Climate Change and the Second Coming

So we learn today from RawStory’s Eric Dolan that an upcoming political science study will show that believe in a biblical “End of Days” is a tangible factor in resistance to public action to prevent or mitigate climate change:

The study, based on data from the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, uncovered that belief in the “Second Coming” of Jesus reduced the probability of strongly supporting government action on climate change by 12 percent when controlling for a number of demographic and cultural factors. When the effects of party affiliation, political ideology, and media distrust were removed from the analysis, the belief in the “Second Coming” increased this effect by almost 20 percent.

“[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,” Barker and Bearce [the authors of the study] explained.

Well, maybe some end-time believers think that way, but I don’t know that it’s “rational” or for that matter “biblical.” Here’s Matthew 25:13:

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

That verse is sometimes quoted to suggest an imminent apocalypse, but it could be read in the opposite manner. So even if you think the Earth has an “expiration date,” it could be so far into the future that it might be nice to keep it life-sustaining for a good while just yet.

Here’s a tart retort to carpe diem advocates, religious or just greedy and self-centered, from the Australian band Hunters & Collectors, back in 1989:

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.