Tuesday, December 31, 2019

For evangelicals, climate change causes a split between young and old that could hurt Republicans

This is a story about just one person so it may have little generalizability

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa — Cornfields flank the highway that forms the main road here and grain elevators tower overhead, constant reminders of how farming permeates this rural community in the state’s northwest corner.

What also permeates Sioux Center is evangelical Christianity. It is, for most, an unquestioned way of life here in the most Republican county in a state that plays an outsized role in presidential elections. There is an evangelical college, a Christian secondary school, and churches up and down the main road. Bibles are as commonplace as smartphones in the local coffee shop. Business meetings sometimes begin with a prayer.

Lindsay Mouw, 25, grew up here, her family well-known for the Ford dealership they have owned since the days of the Model T, and she shares their deep Christian roots. But her ideas about religion are different now, because of a topic few people in her community talk about — climate change. Concern for the environment has challenged her political views and those of many other young evangelicals, a trend that could one day spell trouble for the Republican hold on this religious group.

Mouw’s evolution began in 2015 on a study-abroad trip to New Zealand, where she learned about the devastating effects of noise and plastic pollution on the ocean. “From that point on, I remember being pretty committed to saying, ‘I’m not going to contribute to these problems anymore. This isn’t going to be on me,’ ” she said.

It was for her, as for many of her peers, the beginnings of a wedge between them and their older evangelical counterparts. Other issues, including LGBT rights and immigration, have likewise caused an internal reckoning that breaks along generational lines. Many — though not Mouw — now call themselves ex-vangelicals.

“The church has become unrelatable to the world today,” she said.

This split also reminds that while a generational divide seems already sure to affect the Democratic Party in 2020 — with both the oldest- and youngest-ever candidates in pursuit of the White House — so too could it shift the picture in the GOP. White evangelicals are one of the largest, most loyal voting blocs of support for President Trump, and a crack in that support could foreshadow trouble for the Republican Party — if perhaps not in this election season, then in time.

“They’re reading the Bible and they’re saying, ‘Wait a minute, something is not jibing and we need to rethink this,’ ” said Randall Balmer, a religion professor at Dartmouth College who studies evangelicals.

About a quarter of all American adults identify as evangelical protestants, according to a 2014 poll by the Pew Research Center. One in six of those is between the ages of 18 and 29,

Mouw lives a life well outside the norm in Sioux Center, a community of 7,000 with a strong Dutch heritage. Having left the GOP, she is working to elect a Democrat from Iowa to the US Senate, someone who believes in working to address climate change.

Also, for the moment, she no longer attends church.

Mouw and other young evangelicals find themselves caught where two political statistics collide. White evangelical Protestants are the most skeptical of any religious group about climate change, a recent poll found. But the overwhelming majority of young people believe climate change is happening and is caused by humans, according to the same poll.

And so, these young evangelicals have found that they share more in common with their generation broadly than with their faith community. Young people believe that climate change will harm them directly in their lifetime, giving the issue a personal sense of urgency that does not exist for some older Americans. And young people are poised to play an especially influential role in this election, projected to vote in numbers greater than ever before.

“You’re right to say that younger evangelicals are probably particularly more attuned to the issue and probably give it a higher priority than maybe some of our older members,” said Galen Carey, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a group that considers climate change a problem but does not lobby lawmakers on the issue. “But we’re not giving up on our older members either. We want everyone to recognize what a concern it is.”

Young people who care about climate change should push their elected officials to embrace both environmental issues and also antiabortion policies, he said.

But some of those young people, it’s unclear how many, have chosen to leave the evangelical church altogether. Others are turning to more progressive denominations. Then there are those, like Mouw, who have chosen to retain their evangelical identity even as they hope to redefine it.

“I think we can reclaim it and say that this is what we stand for, and we can do good in the world, and we can be that light whereas most of society has written us off,” she said.

For her, things began to change while she was attending Dordt University, a local college affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church. When she studied abroad in New Zealand, she encountered an approach to life utterly foreign to her. There, students composted, ate vegan and vegetarian food, rode bikes whenever possible, and grew their own food. “This is some weird hippie stuff that I’m not OK with,” she thought at first. It seemed excessive.

Then her world turned. In her marine ecology class in New Zealand, she heard from a marine biologist about the real effects of climate change on the environment. “Eventually I stopped pushing back. I was like, OK, this is pretty important,” she said.

An introvert by nature, Mouw returned to Sioux Center energized and started an environmental club and initiatives on campus. This was in 2015 with the presidential election quickly approaching and Republican candidates starting to cycle through Sioux Center.

Mouw connected with the national group Young Evangelicals for Climate Action and soon they gave her a job — asking every Republican who came to town for their views on climate change. She pushed through her fear of public speaking and started to seek out the microphone at rallies and town halls. Quickly she became frustrated and discouraged with their answers — or lack thereof.

“I really still believed at that point that Republicans could do this,” she said.

Mouw tried speaking to her church pastor about climate change, but he told her the topic wasn’t important enough to address in the 30 minutes he had each Sunday to preach to his congregation.

So she found other ways to apply herself. She journeyed to rural Minnesota, where she did environmental conservation work, and is now back in Iowa assisting the campaign of Democrat Michael Franken, who supports efforts to combat climate change.

“I don’t think it was really until two years ago that I abandoned the Republican Party,” Mouw said, referring to the aftermath of Trump’s election. “I kind of gave up hope because you get to the point where you’re just like, ‘This is a losing battle.’ ”

This splitting away of younger evangelicals started in 2008 when Barack Obama ran for president, according to Balmer, the Dartmouth professor. Young conservative Christians had been raised to believe that abortion and same-sex marriage were the only salient moral issues to vote on, he said. But on college campuses, Balmer said, he began to hear from young people who cared about a broader spectrum of issues including climate change, hunger, poverty, and the Iraq War.

The 2016 election only exacerbated the generational divide, he said.

“It’s kind of a sad thing, in some ways, because this is something that they grew up with and they just can’t, some of them, bring themselves to abandon it,” he said. “But they also kind of know instinctively that something is wrong, something is very, very wrong with this movement.”

Young Evangelicals for Climate Action has sought to capture the energies and attention of these people hungry for change within their faith community.

“More and more, we have younger evangelicals who are pretty disillusioned and disenfranchised with that traditional political alliance,” said Ben Lowe, 35, who founded the group in 2012. Interest in climate change has only grown since then and the organization works to educate young people on Christian college campuses and in churches, as well as political leaders through legislative meetings and advocacy.

Mouw’s personal story and political work have attuned her to the views of older conservative Christians so now when she talks to them about climate change, she is prepared. One morning this fall, Mouw met some of her grandfather’s friends, men in their 70s and 80s who gather every morning for coffee at the Dutch bakery downtown. The men agree that climate change is happening and they are concerned, but they do not think the government can be trusted to fix it.

Mouw listened quietly for the better part of an hour. When the conversation turned to her, she spoke without a hint of judgment. “I think we have the climate crisis because we are sinful, and we have failed to [care for the Earth] properly,” she said, the men murmuring in agreement. She mentioned ways to curb global warming like energy-efficient home heating and alternative agricultural practices.

But then she continued, in her gentle but firm tone, with a second notion that is more controversial: “I think it’s important for us as evangelicals who care about climate to really be involved in the political scene and make sure we are electing people who promote the sustainability of the earth.”

The men weren’t sure what to say about that. One of them, Willis Alberda, a retired professor from Dordt University, asked Mouw if she makes that same provocative point when she meets with members of Congress. Mouw said she did.

“Oh really?” the 83-year-old asked with genuine curiosity. “Some would agree with what you say?”

Yes, she said.


Are cats and dogs climate traitors?

One day I will write a book, 111,111 ways our saviors have proposed to save the planet from the coming climate extinction. But here’s one you may not have considered.

At my cat-loving daughter’s house the other day I ran across one of her books. The title:

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You (by Matthew Inman). Then I saw this headline:

“Hollywood Celeb Emma Thompson: Eat Your Pets To Survive ‘Climate Crisis’.”

My first thought? “Emma must have read this book!”

But I read on. Dame Emma, we are told, who has won an OSCAR!, warned the world that the climate extinction crisis we are facing means we must expect “crop failures, water contamination, damaged houses, and ruined lives” and the prospect of eating our own pets in order to survive the coming climate apocalypse.

But don’t get your dander up about Emma. Turns out she is late to the game.

Back in 2017, the online journal journal PLoS ONE published a report on research by UCLA scientist Gregory S. Okin, entitled “Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats.” In the U.S. alone, Okin reported, 163 million dogs and cats have a detrimental impact on the environment from the food they consume to the waste they produce.

Okin found that U.S. dogs and cats “consume as much dietary energy as 62 million [human] Americans” and are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of Is there a coming climate CAT – astrophe? 1the environmental impact of meat consumption in the U.S. If these four-footed friends were a separate country, Catdoggia would rank fifth globally in meat consumption. Getting rid of dogs and cats, Okin gushes, would be “the environmental equivalent of removing 13.6 million cars from the road.”

Some cat lovers might note that these numbers are dog-heavy and conclude that the world is going to the dogs. Sorry, Garfield.

Back in 2013, based on a 3-year U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funded study, researchers found that previous estimates that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds a year were very low. Cats, they reported, actually kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds annually, PLUS 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion mammals – mainly mice, shews, rabbits, and voles.

And then there is top New Zealand economist and self-styled environmentalist Gareth Morgan who created a foundation to promote his cat-killing ideas. Morgan demanded that New Zealand register and neuter ALL cats , raise the bar for cat ownership; encourage citizens to cage-trap loose cats and turn them over to the cat gestapo (er, local authorities); euthanize all unregistered cats and fine all registered owners; and require all local authorities to “dispose” of cats for free.

We understand that Morgan is the local hero of the New Zealand Mouse Union. But even Morgan is a piker.

Writing in the German leftist Neues Deutschland (New Germany), Katharina Schwirkus argued that, “In addition to their disgusting excretions, pets are also bad for the climate — because they eat meat and thus contribute to the emission of carbon dioxide. Schwirkus says the ecological footprint of a German cat on average is as large as that of a human Egyptian.

Schwirkus insists that, “If you want to do something good for the climate, you shouldn’t buy a dog or cat. The breeding of four-legged friends should be stopped in the long term…. [T]he romantic picture of pets must finally be deconstructed. Children should be made aware from a young age that it is absolutely selfish to keep a dog or a cat in a city.”

Meanwhile, according to ethicist William Lynn [writing in The Conversation], the Australian government in 2015 declared a war on feral cats, with a goal of killing over 2 million felines by 2020 via shooting, trapping, and a reputedly “humane” poison. Lynn argued that there was no scientific basis for the government’s estimate of 20 million feral cats in Australia, thus for killing a tenth of that alleged number.

Lynn instead argues that individual animals have a moral value, and second that cats are themselves victims of human ecological errors. Lynn also questions the moral legitimacy of climate extinctionists who advocate for lethal management, which he says rests “on the assumption that individuals don’t matter – but ecosystems do. Lynn concludes by stating that, “it is human beings [not cats] who bear direct moral responsibility for the ongoing loss of biodiversity in our world.”

It is also human beings – not cats – who are spreading irrational fear about a coming climate extinction crisis and producing massive volumes telling everyone else what THEY must do to save the planet while flitting about in private jets to five-star resorts to bemoan just about everything that has brought joy to the world.


Cash cows: Meat, milk and renewables

One of the more ludicrous positions of some in the green movement is to go “meatless” in the interests of having fewer cows resulting in less methane, a greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere. The problem with such extremism is that cows not only produce essential milk and protein-rich meat, but also are increasingly producing energy to heat homes and businesses.

Natural gas, or “biogas,” is increasingly being produced from cow manure and other animal waste. Organic waste-producing facilities called anaerobic digesters are under construction in several states that will breakdown animal waste into usable fuel and fertilizer. Several new digester facilities are being built around dairy farms where the operators will purchase cow manure from nearby farmers, extract the methane in the digesters, and connect to natural gas pipelines to distribute the energy for residential, governmental and commercial use.

Biogas technology was part of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan, which included a tri-agency report in 2014 that outlined the potential of converting cattle waste to energy.

As reported recently in the Wall Street Journal, natural gas from animal waste is more expensive to produce than from hydro fracturing shale formations. Manure from up to 30,000 cattle is required for each anaerobic digester facility to be economical. Nonetheless, the biogas from cows and other animals is in demand from consumers, companies and local governments in the interests of lowering greenhouse gas emissions and generating tradable carbon credits.

The utility company, Dominion Energy is expanding its investment in the production of biogas. The company recently made a financing deal with Dairy Farmers of America and Vanguard Renewables to construct and operate digesters around clusters of dairy farms in five different states.

Some environmental extremists obsess about the volume of methane produced by cows that add to carbon emissions. A single cow, in fact, produces in one year the equivalent carbon emissions of a mid-size SUV driving 12,000 miles. Still, cows are invaluable for a healthy diet of protein from meat and milk products, which developed countries take for granted. For the developing world, higher protein diets are in much greater need.

Global warming alarmists are increasingly attacking meat as a way to fight climate change, as CFACT recently discussed. The United Nations’ Environment Program recently claimed, “huge reductions in meat eating are essential to avoid dangerous climate change.” The global citizenry fortunately knows better than U.N. bureaucrats and others producing anti-meat “studies,” as meat consumption has increased substantially, particularly in the developing world.

Still, the war on meat, because of cow emissions, continues to the point of extremists hoping to drive up food prices to discourage consumption. Joining this anti-meat fray are some politicians who imposed “meatless Mondays” in school districts around the country, including the nation’s largest district, New York City, with one million students.

The anti-meat agenda was in full throttle at the recent U.N. Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain. The delegates were pushing for nothing less than an all-plant based diet as another means to fight climate change. However, as CFACT reported, that did not keep many of the delegates themselves from consuming meat at a nearby Burger King.

A Whopper for me, not for thee.

The increasing use of cows to now produce renewable energy should temper such hypocritical anti-cow, anti-meat extremism.

Using anaerobic digester technology, methane from cows will increasingly be diverted to biogas to add to the renewable energy supply, rather than add to greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy and other farmers also can earn extra revenue from the sale of manure and, in some cases, lease the acreage to energy companies to house the anaerobic digester facilities to produce the energy. There is an added bonus: after the methane is extracted from animal waste to produce energy, the liquid and solid remains can be retaken for fertilizer and compost.

Green extremists at the United Nations and elsewhere who are waging war on meat need to rethink their approach, which always was senseless and counterproductive. Cows can produce much more than milk and meat. Using anaerobic digestion technology, cows, pigs and chickens are increasingly producing energy while reducing emissions in the process. A “win-win” proposition.


Australian Prime Minister Defies ‘Reckless’ Climate Protesters, Backs Coal Exports as Demand Soars

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has slammed calls from radical climate activists to end the export of coal – an industry worth $67billion a year to the nation’s economy – as a new report shows global demand is set to keep increasing over the next decade and beyond.

Strong demand from China and India for this electricity-generating commodity is driving the growth. Morrison wants Australia to maintain its edge by staying a key exporter and protecting the jobs of Australians who rely on the coal mining industry for their future and their financial security.

Nationally, the coal mining industry employs 50,400 people, when thermal and coking operations were combined, Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data for November showed, with exports going mainly to China, India, Korea, Japan and Chile.

The conservative coalition leader spoke on the back of protests last week that called for Australia to end coal exports to ease pressure on the climate.

Morrison, who once once famously brandished a lump of coal in parliament, crying, “This is coal – don’t be afraid!” vowed those climate protesters – including Greta Thunberg  – would not be dictating energy or trade policy.

“I never panic,” he told the local Sunrise program last week. “I don’t think panicking is to way to manage anything and the urge for panic that has come from some, often politically motivated, to pursue a particular agenda is not something I’m ever intimidated by or distracted by.”

“We won’t embrace reckless targets and abandon our traditional industries that would risk Australian jobs while having no meaningful impact on the global climate,” he said in an opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph.

“In short, we will continue to act responsibly on climate change, avoiding extreme responses and get the balance right.”

He spoke just days after a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed Australia’s coal exports are expected to rise over the next five years on the back of growing demand from Asia.

The report, published by the IEA on 17 December, found demand for coal in India could rise by 4.6 percent by 2024 and by 5 percent in Indonesia and Vietnam. As a result, Australia’s total coal production is expected to rise 1.4 percent annually from 409 million t in 2018 to 444 million t in 2024.

Coal exports were worth an estimated AUS$67 billion (US$45.9 billion) to the nation’s economy in the 2018 – 2019 financial year, overtaking iron ore as Australia’s most valuable export.

Matt Canavan, Australia’s Minister for Resources, said the report supported the need for new coal mines in the states of New South Wales and Queensland. He commented: “We will need more than Adani,” referring to the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

The Adani mine, which received final environmental approval in June, is expected to produce at least 10 million t of thermal coal every year.



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1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"The increasing use of cows to now produce renewable energy should temper such hypocritical anti-cow, anti-meat extremism."

You're dreaming.

1) Climate Hysteria is not rational. If it were, evidence that no climate apocalypse is coming any time soon would have an effect.

2) 'Renewable Energy' may, from the behavior of its prtroponents, be defined as any source of electrical energy that is in no danger of being practical. I'm not sure methane from bovine excreta counts.

3) The Bossy Left has been after people to stop eating meat for more than a century. They ain't gonna stop.