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November 3, 2006
MOVIE REVIEW | 'THE GREAT WARMING'
 
A Straightforward Look at Our Changing World
By LAURA KERN
 
“The Great Warming,” a straightforward, quietly persuasive primer on the climate-change crisis, provides both an abridged history and science lesson (delivered through the narration of Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette and some clunky computer graphics) and a vital briefing on where we stand today.

Stemming from a three-part series originally shown on Canadian television in 2004, this documentary, directed by Michael Taylor, travels four continents and encounters a wide assortment of “real people” — ranging from scientists and professors to farmers and fishermen to architects and youth activists — whose everyday lives are increasingly influenced by the effects of global warming. There certainly isn’t a skeptic in the lot.

Without undermining the urgency of the situation, the film radiates optimism that the human race can seriously explore its role in keeping Earth a habitable planet, and has already begun to do so.

As long as the political leaders who hold the power to implement a larger plan of action remain in “climate denial” (in the words of Stephen Schneider, a biologist from Stanford University), “The Great Warming,” along with “An Inconvenient Truth,” the other widely released documentary to address climate change this year, should be required viewing by all. Future generations’ lives, and maybe even ours, depend on it.

THE GREAT WARMING
Opens today in Manhattan.

Written and directed by Michael Taylor; narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves; director of photography, Michael Ellis; edited by Scott Mason; music by Leon Aronson; produced by Karen Coshof; released by Stonehaven Inc.
NYTIMES READER REVIEWS - READER RATING:  (4.67 stars)
 
Climate change film won't hurt - much, October 24, 2006
Reviewer: lisataylor6
 
"The Great Warming" is by turns scary, moving and downright depressing - emotions you might expect from a documentary about climate change and the devastation humanity will face if we don't get it together FAST. What you might not expect is gorgeous cinematography, a trip around the world, a couple of cheesy laughs, high-tech innovations and a good dose of hope. That last attribute, and the fact that "The Great Warming" reaches from the eco-choir to the pulpit across political lines, has led Evangelical Christians and several other faith groups to adopt the documentary as a motivational tool in their efforts to guide congregants - and political candidates - toward environmental stewardship or 'creation care.' The film has also been endorsed by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club and the Climate Institute. This is no Polyanna story, and a good chunk of its 85 minutes is devoted to solid climate science and to potentially crippling impacts on communities around the world. In TV and radio interviews at www.thegreatwarming.com - including a very entertaining one by David Lee Roth - the producers explain how what they learned about climate change drove them to invest their savings and six years of their lives in this independent film (and earlier versions for PBS and Discovery Canada). After you see "The Great Warming," you may decide to do something equally ambitious.
Talk about motivating!, October 9, 2006
Reviewer: tractionpads
 
The Great Warming (movie) is one of the half dozen most life-changing movies I've seen in my almost 6 decades on the planet. As a movie per se it is a 3-or-4-star, but for the power of its message and the significance of the conclusions it lays out on the table, there aren't enough stars to rate it. The movie artfully builds entire pictures of the worst-case scenarios that are now happening around the Earth, and convincingly shows just what will happen in the near future if we continue as we now are doing. Shocking figures abound. One example: "If the present conditions continue, Los Angeles will [not "might" ... WILL] become 10 to 15 degrees hotter within the next 100 years." Traditional journalism procedures of stating "name, date and place" are consistently presented, so that information can be verified if the viewer so wishes. Thus bolstered, the viewer can confidently get into the movie without always wondering how much fictionalizing is going on. A second viewing, better yet purchasing the movie itself, would be very helpful in ascertaining the specific details of the horrific warnings presented in The Great Warming.
 
 
Preaching green to an ever-growing choir
Roger Moore
Sentinel Movie Critic
 
November 3, 2006
 
The Great Warming is a sober, smart and blunt environmental-catastrophe-to-come documentary, and those traits make it fit in neatly with Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and other "green" docs of recent vintage. It names the same names as other films, those fighting the rising tide of scientific evidence that we are polluting our planet into an overheated greenhouse.

Yes, it says, Republicans and their big-business backers are the ones standing in the way of preventing disaster. But it's a hopeful film, full of solutions and suggested solutions popping up all over the world. And it's not just preaching to the conservation-oriented choir. Evangelical Christians play a prominent role in this U.S.-Canadian documentary, thanks to a relatively new doctrine of "creation care" that allows people of faith to overcome their dogmatic fear of being associated with people they still call "tree-huggers."

Regal Cinemas is rolling out this shortened and slightly updated 2003 TV documentary nationwide on the eve of this year's Congressional elections. That a Southern-based big business with well-documented conservative politics should book this on the eve of an important election tells you how far this debate has progressed, in spite of the best efforts of Big Energy, Big Auto and their amen chorus of politicians.

Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette co-narrate the film, which takes us from England to Inner Mongolia, China to the River Thames, showing us not just the problems caused by soaring levels of burned carbon in the atmosphere, but ways to combat it. Tidal protection locks might have saved New Orleans, the film suggests. Alternative energy we have been hearing about for years is now practical.

And there are devices to take the carbon out of the atmosphere, legislative steps we can take to lower current emissions, efficiencies and so on, all adding up to doing something about a problem that too many have ignored despite 20 years of warnings.

Those warnings are as stern as ever. China and India, huge countries, are turning more affluent. What happens when everybody there has a car, when all their "dirty" coal plants are pushed to capacity? It won't just be the Chinese who can't breathe.

There's one chilling bit, a chat with an environmentally aware Tarot-card reader in 2002 New Orleans. He predicts what will happen when "the big storm" that global warming is being blamed for hits. And he was right.

Yes, the sort of folks who sit through a film such as this might still be called "the choir," no matter how inclusive the film tries to be. But as the film's lengthy discussion of "creation care" shows, that choir is growing.

And the reckoning that such warnings have promised for years might first come to the folks who stand for re-election this year. Perhaps that's the most hopeful thing about The Great Warming.

Rmoore@Orlandosentinel.Com
 
 
In the wake of the big splash made by Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" earlier this year, is there room for another documentary on the apocalyptic dangers of global warming?  In a word, yes. "The Great Warming," a film that's been in the works for more than six years and boasts Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette as its narrators, does a solid job of dealing with the problem but with enough originality that it's not an exact duplication of the Gore film.

And the fact that the film is being distributed exclusively by Regal Cinemas -- which is owned by a conservative Denver billionaire -- is encouraging evidence that the vital issue is no longer the exclusive domain of the Democratic left in this country.

Unlike Gore's film, this one does not start out with a lengthy attempt to persuade us that global warming is real: It essentially tells us that the emergency is universally accepted by scientists and anyone who doubts it has to be some kind of idiot.

After that, it jumps around the planet showing the catastrophic effects of trapped greenhouse gases: melting ice caps, rising seas, extreme weather, drought, famine, insect plagues, pandemics of new infectious diseases and all the rest.  In the process, it manages to point out some elements to the equation that were not in the Gore film, such as the acceleration the process is likely to undergo in the next decade as the economic boom in Asia puts spewing cars in the hands of millions more of Chinese and East Indians.

The film is at its best, however, in its second half when it speculates how the coming climate change is going to put its brand on the first generation of the new millennium, and demonstrates how so many young and old people already are answering the call to arms.

We meet all sorts of innovative people addressing the challenge in myriad creative ways, including a family that has developed plans for huge "synthetic" trees that literally will suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. (Some 200,000 of them placed around the world could cure the problem)

The movie makes a big point of showing us how the Evangelical Christian movement is leaping on the global-warming bandwagon with the concept of "Creation Care," and predicts the Republican Party won't be able to duck the matter much longer.

Indeed, "The Great Warming" ends with a very stern warning, suggesting, in so many words, that the current leaders who, in the face of all this evidence, do nothing about the problem run the risk of going down in history next to Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot.
 
 
Thurs., Nov. 2, 2006, 11:59pm PT
The Great Warming
 
By VARIETY STAFF
 
A kinder, gentler global warming docu, Michael Taylor's "The Great Warming" promotes essentially the same message as the Al Gore-hosted "An Inconvenient Truth," but is aimed at a different target audience. If "Truth" preached to the tree-hugging choir, "Great," which comes heralded by prominent Evangelicals and was previewed in local churches, seems designed to redefine ecology as a crucial Christian cause. A more diffuse and prettier case for global calamity that accents the positive and stresses the possibility of reversing the planet's headlong rush to extinction, pic will be released in major U.S. cities by Regal Cinemas on Nov. 9. The church connections notwithstanding, most viewers will catch this on the home front.

A pared-down, American-skewed version of a 3-part Canadian TV series from 2003, docu is backed by a coalition of religious, scientific and environmental groups. The Rev. Richard Cizik, head of the influential National Assn. of Evangelicals, significantly states that since most of his denomination's 30 million members are registered Republicans, the party had better respond to their environmental concerns.
Docu, narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, roams all over the world to examine the impact of global warming. Unlike Gore's imagery, culled from various archives over the years, the filmmakers here rely almost exclusively on footage they shoot themselves. In the hands of lenser Michael Ellis, this strategy leads to lovely shots of, say, a Peruvian coastal village, but fails to bring home pic's dramatic points.

Where "Truth" juxtaposed shots of rapidly shrinking glaciers, "Great" shows Noravut elders against a shimmering Arctic seascape conversing about how their world has changed. The viewer, however, is not afforded a vision of what it looked like before.   Footage taken in the Louisiana bayous before Katrina traces the erosion of natural barriers, but the destruction wrought by the hurricane is visualized via Tarot cards.

Different countries and individual citizens are visited in intimate vignettes, but this personal approach seems inimical to any overarching sense of urgency and cohesion.   Once the docu moves to possible solutions to the problem, though, the anecdotal sampling method starts to pay off, albeit not quite as the filmmakers intended. International responses to the threat of global warming are as disparate as they are situation-appropriate, ranging from solar panels in Mongolian yurts to aquaculture fish cages in Bangladesh.  In the United States, the wild spectrum of experimentation exposes the utter isolation of any single effort in the absence of a coordinated national policy: College teams in Arizona compete to design a low-emission SUV, while a theater company in New Hampshire busily rehearses an ecological musical.
 
"The Great Warming":  An important message for Earth's future caretakers
 
By Jeff Shannon
Special to The Seattle Times
 
An urgent message bears repeating, so "The Great Warming" can be easily forgiven for riding the commercial coattails of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." While Gore's impassioned PowerPoint presentation on global warming played primarily to an attentive adult audience, this Canadian documentary effectively caters to younger viewers (hence the narration by fellow Canucks Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette), without simplifying the political and ecological factors that threaten to turn Earth into an inhospitable ball of dust.
Movie review

"The Great Warming," narrated by Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette. Directed by Michael Taylor, Michael Morein and Jean-François Després, from a screenplay by Taylor, based on the book "Storm Warning" by Lydia Dotto. 82 minutes. Not rated; suitable for all ages. Meridian.

If anything, this well-presented documentary is a welcomed enhancement of Gore's message, arriving at the inescapable conclusion that our era now deserves its own epochal moniker, following "The Great Plague" and "The Great Depression" as a period of history that threatens our very survival. Nonpartisan and wholesomely practical, it's a movie that none of us can afford to ignore.

Boosted by concise writing, expert testimony and plenty of nifty computer graphics, the film covers a lot of territory without being pedantic or condescending. Produced with the sole intention of encouraging school and community advocacy, this isn't some dry, depressing lesson on human failure. It's a progressive, eye-opening discourse on cause and effect, necessarily repeating some of Gore's salient points while expanding on others with a broad spectrum of sociopolitical perspectives.

Particularly interesting are segments on the "Creation Care" movement of Christian evangelicals (an effective crusade to reverse global warming, cited by one activist as "an offense against God"); the growing popularity of eco-friendly architecture; "synthetic trees" to process excess carbon monoxide; and rising sea levels, prompting frequent opening of the massive "Thames Gate" flood barrier in England.

These and other relevant details are covered in an engaging manner that younger viewers can readily appreciate, with a refreshingly unified emphasis on religion, politics and education. "The Great Warming" makes it abundantly clear that passivity is not an option.

Jeff Shannon: j.sh@verizon.net

 
 
The Moral of the Story
A review of the documentary The Great Warming
 
By Kate Sheppard 30 Oct 2006
 
The Great Warming aims to do what other climate-change books, TV shows, and films haven't. In lieu of purely scientific or data-based persuasion, it appeals to viewers' sense of spiritual and moral responsibility. On that level, it succeeds.

Debuting in American theaters on Nov. 3 but already making the rounds in the country's churches, the film takes regular folks and lets them talk about climate change, attempting to appeal to the emotions of, well, regular folks. There's Danny Duet down in Louisiana talking about the changes he's seen on the bayou, the rising waters and receding dry land. There's Rev. Gerald Durley trying to explain global warming to a pack of elementary-school children. There's even a dramatized reenactment of a woman being rushed to the hospital during an asthma attack, after which attending physician Jean Zigby pauses to address the camera: "I'm worried that I'm going to have my daughter in 10 years from now looking up at me and saying 'Dad, why didn't we do anything? We knew it was coming. We had all the information. Why didn't you do something?' And I don't have an answer to that."

The documentary starts out with an eerie child's voice singing the familiar "It's raining, it's pouring," with the haunting addition of "the temperature is soaring," over equally eerie images of said child.  Really, one of the major things the film has going for it is children, when they're not being creepy. That's something An Inconvenient Truth could have benefited from, were it not focused entirely on a middle-aged white guy presenting a digital slide show. When you're talking about humans causing global warming, it helps to have humans in the movie. Especially small humans.

The Great Warming shows a child in Peru who lost her brothers to cholera after El Niño floodwaters contaminated the water supply. It shows kids in a Maryland elementary school issuing "tickets" to faculty members who fail to turn off their computers at night. It has a pleasantly uncomfortable scene in which an awkward young evangelical teen asks her church-group leader, "Don't the tree-huggers put nature above God?"

The film combines a few tugs at your ventricles with an impressive breadth of topics relating to climate change -- the causes, the implications, the political context -- and a lot of "ain't it cool" technological advances. Based on Lydia Dotto's 2000 book Storm Warning: Gambling With the Climate of our Planet, the film version was first a three-part series totaling 138 minutes, designed for Canadian television.

The conversion from serial format to single-feature length is evident. The edit tries to fit too much in and becomes disjointed at times -- it jumps from asthma rates to (wait, what?) former CIA director James Woolsey talking about terrorism to (oh, yes!) the evangelicals. And then on to cage aquaculture in Bangladesh.

At some points the film borders on bizarre, like when the filmmakers head to New Hampshire to hang out with the editor of The Old Farmer's Almanac, or down to New Orleans, where in a scene shot in 2003, a street tarot-card reader predicts hurricanes and drownings in the city. It's narrated by '90s rocker Alanis Morissette and guy-who-appears-in-movies Keanu Reeves, whose monotonic presence in any film can't easily be forgiven. It's not clear whether he had ever heard the words "climate change" before reading them on camera in a stilted deadpan.

The film has been making its way around the evangelical church scene since this past summer, accompanied by voter guides and eco-sermons. Paul de Vries, a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals, has called the film "a must-see for Bible-believing people." About two-thirds of the way in, a chunk of the film focuses on the green movement among evangelical Christians. It starts out with some of the basic "change-your-lightbulbs" kind of advice, but then, impressively, draws the lesson out to the greater political context.

Though not explicitly political in nature, the film doesn't avoid politics, either. It self-consciously tries to appeal to the nearly 50 percent of the GOP base that considers itself evangelical. It tells folks that not only does it matter what they do in their daily life, but who they elect matters, too.

"If the largest population group in the Republican Party were to say, 'We want you to take, as leaders in the Republican Party, leadership on climate change, on clean air, on pure water ... if evangelical Christians were to say that, I dare say the Republicans will listen," Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, says in the film.

William Nitze, chair of the Climate Institute, sums up the film's motives rather neatly: "It is not going to be dollars and cents, in the end, that is going to move people on this issue. It's going to be the perception that their own short-term selfishness is destroying the world and that as spiritual beings, they have a duty not to be so selfish."

And though I don't support most things that involve Keanu Reeves, I do support a film that can reach the vast, untapped wealth of nice folks who need this type of warm invitation (pun intended!) to join the ranks of climate-change activists. Watching The Great Warming may not boost your scientific acumen, but it will make you feel all squishy inside about your ability to create change.

Grist Magazine: Environmental News and Commentary
©2006. Grist Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Gloom and doom with a sense of humor®.
 
 
Life out of balance
by Maitland McDonagh
 
Produced for Canadian television as a three-part documentary, this environmental call to action blows past politically oriented debate about global warming to declare in ringing tones that the Earth is in trouble and that to ignore the problem is to invite harsh judgment by future generations.

Narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, it begins with a thumbnail picture of the factors that allowed mankind's race to flourish and spread to every corner of the planet, irrevocably altering — first incrementally, then more rapidly — the very face of the Earth.

Various experts estimate that the tipping point came at the end of the 19th century, when the balance of atmospheric carbon, which keeps heat in, began to increase and raise the Earth's temperature — the notorious greenhouse effect. The level of the oceans has begun to rise, polar ice caps have started melting and extreme weather conditions are increasingly prevalent from Peru to Palm Springs.

The film relies heavily on talking heads and goofy graphics, and the voice-over narration leans towards strained metaphors: The segment on climactic changes that could imperil the world's food supply includes groaners like Reeves' solemn assertion that "uncertainty is on the menu" and Morissette's allusion to Louisiana's "rich cultural gumbo."

But there's hard science under the cliches, and the filmmakers try to look beyond obvious manifestations of trouble — searing droughts, record-breaking tornadoes and hurricanes, soil erosion, flooding of low-lying cities and rural communities — to the more subtle but no less devastating consequences of even small changes in global temperature. They also acknowledge the difficulty of trying to persuade developing nations that they should bypass the energy-squandering luxuries Europe and the United States enjoy or forcing Americans to address their unquestioned reliance on nonrenewable and environmentally unsound fossil fuels without suggesting that just because it's hard doesn't mean there's no point trying.

If the film's most controversial assertion is that evangelical Christians, whose apocalyptic faith traditionally discouraged planning for the long-term future and whose conservative politics placed them at loggerheads with left-leaning "tree huggers," may play a significant role in the future of the environmental movement, its most useful point is that not only must something be done, but that there are things that can be done.

An impressive parade of scientists, meteorologists and grassroots activists assert that humanity is capable of adapting to a changing climate, building sustainable communities without sacrificing modern-day comforts and even reversing some of the damage already done.  

 
 
The Great Warming
 
By Sam Adams,
Special to The Times
 
*With due respect to narrators Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, the real star of this environmental documentary is the Rev. Richard  Cizik of the National Assn. of Evangelicals.

Evangelical Christianity and ecological conservation ought to be  natural allies. Shouldn't people who believe that Earth is God's  greatest gift to humankind protect and preserve his creation? The  problem is guilt by association, with environmentalists usually  thought of as liberals. Many evangelicals wouldn't believe Al Gore if  he said it was raining, let alone that the planet faces imminent man- made catastrophe.

Hailing from the more neutral ground of Canada, "The Great Warming"  will probably raise fewer hackles than Gore's deliberately alarmist  "An Inconvenient Truth," to which it will inevitably be compared.    Adapted from Lydia Dotto's book "Storm Warning: Gambling With the  Climate of Our Planet" and condensed from a three-hour miniseries  originally broadcast on Canadian TV in 2003, Michael Taylor and Karen  Coshof's slickly made documentary serves as a tidy primer on climate change, making up in breadth what it lacks in exhortation.

Unlike Gore's movie, which focused largely on what Americans had done to cause the problem and what they could do to fix it, "The Great  Warming" treats global warming as a global issue. From a Chinese family shopping for its first car to a Mongolian goatherd who burns  dirty fuel to generate electricity, the sources of greenhouse gases  are depicted as widespread and constantly increasing. (One sobering  statistic: Car ownership in China is rising at a rate of 20% a year.)

"The Great Warming's" scope is breathtaking and more than a little daunting, especially because its solutions are rarely as compelling  as its problems. One scientist describes his vision of skyscraper- high collectors that could remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,  and the filmmakers obligingly fill a vast field with digital prototypes.  But there's no talk of how to muster the political and economic  capital necessary to realize such an enormous undertaking. The film's  awestruck tone recalls 1950s visions of a future filled with floating  cars and robot kitchens, as if the best way to combat atmospheric  pollution were with pie in the sky.

That's where the evangelicals come in. With due respect to narrators  Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, the real star of "The Great  Warming" is the Rev. Richard Cizik of the National Assn. of  Evangelicals. Cizik introduces the notion of "creation care," a  biblical brand of eco-activism, saying, "To harm this world by  environmental degradation is an offense against God." Although he  acknowledges that evangelicals tend to vote Republican en bloc, Cizik explicitly criticizes the Bush administration for its inaction and  holds out the tantalizing prospect that 30 million American  evangelicals could turn the Republican Party into a powerful force  for change.  It won't be easy. After Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth, the author of "Serve  God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action," makes his case to  a group of Christian teens, one asks, "Don't the tree-huggers put  nature above God?"

But although Cizik and Sleeth occupy only a small chunk of the film,  their presence is genuinely inspiring, as is the fact that the film  has been embraced by the conservative culture warrior Philip  Anschutz, who is distributing it via his Regal Entertainment theater  chain. It won't heal the red-state/blue-state schism, but "The Great  Warming" implicitly makes the case that, from a God's-eye  perspective, there is nothing that unites us like the health of the planet we share.
 
 
Premiering November 3rd The Great Warming presents a chilling message
 
by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine
 
Narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, a new film by Canadian producer Karen Coshof and her husband, director/writer Michael Taylor, opens nationwide November 3rd. The Great Warming is by far the best of a new crop of environmental documentaries, which have made their debut in recent months and the first to make extensive use of vastly divergent cultural experience in setting both the narrative and the visual lessons that compel our understanding of the phenomenon of global warming.

From a rain forest on Vancouver Island to the city of Piura, which lies on a costal desert in Peru, the filmmakers examine today’s evidence of what is literally a sea change in our earth’s climate. The narrative lingers on the sometimes painful but always evocative recollections by ordinary people of their experience of climate change and then, with a quick nod to the science and theory behind those changes, the moviegoer finds him or herself on the streets of Beijing or watching a solar powered wide screen TV inside the yurt of a Mongolian family.

This movie is filled with the kind of imagery and attention to details of the daily lives of people no different from you or me that empowers the film with its National Geographic richness and texture. You will want to take your children as well; they’ll love the attention paid to a young generation of environmental caretakers from around the world.

We highly recommend seeing The Great Warming if you’re a tree hugger or not, republican or democrat, industrialist, businessperson, homemaker, farmer or student, it will leave you entertained and with an understanding of the environment and the processes, which control it. Most importantly, you will come away with a sense that it is still not too late to avert The Great Warming.

 
DOCUMENTARY OPENED FRIDAY IN CHARLOTTE
 
Religious leaders endorse new film
Clerics concerned about the environment talk about global warming
 
Religion News Service
 
WASHINGTON - Religious leaders are promoting a new documentary about global warming to raise awareness about environmental concerns among houses of worship.

"The scriptural teaching gives us direction to be responsible for God's world," said the Rev. Paul De Vries, president of the New York Divinity School, who joined other evangelical leaders on a conference call with reporters on Oct. 19. "He made it good, and whatever we've done with it to mess it up, we ought to be trying to clean up and protect."

De Vries joined leaders such as evangelical author Tony Campolo and the Rev. Gerald Durley, an Atlanta civil rights leader, in drawing attention to "The Great Warming," a documentary which opened in Charlotte on Friday.

The leaders issued a "Call to Action" statement and endorsed an initiative that includes ads on Christian radio stations and in religious newsletters. The statement reads: "The world's scientists are in agreement: Climate change is real, and we are largely responsible. America's religious institutions, corporations, environmental and opinion leaders have reached a consensus that we must recognize our moral responsibility to be good stewards of the Earth today, and for all future generations."

Other religious signatories on the statement include the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America.

The Canadian documentary is narrated by singer Alanis Morissette and actor Keanu Reeves. It is showing at Regal Stonecrest at Piper Glen, 7824 Rea Road; 704-540-7558.

"The Great Warming" also is being screened at churches across America and has been endorsed by the National Council of Churches, Evangelical Environmental Network and the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life.

The Great Warming
STARS: Narrated by Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette
DIRECTOR: Michael Taylor
LENGTH: 85 minutes RATING: NR

 
October 24th 2006
 
Evangelicals Embrace of Environmental Stewardship Creates Problem for Bush
 
“Evangelicals… comprise between 40 to 50 percent of… the Republican base, and so if the largest single population group in the Republican coalition were to say, ‘this is important. We want you to take, as leaders in the Republican party, leadership on climate change, on clean air, on pure water, on the stewardship of our natural resources.’ If evangelical Christians were to say that, I daresay Republicans will listen. This president, George Bush, will have to listen, the Republicans running for the White House in 2008 will have to listen…”

- Reverend Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, from the film The Great Warming

Around the country, many religious groups, and most notably evangelical Christians, are taking a stand on the environment. Observers say the Bush administration could lose significant support from its conservative religious base if it doesn’t change its stance on issues like global warming.

In addition to promoting sermons on “creation care” – the idea that the Bible calls on people to care for God's earth – evangelical leaders are urging their congregations to see The Great Warming, a documentary film that has been highlighted this week in the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

Narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, The Great Warming depicts the threat global warming poses to millions of people, particularly the world's children, the poorest and the most vulnerable. The film also showcases the recent engagement of religious groups in confronting the enormous challenge of global warming.

Groups like the Christian Coalition and the National Association of Evangelicals are also making global warming an issue. Reverend Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, has been pressing politicians to publicly state their positions on global warming.

Last summer Cizik invited contenders for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania – Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. and incumbent Senator Republican Rick Santorum – to a forum on climate change. Casey appeared and endorsed the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, Santorum declined to attend.

The Great Warming is set to open in 34 theaters around the country on the weekend of November 3.
 
Take a skeptic to the movies this weekend
Posted by Lisa Taylor at 10:12 AM on 03 Nov 2006
 
Imagine a documentary featuring wild storms and dire predictions about pollution and rising seas. Sound familiar? Now add insight from Peruvian fishermen and Louisiana historians, mix in middle-school students, inventors, and religious leaders ... and invite a global-warming skeptic to the movie. The film, hosted by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, is called The Great Warming, and even before its Nov. 3 launch, it has helped spawn an alliance between Democrats and evangelicals trying to shake the administration out of its inertia on climate change. It is also the anchor for a broad, pro-active coalition ranging from Friends of the Earth to Union of Concerned Scientists to Churches of Christ.

Theater giant Regal Cinemas is releasing the film in its top 50 markets this weekend, making the launch three times larger than for any other film of its kind, and highlighting the growing currency of the climate change issues in the mainstream.

Featuring elements of a 2005 PBS special Global Warming: the Signs and the Science, The Great Warming talks to key researchers and reports on social justice and day-to-day impacts as well as emission statistics. It's also populated with everyday people from the U.S. and the planet who are feeling the brunt of global warming, and/or finding innovative ways to tackle it.

"In the course of making this film, we were determined not to lose sight of our most important advocate, the person on the street," said producer Karen Coshof. "We wanted to make this issue resonate in every household, everywhere. To engage not only the intellect, but most importantly the emotion and will of every person so that they feel empowered to act."

The Great Warming has already attracted an unprecedented coalition of leaders in science, religion, business, environmental activism, and education. "These 'reds, blues and greens' are bridging historic gaps to support the message of this film," said Coshof. "The biggest reason they give is a belief in our individual and collective moral responsibility to reverse the growing threats to the environment, and to our health and quality of life."

Environmental movie motivates evangelicals to get involved
By Hannah Elliott
Published: October 31, 2006
 
DALLAS (ABP) -- On Nov. 3, a Canadian film team will release in U.S. theatres The Great Warming, a movie about climate change and the initiatives aimed at reversing its trend toward permanent ecologic damage. Unlike other recent environmental movies, like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, The Great Warming portrays evangelicals as a group with the potential to push governmental policies toward sustainable living. It also has hearty endorsements from the National Council of Churches, the Evangelical Environmental Network, and the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life, all of which have urged churches to host screenings and discussion groups about the movie.

Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, was featured in the film. He said his newfound passion for “creation care” comes straight from God -- a conversion of sorts to the environmental cause. Now he tells other believers that if they are to be obedient to the Scriptures, there is no time to lose.

“Climate change is real and human induced, No. 1,” he said. “No. 2, it calls for action soon. We’re saying action based upon a biblical view of the world, God’s world. And to destroy, if you will, to deplete our resources, to harm this world by environmental degradation, is an offence against God.”

The movie stresses that point. It was produced in Canada and initially released in 2004 as a three-part series on Discovery Canada. Narrated by musician Alanis Morissette and actor Keanu Reeves, it begins by presenting the science behind climate change. In general, scientists estimate the atmosphere has about 30 percent more carbon dioxide now than in the 1800s. That’s bad because increased carbon dioxide levels can change weather patterns, sometimes slowly, but always with consequences.

For instance, the increase in greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide has caused average global temperatures to rise one degree in the past 100 years. Scientists predict temperatures to rise 2.5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 100 years. And even though the change seems inconsequential, the slightest variation in temperature can cause a rise in ocean levels, flooding, drought and extreme cold or heat.

The primary cause of the increased levels of carbon dioxide, according to most scientists, is the burning of fossil fuels -- coal, oil and natural gas. When consumers burn those fuels for heat, transportation and electricity, they add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, which increases the warming capability of the natural greenhouse effect.

“We have a flow of carbon from the atmosphere through the living system and back to the atmosphere,” Mike Apps, the senior scientist at Natural Resources Canada, said in the movie. “Where is this extra carbon coming from? It’s not because the plants are breathing out more carbon. We’re burning fossil fuel, and when we burn fossil fuel, we release carbon dioxide into the cycle.”

Historically, evangelicals haven’t cared much for talk about climate change. Cizik said that’s because “environmentalism has a sort of a ‘left wing tilt.’” Plus, many pastors have never preached about caring for creation. Once congregants begin hearing sermons about the environment, he said, they’ll realize it’s an important issue.

The response will become significant when evangelicals change not only their lifestyles but their votes. Evangelicals comprise between 40 percent and 50 percent of the Republican base. Cizik said he believes if the largest group in the Republican coalition would demand its leaders work on climate change, clean air and pure water, then GOP leaders would listen.
Up till now, however, evangelical constituents have hung back, and Cizik has written about his ideas as to why.

“… The disconnect between the recognition that there is an obvious problem and the willingness to adopt an obvious solution is explainable only by the fact that there are vested interests, political interests, who lobby against environmental action,” Cizik said. “Second, there is an ideological predisposition against regulation. And third, [it’s] simple inertia. But the first cannot be dismissed, and there are oil and gas vested interests who have a reason not to want to take action on climate change.”

The movie, though, does provide an inlet for evangelicals to act on the issue within their own tradition -- and that’s what has attracted churches nationwide. According to Cizik, evangelicals need to sense they can speak to the issue with their own voice. Once they focus on that, they will conclude that environmentalism is “not a bad word.”

So far, that focus on letting evangelicals interpret the facts on their own has endeared the movie to Christian leaders. In an interview on Vermont Public Radio, producer Karen Coshof said she wanted The Great Warming to focus on solutions to the problem, not “just beat people over the head with a negative message.” And one of her key messages involves the spiritual and moral sides of environmental concern.

Gerald Durley, the pastor at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, became aware of that moral duty when he saw a screening of the movie last May. A pastor deeply devoted to civil- and human-rights issues, he said he was “shocked” to learn about the “self-serving demands that lead to massive fossil-fuel burning” and the lack of aggressive exploration for renewable energy sources.

In a letter about the movie, he wrote that since the faith community prides itself on being in the “prevention and healing business,” environmental concerns must become integrated into its daily life and standard messages.

“These essential messages must be mandatory teachings throughout all faith traditions if we are to survive,” he said.To that end, he has led his church in replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones, and he encourages church members to adjust thermostats to save energy. For him, it’s all about simple solutions to effect a big change.“All great movements are grassroots initiatives,” he said. “I believe that’s what happened during the civil-rights movement, and I believe that’s what’s going to happen now with the overall environmental movement.”

 
 
God’s green earth
What environmentalists and evangelicals have in common
 
By Charles A. Radin – Boston Globe |  October 29, 2006
 
THIS FRIDAY, A DOCUMENTARY called ‘‘The Great Warming’’ will arrive in 34 major US cities. Narrated by Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette, and made by liberal, secular Canadians, the film covers much the same ground as Al Gore’s ‘‘An Inconvenient Truth.’’

But there are important differences between the films, differences that may allow ‘‘The Great Warming’’ to speak to mainstream American conservatives—and in particular evangelical Christians—in a way that ‘‘An Inconvenient Truth’’ never could. For one, there is no Al Gore figure in ‘‘The Great Warming.’’ Instead, fishermen, farmers, and ordinary residents of weather-vulnerable places on four continents describe their personal suffering as a result of global warming. For another, the film turns not to politicians or scientists, but to Christian ministers to do its preaching.

The basic sermon is delivered by the likes of the Reverend Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, whose affiliated churches have 30 million members. ‘‘To harm this world by environmental degradation,’’ Cizik warns, ‘‘is an offense against God.’’

This casting of evangelicals in a leading role was no accident, says Karen Coshof, producer of the film. Her husband, director Michael Taylor, saw emerging environmental concerns among US evangelicals in the early days of work on ‘‘The Great Warming’’ and decided to seek them out because, the couple felt, ‘‘this is the one element in American politics that could produce a sea change.’’

The changes seems to have begun. ‘‘The Great Warming’’ is just the latest in a stream of recent calls to action against climate change that are either addressed to evangelicals or authored by them.

Since last spring, for example, more than 100 evangelical leaders have signed on to the Evangelical Climate Initiative. ‘‘For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority,’’ the document acknowledges. ‘‘But now we have seen and heard enough.’’ The initiative calls for reducing use of fossil fuels through committed, individual action and through urgent steps by the federal government—something that usually is viewed with distaste on the religious right.

Surprisingly, environmental appeals to evangelicals are also coming from prominent scientists, who are reaching out to those on the other side of the great divide over how the world was created. ‘‘The Creation,’’ a new book by eminent Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson, is an open letter to a fictive Southern Baptist minister in which the outspoken exponent of Darwinian theory appeals for an evangelical-secular alliance against climate change. ‘‘God’s Universe,’’ a new volume by Harvard astronomer Owen Gingerich, argues that faith and science can coexist even in considerations of the nature of life.

Differences over such hot-button subjects as the literal truth of the Bible, the validity of the theory of evolution, and the existence of God remain bitter. But a growing chorus of voices on both sides is arguing for saving the planet first, and worrying about other issues later.
‘‘Dear Pastor,’’ Wilson writes in ‘‘The Creation,’’ ‘‘You have the power to help solve a great problem about which I care deeply....I suggest that we set aside our differences in order to save the Creation.’’

‘‘I’m trying to do something radical, to come out of the tight circle of academic scientists to offer a hand of friendship to religious leaders, and to ask for help,’’ Wilson said in a recent interview. ‘‘I knew it was something few scientists could do comfortably.’’

Wilson, a founder of global efforts to preserve biodiversity and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for books on human nature and on ants, has long been an outspoken secularist. Indeed, as some of his critics note, Wilson’s unwavering conviction that life evolved through random mutations, unguided by a higher intelligence, helped create the extreme distrust of science among evangelicals that he is now trying to bridge.

Karl Giberson, a physics professor at Eastern Nazarene College, a Christian school in Quincy, says that Wilson’s writings on religion and the origins of life have made him ‘‘a well-defined enemy of the faith’’ whose invitation to evangelicals to make common cause is comparable ‘‘to Al Qaeda opening a doughnut shop and inviting George Bush.’’

Yet Wilson has an advantage most of his colleagues in academia lack: He was raised a Southern Baptist in Alabama and retains a fluency in the folkways of evangelical Christianity.
Among conservative evangelicals, scientists like Wilson are commonly known as ‘‘enviros,’’ a derisive term associated with Big Government, atheism, population planning, and Democrats.

But Wilson, says Richard Cizik, has the capacity to break out of that stereotyping because ‘‘he brings a spirit of humanity that is appealing...and he comes from the right place too.’’
Cizik calls Wilson’s effort ‘‘a sincere outreach to us. If we put our heads and hearts together, we can ultimately change America’s tepid response to environmental warming.’’ That is possible because of the important place evangelicals occupy in the Republican Party’s political base, he says.

Wilson’s appeal has been warmly welcomed by some leading evangelicals. But they also stress that support for environmental stewardship has been growing rapidly in a faith community where it was almost anathema a few years ago. And as Cizik and ‘‘Warming’’ director Taylor both noted, evangelicals are increasingly embracing environmental preservation for their own religious reasons.

Paul Gorman, executive director of the Amherst-based National Religious Partnership for the Environment, says he believed even when the partnership began in 1993, with just a handful of evangelicals, ‘‘that the evangelical community would come more fully into the environmentalist perspective—what they would call ’creation care’—when they had the opportunity from within their own distinctive teachings, traditions, and cultures to consider ’What does this mean to us? What does our Scripture tell us?’

‘‘It is their own testimony, their own prayer and fresh understanding of Scripture,’’ Gorman said, that is producing the current surge in evangelical interest in climate change.

Evangelical environmentalists cite numerous passages of the Old and New Testaments in support of their position. One favorite is Genesis 2:15, which says God put man in the Garden of Eden ‘‘to dress it and to keep it.’’ Another is Revelation 11:18, in which the heavenly elders call on God ‘‘to destroy those who destroy the earth.’’

Evangelical youth leaders and Christian college students are currently preparing a forceful declaration of their own, calling for legislation to curb global warming, urging evangelical leaders who have not embraced the cause to do so, and cautioning politicians that ‘‘we are the voices of tomorrow’s evangelical voters.’’ For them, the inspiration for making creation care a top priority arises directly from the teachings of Jesus about human relations.

‘‘This is a moral crisis,’’ the draft declaration states. ‘‘If we don’t alter our actions, global warming is likely to kill millions of people....The most severely impacted will be the poor, and Jesus said that what we do to ’the least of these’ we do to him.’’

The declaration has not yet been made public. An activist who provided a copy of the document to the Globe said it will be released when it has 1,000 signatories. Currently, the activist said, there are more than 600.

Of course, not all evangelicals are signing on to the environmental movement. The possibility of evangelist-environmentalist collaboration—and of a split in the evangelical movement over environmental issues—was explored in a recent PBS documentary, ‘‘Is God Green?,’’ produced by Bill Moyers. The program highlighted growing tensions between evangelicals who have become environmental activists and those who still are solid supporters of the Bush administration’s industry-friendly policies.

Yet some vocal evangelical skeptics of climate change have recently changed their tune. Pat Robertson, one of the best-known and most-caricatured preachers on the religious right, was a critic of assertions that a major climate change was underway. Then, in August, he declared that the blistering national heat wave was ‘‘making a convert out of me. It is getting hotter, and the ice caps are melting...we really need to address the burning of fossil fuels.’’
An important, if not obvious, commonality between Wilson and the evangelicals may be the deeply personal passion for the cause that the biologist shares with those who have been reborn in Christ.

This spirit permeates the pages of ‘‘Serve God, Save the Planet,’’ a Christian call to action by evangelist J. Matthew Sleeth, who was chief of a hospital emergency room on the Maine coast until he decided to work full time to win converts to the environmentalist cause.

Sleeth was an environmentalist before he was an evangelical, he says, and when he accepted Christ as his savior five years ago he assessed his environmentalism along with every other aspect of his previous life. He decided his recycling, carpooling, and energy-saving efforts fell far short of what God required.

‘‘When I read the Bible, what I see is Christ saying: ’Love one another as I love you.’ That supersedes everything else,’’ he said. ‘‘That has to extend to how am I treating the neighbor I have never met.’’

Sleeth quit practicing medicine for money, wrote his book as a how-to guide for Christians who want to live more lightly on the earth, and became a traveling lecturer for the Christian environmental movement. He sold his house, gave away most of his possessions, and moved to Kentucky to save money.

The attempt to create an evangelical-environmentalist alliance ‘‘is bringing together people from very, very different backgrounds who have a common need,’’ Sleeth said. Now ‘‘we have to make a plan to be just human beings, to serve God, to take care of the future. It’s not going to happen by accident.’’

 
Converting Climate Skeptics:
Churches and Environmentalists Spread the Word
 
WASHINGTON - October 18 - A coalition of over thirty-five religious and environmental groups will issue a united statement and call to action tomorrow as part of a national movement to make environmental stewardship and creation care a top policy priority, especially in response to global warming. Centered on the new film The Great Warming, this movement will reach people from all walks of life encouraging good environmental stewardship and immediate action to address climate change.

"Global warming affects everyone regardless of religion, political affiliation or income level" said Carl Pope, Executive Director of Sierra Club. "Heightened concern about global warming’s impact on the poor has united groups with concerns about poverty and justice, like the Sierra Club and leading religious institutions."

The Great Warming Call to Action statement -- signed by high-profile religious leaders from across the faith and ideological spectrum, key policy-makers, celebrities, environmental groups, and many of the most respected scientists in the world -- calls on our country to take immediate action to address climate change.

As part of this alliance, the Sierra Club has joined with faith groups like Christian Coalition and the Religious Action Center of Reformed Judaism in seeking to engage a wide array of people, including those who are not yet global warming believers, around simple solutions that can help reduce the threat of global warming. The coalition is urging all Americans, especially those who are skeptical about climate change, to see the movie. In major cities across the country, practical efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are also being undertaken; letting decision makers at all levels know that global warming is an urgent priority.

"The Great Warming provides an excellent opportunity for dialogue and action about global warming," said Lyndsay Moseley, Associate Washington Representative for Faith Partnerships at the Sierra Club. "Our goal is to help people care for one another and future generations by being part of the solution to global warming, not the problem."

Members of the movement are hoping that The Great Warming will play a major role in converting climate skeptics, just as Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth helped open eyes with its charts and predictions. Reflecting the emerging voice of the evangelical community, The Great Warming reveals how climate change is affecting the lives of people everywhere. While the film presents a moving picture of a world changed by global warming, it also makes a business case for taking action. With hard-hitting comments from scientists, religious leaders, and public-opinion leaders the film taps into the growing public interest and the growing concern within the faith community.

The Great Warming will launch in Regal Cinemas across the U.S. November 3rd.

 
Evangelicals Broaden Their Moral Agenda
 
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 19, 2006; A19
 
Evangelical Christian leaders are tackling a growing list of domestic and international issues, such as genocide in Darfur and global warming, despite dissension in their ranks over whether this broader moral agenda will dilute their political power just before crucial elections.

Yesterday, two dozen prominent evangelicals issued a joint appeal for President Bush to take the lead in sending a multinational, U.N.-backed peacekeeping force into the Darfur region of Sudan. They included not just liberal religious leaders but also several notable conservatives, including the Rev. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Today, another broad coalition of evangelical leaders will begin airing advertisements on Christian radio stations calling for action to address climate change. Among them is the new president of the Christian Coalition, who has said he plans to "rebuild and rebrand" the conservative lobbying group.

These initiatives do not sit well with some grass-roots religious conservatives, who prefer to keep the focus on a tighter range of issues, principally opposition to abortion and same-sex unions.

"This new vision, taking on these liberal issues, was the straw that broke the camel's back for us," said John W. Giles, president of Christian Action Alabama, which was the Alabama branch of the Christian Coalition before it broke away from the national organization last month.
"When we heard the new president talking about his opposition to the death penalty and support for raising the minimum wage, we decided it was time to say, 'Hi-ho, Silver!' " Giles said.

The Christian Coalition's new president, the Rev. Joel C. Hunter, pastor of a megachurch in Longwood, Fla., declined to be interviewed. The chairwoman, Roberta Combs, said the board of directors has not taken a position on global warming, the death penalty or the minimum wage.
Although Hunter was listed on the Darfur appeal and the global-warming initiative as the Christian Coalition's president, he "is doing that sort of as an individual," Combs said. "These are his personal feelings." She added that the board plans to survey supporters before taking new stands.

"We will never leave our core issues, never," Combs said. "But as more people get involved and as younger people get involved, there are other issues that come to the forefront, and we will be open-minded to take a look at them."

Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., pastor of Hope Christian Church, a 3,000-member congregation in Lanham, was among the signers of the Darfur appeal. He said he knows that some evangelicals are concerned that their clout will diminish if they take on too many issues. But, like Combs, he pointed to the need to address subjects that matter to young Christians.

"I think you could call this a PR problem, because young people who are very involved in their churches understand the passion for these two issues," he said, referring to abortion and same-sex marriage, "but in the culture at large we can come across as wild-eyed bigots to some because we have only emphasized these things."

Broadening the agenda, "not to 99 things but to five or six core things," such as fighting poverty and providing aid to Africa, "helps improve our image and more accurately reflects the full panoply of our beliefs," Jackson said. "It's hard to say that those two things -- abortion and gay marriage -- are the only things God had in mind in the Bible."

To some evangelicals, however, the new issues are less clear than the old ones, which have led evangelicals to vote overwhelmingly Republican in recent elections.
"I definitely don't like the widening of the agenda, because it muddies the water," said the Rev. Michael Haseltine, pastor of the 2,000-member Maranatha Assembly of God Church in Forest Lake, Minn.

"Be good stewards of the environment? Sure, but how? These tree-huggers and anti-hunters think it's terrible to kill animals. Oppose poverty? Sure, but what's the best way to do it? We can't solve everybody's problems for them," he said. "Family and life issues -- abortion, sexuality -- they're much more clear from the biblical standpoint."

The global-warming radio ads are tied to a documentary film, "The Great Warming," that has been shown in hundreds of churches. "Environmental degradation is an offense against God," the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, says in the film.
Cizik has come under fire for his stand from some conservatives, including James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, who contend that it is uncertain whether global warming is a man-made phenomenon and what to do about it. But the Rev. Pat Robertson, who a year ago criticized the NAE for teaming up with "far-left environmentalists," has changed his mind. "It is getting hotter, and the ice caps are melting, and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air," he said in August.

The Darfur appeal was backed by full-page ads in yesterday's Washington Post and other newspapers, paid for by $575,000 in donations from two individuals who wish to remain anonymous, according to Jack Pannell, spokesman for the liberal evangelical magazine Sojourners. "Without you, Mr. President, Darfur does not have a prayer," said the ads, addressing Bush.

"This is an important day. You see evangelical leaders from across the political spectrum coming together to speak as one voice," Jim Wallis, Sojourners' editor, told reporters.
Conservative signers of the appeal made it clear that they did not intend it to be critical of the White House's efforts to end the crisis. "The president really has been doing more than anybody else, but the president cannot do it alone, and America cannot do it alone," said Land, who heads the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

 
New sermon from the evangelical pulpit: global warming
 
By Jane Lampman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
 
As a deeply committed pastor in Atlanta's African-American community, the Rev. Gerald Durley had long thought of himself as enlightened and involved when it came to issues that hurt people's lives. He felt he was fulfilling his responsibilities to others. Until, he says, he saw the film "The Great Warming" last May.

"My total perspective on environmental issues and life in general was drastically altered," says the pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church. "This went beyond any political, racial, or gender issues - it is a moral crisis."

Dr. Durley has since shown the documentary on global warming to his congregation and invited ministers, rabbis, and imams to see it. He has gone on radio to discuss the crisis and is promoting sermons on the subject. A discussion he held with Atlanta children has been edited into the latest version of the film.

"The Great Warming" - a documentary made in Canada and narrated by actor Keanu Reeves and singer Alanis Morissette - tells the same disturbing story as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." But it has become a strategic vehicle for reaching out particularly to Evangelicals, many of whom were unlikely to rush to see the Gore production. Some hope it spurs a tipping point in the attitudes of grass-roots Christians.

Many conservative Christians have held a negative view of environmentalism, some even calling activists "pantheistic tree-huggers." Along with the Bush administration, they have insisted that the scientific evidence isn't yet in.

The dramatic film travels the globe from China to Peru, Bangladesh to southern California, depicting the impact of climate change on human lives and detailing the scientific evidence. It also presents the voice of a new Evangelical leadership "converted" to the movement, in language the faithful can appreciate.

Richard Cizik, Washington spokesman of the National Association of Evangelicals, urges action based on the biblical demand for "creation care." Rev. Cizik had his own change of heart after listening to an Evangelical scientist from Oxford University lay out the scientific consensus.

The movie has been previewed in more than 220 churches in recent weeks, and last Friday opened in Regal Cinema theaters in 34 cities. Ads are being run on Christian radio and in church bulletins, and Evangelical leaders have provided the film's website with Bible study and discussion guides.

"We pray everyone will see 'The Great Warming,' " says the Rev. Paul de Vries, president of New York Divinity School, who prepared the materials. "Science has given us an extraordinary wake-up call, but scriptural teaching gives us direction to be responsible for God's world."

Another website was created in early October to enable those who have seen the film to question political candidates running for Congress about where they stand on the issue (www.questionsforcandidates.org).

The film has support from a broad range of groups, including the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Jewish organizations, which have their own global warming initiatives. The NCC, for example, recently released a report on how member churches can reduce carbon emissions and overall utility expenses. The American Jewish Committee provides cash incentives to its employees to purchase fuel- efficient vehicles.

A "Call to Action" statement on the film's website has gathered dozens of signatories from a broad range of faith leaders, environmental groups, scientists, policymakers, and celebrities.

But converting and galvanizing Evangelicals is a major goal. "Too often Evangelicals have focused on just one or two issues," says Dr. de Vries.

The Rev. Joel Hunter, a Florida pastor who is the new president of the Christian Coalition, agrees. Speaking just for himself on a recent "Call to Action" teleconference, he said, "I'm part of the religious right, and am one of those leaders who wants to expand the agenda." After viewing the film, his 12,000-member congregation formed a team to consider how to become more ecologically responsible.

The shift within Evangelicalism gained some momentum earlier this year when 86 Evangelical leaders issued a statement on global warming, saying climate change was not in doubt and human action was required. They were immediately criticized by other Evangelicals, however, and still are. Yet they can point to growing support.

"In a survey earlier this year, 66 percent of Evangelical people favored environmental legislation to address global warming, even if it cost as much as $15 per month per person," De Vries says.

Younger Evangelicals, in particular, are getting on the bandwagon, working on a draft statement of their own.

Some Evangelicals recognize the problem as a moral issue but still see it primarily as one of individuals taking action. Others insist it's long past time to call for policy changes.

"It's not just individuals turning off the lights, but whether industries continue to pump pollution into the atmosphere," says Tony Campolo, cofounder of a nonpartisan group, Red Letter Christians. "Unless government starts controlling industry better than it has, we are not going to have a solution to this problem."

With global warming affecting poor countries more than the developed world, Dr. Campolo says, there is a biblical imperative for a wealthy America, responsible for at least 25 percent of global carbon emissions, to act.

Such Evangelical leaders remain under fire from colleagues, but they are counting on the film to change minds, starting with pastors.

"Spiritual leaders are waking up to this broader responsibility, and congregations really respect what their local pastor says," Dr. Hunter adds. "Just as all politics is local, all spiritual growth is local. As more pastors are aware of this challenge, it will gain traction - and quickly, I think."

Durley is equally optimistic about the black church community. "There has been a raising of the veil of ignorance around this issue. As we talk to people throughout the South, they ask, 'How can we get mobilized?' "

 
 
 
 
 
is based on the book
 
 
"Storm Warning -
Gambling with the
Climate of our Planet
"
 
   
     
The Great Warming web site was designed and developed by Dino Congonidis