What changed your mind about climate change?
Richard Cizik is the former Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and one of the most prominent Evangelical lobbyists in the United States. In his position with the NAE, Cizik's primary responsibilities were setting the organization's policy on issues and lobbying the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Cizik also served as NAE's national spokesman and edited a monthly magazine, NAE Washington Insight. Since 2003, Cizik has been active in a type of environmentalism he calls "creation care"; his stance on global warming has drawn both support and criticism from fellow Evangelicals.
In 2007, he and Nobel Prize winner Eric Chivian, as a team, were named one of the 100 most influential scientists and thinkers by Time. On December 11, 2008, Cizik gave his resignation from his position with NAE after a December 2 radio broadcast of NPR's Fresh Air in which he voiced support for same-sex civil unions. His comments and his resignation has generated both strong support and strong criticism within the evangelical Christian community.
Question: What changed your mind about global warming?
Richard Cizik: Well my mindset prior to going to Oxford 2002 Climate Change – that’s the name of the conference I was invited to – was look, there is a debate going on about the science of climate change. I don’t need to get into that. “Scientists dispute this,” I said to myself. I don’t have a dog in that fight. What happened? Well I was presented with the science by not only the world’s most credible scientist. The conclusion of course being that climate change is real. It will impact millions upon millions, and that the science was indisputable. Indisputable. And when confronted in this case by science . . . never mind the Bible. I … I thought I knew the bible. But when confronted with climate change, global warming in particular that threatens not just for example a river or lake, but the entire planet, virtually knocked me off my feet. Almost like a John the Baptist conversion in which he fell off a donkey on the road to Damascus. It literally knocked me off my feet and I said, “My God.” I said, “I’ve never seen this before,” the facts as presented. And then to have a fellow Christian, a scientist, one of the most premier scientists, the science advisor moreover to the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to say to me, “Richard, if you are persuaded of the science . . .” This is what Sir John … said to me… “If you’re persuaded of the science, you can’t be quiet.” I knew in my heart he was right. And yet I also knew there would be a price to pay. And so I left Oxford in 2002 persuaded that yes, the science was indisputable; but … I would say, about the prospect of speaking out. Because even my closest friends opposed the idea of me doing that.
When confronted with the scientific proof climate change and global warming in particular for the entire planet, Richard Cizik was virtually knocked off his feet.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.