Resolution on Global Warming
WHEREAS, global warming is an issue of concern, interest, and action among many United Methodists; and
WHEREAS, global warming is “an average increase in the temperature of the atmosphere near the Earth's surface and in the troposphere <http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/glossary.html>, which can contribute to changes in global climate patterns.”1 Global warming can occur from a variety of causes, both natural and human-induced; and in common usage, “global warming” usually refers to the warming which is thought to occur from increased emissions of human-produced greenhouse gases;2 and
WHEREAS, a greenhouse gas is “any of the atmospheric gases which contribute to the greenhouse effect.”3 Carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane are three such examples. The greenhouse effect is “the overall warming of the earth's lower atmosphere <http://www.weather.com/glossary/a.html> primarily due to carbon dioxide <http://www.weather.com/glossary/c.html> and water vapor <http://www.weather.com/glossary/w-html>, which permit the sun's rays to heat the earth, but then restrict some heat-energy from escaping back into space.”4 “The greenhouse effect is unquestionably real and helps to regulate the temperature of our planet,” making life on Earth possible.5 Without a natural greenhouse effect, the average temperature of the Earth would be about zero degrees F (-18°C) instead of its present 57°F (14°C).6 However, too much greenhouse effect can produce conditions on Earth unfavorable to various species of life, including some human populations. Human activity has increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—mostly carbon dioxide <http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/globalwarming/sio-mlgr.gif> from fossil fuel (coal, oil, gas) combustion;7 and
WHEREAS, the largest international body critically examining issues related to greenhouse gases and global warming is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In their 2007 preliminary report, the IPCC reported, with a certainty of 90 percent, that this increase in human-produced greenhouse gases has increased the greenhouse effect, thereby contributing to Earth's recent warming.8 Prior to the Industrial Revolution, levels of carbon dioxide, the most significant greenhouse gas, were about 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv), and current levels are about 370 ppmv.9 The concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere today has not been exceeded in the last 420,000 years <http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/carbdiox.html>, and likely not in the last 20 million years.10 According to the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES), by the end of the 21st century, we could expect to see carbon dioxide concentrations of anywhere from 490 to 1260 ppmv (75-350 percent above the pre-industrial concentration);11 and
WHEREAS, such an increase in future carbon dioxide concentration is very likely to cause significant warming of the Earth's climate, resulting in a variety of changes.12 Scientists have observed some changes already occurring, including: sea level rise, shrinking glaciers, changes in the range and distribution of plants and animals, trees blooming earlier, lengthening of growing seasons, ice on rivers and lakes freezing later and breaking up earlier, and thawing of permafrost.13 Some of these changes, and other changes not mentioned, may have significant detrimental impacts upon human populations in the future; and unfortunately, many of the impacts may occur in nations with the least ability to adapt, given the economic and social challenges within those nations.
Now therefore, be it resolved, that as a global church community, we call on our members to reduce human-related outputs of greenhouse gases;
Be it further resolved, that members should make an effort to learn about human production and release of greenhouse gases and evaluate their own lifestyles to identify areas where reductions in production and release of greenhouse gases can be made. There are many informative resources for learning how one can reduce his/her greenhouse-gas impact;
Be it further resolved, that members should also work to make their own congregations more aware of the issue of global warming and create policies and practices which reduce greenhouse gas emissions from congregational infrastructure (church buildings, parsonages, vehicles, etc.);
Be it further resolved, that members call on the nations of the world to require reductions in greenhouse emissions using the most efficient and cost-effective mechanisms;
Finally, be it resolved, that members should also attempt to educate others outside their church communities on the need to take action on this issue.
RESOLUTION #1031, 2008 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
See Social Principles, ¶ 160D.
1. US Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change: Basic Information, December 2006. <http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basicinfo.html>
3. The Free Dictionary by Farlex, Definition of global warming as found in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition), 2003. <http://www.thefreedictionary.com/greenhouse+gas>
4. The Weather Channel, Weather Glossary, 2007. <http://www.weather.com/glossary/g.html>
5. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Global Warming: Frequently Asked Questions, February 2006. <http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html#Q1>
8. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis: Summary for Policymakers, 2007. http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM2feb07.pdf
9. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Global Warming: Frequently Asked Questions, February 2006.
12. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis: Summary for Policymakers, 2007.http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM2feb07.pdf
13. US Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change: Basic Information, December 2006. <http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basicinfo.html>
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2012. Copyright © 2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.