Twenty professors at Calvin College this summer signed an open letter to the United States Congress calling for action in response to climate change and in defense of people in developing countries whose lives are being adversely affected.
Calvin College is located in Grand Rapids, Mich., and is owned by the Christian Reformed Church..
The letter was also signed by 200 Christian evangelicals from colleges including Cornell University, Gordon College, Hope College, Ohio State University, and Wheaton College.
“We as a society risk being counted among ‘those who destroy the earth’ (Revelation 11:18),” the letter states in part.
“Global warming may seem to be just a climate issue,” said associate chemistry professor Douglas Vander Griend, one of the Calvin faculty members who signed the letter. “But the fallout is hardship, poverty, and struggle . . . experienced disproportionately by people who didn’t create the problems.”
Jim Bradley is a retired math professor who still teaches one class a semester at the college. “The skepticism with which many Christians have regarded global warming is precisely the reason why I signed the letter,” he said. “Responsible Christian stewardship means that we can't take the risk of ignoring the situation—the potential consequences of not limiting greenhouse gases are too serious.”
“I felt it was important to sign the letter because the U.S. is not taking climate change seriously and we are digging ourselves and the rest of the world a deeper and deeper hole,” said biology professor Dave Warners. “The longer it takes for us to begin taking serious measures to curb our emissions and increase our sequestration capacity, the more difficult it will be to turn things around.”
Geology professor Ralph Stearley teaches Calvin’s oceanography class. He said rising sea levels and melting glaciers provide “blatant physical evidence” that the climate is changing. Moreover, as more arctic ice melts, shipping companies are investing money in new shipping routes across the Arctic, oil companies are setting up to drill in previously inaccessible waters, and tour trips to the North Pole via boat are being envisioned, he said, proof that people really believe that things are changing, because they are investing money.
“Climate scientists are physicians for the planet,” said Warners. “We can choose to ignore [them], but with potentially grave consequences.”
The letter to Congress was initiated by Dorothy Boorse of Gordon College and was circulated by email.
The full list of Calvin professors who signed the letter:
Randall Van Dragt
Douglas Vander Griend