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Climate Change: Harbinger of ‘End Times’?

• December 18, 2012 • 5:49 PM

Somewhere, James Hansen is weeping.

Last week, we reported on American attitudes toward climate change, a post-Kyoto framework, and the Rocky Mountain pine beetle infestation (apathetic, stalled, and spreading, respectively). To that, we append this finding from the Annals of Exceedingly Unlikely But Worryingly Popular Ideas: while 63 percent of Americans agree that the weather is becoming “more extreme,” 36 percent view this as “evidence that we are in what the Bible calls the end times.”

In other words, one-third of us blame the recent spate of deadly hurricanes, record-breaking heat waves, and raging forest fires not on greenhouses gasses but plain ol’ godlessness.

To be fair, not all believers are so skeptical of science. Just one-in-five Catholics ascribe climate change to the coming Final Days, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the survey, while 65 percent of white evangelical Christians see the wrath of God at work. Democrats and Republicans are equally likely to voice support for the hypothesis, which suggests that, at least in some corners of the country, faith trumps politics.

On a more hopeful note, just 2 percent of Americans believe that the end of the world will arrive on December 21, as predicted by the Mayans. That theory may be bizarre—NASA, our last bastion of scientific reason, has an entire Web page debunking its many tenets—but at least it’s provable, one way or another.

We’ll know on Friday.

Kevin Charles Redmon
Kevin Charles Redmon is a journalist and critic. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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