  • John Chang

    Problems with the Paris Agreement:
    1) No enforcement whatsoever. Many countries have since then ignored the Agreement.
    2) Severely cripples our economy. Frankly, the developing nations don’t care about climate change and will continue to heavily pollute while our own economy is destroyed.
    3) IF all nations follow the Paris Agreement, “The impacts have been estimated to be likely to reduce global temperature rise by less than 0.2 degrees Celsius in 2100.” (MIT)
    4) Not introduced to the Senate as a treaty. Constitutionally speaking, the Paris Agreement is a treaty and must be ratified by the Senate (with 67 votes, RIP Paris Agreement).
    5) Many countries do little or nothing.

    In short, if you really care about the environment, make those other countries pay up and add enforcement.

  • Hey! Thanks for writing this article =) I’d disagree that the rise in temperature that’s been observed recently is man-made. Don’t get me wrong – I do believe in cyclical climate change, I just don’t believe in catastrophic, man-made global warming. Just a couple years ago there were record low temperatures set in the Northeast, and there was a record amount of ice in Antarctica in 2014 – ironically, there was so much ice a global warming expedition got trapped in it XD

    Also, it’s not a scientific consensus that global warming is a big deal, so to speak- 31,000 scientists have signed a petition saying they don’t believe in catastrophic man-made global warming.

    Again, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for being a good steward of the earth, but I’d disagree that we need to concentrate our resources on combatting global warming. =)

    • Madison McRae

      Well put!

    • Leah

      Ya, climate change is definitely presented as irrefutable, but taking into consideration that there are still *scientists* that don’t agree it’s considerably helped along by humans, and that some people who have helped present it this way are profiting off of it, I think it’s necessary to dig for more evidence than the author has provided above whether to prove or disprove man-made global warming.

  • I agree wholeheartedly that we need to be good stewards of the earth, but I’m still not convinced that global warming is happening in the mass proportions that environmentalists say it is. From what I’ve studied is science, I’ve heard that the temperature of the earth naturally is rising despite human input.

  • Mary B.

    Hey Austin, thank you for writing this article. I often feel like in Christian circles climate change is shrugged off because they still think it’s natural. I personally think it’s a little of both, natural and man-made. And if humans are effecting the earth, we should at least do what we can to rectify that. As the boy scout motto is “Leave no trace”. I was always taught “Leave the place better than you found it”. We should treat the earth that way. And even if you don’t believe in climate change, there is a host of other reasons to be environmentally conscious like trash killing oceanic animals, soil loosing nutrients, trees which give us oxygen being cut down, finding away to use renewable resources for future generation in case unrenewable resources run out, etc. (God gave us coal but he also gave us the sun. There is no shame in using both) I’m not sure exactly how big a deal climate change is but i do know humans need to do a better job of taking care of the earth God gave us.

    • Leah

      I agree with not littering and avoiding chemicals and such — but there’s nothing wrong with cutting down trees. God gave us the earth and told us to use the resources within it. They are a blessing to us, so we shouldn’t be wasteful. But we also shouldn’t say that it’s bad to cut them down.

  • Jeremy Zabel

    Perhaps rather than unquestioningly accepting the viewpoint from those committed to advancing their particular political agenda, Christians should examine both sides of the debate, observe the evidence put forward, and using discernment, find the truth in it all. Do this, realizing that humans are fallible and that we can’t even predict what the weather will be like in five days, let alone the climate in five years. Then find what the Bible has to say about being a steward of the Earth, and figure out what to believe rather than letting someone tell you what to believe. THEN you should take action and get involved, being careful not to let any political affiliation or such become a larger part of your identity than Christ.

    • Maria-Simona C.


  • DIYfamily

    We’ve homeschooled for the past 20 years using a Christian curriculum. The textbooks we’ve used have brought to our family’s attention some facts about global warming that the mainstream media rarely mention.

    For instance, the mainstream media rarely mention that global warming has happened before. Historical records show the climate in England was pleasantly warm back between 1100AD and 1300 AD. We know it was warm enough for the English to grow grapes and citrus trees along the Thames River. Monks kept records of this. Towns held harvest festivals to celebrate God’s blessings.

    History records that the warmer temperatures were advantageous for other people in the Northern hemisphere not just the English farmers. The Vikings farmed Greenland during this era – Greenland was green due to crops – not snowy white like it is today.

    The warmer temperatures opened up trade routes – trading ships could take short cuts through channels which were normally frozen over.
    Many building projects were undertaken worldwide during this period of globally warmer temperatures – museums, cathedrals and bridges were built.

    What triggered this historical period of global warming between 1100AD and 1300AD anyway? Volcanic activity? Sunspots? God’s blessing in response to prayer for warmer weather? One thing’s for sure. Vehicle emissions didn’t cause this previous global warming event – because cars hadn’t been invented yet.

    History then records that around 1300 AD that the climate started cooling. The Thames River froze over – the English could no longer grow grapes and citrus – and the harvest festivals changed to ice skating festivals. Greenland was no longer green (but the Vikings kept calling it Greenland anyway). Again it’s not known what triggered this period of global cooling. One thing’s for sure… it wasn’t because the Vikings and the English monks got together and decided to curb emissions from their wood fire cooking stoves…

    Many young people fear global warming. But according to the historical record, the impact of global warming wasn’t all doom and gloom in the past – so why should it be in our present/future?

    There is nothing to indicate that the relatively uneducated teenagers living around 1100 AD were alarmed by the fact that it was warm enough for them to grow fruit and veggies on land that had been frozen over when their grandparents were teens. Likewise we shouldn’t be alarmed today if it’s a little warmer than it was 100 years ago.

    One final point – whenever you listen to the media and “scientific” opinions remember your school science – carbon (C) is different to carbon dioxide (C02).

    Carbon is a black solid not a “greenhouse gas”. Carbon soot is visible – we see smoke particles emitting from a chimney stack rising into the air. But carbon is not the same as atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    Carbon dioxide is an odourless, colourless gas which plants thrive on. A few years ago it was common practice for market gardeners to buy carbon dioxide/welding gas to release into their horticultural tunnels to increase the yield of their tomatoes and strawberries. Carbon dioxide is found in our atmosphere, but water vapour is the most abundant greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is invisible and heavier than air – because of this it generally hugs the ground where plants utilize it in photosynthesis just as God intended. The main way carbon dioxide gets into the atmosphere is when volcanoes erupt – and volcanic eruptions are not man-made.

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