On The Backburner: Adventists and Environmentalism

Editor’s note: With the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place right now in Glasgow, Scotland, issues regarding the environment are being talked about everywhere. This article, giving an overview of Adventist views on environmentalism and conservation, appears in the upcoming issue of Spectrum (Volume 49, Issue 4), which will be arriving in the mailboxes of Adventist Forum members soon. Click here for more information about becoming a subscriber.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11487

I would like to see an experiment where pastors and church leaders, or members are offered a fully subsidised trip to the Holy Land and observe how many will turn it down based on the environmental impact of flying.

I am concerned that listing our credentials as a Church that is concerned with the environment will look like greenwashing when we begin to ask:

  • How many of our church entitites have considered a plan to reach net-zero?
  • How have we re-invested our pension funds and other investments to divest from Carbon?
  • How many of our properties have been modified to use and generate renewable energy?
  • What incentives do we give our pastors and administrators to use sustainable transport?
  • Have we changed the way we do global conferences and leadership events in order to reduce our carbon footprint?

Interesting questions, should generate some interesting answers!!

Thank you for this very interesting article.

I think that this professor is right when she spoke about the attitude of Adventists toward the environmentalist’s agenda. Nowadays, environmentalism rarely stands by itself since many environmentalists have become fed up with the empty promises of main street politicians and have decided to enter the political arena themselves to get things done.

Politics is always something we, Christians, should be worried about and handle with a ten foot pole. The Ben Carson’s experiment should be a cautionary tale.

A plane that’s half-full will burn very similar amount of fuel as a full flight. Passengers are about 1/5th weight of a plane.

Thus, telling pastors not to fly is only viable if flights are reduced.

Gas heating is more efficient than electric during the winter, etc. There are plenty of cases where fossil fuel won’t have a greener alternative.

There are a lot of false assumptions that go into these questions that assume that “reduction” is a matter of chipping at aggregate model with decisions of individuals… One “renewable at a time”. That’s not the case.

2000 pastors driving Tesla aren’t going to make a microscratch in carbon footprint. Not flying to conference once a year isn’t going to do it either.

That’s why it’s a matter of aggregate numbers and policy debates on scoping to what matters with viable numbers to justify it contextually. Not by pointing to a random generic solution that looks good on paper.

What are your solutions?

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One of the things I would love to see, would be a Christian church, and (I am not necessarily referring to a Seventh Day Adventist church either), present their views on climate change and what practical steps they will take as a faith based community.

Whether we realize or are in agreement with it, climate change is a very real phenomenon, affecting many in the world. When a disaster strikes , it does not distinguish between religions, social or economic backgrounds, or any other method by which we can categorise human beings.
Living in the Caribbean I can tell you first hand of the impact of climate change in my island. From flash floodings, torrential downpours ,to the catastrophic work of hurricanes and storms, land and mudslides with the destruction of property and in some cases loss of life , it is a frightening experience indeed and one that no one can necessarily forget either or wish to experience ever again!

All Christians who appreciate this beautiful earth in which we live can and should do what they can to help preserve the environment. It is a gift from God to us. This is our home. Let us do what we can to preserve it in the best condition, not merely for ourselves, or for future or as yet unborn generations, but let us appreciate this gift by caring for it, until Jesus comes !

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Over 400 private jets flew into Glasgow.
See any hypocrisy there?

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You mean the “Seventh Day Adventist” that most Adventists praise, who has publicly disavowed his Adventist affiliation. He has stated on numerous occasions that he “attends many different denominational churches” when asked if he was a Seventh Day Adventist.

I heard a Loma Linda University commencement where he was the main speaker. It was awful. He went on and on about how "poor doctors were being subjected to HMO’s and socialized medicine and how their compensation was being reduced because of these changes in medicine. That same year I went to my daughters graduation from the University of Illinois. She was getting her MD. This is a secular institution, but the commencement address was from a prominent doctor who spent most of his presentation on how these young graduating doctors had the responsibility to give back, to take care of the communities where the need for medical care was being underserved.

It was an embarrassment to think that Loma Linda University asked Dr. Ben Carson to speak. It was a real eyeopener. That was long before he ran for president. I wouldn’t have voted for him as dog catcher.


How would you propose they get there? Sailboat? Environmentally acceptable, but probably not practical since it would take at least two to three weeks for anyone from this country to arrive there. If your the President, it would also be a bit impractical.


I think it adds substance to Greta Thunbergs claim that the Summit has been a failure. I think it also amplifies my point that we do need to look at our personal carbon footprints as much as we call for systems change. When we choose not to support these carbon intensive systems that we are so addicted to, we can legitimately call for much more accountability. It is inspiring to see the thousands who sacrificed weeks of their time to walk or cycle to Glasgow, or who took the train. This is where the future lies. This is where the Church needs to show that it is about more than “blah, blah blah” and actually become one of the dynamos that drive the change.

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Posts use old photo to criticize jets flown to climate conference

CLAIM: Photo shows “the 400 jets used by #COP26Glasgow attendees to get to a conference on reducing emissions and fossil fuels.”

THE FACTS: The image of parked jets was taken in New Orleans during the 2013 Super Bowl, not at the U.N. climate summit in Scotland known as COP26



I didn’t hear Ben Carson’s speech so I don’t know. But I am sure that he was asked to speak because he was a celebrity within the church and also without the church. I think that he represents the “Adventist” “success story” (please, notice the quotes) for many. He’s a doctor (check), neurosurgeon (check, check, check), who went from rags to riches (we love this kind of stories in America, so check, check, check), became famous even outside of the SDA church and internationally (check x 10), wrote books and had a movie made about him with a famous actor in it (check x 100), entered politics (ran for president) and served in the government (check x 1000).


Poor us…

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Solution starts with having proper perspective on individual vs industry impact. Individual decisions are more difficult to control. Industry is where one would set policy.

Climate issues don’t get resolved with you using less plastic bags or flying less on your vacations or business trips.

It certainly don’t get resolved by calling it “climate justice”, claiming that statistical tree distribution where minorities live is a form of injustice. But that’s the type of nonsense we get to hear today.


I certainly agree with your last statement!

They certainly didn’t need private jets!

You expect me to come up with global policy on carbon reduction?

There aren’t easy solutions to complex problems. Solutions are contextual. For certain context of this problem there aren’t any “one fits all” solutions.

No one is asking for a one-size-fits-all solution. Stop with the strawman fallacies.

You have no solutions? Admit it.


Your question is malformed, since you assume that an individual can have “solutions”. Do you understand what I’m trying to say? I don’t think you do.

A brain of an individual is limited. I can’t have a solution to a global phenomenon, which is only a problem for certain context and not other.

I can think of all sorts of “solutions”, but what are we really solving? It’s like asking someone how to drain an ocean by 10ft. There’s no reliable human scheme that can accomplish that. It’s a massive task. People don’t understand how massive of a task managing composition of atmosphere is, when you consider ocean CO2, and other factors that contribute to climate change that are cyclical and can’t be stopped.

Some “solutions” may actually result in bigger problems. Spraying aluminum dust in the atmosphere, for example, may lead to larger unforseen ecological catastrophes if we end up drinking and breathing these particles.

So, asking for solutions from a guy on the internet and faulting him for not proposing anything … like everyone has to have a list ready…

Is incredibly ignorant. It’s a project for specialized institutions that can model problems and understand impact of any solution as worthy or irrelevant. It’s a job of immense responsibility to balance existing needs and problems, and see whether these needs have to be neglected to prevent imagined and modeled catastrophe… especially given that past models and predictions were exaggerated.

It’s not your job, and it’s certainly not mine.