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« Were You There? | Main | W's God »

February 22, 2006

Comments

I would suggest that folks actually read the linked statement before commenting. One will then wonder "what's the fuss"? Their prescription iis basically to help the poor and get more efficient. That means we all win regardless. These might also be of interest:

http://www.realclimate.org/

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/02/what_is_wrong_w.html

I think it would be great if we could get these 86 to agree on something like the gospel. That would be progress.

My problem isn't so much the way these men talk when interviewed - they all speak of wanting to be good stewards and care for what God has created and they speak of responsibility. That's all well and good and proper, Christians ought to be in the leadership in sensible, Godly environmental responsibility.

My problem is twofold. First, while talking about this, their ad is clearly about Global Warming and their document is about Global Warming. They went to talk to Senators Lieberman, Kerry, and former VP Al Gore about GLobal Warming in Washington DC. The ad even goes so far as to say that science indicates that humans cause global warming and that we can fix the problem.

Both of those things are in error. We may or may not be able to do something about global climactic changes, to whatever degree they occur, but absolutely no scientific evidence points to human cause of any warming that has occurred over the last century or so we've actually kept records worldwide. It can be inferred, but that is an error of logic, replacing correlation with causality.

That is to say, just because two things happen at the same time doesn't mean one caused the other, and that's the error they make.

My second concern is that given the men involved here, I fear they are less concerned with Godly stewardship and more concerned with leaping on a bandwagon that will make them seem more mainstream and build their churches up bigger. This may seem unfair, but the majority of the men involved have specifically worked to do just that thing in their churches, pragmatic approaches based on market efforts and what people want so they can have the biggest church possible.

That, to me is a real concern. I have to echo John when he notes that if only these men would embrace the gospel, then we'd have a movement and event worthy of attention. This reminds me all too much of Billy Graham's political antics in the 1970s, to be honest.

Christopher,

I agree with you that the statement goes too far when they say:

"Christians, noting the fact that most of the climate change problem is human induced".

There seems to be a strong correlation between human activity and global warming but the science does not, as far as I can tell, provide this level of certainty.

That said, I think Alan's point is useful. As Christians called to be stewards of God's creation, we should be making efforts to reduce any destructive impact on people and the environment, regardless! The statement says "as a society and as individuals we must also help the poor adapt to the significant harm that global warming will cause." Of course we should help the poor. As the statement says: "Numerous positive actions to prevent and mitigate climate change are being implemented across our society by state and local governments, churches, smaller businesses, and individuals. These commendable efforts focus on such matters as energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy, low CO2 emitting technologies, and the purchase of hybrid vehicles. These efforts can easily be shown to save money, save energy, reduce global warming pollution as well as air pollution that harm human health, and eventually pay for themselves." I think these activities are desirable even if we do not stop global warming.

As to the motivations of those signing the statement I don't think that it is possible to say that they are more interested in boosting their Church attendance than the call to Christian stewardship. I recognize that the pragmatism you speak of may be a motivation in some cases and does pose a problem. But, in fact, by citing the call to Christian stewardship in their statement they are expressing agreement on at least a portion of the Gospel (I expect that there is a great deal more that they would agree on). I welcome it and accept it as a flawed document with good intentions, useful for Christians concerned about living their lives as good stewards of creation.

I do think that there is some danger for Christians to place too much reliance on government (and science), as the statement seems to: "In the United States, the most important immediate step that can be taken at the federal level is to pass and implement national legislation requiring sufficient economy-wide reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through cost-effective, market-based mechanisms such as a cap-and-trade program."

Here's the problem with jumping on the Global Warming Bandwagon, William: we don't know what's causing what warming as exists. Over the last 100 years, the overall world temperature appears to have raised 1-3 degrees. Over this time period, there are a lot more people, but at the same time we're actually polluting less (London doesn't burn so much coal the walls are black, for instance).

Climates fluctuate over time, for example Greenland was named this because it was actually green, unlike now when it's covered in a huge ice sheet. Southern England was a Riviera-like paradise, palm trees grew there (some still survive to this day). Things got cooler in the past and the ice came, Cornwall became more sleety and rainy. Climates fluctuate, and there are long-term fluctuations. In the 1970s (and actually very recently) there were scientists warning about Global Cooling, for pete's sake.

My point isn't that we should not be wise and good stewards, but rather that we should do this no matter what the latest hysterical headlines or fads say. And piling on the latest bandwagon does not show leadership or wisdom, it seems to me.

Chris, the science is pretty well settled. "The extension of the Vostok CO2 record shows the present-day levels of CO2 are unprecedented during the past 420 kyr." http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/co2/vostok.htm
That is human beings have never lived with co2 levels this high.

The ice age arguments are a red herring. Temperatures fluctuate even during warming. If the warming causes the Greenland ice to melt, the additional cold fresh water can disrupt the Gulf Stream and Europe would get very cold while warmer water further south would lead to stronger storms.

As I pointed out in a comment below, posts like this show that we are dealing with a political religion. When Steven Hayward writes "The real head-turner, however, was the recent launch of the Evangelical Climate Initiative, in which nearly 100 evangelical leaders signed on to the environmentalist party line. Some are the same liberal evangelicals who tub-thumped for the nuclear freeze during the Reagan years, but some are conservative evangelicals important to Bush's red-state base, such as Rick (The Purpose Driven Life) Warren.", he reveals much as does Melinda when she picks up on it. Google "left-deviationism" for an explanation. Also read this for a refresher: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2006_02_19_digbysblog_archive.html#114037070635997505

As for government intervention, William, the problem is that, were we to try to deal with GW without it, we would encourage free loading.

Alan... scientists don't know how much C02 we've lived with in the past. Flat out that's simply unknowable. We can guess based on core samples and other techniques, but nobody can know and nobody can make absolute statements like that with any degree of scientific honesty and accuracy.

I didn't make up that Greenland was green once. It really was, it was a green forested land. About 500 years ago the climate changed to be more cool, that's scientific fact as attested to by not only empirical data such as information from core samples and such, as well as writings and information from people actually living at the time.

I did not make this up, the fact is, the climate fluctuates, that's just how it works. Because we've not been studying the worldwide climate and temperature with any real serious intent for more than 75 years or so, and have no worldwide records before the 20th century, we don't know much about how it works.

Now we may very well be causing problems with our activities in the world, but the scientific fact is we don't know one way or another with any remotest degree of certainty. I simply want honest good science, I'm not arguing against proper Biblical stewardship or responsible environmental care.

I simply want Christian "leaders" like these men to be leaders, to be wise, and to be Biblical. Not to buy into what the papers say and into shoddy science. Just think of the boy who cried wolf... that's what happened to Global Cooling and Global Overpopulation cries.

Ice core analysis is pretty basic science. What is the basic of your claims?

Greenland was green in historic times - around 800 - 1500 CE - in the sense that there was grass in the southwest. Greenland was last forested around the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition - about 2 million years ago. Recall that the Pleistocene was a period of glacial and interglacial periods (that we may not be out of yet) and the tree line never made it back to where it was at the end of the Pliocene.

Yes, the climate fluctuates but the current concern is with the rate of change. Even Mr. Hayward admits something is going on. The current scientific consensus is that this is real and something to be concerned about. The proposals by the Evangelicals are moderate and commonsense and even if the fears prove to be overblown will be things that should be done anyway.

If you are serious about this subject The Weekly Standard isn't the place to go.

Greenland was green when it was discovered by Icelandic sailors, as you noted. Thus, the climate has changed on the island, it was warmer and now is cooler. Further, Cornwall was most definitely much warmer than it is now. This isn't particularly obscure information, Alan.

Just a helpful suggestion, don't assume the person you are discussing a topic with is an imbicile, it doesn't do anyone any good. For all you know the person you are talking to is a multiple PHD in various sciences and the head of a prestigious organization. Or they might be a cretin, but you should respond based on the content of their post, not with presumptions that anyone who dares disagree with you is a thumping great idiot.

Just a helpful thing to think about, not all scientists are in consensus on this issue. Most scientists agree that we are in a period of warming, but none confirm it is from human activity. Some will say it most likely is from that, but there's no way to prove or even strongly support that position.

However, as a departure, I'd like to ask you why you use "CE" rather than "AD". What's the basis for this change in termonology?

I note that you are no longer asserting that Greenland was forested in historical times as you did in your previous post. Why have you changed your mind on this?

You seem to have taken offense that I pointed out that ice core analysis is accepted science. All you have to do is point out why it isn't. You have yet to do that - you only complain.

You may have multiple PhDs however I am confident that they are not in the sciences as you would have known the botanical limitations the Pleistocene placed on Greenland over the last couple of million years.

Nobody is asserting a steady state climate that all of a sudden was disrupted by evil capitalists. Again it's the rate and the unprecedented levels of CO2.

Besides explaining the problems with ice core analysis you might also explain what's wrong with Christian clergymen urging good stewardship by wasting less. After all the idea that we have no right to waste the gifts of God was put forth by John Locke (a good Christian) over three hundred years ago. I guess Locke was a left-deviationist too.

Oh, and CE stands for "Common Era" which is often used in place of AD esp. by non-Christians (I take no offense at AD an use it sometimes). BCE is likewise used instead of BC.

Yes, I know what it is, I wondered why you used it, Alan, and I am most interested in why you think that change occurred.

"I note that you are no longer asserting that Greenland was forested in historical times as you did in your previous post. Why have you changed your mind on this?"

I didn't change my mind, it was true, but I simply was noting that you were agreeing that the climate has changed from a former state of being warmer to being cooler in that area. Thus confirming the scientific fact that climates fluctuate and while it was once warmer it is cooler now - which sort of puts the more recent change in perspective, doesn't it?

Science is not all-wise and infallible, it is sometimes influenced by culture and personal bias. Sometimes it's even false, deliberately, to make a point. Let me quote Discovery Magazine from 1989 to make this point:

"On the one hand, as scientists, we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but... On the other hand, we are not just scientists, but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place... To do that we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have... Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both."

I would hope so too, but even this man is honest enough to recognize there's no guarantee and a problem here. We also should be so honest.

Chis, would you please explain just what makes you think that Greenland was forested within the last thousand years or so? This is a non-trivial error - it demonstrates you are unfamiliar with the most basic geology and botany involved. And would you please explain the problems with ice core analysis? So far we have a bunch of assertions and no sources.

Perhaps I should have guessed that your science comes from that old fraud Julian Simon. As with the abortion story above you need to read closer and more widely. The scientist in question wasn't saying what you think he was; he was simply saying that getting an accurate picture through the media is near impossible - think about that the next time you form an opinion based on the Weekly standard or Fox News. Go to the link and read the whole thing.

http://rpuchalsky.home.att.net/sci_env/sch_quote.html
"To bolster this charge he resurrected an oft-quoted, but
usually out of context partial quote, from a Discover Magazine
interview2 in 1989 in which I decried soundbite science and journalism
by pointing out that nobody gets enough time in the media either to
cover all the caveats in depth, (i.e., "being honest") or to present
all the plausible threats (i.e., "being effective")."

Also your point is irrelevant even if Simon was accurate as a reading of peer reviewed journals, not just news stories, will show global warming to be a problem.

Could you please explain why you use CE instead of AD? All you did was give its history, I'm curious why you did so and what you think is the reason that this term came about.

I base my description of Greenland on information from historical accounts of travelers visiting the place. I may have exaggerated the trees, but the basic point doesn't change: Greenland was not always covered in a huge sheet of ice like it is now, it was once more green. That demonstrates my point, as I've stated before, that global climate fluctuates over time and this area was once much warmer than it is today. Do you dispute this somehow?

The problem with core samples isn't that they are unscientific or bad science, Alan, it's that they are insufficient to make the kind of dogmatic and absolute statements that you and others do about global warming. You bring up Carbon Dioxide levels, but nobody knows whether or not carbon dioxide stores well over long periods of time. Further, the models that are often thrown up for global climactic patterns are grossly oversimplified, and the more study that is done the more complex the entire picture becomes.

And whether the statement was taken out of context or not, he makes a good point: Scientists will say things more strongly and avoid things that disagree with their position in order to make a point or get public support. That happens, becoming a scientist doesn't somehow negate the tendency of humans to do this kind of thing, putting on a lab coat doesn't make you a better man. I agree with his final sentance, don't you?

Chris it looks to me like Alan has a position that he doesn't care to hear any argument about and is trying to find somewhere he can discredit you as if that negates the other points you've made. I see this all the time on message boards no matter what the topic, a refusal to learn, grow, or admit someone might be right, and instead a desperate urge to find somewhere that you can attack. It is an attempt to ignore the fact that your argument has been demolished by deflecting attention to somewhere else. For some reason being anonymous seems to bring out the worst in many if not all people - argumentative, rude, condescending, patronizing, and even gross insults.

I understand a lot of this is passion or youthful enthusiasm, I just wish there was more mature thoughtful wisdom.

Cane: Just whwere do you disagree? All I see are generalities.

Chris: To go from forest to rock and ice with no forest is a big deal; from grass to same - not so big. Again the rate is the issue. We are seeing the former in terms of altitude which works much like latitude. Of course it's complex which is why I prefer to get my info from PhDs and peer reviewed journals as opposed to neo-con mags. The former express a broad agreement that something significant is happening and that we have a part in it. They also agree that CO2 levels that are off the scale are important.

No huge meaning to CE or AD - as a non-Christian AD is sort of a confession that i don't profess.

Posted the above from a friend's computer and for got to add the name.

OK I'll skip the Socratic method and cut to the chase.

The change was a deliberate shift because certain groups of PC activists thought that using BC and AD was "intolerant" and would "offend" certain groups because it was so Christian-centric. You hinted at this earlier when you stated that you took "no offense at AD."

The problem with this position is that CE (Current Era) starts at exactly the same date as AD. Why? Because that's the approximate guessed time when Christ was born, although nobody knows for sure and the date seems to be a bit off from recent research. So you aren't actually helping anything, you are just trying to change to a modern term to erase any hint of Christian historical language from usage.

In other words: you've not avoided possible offense (except to Christians) but have deliberately made and anti-Christian and utterly needless change in useage over a thousand years old.

I cannot think of a single reason to use that term, or BCE. I urge people to avoid it.

Further, your attempts to dodge the issue by hinting there was no climate change in Greenland is not very intellectually honest, and as we're quite a ways down the page and not getting anywhere I'll leave it at this and hope in time you'll think it over rather than having a knee-jerk reaction to someone who dares doubt the word of popular scientists. I shudder to think what you would say about Intelligent Design, or if you were at Galileo's time a non-geocentric solar system.

Come on Chris, I never posting anything questioning climate change in Greenland during the Little Ice Age, I simply pointed out that the change didn't involve a change from forests to ice and rock. Please post the quote in which I denied any change - and shame on you.

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