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Climate Change, the Extinction of Humanity and the Second Coming of Christ

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Surface of Venus, a planet with lots of greenhouse gases

Surface of Venus, a planet with lots of greenhouse gases

For many years my primary motivation for engaging in creation care and climate activism has been the fact that environmental destruction in general kills millions of people already and that climate change in particular will most likely kill off hundreds of millions of people in the near future. Since killing people is bad, according to Jesus’ ethics, we should care for creation and stop heating up the climate. In fact, some scientists have suggested that all of humanity will be extinct because of climate change. That is, not only will people die in Bangladesh or New York, but every single one of us might die because of this inconvenient market failure caused by industrialism and greed.

Of course, not all scientists are saying that we will become extinct because of this. While it is universally acknowledged that many other species will be terminated just as we have already killed off half of the world’s animals since 1970, and that humans are already dying because of climate change, whether we will commit communal suicide through our carbon emissions is not as clear. One of the main factors for this is that we’re not even sure how we will respond to the climate crisis, will there truly be an ambitious treaty in Paris that can turn the ships around, or will we just do business as usual until it is too late?

One of the scariest phenomena in climate research is called feedback loops, which basically means that a warmer planet will start to heat up even faster compared to what it does in the climate we have today. For example, a smaller arctic will lead to less reflection of sunlight back into space, and a melting tundra will release giant pockets of methane in the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas. These feedbacks may come to a point where global warming is unstoppable, to the extent that even if we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Earth will eventually become like Venus.

Science aside, how should Christians respond to these claims? We know, based on the eschatological prophecies in the New Testament, that the last days will indeed be tough times where there will be natural disasters and wars. Revelation 8 is famous for including some terrifying descriptions of natural disasters, that may have sounded ridiculous for non-Christian positivists during the industrial revolution but sound all too familiar to us today:

The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. (Rev 8:8-11)

Yet, extinction of all humans isn’t something the Bible talks much about. It would of course bring lots of serious depth to Jesus’ rhetorical question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Lk 8:18). But when He describes His second coming in Matthew 24, and when Paul prophetically speaks about it in 1 Thess 4, it seems quite clear that at least some people will be around, including Christians.

Technically, this does not exclude the possibility of ourselves bringing our own extinction – He might step in right before the final strike as He intervened when Abraham was about to kill Isaac. In fact, such a scenario would be an awe-inspiring, global application of the verse “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23).

However, I tend to fall back to my original motivation: climate change kills lots of people here and now and will killeven more in the future – that’s bad enough. As followers of Jesus we have to change that. Please sign this petition, and pray with me for climate justice and that more people will discover the beauty of simplicity and creation care.

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3 Comments

  1. D-Bo says:

    The earth is God’s project. He is in charge. We were warned by Jesus that there will be fools who think they know how and when the last day will come…like a thief in the night. Then, Jesus said that even He did not know the time nor the the day. Only fools dabble in worrying about the “signs.” And the bigger fools think man can destroy the world before God gets to !! There are Christians who stray from Christianity and join the atheists/communists and accept the predictions of “climate scientists” who claim that man is greater than God. There are THREE problems with “climate scientists” ……..

    1. There are very few of these because there is NO job waiting for anyone
    who majors in such. The only way to get paid is to get government
    grants to create a conclusion that gets another government grant. It
    is like having a degree in philosophy or Baroque Literature.

    2. Therefore, of course, the “climate scientist” has to create doom and
    gloom to get the next government grant. They would never admit
    that God is in charge or that man is incapable of spoiling God’s plan.

    3. And, to expose the fraud committed, the “climate scientists” NEVER
    predict what will happen NEXT year or in THREE years….where they
    would be proven false. They always predict doom in 30-50 years when
    they will NOT BE ACCOUNTABLE !!!

    The correct Christian response is to accept that God is in charge of the earth. Opinions are of no value.

    • PC says:

      There is little doubt that climate change is real, and that the overall temperature of the earth is indeed rising. Even the doubters accept that. The question is – is it due to mankind’s influence or is it a ‘natural’ phenomenon? All the available evidence is that man is a major contributing factor, probably the biggest factor, primarily due to the continued burning of fossel fuels, not to mention our agri-farming industry. It is very cynical indeed to imply that scientists are effectively making it all up just so they have a job. God does indeed have a plan but that doesnt mean mankind has no responsibility to take – that attitude smacks of blaming God for everything and a refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions. According to the Genesis account of creation, there is a definite sense in which God has, as it were, delegated some responsibility to mankind for the care of the earth. We should therefore be responsible in our attitude towards the planet on which we live (and on which we will continue to live after the Lord returns) rather than effectively saying – it doesnt matter, God will deal with it!

  2. PC says:

    I always found it interesting to discover following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the 1980’s that Chernobyl means ‘wormwood’, as the surrounding land is covered in it. Always wondered if that was a precursor to worse to come?

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The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Check out my YouTube channel!

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