Outlook Good: The Shifting Sands of Young Evangelicals and Climate Change

PocketGuideThe data is in. Kids these days trust the news media as a source for information on global climate change only slightly more than they trust Sarah “I’m-not-one-who-would-attribute-it-to-being-man-made” Palin. So sayeth the researchers at American, Yale, and George Mason universities in a recent study.

Matthew Nisbet, an assistant professor in AU’s School of Communication, writes that “only 33% under the age of 35 trust the news media as a source of information about climate change, a proportion lower than any other age group. This proportion is also only slightly higher than the 27% of those under 35 who trust Sarah Palin on climate change.”

Social intuition has told us that “youth” are and should be more concerned about climate change than older adults. After all, the younger you are the more future you have to lose, right? Well, no. It turns out that the under-35ers are less likely than older adults to believe that global warming is already harming people in the United States and elsewhere in the world and are instead more likely to believe that harm will begin 10, 25, or even 50 years in the future. Just 21% of 18-34 year-olds believe that people around the world are currently experiencing harm due to global warming, relative to 33% of those 35-59 and 29% of those 60 and older.

But here’s a really interesting part of this study–when you add religion into the mix. There was no measurable difference across age when it comes to trusting religious leaders on climate change–except among evangelical Christians. While self-identified evangelicals, who make up roughly 30% of the U.S. population, are more likely to trust religious leaders on global warming than Americans who don’t identify as evangelical, this is especially true of young adults.

Eighty-one percent of the under-35 evangelicals trust religious leaders as an information source on global warming, compared to just 36% of non-evangelical young adults.

In contrast, 51% of evangelicals 60 and older trust religious leaders compared to 41% of non-evangelicals. Notably, 66%  of evangelicals trust scientists. And a full 77% of young evangelicals  says that they trust scientists as an information source on global warming. President Obama is also a trusted source among a majority (52%) of young evangelicals.

This data highlights the critical role religious leaders play in education around global climate change. It is important that the pulpit be a place that provides accurate and trustworthy information on environmental issues within the context of our Christian narrative and moral tradition.

So, pastors out there, here’s your 3-point sermon:

Earthkeeping. Fruitfulness. Sabbath.

“Serve and Preserve.” “Foster Creativity.” “Regularly Choose Being, Not Doing.”

Genesis 2:15. Ezekiel 34:18. Leviticus 25 and 26.

Find more climate change and creation-care sermons at Creation Care for Pastors. And get your solid climate science in easy spoonfuls at RealClimate. Your youth (and your old ones) are listening.

‘Everests of Refuse’ In Our Own Backyard

Garbage in D.C.
Garbage in D.C.

Thanks to Tim Kumfer for his great post over at Always New Depths on Garbage. One lesson we can learn from the “lilies of the field” is to only produce waste that’s compostable!

Here’s a bit of Tim’s post, but read the whole thing and get his Six Ideas (including one on ever-popular Sarah Palin):

My last week in DC, I finally made it to the city’s seedy (and stinky) underbelly of first-world consumerism: the Fort Totten Trash Transfer Station.  I was there to add some of my group house’s IKEA furniture which had outlived its oh-so-short life span.

The scene? Shit. Mountains and mountains of shit, as far as the eye can see. Great Everests of refuse, crushed together by plow trucks and  cranes.

As it turns out, the dystopian future so cutely rendered in WALL-E might not be as far off as I’d hoped. It’s already here; you just have to drive under a bridge  in Brookland to find it.

Read Tim’s complete post here.

And if you like this topic, read Gone Tommorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage by Heather Rogers.

Sorry, Sarah. Not On My Watch.

I’ve been tracking Hurricane Palin as it moves down from the now-temperate climes of Alaska to the lower 48. That Sarah! She’s a firecracker! When I talked to one of the resident Republicans at the place I was getting my hair cut, he said he “LOVES HER!” She’s funny, he says. She must be super-smart, because she had to learn everything about government in such a short time, he says.  Uhm … yeah.  A very short time.

But, I’m not happy with the right-wing misogyny nor the left-wing theo-phobia that’s currently swirling around Hurricane Palin.  The far-right theocrats have tried to grab the mic of Big Media by the cojones to make sure everyone understands that they will not be instructed, lead, taught, defended, or otherwise represented by the gentler Double X of our fine species. The far-left secularists are spitting mad that Hillary is no longer a contender and don’t know what to do with this other creature that has stepped into the national spotlight.

I’m glad to see Gloria Steinem, the architect of modern American secular feminism, wading in to the fray. In the Los Angeles Times, Steinem wrote:

Here’s the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing — the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party — are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women — and to many men too — who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the “white-male-only” sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

Steinem puts the onus back where it belongs. On John McCain. If McCain wanted to promote a strong, conservative, accomplished, and experienced woman who represents the mainstream of the Republican party, then Texas’ Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Maine’s Sen. Olympia Snowe are ready to step forward.

But that’s not what McCain was looking for, nor who he was appealing to. Instead he chose to pander to the far-right minority. Sad, really. There are some righteous feminists within the Republican party as there are within the Democrats–but it appears that the “F-Word” as a full-on Republican platform still awaits its time.

Sorry, Sarah. I’ve known feminists and you are no feminist.  So, here we are again–learning again the hard-knock lessons of tokenism. I appeal to the great Steve Earle to lift us up. “So come Maria Stewart, come back to us now. Tear our eyes from paradise and rise again somehow. If you run into Jesus, maybe he can help you out.  Come back Lucy Burns and Alice Paul, Dora Lewis and Alice Cosu, come back to us now.”.