ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Climate Change and the Significance of Religion

There is a growing sense that religion has a part to play in shaping our responses to climate change. Merely understanding climate science, or dealing with it through the frame of technology is clearly insufficient. Religious engagement with climate change is both necessary and inevitable. But there is much to discover about how religious beliefs, institutions and practices around the world engage with the idea of climate change, and to what effect, thereby offering rich research agendas with which religious scholars and others might profitably engage.

People have always sought to make sense of their variable weather, to seek explanations for why the gods seem to bless or curse humanity through offering them either benign or malign weather. Agricultural societies in particular have always been aware of their dependence on the weather gods, since how the weather behaves means the difference between plenty and scarcity, profit and loss, between life and death itself. Yet, religious modes of explanation for changing climates began to be supplanted in the 17th century by naturalistic accounts of climatic misdemeanours. As nature became disenchanted during the Western enlightenment, scientific exploration and explanation became the preferred way to discover true causal accounts of adverse weather extremes and climatic stresses.

Such scientific accounts of climatic change are now dominant in the worlds of education, economics and politics. This dominance is nowhere more evident than in the international gatherings of politicians, diplomats and negotiators who, since 1995, convene each December in the Conference of the Parties (COPs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Science has revealed that human activities are transforming the atmosphere (through the emission of greenhouse gases and particulates) and the land (through forest and ecosystem transformations) to such an extent that it is now humans, not the gods, who exert a greater influence on the climate.

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Updated On : 14th Jul, 2017
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