When there’s no breaking news about impeachment, elections, international tensions, or the economy, we always have climate change to fill the news hole.

From one side, we hear that human activity is endangering the planet – that man’s excessive fossil fuel use releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and traps heat thus causing global warming.  Such heat-producing carbon emissions melt arctic ice, increase sea levels, cause famines, and spawn hurricanes.  Further, it even causes earthquakes in that hurricanes by definition come with lower atmospheric pressures which allow earthquake faults to move more easily and release accumulated strain.  In short, every geological or weather-related or crop-failing phenomenon can be linked to climate change.

Proponents of these arguments predict what will happen if we fail to curb carbon emissions and do not transform our energy system away from fossil fuels:

  • Civilization as we know it will end by 2030.
  • Meltdown of polar ice sheets will accelerate.
  • Many cities will be flooded.
  • Starvation will be widespread.
  • Temperatures will be hotter.

From the other side of the debate, we hear the argument that climate change is a natural process of ups and downs, that temperature variations remain within the bounds of natural fluctuations over the centuries, and human activity has minimal impact.  Further, that human-produced gases are naturally absorbed by “carbon sinks” (oceans, forests) and that sea levels have been steadily rising for thousands of years and have nothing to do with human behavior. 

As reasons not to panic, they cite their opponents’ predictions on Earth Day 1970:

  • Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken. (Harvard biologist George Wald)

  • Population will outstrip food supplies and 100 to 200 million people per year will starve to death by 1980.  (Paul Ehrlich, population expert)
  • By 1995, between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.  (Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute)
  • By the year 2000, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.  (Peter Gunter, university professor)
  • By 1985, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution that will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.  (Life magazine)
  • By the year 2000, there won’t be any more crude oil.  (Ecologist Kenneth Watt)

No one argues that we need not care for the environment, and few will claim man has been a great steward.  But the question is whether this lack of stewardship, combined with substantial use of fossil fuels, is a sufficient explanation for hurricanes, famines, earthquakes, and the like.

As pro and con arguments continue, the important thing to note is the debate centers on one main variable:  the role of man.  Both sides seem to assume man is the sole determinant of weather events and the only question is the extent.

So for non-atheists the obvious question:  What about the role of God?  Does He ever intervene by sending climate events – perhaps (just speculating, mind you) to prod His children to change their ways? 

Numerous times of course (about a dozen famines alone are mentioned in the Old Testament) and my favorite in the Book of Mormon is when Nephi, son of Helaman, specifically prayed for a famine in the land “to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God…”  Lasted three years; the people got the message.  Those who survived. 

More importantly for this discussion, will message-bearing, weather-related events happen before the Second Coming?  Yes, including …

  • D&C 5: desolating scourge
  • D&C 29:  earth shall quake / sun darkened / moon turned to blood / stars fall from heaven / great hailstorm to destroy the crops of the earth / plague of flies
  • D&C 43:  heavens shall shake and the earth shall tremble
  • D&C 45: desolation / earth in commotion / iniquity shall abound / desolating sickness / earthquakes in diverse places / signs and wonders in heaven above and earth beneath / blood and fire and vapors of smoke / sun darkened and moon turned to blood and stars fall from heaven / earth reel to and fro and the heavens also shall shake

But not everything that happens can be attributed solely to God or solely to man.  I submit there are three sources of environmental disasters: 

  1. Man indeed causes a share through poor stewardship of land and resources, and by specific actions such as 200 identified cases of arson now contributing to the horrific wildfires in Australia.
  • Natural forces contribute a portion because there must be opposition in all things in a world specifically designed for things to go wrong that we may be tested.   
  • God will send specific catastrophic events at times of His choosing as special messages to His children to change their ways. 

So why the emphasis on only one source?  Why the lack today of even a rudimentary discussion that God might – just might – send an occasional weather event for His own purposes?  Why have we not heard or read any references to God in climate-change debates?

Because that is how the adversary wants it.

He inoculates against God’s warnings that may be attached to certain hailstorms, floods, famines, earthquakes, and scourges by focusing the debate on man’s mismanagement of the environment.  He tolerates no other explanation.  And he doesn’t care which side is speaking or which side wins.  He enjoys the debate as he conditions people that they need not change their iniquitous ways.

To re-emphasize:  If Satan can maintain the focus on man’s environmental behavior and ignore man’s moral behavior, when earthquakes, hurricanes and famines occur, he will have conditioned people to shrug them off as … mere climate change.

Indeed, the Great Inoculation.