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God, Country and Global Warming

by: Vice Adm. Dennis Mcginn and the Rev. Joel Hunter    18 October 2006

Volatile gas prices, threats to our national security, economic instability and global warming are just some of the challenges we face because of our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.

People from all walks of life are recognizing these challenges and are pushing our elected officials to act now with visionary leadership and to implement policies that move our nation toward clean, renewable and secure energy resources.

Our continued dependence on oil constitutes a clear and present danger to our national security -- economically, militarily and diplomatically. And it has a real cost beyond what we pay at the pump, to our economy, our health and our quality of life. As a nation, we must rise to this clear and compelling challenge with resolute action.

Technology already exists that can begin to move our great country to much greater levels of energy efficiency, and beyond oil to clean, abundant, reliable forms of energy, such as wind and solar, as well as fuels made from crops grown right here in America.

We must remember that less than 3 percent of the world's oil reserves are within U.S. borders or territories, yet we consume 25 percent of the world's oil each year. That means we must rely on foreign energy sources, many of them from unstable or hostile regimes, to provide us with our economic lifeblood and quality of life.

Think about that for a minute. Our ability to heat our homes, run our cars to get us to work, operate our industry, grow our food and even power our military depends on a resource mostly controlled by governments not necessarily friendly to America.

And when we burn oil to fuel cars, or coal from power plants that provide electricity to our homes, we emit dangerous levels of global-warming pollution that are causing climate change. Today, there is more global-warming pollution in the atmosphere than at any other time over the past 650,000 years.

Some scientists project that we have only a limited time to turn the situation around before we alter our climate in a way that could put a significant amount of coastal areas in South Florida under water and subject us to stronger hurricanes and more erratic weather, including harsh droughts.

The growing threat from global warming means we are jeopardizing our stewardship responsibility toward God's bounty. Scripture compels us to care for all God's creation, including our air, water, plants and animals, and, yes, our planet's climate.

We are also called to care for those less fortunate, and the poorest people in the world are already being affected by global warming and the pollution caused by our current energy choices. Air pollution exacerbates asthma, which is disproportionately found in poor children. Mercury poisoning from coal-fired power plants hurts the unborn, and global warming's effects on crops and livestock are first felt in Third World economies that lack the resources to protect their people impacted by climate change.

Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. For our neighbors, and for ourselves, we must make better use of available energy technologies.

We can't suddenly change our energy habits overnight. But we can start moving in the right direction, today, with policies that promote energy efficiency and the discovery and greatly increased use of clean, renewable energy. For instance, we should be burning more energy in the form of cellulosic ethanol -- fuel made from grass that could be grown right here in Florida -- displacing the hydrocarbons in gasoline.

But to make such a switch, we'll need a broad, inclusive energy policy and active citizen participation that will encourage a market for these cleaner-burning fuels.

Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn is a former naval aviator, test pilot and national security strategist. The Rev. Joel Hunter is pastor at Northland Church in Longwood and was recently named president of the Christian Coalition of America. Both will be speaking at 7 p.m. today at a Re-Energize America Town Hall meeting at Orlando City Hall.