Religion’s Role in Climate Change
The rhythms of the sky have long been companions of human thought and ritual. Religions have found many ways to make sense of seasonal weather cycles, alongside the unreliable and cruel performance of the earth’s climate. Given that all religions offer a way of ordering relations between humans, non-humans and the gods, it would be surprising if religions had nothing to say about climate change. But how does religious faith influence how people engage with the phenomenon of climate change? Answers to questions such as ‘Who or what controls the weather?’ or ‘What values shape the behaviours of people?’ are strongly influenced by our belief systems. Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate and Culture, will answer these questions drawing upon evidence from the United States (the beliefs of evangelical Christians), from Europe (the influence of last year’s Papal Encyclical), and from the Pacific Islands (the role of churches in helping communities adapt to climate risks). He argues that climate change is not primarily a physical process that must be stopped, but a stage in the cultural evolution of the idea of climate. Ignoring the role and influence of religion in climate debates is another form of climate denialism.
Mike Hulme is Professor of Climate and Culture at King’s College London, where he is also Head of the Department of Geography. His work sits at the intersection of climate, history and culture, studying how knowledge about climate and its changes is made and represented, and analysing the numerous ways in which the idea of climate-change is deployed in public discourse around the world. His new book Weathered: Cultures of Climate is published this autumn by Sage. Previous books include Can Science Fix Climate Change? A Case Against Climate Engineering (2014) and Why We Disagree About Climate Change (2009).