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Heating up

Climate activism takes center stage


Union Theological Seminary students “confessed to plants” during a chapel service last week. Twitter/Union Seminary

Heating up

Environmental activism heated up last week ahead of Monday’s United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City. The week kicked-off with Emma Lim, a 19-year-old from London, Ontario, who encouraged young people not to have children until policymakers can ensure their safety from the predicted ravages of global warming. More than 3,500 people have already joined the movement #NoFutureNoChildren.

Lim said she became “terrified” when she read the catastrophic warnings in a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As global warming hysteria grows and scientists argue over climate data and how to measure it accurately, they are frightening young people like Lim into decisions and actions that could have a profound effect on their lives. “I am not the only young person giving up lifelong dreams because they are unsure of what the future will hold,” she said. “We’ve read the science, and now we’re pleading with our government.”

Following the launch of Lim’s movement, Union Theological Seminary in New York City tweeted about a ceremony it hosted in which students confessed their environmental sins to a group of plants.

“Today in chapel, we confessed to plants,” the school tweeted. “Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt, and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?"

The accompanying photo showed a group of potted plants sitting on a pile of dirt in a room with a person holding a microphone sitting on the floor, yoga-style, facing the shrubs.

Christians on Twitter responded with a mix of hilarity and criticism. “That’s the gritty Veggie Tales reboot we’ve been waiting for,” Allen Corbin tweeted. “Plants don’t sustain the earth, God does,” wrote Thomas Dierson. “Plants are important to our ecosystem, and we are commanded to care for the earth, but the Plants AREN’T GOD, and the whole exercise is pantheistic and pagan in nature.”

On Friday, schools across the United States allowed students to take an excused absence to attend protests demanding government action to address climate change. The New York City Department of Education tweeted approval for all public school students to skip school for the strike with their parents’ permission. More than 4 million people attended up to 6,000 strikes in more than 1,000 cities in 185 countries, the news site Quartz estimated.

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD News Group board member, noted last week on his podcast The Briefing that although the #NoFutureNoChildren movement expresses concern for the safety of the next generation, it reinforces the idea that humans are the problem.

“We cannot be pleased with the desecration of creation, but we can also not be pleased, or ever satisfied, with the idea that creation exists unto itself, that human beings are a blight upon creation, and that it is wrong for human beings to exercise dominion over creation,” he said.

Mohler acknowledged that humans bear a stewardship responsibility to this planet, but “it is a God-given responsibility that actually extends far more comprehensively than anything the climate strikers understand or affirm.”

“Ready or not, here I come.”

“Ready or not, here I come.” iStock.com/Anna-av

Rats can play hide-and-seek

Researchers at Humboldt University of Berlin recently learned they could teach rats how to play the classic childhood game of hide-and-seek. Within two weeks, the rats learned how to both hide and seek without switching roles in the middle of the game.

During the study, published in Science on Sept. 13, the rats often appeared to analyze and anticipate how the researchers might respond. They scurried to a hiding place the researcher had previously checked as though they thought she wouldn’t check there again. They also emitted many squeaks when seeking but remained silent when hiding. And they showed they enjoyed the game by jumping with pleasure when the researcher found them. The researcher rewarded the rats with petting and tickling.

Although the experiment might seem like a bit of laboratory tomfoolery, the scientists collected information about the rats’ brain activity through tiny implanted probes. The data showed that the rats’ brain patterns during the game corresponded to similar patterns in human brains when they engage in social behavior and play. The findings may provide useful information for future studies of human brain functioning. —J.B.

“Ready or not, here I come.”

“Ready or not, here I come.” iStock.com/Anna-av

Archaeology shows Bible’s accuracy

Scholars have argued the Bible’s record of Israel’s King David conquering the Edomites (2 Samuel 8:14) was inaccurate because the kingdom of Edom didn’t arise until more than 300 years after the time of David. But a new study, published in PLOS One on Sept. 18, indicates Edom existed and flourished even before Saul became the first king of Israel. The researchers uncovered what they believe is the ancient city of Edom in the Arava Valley, a region that spans areas of Israel and Jordan and served as the center of the Edomite kingdom.

An analysis of copper slag samples, a waste product produced by smelting copper, from the site and other sites around the region convinced the scientists that Edom thrived about 300 years earlier than previously believed.

“Our new findings contradict the view of many archaeologists that the Arava was populated by a loose alliance of tribes, and they’re consistent with the Biblical story that there was an Edomite kingdom here,” said Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University. —J.B.

“Ready or not, here I come.”

“Ready or not, here I come.” iStock.com/Anna-av

Measles outbreak winds down

The nation’s worst measles outbreak in the past 27 years appears to be coming to an end, public health officials announced last week.

New cases have tapered off, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot declared an end to their city’s public health emergency on Sept. 3. Health officials also declared the outbreak over in New York’s Wyoming County and El Paso, Texas.

Measles outbreaks officially end when two incubation periods—roughly 42 days—have passed since the last infected person was contagious.

The epidemic began about a year ago when travelers became infected overseas and then spread the disease to unvaccinated people in the United States. The nation has seen 1,241 confirmed measles cases in 31 states so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those cases, more than 10 percent required hospitalization, and 65 people experienced complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis. —J.B.


Julie Borg

Julie is a WORLD contributor who covers science and intelligent design. A clinical psychologist and a World Journalism Institute graduate, Julie resides in Dayton, Ohio.


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