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Volume 98, Number 1

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The Great Warming policy and panel discussion participants contemplate the implications of this world crisis.
The Great Warming policy and panel discussion participants (above, from left to right: Robert P. Casey Jr, Rev. Richard Cizik, John Kermond, and Joseph Sheldon) explore the implications of this world issue.

Panelists emphasize the real dangers

posed by global warming
Leaders in science, politics, religion participate in policy and panel discussion

As part of the Pennsylvania premiere of the film The Great Warming, Messiah College hosted a policy and panel discussion on the topic of global warming, aimed at exploring the personal and legislative implications of this world crisis. Leaders in science, politics, and religion were invited to participate in this discussion, and members of the audience were encouraged to ask questions to panelists.

Panelists included:

  • Robert P. Casey, Jr., Pennsylvania state treasurer and U.S. senatorial candidate;
  • Reverend Richard Cizik, vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals;
  • John Kermond, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research visiting scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Program Office;
  • Joseph Sheldon, professor of biology and environmental science at Messiah College, and board member of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

The following comments were excerpted from the policy and panel discussion.

How is the government currently addressing this issue of global warming?

Robert P. Casey, Jr., Pennsylvania state treasurer and U.S. senatorial candidate

Robert P. Casey, Jr. discusses the political implications of the global warming issue.

Casey: Part of the solution [to this global crisis] is in an area related to efficiency and in the reduction of emissions. I think that’s one of the areas where there could be progress.  I think that there need to be significant investments and incentives in alternative and hybrid technologies, renewable technologies, so that we can [encourage] industry and government and every aspect of America to take steps to reduce emissions and be part of the solution.

What are some practical suggestions on how to mobilize Christians toward environmental stewardship?

Cizik: When the public realizes that its not only an environmental issue, not only a political issue . . . but a national issue, a moral and spiritual issue—that's when ideas and thoughts will begin to change. [So my advice would be to] go not just to your politicians and say “What do you do on this issue, what are you willing to stand for?” but go to your pastor and say “When are you going to deliver the first sermon?”

Kermond: The message that I’m going to give you is that there will be some extra costs that are associated with this issue [of proper environmental stewardship]. Be prepared to write checks. There’ll be some individual sacrifices, not just the planting of trees or the changing of the light bulb—but it will cost us some more money, individually.


What are the implications of our government not having signed the Kyoto Protocol Treaty on global warming?

Joseph Sheldon shares his thoughts on global warming and the public responsibility.

Joseph Sheldon shares a scientific perspective on global warming.

Sheldon: What we’re really doing, in my opinion, is compromising the future of our children and our grandchildren. We are handing a price tag to the next generation—in terms of the cost to repair the damage we have done—that they simply cannot afford.

Can Christian beliefs be compatible with intellectual credibility, in terms of addressing scientific issues?

Cizik: Too often, [evangelical Christians have this] kind of pre-millenial pessimism that says, "Look, it doesn’t need to be cared for because it’s all going to be burned up anyway." It is that kind of mentality—which I think is bad theology— which today I believe is discrediting evangelicals as leaders.

Sheldon: The people who argue that there isn’t any reason to be good stewards of creation are the very people who are indeed saving for their retirement; they mow their lawn, the do their dishes, they buy car insurance—they take very good care of their personal property but everything else that they don’t own don’t worry about because it’s all going to be burned up anyway. There’s a discontinuity in terms of their credibility. The other piece [is] that, according to a major national survey by Keller and Berry, the more frequently a person attends a religious service . . . the less he or she knows about the environment and the more utilitarian and dominionistic are their attitudes. An interesting connection there. I think that is still very much a problem in the church today.

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