Could global warming be the focal point of unprecedented ecumenical cooperation?

In an effort to mobilize a “religious response to global warming,” thousands of congregations are meeting in churches, mosques, synagogues and other halls of worship around the nation during the first week of October for an unprecedented number of inter-religious screenings and discussions of films about climate change.

“Global warming is harming God’s creation: first the poor of the world, and eventually, all of us and all life,” said the Rev. Sally Bingham, an Episcopal priest at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Calif., and a founder of IPL, which describes itself as “a nationwide movement to engage people of faith in the urgency to address global warming,”

“I have spent my life fighting for civil rights and human rights,” said Pastor Gerald Durley of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga. “After I saw ‘The Great Warming’ and ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ I have taken on yet another mission. We are destroying our earth. We can’t protect human rights if we aren’t here.”

“Everyone has a stake and a role in reducing global warming emissions,” said Souleiman Ghali, a Muslim leader and founder of the Islamic Society of San Francisco. “Working together, we can change history.”

Full story here. Of course, there’s always a naysayer in the crowd. E. Calvin Beisner, a Knox Theological Seminary professor, has a different point of view:

. . . “[I]t is a sad day when Americans turn to the movies to learn science for public policy.”

Beisner pointed to an ISA document entitled “A Call to Truth, Prudence and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming,” which uses “the best scientific evidence to show that the current warming trend is well within the bounds of natural variability” and “that human emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are at most a very small component of its causes.”

“Human beings have responsibility before God to care intelligently for the earth — to increase its fruitfulness by wise cultivation and conserve its ecosystems, especially as by doing so, they promote human well-being,” Beisner told Cybercast News Service.

“But absolutely no credible scientific evidence supports the notion that foreseeable global warming poses a threat to the survival of the human race or is likely to destroy the earth,” he added.

“Such exaggerated claims are not in the best interests of intelligent public policy, which needs to be based not only on charitable motives but also on sound science, sound economics and a commitment to truth telling,” Beisner noted.

“Proposals to reduce future temperatures by cutting CO2 emissions would be almost wholly ineffective but would cost the world from $200 billion to $1 trillion per year,” he added.

That money “could be much better spent providing sewage sanitation, clean drinking water and electrification for the world’s two billion people who lack them, thus reducing premature deaths by millions per year among the poor,” Beisner said.

“There are good reasons to try to reduce energy use regardless of our views on global warming,” he added. “Conservation of resources, reduction of truly harmful pollution — which CO2 is not — and saving money are among them. Fighting global warming is not.”

Maybe he’s right that I shouldn’t get my public policy from a movie, but what kind of day is it when I get my climate science from a theology professor?