The Bible And Global Warming


What does the Bible tells us or warn us about global warming?

I need to be honest with myself here, I’m not sure if I could answer this subject properly because I’m not a geophysicist, or any sort of scientist, for that matter! However, since, lately we have heard so very much about the plight of the Barth, and I do watch the T.V. news and read the newspapers, I suppose that I know as much about the subject as the average intelligent adult. And another reason for dealing with the subject is that it featured prominently on this morning’s T.V. news!

What is ‘Global Warming’?

First, we need to be sure than we understand what is meant by ‘Global Warming’ and why it is happening, because, since it is a phenomenon which has been identified and named relatively recently, various theories have been advanced to try to explain the origin of the problem.

The first and, I suppose, most obvious culprit, was the Sun. Global Warming, it was said, ‘has a cosmic origin’. In other words, it is the Sun’s heat which is causing the polar ice-caps to melt and the sea-levels to rise, creating the danger of flooding on a massive scale.

But the most recent research has rejected this theory, claiming that the problem is much more complicate, because the Sun’s output has not varied over the past 1000 years, and, in any case, the Sun’s heat alone is insufficient to cause global warming. So, the cause has to be sought elsewhere.

We are to blame!

It is now generally conceded that the problem has a human origin. We are, ourselves to blame for the problem, because our life-style, and in particular the life-style of the industrialized nations of the western world, is mainly responsible for the increased production of the carbon gases that are creating what has been called ‘the greenhouse effect’, which is causing the Earth to heat up.

Around the world, countries are becoming more and more aware of, and concerned about, the harm being done by the massive output of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide exhausts, released both by our factories and our modern, cherished methods of transport.

Sadly, there are still a few countries whose governments, for quite selfish financial reasons, persist in refusing to face up to the seriousness of the situation, or, are merely proposing ‘sticking plaster’ cures for it, and it is a tragic comment on our world that the poorer nations, who are least responsible for creating the problem, are the ones who appear to suffer from it most.

A Summary

This is what is believed to be happening. The Sun’s energy creates our climate and our weather and heats the Earth’s surface. Without this heat from the Sun, life on our planet would be impossible. In turn, the Earth itself radiates energy buck into space, dispelling excessive heat, and so creating a climate which we humans can tolerate.

But, the gases I have already mentioned, carbon, methane, etc., rise from the Earth to form a barrier in the upper atmosphere, trapping this radiated energy and preventing its dispersion in much the same way as a greenhouse traps heat, hence the term ‘Greenhouse Effect’. The result is that the Earth’s temperature is gradually rising, and this is ‘Global warming’.

We have an example of what this means, provided by a very recent investigation conducted in a remote part of Siberia. It has been established that the ‘permafrost’, that is, the earth which in polar regions remains permanently frozen throughout the year, is thawing out and vast new lakes are being created.

Even more serious is the fact that vegetation and fossil-remains, which for thousands of years have been frozen, are now being freed to release vast levels of methane into the atmosphere, thus adding to the problem.

A Second Problem!

We are also told that there is also another serious problem resulting from the creation of these carbon emissions. This is the problem of the damage being done to the ‘Ozone Layer’.

Again, explaining this very simply, just over six miles above the earth there is a layer in the stratosphere that contains a high level of ozone, which acts as a barrier, preventing harmful levels of the Sun’s ultra-violet rays from reaching us. You know, of course, that these are the rays which give you sunburn, and, far more seriously, cause skin cancer.

The trouble is that these gases, known as CFCs, which we humans have created, are destroying, the ‘Ozone Layer’, and this is allowing dangerous radiation to reach the Earth. ‘CFC’ is the abbreviation for ‘chlorofluorocarbons’ the kinds of gases which have, until recently, been widely used in refrigeration, and aerosol sprays.

Just how dangerous CFCs are, you will appreciate when I tell you that the scientists claim that one molecule of CFC gas takes about 15 years to rise up to reach the upper atmosphere, where it can survive for about a hundred years. During that time, one molecule of CFC will destroy up to one hundred thousand molecules of ozone, weakening, or thinning out, the ozone layer, and, if mankind continues to neglect the problem, or ignores its cause, we are warned that the Earth will really experience ‘Global Warming’.

Even as I write this, I hear the television news report warning of the ‘irreparable damage’ that will follow, if these problems are not treated urgently and seriously.

What does the Bible reveal about this problem?

Well, the answer to this question is, nothing! Although the Scriptures reveal some truly fascinating scientific facts about our planet and our universe, such as the rotundity of the Earth and its suspension in space, the ‘paths’ in the seas, the ‘water cycle’, the existence of an atmosphere, to name but a few, we should not use the Bible as a scientific textbook, or expect it to provide a solution to every problem which comes along to puzzle the scientists.

The Earth’s destiny

This does not mean that the Bible is silent on the subject of the Earth’s future. On the contrary. Regardless of how mankind chooses to deal with its self-created problems, or with what method the nations attempt to resolve them, almost two thousand years ago the Holy Spirit, through the instrumentality of the apostle Peter, revealed in unequivocal language what will finally become of planet Earth.

In Peter’s second letter, chapter 3, there are statements which reveal what will eventually happen. Consider the following verses, 2 Peter 3:7 / 2 Peter 3:10 / 2 Peter 3:11.

The picture painted by these verses shows a planet perishing in a heat of unimaginable ferocity. There will be no light, no sky, but a profound darkness. Because of the intensity of the heat, the clouds that contain the moisture and dust which make possible light on Earth, will disappear with a roar fiercer than that of any forest fire the world has ever known.

We should pay attention to the extremely vivid expressions that are used in these verses. ‘Great noise’. The heavens ‘kindled’. The heavens ‘dissolved’. The earth ‘burned up’. The elements ‘melt’.

Where ‘Global warming’, or the ‘Depletion of the ozone Layer’, the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ fit into this scenario, or if they fit in at all, I am not wise enough to be able to determine. But, because I believe God’s word, I do believe that in Peter’s letter, our heavenly Father has given us a glimpse of the death of our sin-stained planet.

What peter describes does not fit the theology of those people who call themselves ‘Jehovah’s witnesses’, and who hold the view that the existing Earth will always exist, after undergoing a sort of ‘dry-cleaning’ operation. We need to remind such people of what Peter’s letter actually declares.

It is impossible to dismiss such language by describing it as ‘figurative’ or ‘symbolic’. The description must be taken literally. It is a statement of divinely revealed fact.

One day, what Peter describes will surely occur, and if we are wise we shall pay attention to his exhortation in verse 14.

‘So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.’ 2 Peter 3:14

Think about the last three words, ‘and at peace’, because no child of God need fear the final destruction of our planet. God’s people will all have been removed before it occurs.

And, as Peter says, ‘But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.’ 2 Peter 3:13



"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD."