Perhaps the most important thing to know about bad information is it does not have a uniform effect on the people it is given to. It has a disproportionately adverse effect on those who are at the margins. For example telling people a diet of deep fried foods is fine will hurt older people with a risk of heart disease and stroke the most. Low risk people in their 20’s who take this advice will generally do fine.
As the center of gravity of Evangelicalism shifts to the global south I am hoping the center of power follows suit for the simple reason that a faith that doesn’t address climate change is one that destroys lives and livelihoods and foments instability (the Middle East drought was one of the catalysts for the civil war in Syria which ultimately gave us ISIS). In America we’ve been comparatively lucky though climate change was probably a factor in a few droughts and strengthened Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. But places like Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Ethiopia are experiencing unprecedented droughts and the Marshall Islands are disappearing due to rising sea levels. If you read the world news you’ll see many more stories like these.
I am not heartened by the attitudes towards climate change I see in American Evangelicalism. I think a lot of ministers believe in it but a large portion of their flock does not and it’s not a big priority because for most of us Americans climate change just means a few more nice days in the fall to take a walk or a bike ride. But I think of billionaire investor Mark Cuban’s quote, “never take advice from someone who doesn’t have to live with the consequences”, applies here. We can give bad information about climate change to those in the global south because we aren’t hurt by this information the same way they are. I am heartened by Pope Francis’s willingness to address climate change and I think that willingness points to a less first world centric view the Catholic church has taken on. I just hope the Evangelical Christian church can embrace this more global perspective and think more critically how their choices affect those on the rest of our planet.