Religious and Cultural Climate Denial

by victoriasalomon on September 23, 2017 - 1:48pm

Victoria, Katelyn, Melodie


Religion and culture have the power to shape us as human beings, down to our core beliefs. Though, it is surprising to see the amount of impact it can have on our ecological beliefs. More specifically: climate change and the air of denial surrounding it. Some religions do not see the need to personally care for the environment, believing that their God is in charge of everything that happens to the world. Others, in their culture, engage in practices that are more taxing on the environment than we believe.  

Firstly, the purposeful lack of care towards the environment on a religious aspect.  Let it be known that there are religions, mainly animist, who do care about preserving the environment due to the fact that their religious beliefs are engrained with it. They are not the ones posing a threat. The religious community has many divides, not just per religion but also by the extent of their beliefs. Some people believe that we must a live a decent, virtuous life to please God, whereas others believe that this life does not matter, and it is the afterlife that matters. Those people are known as bible literalists. Every word that was written is being taken to heart and applied to their lives. They believe that God controls the climate, and no matter what course of action they take, they are irrelevant to the end result. As seen in Biblical stories, natural disasters happened under the pretext that God or many Gods were angry. Flooding, hurricanes, drought are all serious occurrences, made worse by climate change, but religious deniers believe that they are only a flick of God’s hand. A recent poll done by the Guardian showed that within religious groups, the one that was the most against climate change were the evangelical Protestants. 55% of them did not believe in climate change, or if they did, they didn’t believe that humans were involved. They are very close-minded and they’ve published statements and writings about their vehement disagree towards climate change. They are definitely the most radical. Whether or not people are religious should not matter, but it also should not work against our planet.

In a cultural aspect, climate change denial prevails as well. It is the most prominent in the United States, their culture being based on freedom of speech and economy. This results in an impact of 1/3 of the country not believing. There are other cultures though, that have their own unique consequences. Mediterranean and East-Asian cultures are very superfluous. Their traditions and parties always involve a lot of food, a lot of people, a lot of pollution, though that is rarely of concern to them. No one wants to let go of their culture, because it is something ingrained within ourselves. People would surely not be happy with the idea that they need to change an integral part of their lifestyle for the sake of the planet, but that’s what must happen.

Everything is interconnected. From the environment down to the reasons why people may believe that it is not in danger, when really, we are nearing a catastrophe. Religion and culture do not play the largest role in climate change denial, but it is a role nonetheless. It would be an easy place to begin finding solutions as well, before moving up the scale to intense global measures. 


I enjoyed reading through your article as it explores an important factor that is rarely studied when looking at conservation and socio-ecology. Normally, people justify their points of view using political, economic or personal arguments, having one that includes culture, or more specifically, religion as a relevant factor is a valid point that is worthy of being made. People often overlook religion and ideological differences when it comes to ecology, and how these forces can sometimes make a large difference in the way we treat our environments. Religion offers a moral framework that humans can abide by justify their actions, and more often than not, environmental problems are caused by human-related activities. This link should have been explored more in-depth as it is the basis of (almost) all religions and the way humans use ideology to go about their lives. Furthermore, it would have been easy to explain the formers influence on the latter, and make an argument based on that with examples. For instance, the Buddhist religion has a positive influence on the environment since a big part of it emphasizes interconnection (with the world and its inhabitants); thereby creating an ideology that promotes a sustainable relationship between man and nature. On the other hand, Christianity has a more anthropogenic view on mankind and the ecosystems he inhabits, such as the biblical notion of human dominion over earth (Genesis 1:28) and its ressources. It can be assumed that such an ideology would hold negative effects on the environment, but specific theological research must be made before making such claims. Asides from your lack of concrete examples, the article itself is well structured and has a good universal application to it. I know how hard it can be to back up your arguments using peoples beliefs and ideologies, its a very touchy subject and difficult to put into words, but you guys did it very well and the point comes across very fluidly. A good suggestion for further writing on this subject would be to write entirely about culture or entirely about religion. Trying to fit both in such an article makes it seem weak and lacking of content (since both subjects are very overarching and require a lot of justification/explanation) but I'm glad you did include them because it means you took them both into consideration and they are very important. Conclusively, the use of statistics really helped your article and backed up your claims a lot more than your examples did, and the article you wrote is rock solid, I'm just really picky because religion and environmentalism are my two strongest subjects! :)

Have a good one!