Florida Evangelicals Urge Gov. to Act on Climate Change

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/STEVE CANNON http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/20/3439695/evangelical-environmental-network-rick-scott-petition/

Evangelicals in Florida are increasing pressure on Gov. Rick Scott to make confronting the impacts of climate change a priority.

Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), has started a petition calling on Scott to take action on climate change:

As Christians, we believe that God’s grace empowers us to honestly confront the challenges we face and change for the better. We are failing to keep our air and water clean for our children, contributing to a changing climate that most hurts the world’s poor, and putting Floridians at risk as temperatures and sea levels continue to rise. To meet these challenges, we need leaders who understand our duty to God’s creation and future generations. That’s why we are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to create a plan to reduce carbon pollution and confront the impacts of a changing climate.

Hescox told Think Progress that he plans to deliver the petition to Scott in the coming weeks. And last night Hescox joined Joel Hunter, a prominent Evangelical pastor and spiritual advisor to President Barack Obama, in a panel discussion titled, “Climate Change: Should Christians Care?” at the Northland church in Longwood. While Hescox and Hunter expected the attendees to be receptive, Scott’s receptivity remains to be seen.

Evangelicals have long advocated for environmental protection, but the voices of people like Hescox and Katharine Hayhoe, an Evangelical climate scientist and one of Time‘s most influential people of 2014, are often drowned out by the religious right. To EEN, protecting the environment is just part of being pro-life.

“Pro-life Christians should be especially concerned about what these conclusions will mean for young children and the unborn,” Hescox said in response to the IPCC’s recent Fifth Assessment Report. “Pollution impacts young children and even developing children in utero. Both groups are at increased risk for Asthma, developmental challenges, environmental toxins, severe allergies, and more in a world where pollution will become more common as the world warms.”

And while this should resonate with Evangelical politicians like Scott who signed numerous pro-life bills into Florida law, Scott doesn’t seem to care about pollution’s impacts on life. As governor, Scott has promoted natural gas pipelines and all kinds of development projects, while gutting environmental regulations. And in 2010, Scott said he didn’t believe in climate change.

But Scott hasn’t said much about climate change recently. His silence may be because he’s running for reelection this year in a state that the White House recently called “exceptionally vulnerable to sea level rise.” Scott may also be trying to avoid the significant backlash Florida Sen. Marco Rubio received after he recently told ABC News that he doesn’t believe climate change is caused by humans and that environmental laws to regulate greenhouse gas emissions don’t work. (I mean, if Joe Scarborough can’t defend Rubio’s statements, who can?)

But with the Evangelical community pushing Scott to act, it may be time for the governor to take a stand.

“We’re hoping that with his values and his understanding of scripture, that helping him to understand climate change in a way that uses the values that he and I probably share — more conservative, pro-life values — will help him understand climate change is real and a very big threat to Florida,” said Hescox.

Here’s praying that Hescox is right.

News and Photo Source: Think Progress

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About the Author

I'm an organic-eating, energy-saving naturalist who composts and tree hugs in her spare time. I have a background in environmental law, lobbying, and field work. I believe in God; however, I do not call myself a Christian or a Jew or a member of any religion. I am merely someone who finds a spiritual connection to all humans and the environment. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .