“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”
Attitudes about climate change can, at times, share a certain symbolic similarity to the Christian notion of original sin. Using the 20th century as a baseline, most of us—65%—have never experienced a year of below-average global temperatures1. From literally our first breath, the world has warmed, carrying us, and carried by us. We were born with sin.
I think progressives feel this dynamic without really understanding it. Like guilt-ridden Baptists, we’re riding a fall from grace; we feel complicit, but we don’t know exactly how or why, and we haven’t had much choice. There’s a path to redemption—better energy systems, better fuels, better land-use—but, as an individual, it’s a hard faith to hold. The sin is the system’s, and so is salvation; we’re each just prayers.