Drought, extreme heat, floods and wildfires are plaguing communities across the globe as world leaders gear up to discuss climate change at a major United Nations conference later this year.
Although skepticism exists, a broad swath of faith communities is a part of the global push for climate action. They advocate for policy change, fight for climate justice, establish creation care ministries, embrace solar energy, plant gardens and more.
Many people work to curb the causes of climate change because of their faith. But religious beliefs also lead some to reject the issue entirely. A 2016 report by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that 15% of Americans think global warming is not real because God controls the climate and 14% thought it was a sign of the End Times.
The United Nations conference, slated to bring world leaders to Glasgow, Scotland, in November to discuss reducing greenhouse gas emissions, comes six years after the 2015 Paris climate accord, an agreement the U.S. pulled out of under the Trump administration but rejoined after President Joe Biden took office.
Religious environmental groups have lauded Biden’s support for addressing climate change, including by committing to cutting U.S. emissions in half by 2030. Other faith-based organizations also are calling on Congress to act.
The latest edition of ReligionLink includes experts to help you report on religious responses to climate change.
- Read “Amid summer of fire and floods, a moment of truth for climate action” from The Washington Post on July 25, 2021.
- Read “‘No One Is Safe’: Extreme Weather Batters the Wealthy World” from The New York Times on July 17, 2021.
- Read “European Commission proposes ambitious climate change policies, urging U.S. and other nations to follow” from The Washington Post on July 14, 2021.
- Read “Historic heat wave in Pacific Northwest has killed hundreds in U.S. and Canada over the past week” from The Washington Post on July 1, 2021.
- Read “In the Midwest, faith communities are ramping up the fight against climate change” from Grist on June 30, 2021.
- Read “‘Creation care’: How churches aim to save a warming planet” from The Christian Science Monitor on June 29, 2021.
- Read “Pope Francis and Blinken discuss climate change, China at the Vatican” from Religion News Service on June 28, 2021.
- Read “How Pope Francis and Vatican activists helped rein in Big Oil on climate change” from Religion News Service on June 21, 2021.
- Read “Reaching Back To The New Deal, Biden Proposes A Civilian Climate Corps” from NPR on May 11, 2021.
- Read “Vatican makes moral case for supporting people displaced by climate change” from Religion News Service on March 30, 2021.
- Read “An evangelical scientist on reconciling her religion and the realities of climate change” from The Washington Post on March 2, 2021.
- Read “Amish farmers have a ‘complicated relationship’ with nature, are skeptical of climate change” from Religion News Service on Feb. 14, 2020.
- Read “Religious environmentalists gird themselves for a Trump presidency” from Religion News Service on Nov. 13, 2016.
Surveys and reports
- Read “Politics & Global Warming, December 2020” from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication on Jan. 14, 2021.
- Read “POLL: Voters of Faith Support Fighting Climate Change” an Oct. 22, 2020, survey commissioned by Interfaith Power & Light.
- Read “Two-Thirds of Americans Think Government Should Do More on Climate” from Pew Research Center on June 23, 2020.
- Read “American Democracy in Crisis: Civic Engagement, Young Adult Activism, and the 2018 Midterm Elections” from PRRI on Oct. 11, 2018.
- Read “Religion and Views on Climate and Energy Issues” from Pew Research Center on Oct. 22, 2015.
- Read “Climate Change in the American Christian Mind” from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication on April 1, 2015.
- Read “Believers, Sympathizers, and Skeptics: Why Americans are Conflicted about Climate Change, Environmental Policy, and Science” from PRRI on Nov. 21, 2014.
- Read “What Is A COP” from the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021.
- Read “Climate Science 101” from Covering Climate Now.
- Read “Climate Change Resource Guide” from the Society of Environmental Journalists.
- Read “Climate Matters: Helping TV weathercasters and journalists report local climate change stories” from George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.
- Read “Climate Change Statements from World Religions” compiled by Yale University’s Forum on Religion and Ecology.
- Read “Religious Statements on Climate Change” compiled by Interfaith Power & Light.
Susana B. Adamo is a research scientist at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network and an adjunct professor at Columbia university. Her areas of expertise include environmental migration. Adamo is one of the authors of the “Religious Affiliation and Environmental Challenges in the 21st Century” article that appeared in the Journal of Religion and Demography.
Huda Alkaff is the founder and director of Wisconsin Green Muslims, an environmental justice group. She also is the coordinator of the Wisconsin Faith and Solar Initiative.
Adrian Bardon is a philosophy professor at Wake Forest University. He wrote the book The Truth About Denial: Bias and Self-Deception in Science, Politics, and Religion.
Evan Berry is an environmental humanities professor at Arizona State University’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. He wrote the book Devoted to Nature: The Religious Roots of American Environmentalism. He is an expert on climate ethics as well as religion and the environment.
Robert Bullard is described as the father of environmental justice and is a Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University. He is the author of several books, including Race, Place and Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina and The Wrong Complexion for Protection.
Cassandra Carmichael is the executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. Previously, she served as director of the National Council of Churches’ Eco-Justice Programs and has written numerous articles on faith and the environment.
Saffet Abid Catovic is a Muslim environmental leader. He co-founded Green Muslims of New Jersey and helped launch the Islamic Society of North America’s Green Masjid Task Force. In 2018, he shared his efforts to offset the carbon footprint of his pilgrimage to Mecca with Sojourners. Imam Catovic serves as Washington office director for the Islamic Society of North America. He earned a master’s in religion and society from Drew University, specializing in religion and the environment.
Nana Firman is Senior Ambassador for GreenFaith, an interfaith organization that promotes environmental stewardship. She previously worked with the World Wildlife Fund in Indonesia.
Jody Freeman is the Archibald Cox Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a leading expert of administrative and environmental law. She served as a counselor for energy and climate change in the Obama administration.
David Haberman is a professor of religious studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. He teaches on the subject of religion and ecology, particularly in regards to South Asian religions. His books include River of Love in an Age of Pollution: The Yamuna River of Northern India and Understanding Climate Change Through Religious Lifeworlds.
Katharine Hayhoe is a professor of political science and co-director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She is also the co-author of A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions. Hayhoe is an expert on Christian responses to global warming, and she works to reconcile science and faith in Christian communities.
Susan Hendershot is the president of Interfaith Power & Light and ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Manja Holland is a habitat and education manager with the National Wildlife Federation and helps coordinate the organization’s Sacred Grounds program.
Wendy Janzen leads Burning Bush Forest Church, a faith community that worships outside. She is an ordained Mennonite pastor.
Willis Jenkins is a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia. He works at the intersection of environmental and religious ethics.
Julian Kunnie is a religious studies professor at the University of Arizona. He launched the Nyakweri Ecological Restoration and Preservation Project, which looks at how climate change affects the Nyakweri forest. Kunnie teaches courses on Indigenous religions, globalization and the environment.
Gregor Leckebusch is a meteorology and climatology professor at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. He is a leading expert on meteorological and climatological extreme events.
Beth Rose Middleton Manning is a professor of Native American studies at the University of California, Davis. She can discuss rural environmental justice and Indigenous analyses of climate change.
Karri Munn-Venn is a senior policy analyst at Citizens for Public Justice. Inspired by faith, the progressive Canadian organization fights for environmental justice issues, including climate justice.
Daniel Swartz is executive director of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. He also is a rabbi and the author of To Till and to Tend: A Guide for Jewish Environmental Study and Action.
Aradhna Tripati is a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at University of California, Los Angeles, as well as director of the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science. Her areas of expertise include climate change, environmental justice and paleoclimatology.
Mary Evelyn Tucker is a senior lecturer and research scholar at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Divinity School and department of religious studies. She also directs the Forum on Religion and Ecology with her husband, John Grim.
Robin Globus Veldman is a visiting scholar at Texas A&M University. She studies the relationship between religion and the environment, with a focus on American evangelicalism.
Sunita Viswanath is co-founder and board member of Hindus for Human Rights, Women for Afghan Women, and Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus.
Erin Wilson is director of the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. The center explores the contentious role of religion in the public sphere in contemporary Western and global society and engages in research that is particularly focused on the intersection of religion with Western culture, politics and society.