Publication Details

Religious identity, beliefs, and views about climate change

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Year Published

2016

Publication

Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.335 [36 p.]

Abstract

People can take extraordinary measures to protect that which they view as sacred. They may refuse financial gain, engage in bloody, inter-generational conflicts, mount hunger strikes and even sacrifice their lives. These behaviors have led researchers to propose that religious values shape our identities and give purpose to our lives in a way that secular incentives cannot. However, despite the fact that many cultural and religious frameworks already emphasize sacred aspects of our natural world, applying all of that motivating power of "the sacred" to environmental protectionism seems to be less straightforward. Sacred elements in nature do lead people to become committed to environmental causes, particularly when religious identities emphasize conceptualization of humans as caretakers of this planet. In other cases, however, it is precisely the sacred aspect of nature which precludes environmental action and leads to the denial of climate change. This denial can take many forms, from an outright refusal of the premise of climate change to a divine confirmation of eschatological beliefs. A resolution might require rethinking the framework that religion provides in shaping human-environment interactions. Functionalist perspectives emphasize religion’s ability to help people cope with loss—of life, property and health, which will become more frequent as storms intensify and weather patterns become more unpredictable. It is uncertain whether religious identity can facilitate the acceptance of anthropogenic climate change, but perhaps it can aid with how people adapt to its inevitable effects.

Citation

Sachdeva, Sonya. 2016. Religious identity, beliefs, and views about climate change. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.335 [36 p.]

Last updated on: October 7, 2016