Monday, April 03, 2006

Ice Age-- the Melt Down

My wife and I were riding on the Norwegian Cruise Lines boat up the Inland Passage to a glacier in Alaska. There was a problem. For the first time since cruises had been going up this passage we could not get to the glacier. Why? Because huge chunks of ice had prematurely broken off the glacier and blocked the passage. Then there is the pictures of the polar cap which has lost 21% of its mass in the last twenty years. Then finally there was the piece of ice the size of Rhode Island which broke off from Greenland recently. And they say there is no global warming. But the scientific evidence and the scientific community worldwide are nearly unanimous on this subject. Its just politicians who would like us to think otherwise.

Well now we have a children's movie meant to raise this issue with those of an impressionable age, and I would see this as a good thing. The story line is simple. Manny the woolly mammoth, Syd the sloth, Diego the saber tooth tiger, and Scrat the squirrel are all in deep trouble because the ice is melting rapidly. They need to get to a place of safety (and lo and behold it is a sort of ark) so they will not be drowned. The movie centers around the journey to the ark and the creatures they meet and the misadventures that our intrepid heroes have along the way. Oh yes there is romance between Manny and a female mammoth played by Queen Latifah, who was raised by possums and thinks she is one and so she hangs upside down on tree limbs (until they break). A totally plausible plot line for sure.

The story is not told in a heavy handed way, as it is of course a children's cartoon in movie length form. The CG is excellent, and shows advances over the first Ice Age tale, but the story line is not as taut, and the laughs not as frequent as the first movie. I was in a theater full of children, and there was not a lot of raucous laughter this time around. But then the sequels are usually not quite as good as the originals.

Several features of the movie are worth comment however. Firstly there are indeed some hilarious scenes. The vulture course line rendition of "Food glorious food" is great. The two possums, Crash and Eddie are a welcome addition to the menagerie as well. And its a nice touch to have Diego the tiger overcome his fear of water to help rescue friends.

There are some good one liners--- for instance when Manny and the gang come across a particularly noxious creature, and Syd stresses that he "puts the stink back in extinction". Of all the voices in the movie Ray Romano's as Manny the wooly mammoth will be the most recognizable and he does a good job of bringing some human and humorous tones to the dialogue and story line. And of course Queen Latifah brings her own special charm to the role of Elly.

Lastly of course this movie has finally answered the big question for all true creationists. In one scene we are told that the dinosaurs were extinct before the mammoths and saber tooth tigers, because "they got greedy", but that our heroes lived to see the day of the ark. So now we know for sure--- there were wooly mammoths and saber tooth tigers on the ark! I am feeling relieved to know this. Of course this also means that the earth is a lot older than 6,000 years old :)


Amie Lou said...

This was cute and refreshing, thanks


Layman said...

It would appear that Cruise Ship Pollution is a serious problem.

Unfortunately, Norwegian Cruise Lines is a recent offender:

"In July 2002, Norwegian Cruise Lines paid a $1 million fine and agreed to pay $500,000 to environmental organizations in Florida for falsifying Coast Guard records regarding discharge of oily waste and hazardous waste into the ocean."

KentF said...

George Will had a good op-ed piece Sunday - pretty reasonable and fairly logical. And, I think Layman's comments are on target as well. Sorry I can't remember her name - but Mrs. Larry David - one of the foremost environmental activists in the U.S. was on Nightline Friday. She was asked why she lives in a Bevery Hills mansion (not too environ. friendly) and why she flies around the world in a private GulfStream lecturing people to quit burning fossil fuels.

Ben Witherington said...

Thanks to Layman and Kentf for these helpful comments. In my case I was doing a BAR cruise for the Biblical Archaeology Society-- we called it Jesus on Ice :) since we were going to Alaska. I did not pick the cruise line nor have a choice about it, actually. Perhaps we need to lobby Hershel Shanks? As for me, you will not see me in a Gulf stream, or for that matter in an Air stream--- I drive a Hybrid.



Terry Hamblin said...

We all live in glass houses when it comes to climate change. I remember Ronald Sider advocating driving an old second hand runabout. The environmental cost of buying a new car (even a new hybrid) will never be repaid from fuel efficiency. Nevertheless, global warming will only be solved by the better application of technology and technology will only be applied if there are economic incentives to do so.

Ben Witherington said...

Well Terry, in the case of Honda (can't speak for Toyota) you are wrong about that. In the first place there is a $2,000 tax rebate for buying a new hybrid. In the second place this car, bought new cost me less than my Accord did bought new in 1996--- $24,000 with auot, air etc.

In gas, oil, and repairs this car will save me enough to pay for itself in six-seven years, and more to the point, will be equal to the price one paid for a Kia, or Hundai or etc. in five years or less. It gets about 50 mpg and I haven't taken it yet on a long trip to see what it would do.


KentF said...

Bravo Ben for doing what you can - and that price-tag is not bad. I do like the thought of sitting at a stop light burning zero gas. My old Ford Ranger costs me about 14 cents a mile to drive around - hate it.

Terry Hamblin said...

Ah! Ben,
The $2000 tax rebate still has to be paid by someone and the comparison has to be with an old jalopy not a new car. Does the planet really need new cars? My 13 year old Mitsubishi looks good for another 20 years which should see me too old to drive.

The Honda hybrid is not marketed in the UK but would find it hard to better a small diesel in mpg. Most diesels will do 200,000 miles before the engine needs to be replaced (and they will run on old cooking fat once the oil runs out). Hybrids cost more to make because they have to have two engines - one petrol, one electric. Depriving the planet of a few car factories might do it more good than develping more fuel effcient cars and selling them to us.

Conspicuous consumption is a besetting sin of this current age. I am reminded of a science fiction story I read in the 1960s. A world was imagined where everything was made by robots and controlled by computers. All humans had to do was consume their products. The poor had a duty to wear out so many tennis rackets, footballs, billiard cues, suits, shoes, automobiles, houses and crockery every year while the rich were allowed to sit around in their dressing gowns and slippers all the time and read books.

It seems to me that we have been seduced into that sort of existance without noticing.

David said...


I honestly have no idea about global warming. The science involved is far beyond my competence.

I am, however, old enough to have gone to school when we were being taught about the coming ice age. This makes me a little skeptical about claims to scientific unanimity.

As a practical matter, why can't we just acknowledge that less pollution is a good thing? Clearly, pumping billions of tons of junk into the atmosphere every year does not constitute good stewardship over God's creation.

I am more than willing to follow a politician who says: "Our best scientific minds think there is a genuine risk of global warming. Obviously, no-one can predict the future with anything approaching certainty - but it is wise for us to take seriously those who have dedicated their lives to this branch of scientific inquiry. Furthermore, this is not just about global warming. While the short term economic costs will be very real, the long term benefits of dramatically cutting polution are every bit as real. We must act now in faithfulness to both our Creator and to the untold generations who will inherit this stewardship from us."

However, when the call to action is based on a pretense of perfect ability to forecast the future, I know that the speaker is either delusional or dishonest. Why would anyone agree to give up anything to follow such leadership?

Best wishes,


yuckabuck said...

It's also "nearly unanimous" that the evolution of separate species was a random process that precluded any design or action of God or any other "Intelligent Designer." Here's a group that demurs on some, but not all, global warming science:

My point is that many of these issues have become too polarized politically to have any chance of knowing the truth. In the seventies, the left and the press were exercised about glocal cooling. Now, it's warming. I can't seek to "defend the unborn" without getting involved in picking court justices with the "correct judicial philosophy." What's a Christian to do, without opting for Fundamentalist separation and isolation?

I think the biggest problem causing confusion today is the mainstream media (MSM), with its divergent opinions that always seem to come out biased in a certain direction in one way or another. It has been pointed out that many liberal bloggers got going because they wanted to bash Bush, but the conservative bloggers got started because they wanted to balance media bias.

I find this is one of the reasons I don't comment when Dr. Witherington talks politics. I do not know that he is or isn't "left wing", but he sometimes refers to issues in the same way the MSM does. This makes him sound "politically liberal" to some, even if he isn't.

Along with global warming, I could point to other comments on this site in the same vein. Was there a surplus in the Clinton years? Democrats (and the House Republicans taking credit for it!) said there was, but others on the right said it was just because they did not separate Social Security from the general fund, so it was only a surplus on paper. Which is true? If you only read the MSM, you would take it as a fact that there was a surplus under the "fiscally sound" Clinton administration. Me? I really don't know. The MSM accounts are too biased, but I never saw enough facts on the opposite side, due to the fact that I do not have all day to extensively fact check everything on the web. And I'm sure Dr. Witherington doesn't either.

This is not meant as an attack on anyone's politics, but just a vent on how everything is way too politicized, and how I blame that on most of the media. It was bad enough during the 80's and 90's, but I think it has gotten worse during W's years.

Well, now I have broken my ban on political comments, and have tarnished myself good. Blessings to all, and..uh..prosperity of some sorts!

davebeals said...

Ben...Do you believe that the theory of evolution squares with the creation account in Genesis? Dave

Questing Parson said...

Glad you can confirm what I've been trying to tell folks for a while, fellow hybrid driver. (Mine's a Honda, too -- an Insight. At present it's 189,000 miles for an average of 58.7 mpg. And I'm told I could stick my nose up the tail pipe and breathe and it would be cleaner than what one breathes in most metro areas.)

Anyway, I go to Alaska every other year, at least. For the last twelve years I've watched the inland glaciers, where I go, recede at a steady pace.

Traditionalist1611 said...

I agree that Ben should keep his focus on Biblical studies rather than lecturing all of us on global warming and pretending that every scientist believes in it (and as pointed out, there's greater consensus in the "scientific community" for evolutionary naturalism, which I'm sure Ben opposes). Also, Ben, your earlier post sang the praises of some government programs. Perhaps rather than worrying about global warming, you should worry about the short term possible bankrupting of the U.S through expensive government programs (which includes social security), an ever soaring debt and war after war (which you oppose). Government has a role, to encourage the private sector and stay out of the way, but it normally does the opposite.

There's not one thing the government has done that the private sector can't do better and that includes the programs you listed.

Ben Witherington said...

Well Traditonalist---

consider this quote from John Wesley who spent a good deal of his time opposing social ills like slavery--- "there is no spiritual Gospel without the social Gospel, and there is no social Gospel without the spiritual Gospel" the trick is to keep those things in perspective and balance.

So you will know my wife is a scientist and teaches biology and ecology at Asbury College, a quite conservative Christian college. There is no doubt in those folks mind that we are dealing with global warming, and you can find this all over the peer reviewed scientific journals, involving both non-Christians and Christians. So its no good sticking our heads in the sand and saying ---la,lal,lal,lal,la I don't want to hear it. We all need to repent and do a better job of taking care of this beautiful world God made for us to live in. Its just part of good creation theology. It is a part of loving our neighbor as outselves, and loving our children as well.



Dan McGowan said...

I think Syd is the "Christ figure" - other than that, the movie didn't do much for me, nor my kids.

Ben Finger said...

When it does come to the issue of global warming my heart really does begin to ache for different reason. Ben W., I am not saying that you did this at all but its just an overall look at alot of people, things, and statements.

I have for most of my life and even now lived mostly hand to mouth and just praying that the ends meet. I am not talking here about some prosperity gospel either just often heart felt on the knees howlering to Christ to send mercy and grace this way.

So many individuals offer solutions to help the enviroment and villianfy individuals who do not participate, yet the price tags are so expensive that it is often more than many people's yearly income. Sometimes I do wish the affluent could sympathize with those on the lower end of the spectrum. I don't expect to see to many of those cars being driven around here where I am at in Eastern North Carolina anytime soon.

Ben Finger said...

I am not advocating doing nothing however. Honestly instead of the choice for us to tradeup for a more enviromental friendly item, well a number of us trade down to do without in order not experience the new cost burden.

Keith said...


Fortunately, each of us has someone to tell us what sorts of things we should spend our time thinking about, and it looks like Dr. B has been lucky enough to discover that you are his! That's splendid...

I'm not a scientist (nor am I married to one, though that would certainly keep me more informed concerning such things than, say, someone who thinks they are but really aren't), but having been around democracy for some time, perhaps I can offer you some advice: Rather than worrying Dr. B's political and ecological opinions, you should run for office and demonstrate for us how efficiently you could run things.

Traditionalist1611 said...

Keith, all I pointed out was that the consensus on global warming is not as profound as its being made out on these pages, and even regarding "scientific consensus," there are some other things the vast majority of scientists are in agreement on that most Christians would certainly have a problem with (presuppositional naturalism, no "intelligent design," etc). Now, according to you, if I take issue with the claim being made on this page, I should run for office and fix the global climate issue. You think that I'm not "informed" as infered from your post, but just yesterday there was a mainstream "scientific study" that came out that asserted that global warming was NOT to blame for the rise of these recent hurricanes and such and it is just the natural cycles of hurricanes that the earth has always seen. But Al Gore and Dr. Witherington say otherwise. That's fine, everyone has a right to opinions, but they should be backed by facts, and observational evidence being asserted as fact here (glaciers melting, more hurricans, etc) are not a slam dunk case for doom and gloom global warming. The envioro crowd has been predicting our utter demise for years (remember global cooling in the 70's?!) and we're still trucking along just fine. Also, yes God has called us to be good stewards of his creation, but He is still in control last time I checked and global disaster is not going to come upon us unless He wills it and I doubt doom and gloom global warming will be the cause and I heavily doubt that enviornmentalists will be our saviors.

Keith said...


You said,

all I pointed out was that the consensus on global warming is not as profound as its being made out on these pages...

That is certainly not all you claimed. Moreover, it seems you missed my point altogether. What you said was, "I agree that Ben should keep his focus on Biblical studies rather than lecturing... and pretending... and Perhaps rather than worrying about global warming, you should worry about... My point was to expose your ad hominem language.

You also said,

Now, according to you, if I take issue with the claim being made on this page, I should run for office and fix the global climate issue.

That's quite an extrapolation! When you asserted "There's not one thing the government has done that the private sector can't do better and that includes the programs you listed, I could only assume that you had some ideas by way of improving them. If you feel so strongly about them, my advice stands: stop merely posting about it and run for office. I certainly don't think that anyone who disagrees with something on Dr. B's blog should immediately run for office- that's ridiculous.

For clarification, let me say this: I'm absolutely in favor of intellectual discussion, but minus the ad hominem tactics. You're right that everyone is entitled to their opinions, and that those opinions should be backed by facts. But what about your two opinions I've mentioned above? I doubt there are any facts to support them.

I, for one, would enjoy reading some debate over such facts as your "scientific study," or the findings/beliefs of Dr. B's wife and her colleagues. I suspect, however, that a post on "Ice Age-- the Melt Down" was not intended as such a forum.

mason booth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mason booth said...

Dr. Witherington,

i am eagerly awaiting your post concerning the "Gospel of Judas." Having read some info concerning the content, i do not understand what is so new and revolutionary. i remember reading somewhere in my seminary studies that there is a theory (i do not know how much support there is for it) that Judas' last name was actually a short version or a mis-understanding to refer to Ish-Sacarii..(man of the dagger??)referring to a particular zealot group, implying that Judas was a member of the Sacarii and that his intention of handing Jesus over was to force or at least encourage Jesus in to becoming the Messiah that he and his movement wanted (i.e. military and revolt). maybe you can reference in your post additional theories concerning Judas and his motives. i seem to think that the money motive or greed is not the total story, but i am pretty sure that Judas was not a pre-gnostic evangelist in the early part of the 1 century AD. Can't wait for you to add your comments!!!



the Finnie's said...

A great post.

I took my 3 year old to see this movie, he enjoyed at a totally different level to me as I shamed myself by almost crying with laughter.

Daniel said...

Good posts to Traditionalist and david, you guys obviously read the same articles I read, while Mr. Witherington reads different articles then we do.

Globalony warming is a poltical movement. If Hollywood and its stars are so hot to talk about it, you know it has political implications. When has a star ever really cared about anything that didn't gain them or their looney ideas some leverage?

I don't want to get political on Mr. Witherington's blog, so I'll cut it short.

The articles I read are obviously different then the ones Mr. Witherington reads, because I read articles that show there are scientists who disagree that there is such a thing as globalony warming. Who's right?

If the Sun is getting hotter, what can anyone do about it other then the very rich moving to Mars?