Thursday, June 2, 2016

2-Minute EcoPreacher: Global warming or climate change?

The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade

This new feature of EcoPreacher will offer 2-minute digestible bits on understanding climate change, ecological issues, and why healing Earth is part of our vocation and calling as people of faith.

Global warming?  Climate change? Greenhouse effect?  Climate chaos?  Global weirding?
The shifting language used to describe the problem of greenhouse gases creating planetary warming can lead to frustration and confusion.  Some climate change deniers claim that there was a “name change” to create more hype about this supposed “hoax” (a claim that is patently false).  Others simply are not up to speed on what these different terms mean.  What are we supposed to call it after all?

Both of the terms in question are used frequently in the scientific literature, because they refer to two different physical phenomena.  As the name suggests, 'global warming' refers to the long-term trend of a rising average global temperature . . . 'Climate change', again as the name suggests, refers to the changes in the global climate which result from the increasing average global temperature.  For example, changes in precipitation patterns, increased prevalence of droughts, heat waves, and other extreme weather, etc.

While the jargon can be difficult to grasp and keep up with, the fact that our ways of talking about this problem are expanding is actually a good thing.  Because it indicates that the issue of our hurting planet just won’t let us go.  The alarming data and studies, along with more stories about how religion is addressing climate change as a moral and ethical issue, shows that we keep coming back to the need to connect science and faith.  

In July of 2015, President Obama welcomed twelve people of faith to be honored as White House "Champions of Change" for their efforts in protecting our environment and communities from the effects of climate change.
Taking a few minutes to read up on the terminology can help you be a better climate communicator to show people of faith that the better we know and understand the problem, the more quickly and effectively we can take steps to address it.  And what are those steps?  Stay tuned for the next installment of 2-Minute EcoPreacher.

·        * For a quick reference guide to climate change terms, try the BBC’s Climate Change glossary:
·        * For a more in-depth glossary list, the EPA has a helpful site:
·        * As does the Union of Concerned Scientists:

·        * And here is a great series about how to talk to a climate skeptic with responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming to  

Leah Schade is the author of Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015).  She is ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and has been an eco-activist, educator and speaker since 2000. She will begin her position as the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary on August 1, 2016.  

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