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Is Belief in Jesus' Second Coming and the Biblical End Times Impacting Climate Change?
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Is Belief in Jesus' Second Coming and the Biblical End Times Impacting Climate Change?

“[I]t stands to reason that most nonbelievers would support preserving the Earth for future generations..."

Yet another study surrounding Christianity and global warming is gaining traction. Last month, we told you about research that claims the majority of Protestant pastors reject the notion that global warming is real and man-made. Now, there's new analysis that appears to indicate that belief in the Biblical account of the end times may be having a negative impact on climate change.

According to Raw Story, a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh's David C. Barker and the University of Colorado's David H. Bearce found that belief in the end times has made those who embrace the notion less supportive of actions to curb environmental changes. The study, entitled, "End-Times Theology, the Shadow of the Future, and Public Resistance to Addressing Global Climate Change," is in the June issue of Political Science Quarterly.

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The abstract of the study explains its aim and findings:

The authors examine U.S. public attitudes regarding global climate change, addressing the puzzle of why support for governmental action on this front is tepid relative to what existing theories predict. Introducing the theoretical concept of relative sociotropic time horizons, the authors show that believers in Christian end-times theology are less likely to support policies designed to curb global warming than are other Americans. They then provide robustness checks by analyzing other policy attitudes. In so doing, the authors provide empirical evidence to suggest that citizens possessing shorter “shadows of the future” often resist policies trading short-term costs for hypothetical long-term benefits.

In sum: Christians who don't believe that the earth's life-span is never-ending (and those who believe that the Biblical end-times may occur in the not-so-distant future) are less likely to support policy measures that would respond to global warming and climate change.

Of course, it should also be noted that opposition to warming theories is not always rooted in religiosity; after all, there are arguments that simply center upon what some believe to be a cyclical nature of the world's global temperatures. Additionally, climate change critics -- the non-religious included -- also fear the impact that restrictive policies could have on the business and, subsequently, the economy.

Nevertheless, the issue being studied in this particular research endeavor is the impact of the end times phenomenon. And Barker and Bearce pose some intriguing theories about how this worldview could be impacting environmental efforts.

"[T]he fact that such an overwhelming percentage of Republican citizens profess a belief in the Second Coming (76 percent in 2006, according to our sample) suggests that governmental attempts to curb greenhouse emissions would encounter stiff resistance even if every Democrat in the country wanted to curb them," write the researchers.

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Raw Story notes that the study is based on data from the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. Using this information, researches apparently found that a belief in Jesus Christ's Second Coming reduced the probability that respondents would strongly support government policies addressing climate change. In fact, there was a 12 percent decrease in the probability for supporting these measures among end times believers when controlling for demographic and cultural factors.

“[I]t stands to reason that most nonbelievers would support preserving the Earth for future generations, but that end-times believers would rationally perceive such efforts to be ultimately futile, and hence ill-advised,” the researchers explain.

The study can be found here. Interestingly, a separate study released in December found that nearly 40 percent of Americans blamed the end times for the severity of weather and natural disasters last year, while just over 60 percent blamed global warming. Belief in Biblical end times theology continues to be strong in America which, according to the researchers of this latest study, could impact climate change policy.

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(H/T: Raw Story)


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