At a pro-climate change rally in Bristol addressed on February 28th by the renowned teenage activist, Greta Thunberg, a supporter of hers displayed a poster declaring, “You can’t outsmart the planet”.
These words suggest that the planet in and of itself possesses a kind of superior and infinite power. This exposes the way in which the issue of climate change has a vital spiritual dimension to it, because it leads to the question of, Who possesses ultimate power? In post-Christian Britain this is now deemed to be ‘the planet’. So we are in fact reverting to a form of paganism, with a tendency to worship the creation rather than the Creator.
Yes, we sympathise with young people anxious about the earth’s future, but that does not mean that we have to pander to the breast-beating spirit of the age. The major political parties, however, are sadly going along with the idea that the climate change crisis is indisputable scientific fact. Even worse, many churches are doing likewise.
The earth’s temperatures have in fact changed throughout history, doing so in situations where there was no corresponding change in man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, because it is the Creator God who ordains climactic variations, working through the natural processes which He first put in place. Under His sovereignty a major factor in determining global temperatures is of course the sun, and the amount of solar radiation which the earth experiences constantly varies according to changes in the incidence of sunspots and faculae on the surface of the sun.
It is accordingly sunspot activity which explains the advent of the medieval warm period, which lasted from about 900AD to 1300AD. During this period the Vikings were actually farming in Greenland. Then from around 1300 to 1880AD the world experienced what is known as the Little Ice Age. During these colder centuries the number of sunspots at certain periods was smaller in relation to their more normal averaged-out activity.
The Bible has the antidote to the tidal wave of climate change anxiety afflicting so many people. We read in Jeremiah 5:22,
“Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it : and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?”
The root of Judah’s problem in Jeremiah’s day was that they had stopped fearing God. They had forgotten that it is He who controls every aspect of the natural world. They did not consider that it is He who holds back the sea at the shore, preventing it from going on and flooding the continents. They had pushed out of their minds the truth that it is God alone who gives them their every next breath, and who causes the crops to grow in the fields.
21st century man with all his liberal progressiveness likewise thinks himself wiser than Almighty God. It is tragic to see the western world succumbing to such overarching anxiety regarding the planet and its patterns of weather. It is the Church’s task to tell the unbelieving world, including many young people, that they must stop fearing climate change and start fearing the God who controls the climate. The Bible tells us concerning the whole realm of nature that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who is “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).
Yes, in God’s providence, natural calamities of course occur. This is part and parcel of living in a fallen world. Right now there is serious flooding in some parts of the country, and our concern and sympathy is with those suffering from all the disruption and hardship which this brings. On a national level, however, such extremes of nature are a call to repentance, a call for a national humbling before the Creator God, He who brings the rain, He in whose hands we all are, and He who alone determines a nation’s economic prosperity and general well-being (Deuteronomy 28:1-14, Psalm 33:12, Proverbs 14:34).
Living in God’s world surrounded by the evidence of His creating power renders all people without excuse for not believing in the one true Trinitarian God who manifests Himself in Jesus Christ (Romans 1:20).