“Many Christian fundamentalists feel that concern for the future of our planet is irrelevant, because it has no future. They believe we are living in the End Time, when the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire. They may also believe, along with millions of other Christian fundamentalists, that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed—even hastened—as a sign of the coming Apocalypse. . . .
“Why care about the earth, when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?”
On Friday at the Union Square subway station it was difficult to walk from one train line to another without bumping into believers handing out leaflets  about the end of the world, scheduled for Saturday, May 21, at 6:00 p.m. We were running late so we stepped around them, but they were great in number and made quite an obstacle course. How they present an obstacle in other ways is explained below.
Now that the sun has risen on a new day, May 22, it appears the planet has survived the series of cataclysms predicted for May 21, but don’t be sad: There are any number of other catastrophes lined up for us, some of them avoidable.
These believers are part of the problem. If only they believed in global warming , aka climate change, which is all too real, unlike the imaginings of Harold Camping of Family Radio that May 21 would be Judgment Day . . . or that the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 spells our doom.
People seem to want doom and catastrophe. Well, that can be arranged.
Judgment Day actually is happening but in slow motion, and has been unfolding for decades, but the faithful and the corporate-serving conservatives they elect to Congress are stubbornly ignoring the threat, or are even welcoming the end. ThinkProgress.org reported last November that 50% of the new GOP class of 2010 deny  the existence of manmade climate change. A 2002 Time-CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. We expect that percentage has only increased.
In 2005, months before Hurricane Katrina, Bill Moyers wrote a chilling column titled “There Is No Tomorrow ,” which has long been posted in the “Enviro Reading Room” after the essay on our Environment  page, that draws upon “The Godly Must Be Crazy ,” a powerful article (quoted above) by Glenn Scherer published at Grist.org around the time of the 2004 presidential election. Moyers, by the way, is a former minister and a man of faith, but he has no patience for those who ignore the destruction of the Creator’s handiwork, our once beautiful planet. See some choice passages from Scherer below.
Does a Global Sea-Level Rise of 10 to 20 Feet Sound to You Like a Matter of National Security?
Here is why climate change matters to a blog concerned primarily with Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Carbon emissions aggravate global warming, which intensifies hurricanes and raises sea levels. What good are Category 5–strength levees if sea levels rise by 10 or 20 feet or more, as scientists have warned may happen in this century? If Greenland were to melt, the seas would rise 23 feet. If Antarctica also were to melt, seas would rise 38 feet.
Estimates vary, but considering the speed at which the ice caps are melting, some scientists foresee sea-level rises of more than 10 feet, possibly over 20, in the next century. The last time the earth’s surface temperature was at its present warmth—3 million years ago—the sea level was about 75 feet higher. (“Swiftly Melting Planet 2007 ”)
And one other thing that we think is kind of important as we approach hurricane season (begins June 1):
Global warming has been found to increase the intensity of hurricanes (though a definite link to causing more hurricanes has not been established). As Katrina showed, fiercer intensity is bad enough. (“Penguins Are Melting ”)
It really doesn’t matter whether man-made industrial emissions are the primary cause of global warming: the fact is that the planet is warming. That fact alone should be enough to spur humankind to concentrated action. Denial, indifference, or inertia constitute negligent homicide—and the killing of most other life forms other than bacteria and cockroaches. What’s the word for “planet-killing”?
Excerpts from “The Godly Must Be Crazy”
The social and environmental crises of our times, dispensationalists say, are portents of the Rapture, when born-again Christians, living and dead, will be taken up into heaven. . . .
“All over the earth, graves will explode as the occupants soar into the heavens,” preaches dispensationalist pastor John Hagee, of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. On the heels of that Rapture, nonbelievers left behind on earth will endure seven years of unspeakable suffering called the Great Tribulation, which will culminate in the rise of the Antichrist and the final battle of Armageddon between God and Satan. Upon winning that battle, Christ will send all unbelievers into the pits of hellfire, re-green the planet, and reign on earth in peace with His followers for a millennium.
. . . .
A plethora of End-Time preachers, tracts, films, and websites hawk environmental cataclysm as Good News—a harbinger of the imminent Second Coming. Hal Lindsey’s 1970 End-Time “non-fiction” work, The Late Great Planet Earth, is the classic of the genre; the movie version pummels viewers with stock footage of nuclear blasts, polluting smokestacks, raging floods, and killer bees. Likewise, dispensationalist author Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” novels—at one point selling 1.5 million copies per month—weave ecological disaster into an action-adventure account of prophesy.
At RaptureReady.com, the “Rapture Index” tracks all the latest news in relation to biblical prophecy. Among its leading environmental indicators of Apocalypse are oil supply and price, famine, drought, plagues, wild weather, floods, and climate. RaptureReady webmaster Todd Strandberg writes to explain why climate change made the list: “I used to think there was no real need for Christians to monitor the changes related to greenhouse gases. If it was going to take a couple hundred years for things to get serious, I assumed the nearness of the End Times would overshadow this problem. With the speed of climate change now seen as moving much faster, global warming could very well be a major factor in the plagues of the tribulation.”
See these other Levees Not War posts on climate change:
Years of Decision  [Gore Wins Nobel Prize]
Photograph courtesy of Salon.com.