Coalition to Advocate Environmental Balance
A coalition of evangelical Christians from various fields is preparing public policy recommendations designed not only to foster stewardship of the environment but to promote economic progress.
The newly named Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation has announced that a task force will be addressing the areas of "poverty and development" and "climate and energy" with policy proposals based on the biblical principles included in an earlier document.
Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Stephen Livesay, president of Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, were introduced as co-chairmen of the task force.
With the announcement in Washington, the Cornwall Alliance, formerly known as the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, maintained its role as an alternative to the Evangelical Climate Initiative.
The ECI, a coalition of more than one hundred evangelical leaders, contends human beings are the main cause of global warming, which it says will negatively impact poor people the most. The ECI, which issued a statement in February 2006, has endorsed legislation to decrease carbon dioxide emissions in an effort to combat climate change.
Leaders of the Cornwall Alliance continued to assert that the cause of global warming is uncertain. They also expressed concern about the effects that policies proposed by those who believe in human-induced climate change would have on the poor. In July, they released a document that was partly a response to ECI's statement and was signed by more than one hundred and ten evangelicals.
"The science is nowhere near settled on the issue of global warming," said Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, at a May 2 news conference "The only thing that's settled about global warming…is it has warmed in the last 100 to 150 years.
"The fact is we really don't know how much global warming in the last 100 to 150 years is manmade and how much is natural. We don't deny that climate change occurs. What we do deny is that mankind is totally or even mostly responsible for that warming.
"I believe that the predictions of catastrophic climate change are more based on faith than they are science," said Spencer, a former NASA scientist for climate studies. "The science is so immature on this subject, we simply do not know what to measure in the atmosphere to determine how sensitive our climate system is to increasing levels of carbon dioxide."
Calvin Beisner, the Cornwall Alliance's national spokesman, told reporters the coalition believes "it is absolutely necessary, if we want to see environmental protection and improvement occur, that we also promote human well-being."
"We believe, in fact, that the best science and the best economics brought together … indicate to us that recent and foreseeable global warming are well within the bounds of natural, historic variation and they are most likely more natural driven than human driven, that they are not likely to be catastrophic, but in fact probably more likely to be, on balance, benign," said Beisner, associate professor of social ethics at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "And that even if for some reason we thought it important to try to slow down the warming of the globe, we really can't do anything significant about it at a cost that would be justified by the benefits received."
Efforts to diminish "future global warming by reducing fossil fuel use would have devastating impacts on the world's economy, especially on the poorest people in the world," Beisner said. Fossil fuels largely consist of coal, oil, and natural gas.
Three tracks — creation care, human progress, and the plight of the poor — intersect on this issue, Duke said at the news conference. "I actually think it's irresponsible to act as though you can address one of those tracks without taking into consideration the other two," he said.
"And what I like about the Cornwall Alliance's emphasis is that it really looks at all of this holistically and says, 'It really is possible to work with creation or work with nature in such a way that it brings glory to God in a way that honors nature for being God's creation but also in a way that puts it in service to mankind,'" Duke said.
NOAH Sends 10,000 Workers to New Orleans
At its first anniversary, Operation NOAH Rebuild has topped more than ten thousand volunteers and 200 professions of faith in helping New Orleans-area residents recover from the impact of Hurricane Katrina.
The initiative has now moved into its second year with the announcement of a project coordinator and with the expectation of outdistancing the first year on all fronts.
David Maxwell, recently named NOAH project coordinator, oversees the supervision of staff, office, and warehouse operations and volunteer management. Maxwell left a Louisiana pastorate to join NOAH in November 2006 as a construction coordinator.
"I left the pastorate, but I didn't leave the ministry," said Maxwell, former pastor of Ridge Avenue Baptist Church in West Monroe. "This is a tremendous mission field and it is right in our backyard."
When NOAH crossed the one-year mark on May 1, it reported 10,338 volunteers were mobilized on 671 teams, and 203 professions of faith were recorded as volunteers shared the Gospel on-site.
"When a homeowner sees volunteers day after day, group after group working long hours in his home, he wants to know why and he is open to the Gospel," Maxwell said.
One homeowner, a Buddhist woman, told Maxwell she objected to Christianity because of Christian acquaintances whose behavior was inconsistent with their faith. Maxwell told her that hypocrisy is not specific to Christianity and "it's not about looking at people, it's about looking at Christ."
"Someday before this is over and her house is complete, I will have the opportunity to sit down and share the Gospel with her," Maxwell said. "That is why God has put us here."
NOAH is a partnership of the North American Mission Board, Louisiana Baptist Convention, and New Orleans-area Baptist associations and churches. The two-year initiative has a goal of rebuilding one thousand homes and twenty churches through the mobilization of volunteers from across the nation and Canada.
For information on volunteering in New Orleans with Operation NOAH, call 504-362-4604 or 1-877-934-0808.
New Pregnancy Test May Mean More Sex-Selection Abortions
A new home test reportedly can determine an unborn child's sex only six weeks into pregnancy, and a bioethics specialist has warned its primary purpose would appear to be enabling women to receive early sex-selection abortions.
The test, which is available on the Internet, moves up the time for detecting an unborn child's sex by more than three months. Ultrasound tests to determine the gender of babies normally are performed at about twenty weeks.
Bioethics commentator Wesley Smith said he could think of "only one main reason" for a test as early as six weeks.
"If you want a boy, and it's a girl — or probably less frequently, the other way around — then there is plenty of time to have a eugenic abortion and start again," Smith wrote on the weblog at bioethics.com.
"People who don't want a little girl or boy can find out early enough to destroy their daughter or son — with no one the wiser," he wrote. "So much for loving the child we conceive unconditionally. We apparently are moving into an era in which we not only have a right to have a child but to have the child we want. All that seems to matter any more is, 'I want.'"
The kit, which is manufactured by DNA Worldwide, can be purchased for less than $380, according to The Mail, a British newspaper.
With the kit, a pregnant woman takes a small blood sample from a finger prick, places it on filter paper, and sends it to a lab to be tested, The Mail reported May 4. If the lab test detects the Y chromosome in the blood sample, the baby is determined to be a male. If not, the child is deemed a female. The test results are sent back to the mother in about six days, according to the newspaper.
The new test may prove to be another weapon in what one scholar has labeled as a "global war against baby girls."
In December, Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute and a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, told United Nations delegates there is an increasing birth imbalance that favors males because of sex-selection abortions and prenatal technologies, such as screening for gender.
Sex-selection abortions have permanently altered the demographic balance of China and are in the process of doing the same in India, he said. This trend has reached Eastern Europe and Latin America, and it also is beginning to be observed in Africa, Eberstadt said.
The September 5 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported China and India are missing an estimated 80 million females largely because of sex-selection abortions.
Natural birth rates are about 105 male births to every 100 female births, but some of the world's regions have reached ratios from 115 to 100 up to 150 to 100.