Mayor Pete Says Not Acting on Climate Is 'a Kind of Sin'

At the CNN climate town hall on Wednesday, Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a 2020 presidential candidate, insisted that not acting on climate change is "a kind of sin" against God.

"If you believe that God is watching as poison is being belched into the air of creation and people are being harmed by it, countries are at risk of vanishing in low-level areas, what do you think God thinks of that?" Buttigieg asked.

"I bet he thinks it’s messed up," he said. "And you don’t have to be religious to see the moral dimensions of this because frankly, every religious and nonreligious moral tradition tells us that we have some responsibility of stewardship … not to mention taking care of our neighbor.

Eventually, it gets to the point where this is less and less about the planet as an abstract thing and more and more about specific people suffering specific harm because of what we’re doing right now."

"At least one way of talking about this is that it’s a kind of sin," Mayor Pete added.

Indeed, Christianity preaches that human beings are God's stewards of the environment. But Buttigieg's declaration involves many points that are quite debatable — and far from clear.

Carbon dioxide is not "poison." Human beings breathe it out, and plants breathe it in.

More importantly, it is far from clear that human carbon emissions are creating a global crisis. Alarmists' predictions have failed again and again. As for countries in "low-level areas" being at risk of vanishing, three decades ago, alarmists predicted that The Maldives Islands would sink beneath the waves in 2018. The Maldives are still there, and they actually grew in size in recent years!

Furthermore, the "97 percent consensus" statistic is based on an extremely misleading study that proves nothing of the sort.

Most importantly, climate alarmist proposals like the Green New Deal would cost the average American family $250,000 in the first five years. Even if the government taxed the wealthiest earners at 100 percent, it would fall far short of the extremely high cost of the Green New Deal. These policies would require taxing the middle class and the poor. While the wealthy may be able to adapt to the tough changes of climate alarmist policies, these would hurt the poor particularly hard.

Mayor Pete seems to think he can win the Democratic primary by lecturing conservative Christians, specifically saying that anyone who disagrees with his policy positions is not a true Christian or a true believer in God. It seems he wants to say that disagreeing with him is a sin.

God will hold government leaders accountable, but it is far from clear that hesitating to force alarmist policies like the Green New Deal would constitute a "sin." Let's not presume on God when it comes to this kind of complex policy.

As for the Bible's definition of sin, homosexual activity certainly qualifies. The Bible also defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Perhaps a man who is "married" to another man should hesitate to lecture climate skeptics about sin.

Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.