No Time for Arm-Chair Activists

May 2013
By Julie Polter
Sojourners Magazine

Those who study together can also change together. Here are our recommendations for good books, videos, and online resources for stepping forward to reverse climate change.



Faith meets science

  • Scientist Katharine Hayhoe and her spouse, evangelical pastor and writer Andrew Farley, gently and wisely respond to the concerns of those who deny the reality of climate change in A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions (FaithWords). An accessible exploration of the science behind climate change and the faith-based reasons why Christians can and must act.
  • Ben Lowe, of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, describes the rise of climate leadership on Christian college campuses in Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation (IVP Books).
  • In Global Warming and the Risen LORD: Christian Discipleship and Climate Change (Evangelical Environmental Network), Jim Ball offers biblical and spiritual resources needed to meet the challenge.
  • No Oil in the Lamp: Fuel, Faith and the Energy Crisis (DLT Books), by Andy Mellen and Neil Hollow, is part science manual, part Bible study and points toward a Christian theology for resource depletion and "peak oil." The unexpected foreword by the CEO of a top U.K. energy company adds depth.
  • God, Creation, and Climate Change: A Catholic Response to the Environmental Crisis (Orbis Books), edited by Richard W. Miller, collects original essays by leading Catholic theologians and ethicists to give theological and biblical perspectives on our environmental crisis.
  • Green Discipleship: Catholic Theological Ethics and the Environment (Anselm Academic), edited by Tobias Winright, is a compendium drawing on scholars from the fields of ecology, biology, history, and sociology, and includes study group aids. It also has the text of "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation," a January 2010 speech by Pope Benedict XVI, which can also be found at
  • Sacred Acts: How Churches are Working to Protect Earth's Climate (New Society), by Mallory McDuff, looks at local churches' best practices to reverse climate change.

Scared Straight

  • In Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet (St. Martin's Griffin), Bill McKibben explains the drastic ways the planet has already been altered by environmental degradation and argues for scaled-down societies and economies that emphasize community.
  • The subtitle of Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity (Bloomsbury USA) sums up the hard truth and glimmer of hope that James Hansen, the world's leading climatologist, has to offer.

Theological and Ethical Foundations

  • In Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (Oxford), social ethicist Larry L. Rasmussen asserts that we must expand our understanding of spirituality and ethics to fully embrace creation if we are to find the cultural and moral resources we need to move toward "wise stewardship of all life."
  • Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision(Eerdmans), by Randy S. Woodley (Keetoowah Cherokee), professor of faith and culture at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, refreshes our understanding of biblical shalom and how we might restore right relationship with one another and creation.
  • See also The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes for a Contemplative Ecology, by Douglas E. Christie (Oxford) and A New Climate for Theology: God, the World, and Global Warming, by Sallie McFague (Fortress).


  • Dried Up, Drowned Out is the title of both a 5-minute video and a 20-page report from the British Christian aid agency Tearfund, which feature voices from the developing world on a changing climate and illustrate the suffering that poor communities already experience due to climate change.
  • Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment, by Dorothy Boorse, is a booklet from the National Association of Evangelicals that focuses on the relationship between a changing environment and poverty, offering scientific and biblical insights, along with practical next steps.


  • Chasing Ice, directed by Jeff Orlowski, is the story of the Extreme Ice Survey: Environmental photographers placed time-lapse cameras on glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Montana, and Alaska to provide a multiyear record as the glaciers recede. Stunning yet sobering images of rugged beauty—and the earth's natural cooling system—lost forever. The endless rivers of melting ice show us how much damage has already been done.
  • Sun Come Up, directed by Jennifer Redfearn, is an Academy Award-nominated film that follows the relocation of the Carteret Islanders, a community living on a remote island chain in the South Pacific Ocean, who are some of the world's first climate refugees, forced to leave their ancestral home by rising sea levels.
  • Photographer Garth Lenz documents Canada's Alberta Tar Sands mining operations and the boreal forest ecosystem destroyed by them in the traveling exhibition, The True Cost of Oil: Canada's Tar Sands and the Last Great Forest. You can view these images and commentary at

Julie Polter is an associate editor of Sojourners magazine.