Food for thought this Thanksgiving: Most religious people hold the Earth sacred and believe that God has given us a duty to protect our oceans, forests and clean air

By Rachel Koning Beals

Yet a survey by Pew Research finds that highly religious Americans are much less likely than other American adults to express concern about warming temperatures around the world.

Most American adults – including a solid majority of those who identify as Christians and a large number of people who follow other major religious traditions – regard the Earth as sacred and believe that God has given humans the duty to take care of its oceans, forests and breathable air, according to a new survey.

However, this view does not necessarily translate into an active role in limiting climate change. And while politics may explain most of the reason, there are other factors at work.

A Pew Research Center survey released Thursday finds that highly religious Americans (those who say they pray every day, attend religious services regularly, and consider religion very important in their lives) are much less likely than other American adults to s worry about warming temperatures around the globe.

It was even as 2021 entered the books as one of the hottest years on record and featured scorched western states and a deadly and costly Hurricane Ida in the populated northeastern states, a storm whose l enormous water absorption can be pinned on warmer oceans.

And now, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information’s annual global temperature outlook, there’s a greater than 99% chance that 2022 will rank among the 10 warmest years on record. The scientific community widely argues that unless global warming slows, deadly acidic oceans will wipe out a major food source, coastlines will continue to erode, driving up insurance costs and the problems of health such as respiratory problems will worsen.

The Pew survey reveals several reasons why religious Americans tend to be less concerned about climate change. First and foremost: Politics: The primary driver of American public opinion on climate is party politics, not religion.

Highly religious Americans are more likely than others to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, and Republicans tend to be much less likely than Democrats to believe that human activity (such as burning fossil fuels to heat and cool homes, ship in-demand goods, or travel the country’s vast road network) warms the Earth. And, most of those respondents, even those who associate humans with climate change, don’t necessarily believe climate change is a serious problem, Pew said.

Other research has shown shifting conviction among Republican voters regarding understanding of climate change and the desire for conditional government intervention coupled with private sector innovation to slow global warming. But a majority wants a slow approach that keeps, for example, natural gas in an energy mix that also includes zero or low-emission wind, solar, nuclear, hydrogen and other (ICLN) technologies, such as allowing oil producers and gas capture and store carbon. What Republicans think about climate change also depends on their age, according to separate research.

“Much bigger problems”

Christians, and more broadly religious Americans, are not united in their views on climate change. While the majority of all major American Christian subgroups say they think global climate change is at least a fairly serious problem, there are substantial differences in the shares that view it as an extremely or very serious problem. — ranging from 68% of adults who identify with the historically black Protestant tradition to 34% of evangelical Protestants. And half or less of people polled in all major Protestant traditions say the Earth is warming primarily because of human activity, including 32% who are evangelicals.

Read:More right-wing Americans are worried about climate change, but aren’t ready to give up gas stoves

American clerics who express little or no concern about climate change also give a variety of other explanations for their views, including that “there are much bigger issues in the world today,” that “God controls the climate” and that they “don’t believe the climate actually changes.”

In addition, many religious Americans express concern about the potential consequences of environmental regulations, such as the loss of individual freedoms, fewer jobs, or higher energy prices.

Meanwhile, less religious people tend to be more concerned about the consequences of global warming. For example, religiously unaffiliated adults—those who describe themselves as atheists, agnostics, or “nothing in particular”—are significantly more likely to say climate change is an extremely or very serious issue (70%) than Americans. affiliated with religion as a whole (52%).

And people with a low level of religious commitment are much more likely than those with a medium or high level of religious commitment to be concerned about climate change. Most very religious Americans rate climate change as at least somewhat of a serious problem, but less than half (42%) say it’s an extremely or very serious problem, compared to 72% of adults least religious.

All these opinions are strongly linked to political partisanship, which appears to be a crucial factor in explaining opinions on the environment and climate change. Democrats and Democrats (83%) are much more likely than Republicans and GOPs (25%) to say global climate change is an extremely or very serious problem – a huge gap that underlies much of the differences apparent differences of opinion between religious groups.

Other key findings:

Climate change does not appear to be a major area of ​​focus in American congregations. Of all American adults who report attending religious services at least once or twice a month, only 8% say they hear a lot or enough about climate change in sermons.

The potential impact of government regulations is another factor that may contribute to religious Americans’ views on climate change. Compared to religious ‘no’s (28%), more Christians (44%) – and especially evangelical Protestants (56%) – say that over the next 30 years it is extremely or very likely that states States are overreacting to global climate change by creating many unnecessary environmental regulations.

The survey reveals a modest relationship between end times beliefs and concerns about climate change. Those who believe humanity is living in the ‘end times’ are less likely than those who don’t to say they think climate change is an extremely or very serious problem (51% vs. 62%).

All respondents who say their scriptures contain lessons about the environment were asked to describe, in their own words, what they think those lessons are. Within this group, people are much more likely to mention stewardship or people’s need to protect and care for the environment (29%) than they are to say their religious text mentions that humans have dominion over the Earth or that God has entrusted man with the responsibility of creation (3%).

As with views on the severity of climate change, views on global warming and the cause of it vary across parties and religious groups. About three-quarters of Democrats (77%) say the Earth is warming primarily because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels, three times the share of Republicans who say this (24%). And across each of the major Christian traditions, as well as among Americans who don’t identify with a religion, Republicans are consistently far less likely than Democrats of the same religious group to say that global warming is primarily caused by humans.

Share pro-growth, pro-investment ideas on climate change and ESG, even while on vacation

At an unaffiliated event on Thursday, investment research giant Morningstar featured environmental, social and governance (ESG) fund managers and research experts, professionals tasked with tracking, explaining and selling this growing feature of investing, on a Twitter Spaces discussion.

Panelists tackled the timely issue of sensitive holiday table discussions and how people who care about climate change and social issues could constructively engage with parents who don’t seem to. The thrust of the discussion was to avoid particularly sensitive fights and beatings, but to not shy away from sharing personal beliefs, especially when armed with scientific and economic reasoning.

This sharing, panelists said, helps explain to others why ESG and active participation in the energy transition can provide growth and income opportunities for investors, especially when other sound investment practices are used. , and can help foster more inclusive workplaces.

Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF, said she often had to explain to friends, family and business contacts that ESG is not an investment theme per se, but rather a layer of filtering or scrutiny applied to stock selection already facing deeper analysis. control List.

And, she said, the work of some conservative state officials and a stable of conservative judges at the federal level who pushed for an “anti-awakening” investment of state pension money. ‘State means she’s having those talks more than ever.

Leslie Samuelrich, CEO of Green Century Funds, said she patiently explains that “her rationale for including ESG data is when I think of [whether a] the company is really ready for a long-term investment. How will they behave in the economy 20 years from now? In 25 years, when I want my assets to be there for me, you know?”

“I want to invest in leaders. I want to invest in people on leadership teams who are considering these things,” she continued. “So for me, that’s the case for ESG. And that’s exactly what I say at the Thanksgiving dinner table.”

They were joined by Morningstar’s Sarah Newcomb, director of financial psychology, who said intentional listening can be the most generous offer at any table.

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11-20-22 1237ET

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