What Does the Bible Say About Climate Change?
Climate change activists are calling on politicians to take action now before it’s too late. Will man’s actions bring about a catastrophic apocalypse—and if so, how?
The apocalypse has been a popular theme of movies over the past 20 years. In these movies the earth is typically ravaged by natural events such as tsunamis, floods and earthquakes or destroyed in a war with alien invaders.
Climate change is constantly in the headlines as activists call on governments and ordinary people to make drastic changes in order to avert a global climate catastrophe that they warn is coming as a result of human behavior.
Consider the following dire warnings:
August 2022: “Climate Change: Endless Words, Where’s the Action?”
April 2022: “It’s Now or Never’: UN Climate Report’s 4 Urgent Takeaways.”
January 2021: “Climate Change Will Be Sudden and Cataclysmic. We Need to Act Fast.”
Yet despite these increasingly urgent warnings, the people of the United States seem hopelessly divided on whether the danger is legitimate or not. Most scientists say the science is clear that the earth’s climate is changing and leading to apocalyptic disasters, but other segments of society dispute that science and claim that the dire predictions are either overhyped or politically motivated.
Let’s take a closer look at this issue and consider if the Bible can shed any light on it.
Are we destroying the planet?
First of all, it is important to be clear that human beings’ actions are having a clear impact on this earth.
Consider the following:
- Our farming methods have caused fertile soil to be lost by 24 billion tons per year, according to a new United Nations report. The overuse of fertilizers and chemicals to increase yields has been at the expense of soil quality and the long-term health of the land.
- Much of the chemical wastes from industry and illegal dumping of toxins end up in our water supply and oceans, poisoning marine life.
- Excess manure from large-scale agriculture cannot be absorbed into the land and instead leaches into the water. There the excess nitrogen and phosphorus produce algal blooms that block sunlight and create “dead zones” where no species can survive.
- Researchers are tinkering with genetically engineered organisms and really do not understand the full ramifications of their actions. In an attempt to curb mosquito populations in South America, for example, half a million genetically modified mosquitoes were released. The hope was that these new mosquitoes would breed with the native population and pass down a lethal gene preventing the offspring from reaching adulthood. But the assumptions were wrong, and a new strain of hybrid mosquitoes now exists that is potentially more robust than its predecessors.
More can be said about man’s impact on the environment through overfishing, deforestation, pollution from industry and vehicles, species extinction, water and air pollution, warfare, arson, pesticides, plastic wastes—and on and on the list could go.
Mankind has selfishly exploited the creation at the expense of the creation itself.When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them dominion over His creation (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:6-8). They weren’t to use that authority to abuse and destroy this planet, but to “tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). In other words, they were to care for, cultivate, beautify and develop it responsibly.
Sadly, mankind has selfishly exploited the creation at the expense of the creation itself. When Jesus returns, He will “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18). Jesus Christ created this earth and will punish humanity for carelessly damaging it and nearly destroying it to the point of being uninhabitable (Matthew 24:22).
What does the Bible have to say about the climate and what is sometimes called the coming apocalypse? Make no mistake about it, catastrophic climate changes are coming—but is there more to the root of these catastrophes than just man’s physical carelessness toward the environment?
Blessings and curses on climate and the environment
In Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, God outlines a series of blessings and curses—blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. A brief look at these shows that God uses climate, weather and nature to bless and curse us depending on how we live our lives as a collective whole.
If we obey God, He promises:
- Rain at the right times, so that the land provides the food we need (Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 28:12).
- Abundant harvests that will overflow and be more than enough (Leviticus 26:10; Deuteronomy 28:4, 8, 11).
But if we disobey Him, He warns of:
- Terrible disease epidemics (Leviticus 26:16, 25; Deuteronomy 28:22, 27, 35, 59-61).
- Drought and crop failure (Leviticus 26:19-20; Deuteronomy 28:18, 23).
- Food shortages (Leviticus 26:26).
- Insect plagues (Deuteronomy 28:38-39, 42).
- Erratic rainfall, such that there will be too much rain in one area, not enough in another and a lack of clean drinking water (Amos 4:7-8).
- Crops affected by blight, mildew and locust plagues (Amos 4:9).
- Great storms, floods and hail (Ezekiel 13:11).
- Food shortages, earthquakes and diseases (Matthew 24:7).
In addition, the book of Revelation warns of great plagues to come on people for not repenting of their sins, including:
- A third of all trees being destroyed (Revelation 8:7).
- A third of sea creatures dying (verse 9).
- A third of the global water supply becoming undrinkable (verse 11).
- A third of the light diminished (verse 12), possibly due to a disruption of our atmosphere that will not allow the light of the sun or moon to reach the earth’s surface.
- Scorching heat from the sun (Revelation 16:9)—yes, intense global warming.
But when these events occur, many people still won’t change their lives (Revelation 9:20-21; 16:9, 11). Why? Because they will continue to reject God's existence and will consider these climate disasters to be natural occurrences.
Many in the world will likely see these events as a result of climate change, but the Bible clearly shows that God will be behind these disasters—trying to get mankind to pay attention and see the need for repentance. (To learn more about this coming time, read “What Is the Day of the Lord?”)
The irony is that the premise behind the modern climate change movement is that climate change is intrinsically linked to mankind’s behavior. It is absolutely true that man has negatively impacted the environment of this earth, but what many miss is that the catastrophe that will come will be primarily because of man’s evil and sins.
(Note: We are not saying that man’s role in damaging the environment should be totally ignored. What we are saying is that the most important issue we should be alarmed by is the moral and spiritual decline of humanity.)
A problem of extremes
The problem with the modern climate change debate is that it is dominated by extremes.
When we look at climate-change activists, many seem to have elevated their advocacy of the planet to the level of a religion, where earth is viewed as a sort of mother goddess. Some consider the extreme environmentalists as forming an alarmist religion. (For more insight on this trend, read our blog post on “The Rise in Religiouslike Zeal for Nonreligious Causes.”)
We live in a world that has retreated to extremes on nearly every issue, making responsible and non-political voices almost impossible to find.Some are taking radical approaches to their advocacy of the environment, such as going on birth strikes, committing suicide to raise awareness of climate change, confessing climate sins to potted plants, and advocating abortion as a way to control population for the sake of the climate.
The former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a resignation letter to the United Nations: “For me, the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission, it is my religion and my dharma [path to righteousness in Hinduism].”
The apostle Paul warned of the danger of people worshipping the creation instead of the Creator (Romans 1:25). He warned that the end result is immorality (verses 28-31).
On the other hand, some people on the other side of the debate often blithely ignore responsible research and evidence on this issue and mock any human efforts to deal with the problem. As we have already seen, mankind should be caring for this planet and its environment—not abusing the place God created for us.
Sadly, we live in a world that has retreated to extremes on nearly every issue, making responsible and non-political voices almost impossible to find.
The real apocalypse that is coming
The word apocalypse is derived from the Greek word apokalupsis, meaning to “uncover” or “reveal.” It is from this word that the last book of the Bible gets its title—the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:1).
Strangely, the word apocalypse has evolved to refer to the catastrophic destruction of the earth, when the word actually doesn’t mean that at all! The primary revelation (apocalypse) of the final book of the Bible is the truth that Jesus is returning to stop the catastrophic destruction of the earth and to establish a new world of peace.
- The damage man has done to this planet will be reversed, the environment will be cleansed, and mankind will learn how to care for it responsibly—while at the same time using and developing it for habitation.
Chapter 6 of our booklet The World to Come: What It Will Be Like explores the many changes that will be made to the earth’s physical environment after Jesus Christ returns.
- The spiritual problems of sin and wickedness will be reversed, and the “earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
As we often do, we urge our readers to make those changes in their lives now and to pray that God’s Kingdom will come soon!