3450 The Scientists and Evangelicals Initiative: Partnering To Protect the Environment

Friday, February 18, 2011: 10:30 AM
147A (Washington Convention Center )
James McCarthy , Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

I am occasionally asked to comment on my interactions as a scientist with leaders in the Christian faith and especially the Evangelical Christian community.  I must first admit to having been reluctant to engage in such dialogue formally, because of my misperceptions about this community’s likely receptivity to the views of scientists.  In part my bias was based upon the public pronouncements of very highly visible spokespersons who seemed unlikely to be open to consider the views of scientists, perhaps especially to those of climate scientists.

What resulted from discussions launched by Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment and the National Association of Evangelicals (which represents 45,000 local churches) was a remarkably productive exchange of views about the power of partnership between our communities.  Stewardship for the whole of the Creation was clearly a shared goal.  Although we approach this topic from different perspectives a mutual respect for these differences allows us to see that we have a great deal in common.  We have resolved to deploy jointly, whenever possible, our respective resources to address climate change.  This not only includes efforts to reduce the drivers of climate change, but also, and very importantly, the necessary additional efforts to prepare for adaptation, and most especially to assist those without means to do this on their own, within our national borders and beyond.

There are important opportunities to apply this model to other problems, and one of particular urgency relates to the perilous nature of global nuclear security, especially with respect to the enormous arsenals of weapons held by both the USA and Russia.