As a record breaking wave of arctic weather The largest energy producing state, Texas, is crippled. The heads of state are quick to point their fingers at alternatives to green energy such as wind and sun, claiming that such energy sources cannot be used in cold weather. Coal and oil are the answer, we are told.
These arguments against green energy, however, are based on the fact that Texas has refused to require that its power grid infrastructure be overwintered for nearly 50 years. In an interview with ABC News' Austin subsidiary, David Tuttle of the University of Texas Energy Institute said, “It would be millions to make the system really bulletproof. How much do we want to pay to protect ourselves with infrequent event insurance policies? “
For a state where oil and gas alone add an estimated $ 502.6 billion to the economy and generate over $ 16 billion in tax revenues annually, just millions for wintering equipment seems like a fine.
ABC News in Austin also reports that “wintering equipment – to ensure that it can withstand extended sub-freezing periods – has never been a requirement in Texas as in any other state”. While Texans are in many cases without electricity for days, the ironically named Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) announced general interest rate hikes because the energy supply was low due to system discharges and power outages.
This is not just an economic problem. Like all economic issues, it is a matter of justice.
As the oil industry fills their pockets and state officials generate strong revenues, people are freezing – many struggling without electricity for oxygen tanks, CPAP machines and other medical devices. With life on the line, pointing with the finger emerged. The lawmakers blame the utility companies and the utility companies blame the regulators.
It seems like one thing coal and oil companies and lawmakers in Texas can agree on right now to dump wind and solar power under the bus. Even the editors of the Wall Street Journal have now stated that green energy “is more of an existential threat to America than climate change”. That's absurd.
Texas has chosen not to plug its own power grid into other states (the only state in the bottom 48 countries that does) and cannot import electricity. Since the 1970s, and particularly through the eight years of the Obama era, Texan politicians have touted that Texas would go “power independent” in order to avoid federal regulations – like wintering equipment. Conservative hubris and demeanor led to this failure, not wind turbines.
“People of the faith should encourage their lawmakers to pass laws that protect the weakest among us.”
What does all of this have to do with the Church? Our biblical mandate to love our neighbor calls us to consider the needs of other people, especially the poor. Sally McFague writes in Blessed Are the Consumers: Climate Change and the Practice of Restraint: “As we do these things, a narrative emerges in which words like restraint, sharing, boundaries, boundaries are central and words like limitless, expansion, growth, development , which has determined our personal, political and economic life for centuries, is moving to the edge. “
It seems obvious that spending just millions on winterizing equipment is a drop in the ocean compared to hundreds of billions in energy income. People of the faith should encourage their lawmakers to pass laws that protect the weakest among us.
One thing that makes this a challenge, however, is that many people of the faith still deny that climate change is real. Over the past few days my Facebook feed has been filling up with people joking about global warming. What they fail to realize is that climate change leads to weather extremes at any time of the year. Despite clear scientific evidence, many Christians seem to completely deny the reality.
The subject is heavily politicized, and to some, global warming and environmental protection seem like leftist political agendas. Changes of any kind do not come without political will. Part of the reluctance of many to adopt environmentally friendly practices is based on political bias, but the reluctance is also based on a deep-seated distrust of the Academy. If the same scientists who believe in evolution believe in global warming, the biblical literalist wants nothing to do with it.
“Many people in our churches will find it difficult to look at theology in terms of environmental protection because of their politics or their suspicions of science.”
In fact, a study in the American Sociological Review found that “religious right and transnational corporations … each have an interest in scientific outcomes” and both act as major contributors to some people's distrust in science. Any plan to bring environmental ethics into the local church must recognize these hurdles and find ways to depoliticize them. Pastors should be aware that trust in science has not declined since the 1970s, except among conservatives and those who attend church frequently.
This knowledge deserves careful consideration, as many churches are full of political and theological conservatives and all healthy churches are frequently present, both – including at Zoom. Many people in our churches will find it difficult to view theology in terms of environmental protection because of their politics or their suspicions of science. This is the “inconvenient truth” of environmental ethics in the local church.
Texas lawmakers and regulators should carefully consider whether winter weathering is mandatory for all energy companies (both green and fossil fuels). Not only is this a science-based approach preparing Texas to deal with climate change, but it is also a way for us to love our neighbors through public order.
Jonathan Davis is co-founder of the Healthy Churches Institute and founder of the Small-Town Churches Network, which helps rural churches thrive in the midst of change in the 21st century. He provides coaching to individuals and organizations on leadership and vision issues and helps organizations dream about what it means to thrive in the new cultural paradigm.