Climate change, corporations and evangelicals

Colin Roberts, Columnist

Last year, I discovered the joy of writing for a student-run newspaper. Columns specifically, I didn’t have the stones to be a reporter in this climate. But I enjoyed how everyone’s hard work made the DEN happen, and writing about our dangerous political climate was a way for me to make sense of it.

This year, there’s certainly a lot to write about. Everything from the child-snatching policies, to the Helsinki conference, to the unfolding trade war, to Kavanaugh, to Saudi Arabia’s aggressive stab at power, to Syria, China, Iran and Russia. 

But having measured conversation feels like spitting in the ocean these days. Empathy can’t be taught if there isn’t an audience. You can’t convince people of a threat if they don’t hear it from their side. Economics is sorcery. And you certainly can’t get people to believe women if discussions have become weaponized. 

So civil dialogue feels…passé, at this point. Except something recently happened that caused me more concern than other things on the list above. And it ties into some much larger issues.   

The U.N recently released a report detailing the effects of climate change. According to the report, we have under two decades to get our house in order, or life is going to get very, very bad for everyone. 

There are hundreds of scientific watch-dog groups attempting to alert us to the dangerous of climate change. We’ve seen the wildfires, the droughts, and the increasing frequencies of hurricanes. We’ve heard about the consequences of the temperature increasing just two degrees. We watched chunks of the artic shelf cleave off, and deforestation across our tropical regions.

On top of this, a new disturbing trend has started in international business. Bottling companies such as Nestle have begun purchasing clean water sources in anticipation of increasing water scarcity. This is in itself dystopic, as water should be a fundamental human right (Sorry Flint) but water sources on Native and First Nation land is often acquired without the tribe’s consent, and on expired permits. 

This is not exactly news. So shouldn’t we be able to still convince people in this country that their livelihoods are in danger? 

Unfortunately, lazy, reductionist interpretation of people’s intentions is quickly becoming the death of America. Discussions about climate change, like discussions about school shootings, child-separation policies and dead Yemini children, are difficult to have in our politically-charged climate because of these lazy interpretations. This does not make the problems any less dire, just too politicalized for progress. It’s been weaponized, at the expense of addressing the problem.  

The problem is something I’ve addressed before, and that’s the intersection between the GOP, Evangelicals and Corporate America. Keeping in mind my own warning on lazy interpretations, I’ve approached this relationship with caution. But we’re all familiar with the way Republicans court the favor of businesses and the religious conservatives. It is the same on the left with their groups. Over the years, these groups’ in their respective parties had their ideologies merge and their goals align. 

Unfortunately, that’s not to say the GOP or corporate America adopted Christian principals. These days it doesn’t even seem like the Evangelical leadership adopted Christian principals. But these three groups did rally around conservative economic policies, American individualism, and certain traditionalist values. 

This unity, we’ll call them Evangelicals, Villains, Industry and Lawmakers, or E.V.I.L for short, are against all kinds of regulations with the general exception of moral values. Any sort of legislation to control emissions, disposal or manufacturing processes is to be resisted, as it represents an attack on American individualism and the right to pursue happiness through capitalism. 

Add to this the Evangelical belief that we don’t have to take care of the earth because it’s temporary, and suddenly you’ve got an uphill battle. Again, I’m not trying to generalize or make lazy interpretations, but there’s enough members of E.V.I.L that…well, we have 20 years to fix it or it won’t even matter.   

If you’re reading this and perhaps you feel personally attacked, that’s probably an indication of our society’s inability to separate issues from emotions and feelings. Or maybe I made a lazy interpretation. It’s a work in progress. But it’s an important one, with consequences for us and our children. Even those of you who are old, and feel you’ll miss out on all the damage, could find yourselves surprised. 

As for a solution, that’s hard to say. When an issue is institutionalized, like E.V.I.L, it’s an uphill battle. But the first step is recognizing a problem. 

All of us.   

Colin Roberts is a senior professional writing major. He can be reached at 581-2812 [email protected].