Thursday, January 18, 2007

Evangelicals and Climate Scientists Agree on Global Warming

Well its about time. We finally have a group of Evangelical ministers who are fed up with the junk science and head in the sand denials of some of their fellow Evangelicals in attempts to ignore that there is such a thing as global warming. Here is a brief excerpt from the story---

"The Rev. Rich Cizik, public policy director for the National Association of Evangelicals, and Nobel-laureate Eric Chivian, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, were among 28 signers of a statement that demands urgent changes in values, lifestyles and public policies to avert disastrous changes in climate.

“God will judge us for destroying the Creation. Therefore, we as evangelicals have a responsibility to be even more vigilant than others,” Cizik told a news conference."

Indeed, he is right about this. God set us up to tend and care for our beautiful world in a way that is good for all living things, not just for the profits of a few Western human beings. If you want to read the entire article here is the link-- http://www.msnbc.nbc.com/id/16677104/.

Having personally seen the effects of global warming on the Sawyer glacier in Alaska, and having seen irrefutable evidence of the existence of greenhouse gases produced by the use of fossil fuels including coal and oil, I insist its time for more Evangelicals to wake up and take a stand on this issue, and stop being in denial. The evidence is all around us. I leave you with a final example.

When I was a child we used to go to Mt. Mitchell state park on the Blue Ridge Parkway in N.C. It was beautiful and the top of the mountain was covered with beautiful fur trees. Today? Not so much. Scientists from around the world have studied why all the trees about the 5,000 feet line have died. Their report was unanimous. The pollution from belching factories in western N.C. weakened the trees which made them subject to beetles (no not Paul and Ringo), and they became diseased and died. The human responsibility for this defoliation and destruction is beyond dispute.

So, petitions are nice, but what are we going to do about it? One suggestion is to do our best to go green when it comes to cars, trucks, and the like. It is a small start, but I can tell you that car makers will indeed make more hybrid vehicles if we will buy them. We have one hybrid car and we are planning to trade in our other one for Highlander hybrid which is all electric around town, where pollution is the biggest concern. And no, these vehicles are not so much more expensive in price that it is not worth the change. Check out the Honda Civic hybrid (ours gets 50 on the highway, and burns no gas when it comes to a stop anywhere in town).

Think on these things.

17 comments:

Grumpy Old Man said...

Two small correctives:

With "fur" trees, who needs mink?

The fir phenomenon you describe, of course, is not a global warming issue at hall, but a point pollution issue.

I do agree that we face serious environmental issues, separate and apart from human-caused global warming, such as the depletion of fish stocks and the spread of plastic trash everywhere in the ocean.

I'm a bit more skeptical about human-induced global warming, but even so, it seems to me that there is little harm, and much good, moral and environmental, in reducing consumption. The "Eye of the Needle" may be a gateway in Jerusalem, but too many of us are camel-like.

Matt said...

Studies have shown that the earth's temperature has gone up a wooping .6 degrees C in the last 125 years. Yes, it has warmed. Not by as much as they would lead you to believe.

It is our responsibility to care for the earth and if global warming scares people into taking better care of it then maybe that will be a good thing for us to step up.

We have no idea how much the earth naturally fluctuates in temperature over a significant period of time. We have not been keeping records long enough to tell how it trends. 125 years is just not significant in the whole scheme of things. The raise in temps may be significant and it may not - it just seems really hard to conclusively prove that we humans are responsible for this huge swing in temps (.6 degrees C - which seems pretty miniscule to me).

I could be persuaded differently but that is just how I see it.

David said...

Some people may think I'm nuts for watching this, but Al Gore's "An Incovenient Truth" is a great documentary.
Agree or not whole heartedly, even if Al and his facts are only half right, there is serious cause for concern.
This is not an issue to be taken lightly. Our care of the earth as Christians, has been at best, apathetic and at worst, horrid.
I'm glad 'evangelicals' are starting to get it.
My concern is that people will finally come around to say, "Oh, that's horrible, I guess Al was right." And then do nothing to change their lifestyle.

metapundit.net said...

Oh be careful! Fair disclosure here: I'm a global warming skeptic in the sense that I think warming is occuring, that it likely has an anthropogenic component, but that it's effects are unlikely to be as disastrous as professional environmental lobbyists would have us believe.

With that disclaimer out of the way -

I'm all for Evangelicals becoming more environmentally minded. I think it's crucial, however, that we control our rhetoric when we participate in the larger movements around us. Making statements like

"Having personally seen the effects of global warming on the Sawyer glacier in Alaska, and having seen irrefutable evidence of the existence of greenhouse gases produced by the use of fossil fuels including coal and oil"

alarms me a little bit because it is phrased as observable fact when A) the reasons for glacial recession are complex and debated and (forgive me) beyond your own personal capacity to ascertain unless I mistake your field of expertise B) no one (true believer or skeptic) denies the creation of greenhouse gasses from fossil fuel combustion.

I would be ever so much happier if you would, for example, limit yourself to acknowledging that the bulk of scientific opinion leans towards anthropogenic warming with a potentially serious range of effects and therefore you have chosen (and encourage others to choose) the steps you have taken that aim to reduce greenhouse emissions. Reducing scientific uncertainty to observable facts, referencing Junk Science, and imputing "head in the sand denial" to those who may disagree for various reasons... doesn't actually help persuade, well, me at least to lean in this direction.

One or two additional thoughts to think on: The earth has been warmer in the past w/o anthropogenic contributions (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_climate_optimum).
This likely included less glaciation, warmer seas, and more moderate winters. This doesn't prove that there is no danger (any type of climate change is likely to disturb something, even if just agricultural patterns), but it does indicate that the climate can and has changed without our help and that while such changes have effects, they are not cataclysmic in the way that current rhetoric claims.

Additionally: I think moving to hybrid technology is a good idea - there has to be a better energy store than petroleum based fuels. The emissions of such cars is dependent, however, on the methods used to generate the electricity (sometimes more eco-friendly like hydroelec. but sometimes less so like coal fired generating plants.) Again, it's hard to be definitive (and electrics do have the virtue of allowing us to use emission free electricity should we master fusion tomorrow or something. See wikipedia again: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_electric_vehicle#Energy_efficiency_and_carbon_dioxide_emissions)

Neil said...

I think there is global warming, but am unconvinced that the radical proposals such as Kyoto will have a net improvement on human suffering. Many of the solutions proposed by "Greens" bear out their radical worldviews which aren't always human-friendly.

That said, at least Ben and others are putting their money where their mouths are, unlike Al Gore (The Really Inconvenient Truth is how many houses, gas guzzling vehicles and the like he owns).

I think that with or without global warming it is just good stewardship to reduce, re-use and recycle.

Terry Hamblin said...

I am one of the leading experts in the world on chronic lymphocytic leukemia. When I look at what other experts in this disease write about it I think that sometimes they get it all wrong, and on some of the more esoteric stuff, I strongly disagree with them. I am sorry to say that some of them are more strongly influenced than they should be by commercial interests.

I am also in regular communication with a lot of lay 'experts' on this disease. Some of them are very sensible but some have ideas that are laughable. Often they have a world view that wants to make the facts fit the theory rather than vice versa.

My point is that unless one has spent years of study of a scientific subject you can fall hook, line and sinker for the most outrageous ideas, and even if you have spent years of serious study you can be seriously wrong about it.

I'm afraid that I haven't come to any strong conclusion about global warming. We do have Camelias flowering in out garden at 51 degrees north in January, but the Romans were happy to grow grapes in England when they were here. In between the Thames would regularly freeze over.

To be sure there are powerful commercial influences against the idea of man-made global warming, but there is a strong ideology suporting it.

I am not yet convinced that the money would not be better spent on desalination plants, wells in Africa, drugs for AIDS, mosquito nets etc. Still, perhaps it ought to be both and.

Ben Witherington said...

"I would be ever so much happier if you would, for example, limit yourself to acknowledging that the bulk of scientific opinion leans towards anthropogenic warming with a potentially serious range of effects and therefore you have chosen (and encourage others to choose) the steps you have taken that aim to reduce greenhouse emissions. Reducing scientific uncertainty to observable facts, referencing Junk Science, and imputing "head in the sand denial" to those who may disagree for various reasons... doesn't actually help persuade, well, me at least to lean in this direction."

O.K. fine, use more technical language and be a bit more reserved in drawing firm conclusions. Here is were I tell you my wife is a professional scientist-- a botanist, ecologist and environmental scientist, all of which she teaches at Asbury College along with biology. When she tells me this stuff is real, I believe it.

Pollution is measurable and so are its effects to various degrees. No one can deny there is more of it now than only a decade ago, not least because the world's population keeps growing and thus the need for energy.

As for the temperature issue, the ocean temperature rising is what concerns me the most, and that has certainly risen more than the temperature of the earth. I could care less how hot the limestone is in my front yard. Its the el Nino's and hurricanes I care about, especially being from North Carolina on that latter front.

Blessings,

Ben

Traditionalist1611 said...

Global warming is about as much of a "fact" as evolution. But the bigger problem here is whether it is or isn't happening doesn't really matter. First of all God is in control. Second our mission on this planet is to save souls not be liberal do-gooders focusing on the enviornment when we should be focusing on the gospel!!Yes I believe that we have a responsibility to be good stewards but this earth and its present form is passing away. What good is it to fix climate problems when God is going to destroy this wicket planet anyway. We are in the last days and soon at the rapture of the church these problems of today will be no more. We should instead be worrying about what will happen to the earth during the tribulation period, not because its sad that this earth is going to be destroyed, but for those hwo are going to be incuring the wrath of God. Theres no point in trying to patch holes in a sinking ship. The present world as we know it is going to be destroyed where perfection comes in the new heavens and earth is only through an act of God not liberal socal politics. Those of us who take the Bible literally and believe in the coming mellinium know that only then will we see better conditions on the earth when Christ is King. Before that all the works and power of man aren't changing a thing that we are heading towards the end of the last days and that this planet as we know it is in its last moments. Why then get all flustered about pollution and climate change. Its out of our hands and until Jesus comes things are just going to get worse anyway.

byron said...

traditionalist - I am more than a little alarmed at your theology and your attitude. It is this world that is groaning and awaiting it's liberation from bondage to decay, according to Paul in Romans 8. God is not out to junk this world and throw it away in order to replace it with another, but just as he raised Jesus from the dead, transforming his body as well as preserving it, so he will do the same to the whole created order. Jesus resurrection is the pattern not just for our own, but for the fate of the entire created order.

Sorry for the self-links, but they explain further what I mean in each case.

Interestingly, in Austrlia, a broad consensus has emerged between 16 denominations and religious groups about the moral imperative associated with clmate change. Check it out here.

However, even having said all this - I wonder whether Peak Oil mightn't be a more pressing and disruptive human-created disaster - and one that switching to hybred cars can only slightly delay. More radical solutions within our lifetime, perhaps within a decade, will be necessary if these theories are even close to being true.

metapundit.net said...

I think I conflated several different points - I didn't really want to argue about global warming and so should have resisted throwing on the links to think about...

You said:
"O.K. fine, use more technical language and be a bit more reserved in drawing firm conclusions."

That's the effect, I guess, that I'm looking for, but it is a product of my two concerns. One of them is major (I think) and the other is really just a pet peeve of mine to which I am probably over-reacting.

The major concern is that our involvement in the issues of the day not divide us from fellow Christians who do not share our concerns. That is where I think the comment "We finally have a group of Evangelical ministers who are fed up with the junk science and head in the sand denials of some of their fellow Evangelicals in attempts to ignore that there is such a thing as global warming" immediately rubbed me the wrong way.

There undoubtedly are Evangelicals who do lean on junk science to deny global warming because it doesn't fit their politics or theology or whatever (note traditionalist1611's comments!). It would in fact be a service to talk specifically about public persons/ministries/etc who evince such an attitude.

I read that opening paragraph, however, and think: he's saying that If I'm not on board with Rich Cizik than I have my head in the sand, Am in denial, etc... I guess what I'm getting at is that I think it's important not to imply motives unless that's something you want to follow up on in a specific and detailed way.

The other thing I was reacting to is just my own personal pet peeve with people who do not understand the global climate change debate: if one more person tells me that "This is a really hot day. I don't remember it being this hot before. Must be global warming!" or conversely (and appropriately to my central California town which is currently experiencing unusually cold weather) "Global warming? HA! Wish we could get some of that." ... I understand that this is not what you were saying with the reference to Sawyer - it is possible (it may be the scientific consensus, in fact) that glacial recession is directly attributable to global warming. I still react (perhaps unjustifiably) to statements of the "I know it's real - I've seen it with my own eyes" variety...

samlcarr said...

Seems to me that part of what Ben as a leading theologian is saying is that we have to have a more complete view of biblical theology as far as our caring for the world is concerned.

A lot of "Theres no point in trying to patch holes in a sinking ship" is being preached and taught as sound conservative theology and the only eschatology. It is good to see that a few leading evangelicals are willing to take a stand that the bible teaches us a different ethic.

Ben Witherington said...

"Seems to me that part of what Ben as a leading theologian is saying is that we have to have a more complete view of biblical theology as far as our caring for the world is concerned."

Exactly. Escapist theology does no justice to what the Bible says about creation and our responsibility in regard to it until the Lord returns. And frankly there is no reason whatsoever to think that will be soon, since we have hardly fulfilled Mk. 13.10 nor is there any sign yet that "the full number of Gentiles have come in" (Rom. 11.25), people are still being converted by the droves and finally their are no signs at all of large numbers of Jews being converted (see Rom. 11.25). So lets get on with our full Gospel responsibilities to care for the world in the contact of seeking to save its residents who are obviously the most precious part of the world to God.

Blessings,

Ben W.

Luken said...

I am a bit surprised at this apparent lack of discernment on your part Mr. Witherington. There is by no means a scientific consensus on Human caused Global Warming and to characterize those that disagree with your stance as "head in the sand" is disingenuous. This is a major problem with today's environmentalists. They wish to side step any meaningful discussion by simply casting dispersions on the opposing view point rather than engaging in debate. This is exactly what YOU are doing when you choose to call those opposed to the current trend of "Human caused Global Warming" mania as "heads in the sand". Perhaps you need to read:
The Skeptical Environmentalist
By
Bjorn Lomborg

There are many more factors to take into account than what those like Al Gore would have us believe. However, I do agree that we are to be stewards of the planet but not at the expense of people's lives and livelihoods. There is a balance that needs to be reached. But, with attitudes such as yours we will never achieve that balance. As with anything there are trade offs that we must be willing to compromise on.

Luken

Bob Bliss said...

So let me get this straight. In the 1960s (my high school years) scientists warned us that the earth's population would exceed 20 billion by the end of the century. This was drilled into me in science and sociology classes. Then in the 1970s scientists were warning us about the earth "cooling" and causing global famines and such (I have the article from Newsweek). Now we have scientists warning us about global warming and the impending doom that it will create.

Scientists have demonstrated that they cannot accurately predict the past (evolution) and so far have demonstrated that they cannot reliably predict the future. Until scientists begin to predict accurately I will remain skeptical about their recommendations.

I would suggest you read Michael Crichton's State of Fear. Crichton does an excellent job of footnoting his work of fiction so that it is more scientifically reliable. His appendices and recommendations are far more reasonable than any I've read.

Traditionalist1611 said...

I think some of you have this wrong. Look I know that my current human body is going to die someday. I take care of it, but I don't go to unrealistic efforts to make sure that its going to live forever. Im sure Id have a longer life expectency if I never drove my car, didnt work too hard, didn't eat certain things and so on and so on. but at the same time none of that would make since either. Same thing with global warming stuff. We know that this current earth will not always be and that the Bible predicts things to get much worse here, but we want to try and stop the enevitable and try and make this planet live forever. Also i think anyone paying attention can see that we are in the last days. There are so many signs that you have to not pay attention to notice them. Have we forgout about Israel becomming a nation again in 1948 and recapturing the holy land in 1967? Are we not paying attention to the Middle East today? Soon the Temple will be rebuilt and will be ready for the Antichrist (abomination of desolations) to exalt himself like Daniel Matthew Mark, Luke, 2 Thessalonians call for, and signs are clearly leading up to the Gog-Magog war that Ezekiel spoke of. I dont know if the Temple and Gog-Magog will come before or after the rapture but its coming. Its also a mistake to say that Jesus isn't coming soon (did he lie in Revelation!?) because it takes away from the doctrine of imminence. The signs are all in place and we should be focusing on protecting God's people Israel and saving as many souls as we can before the bridegroom comes, not junk science.

byron said...

Traditionalist - did you read any of the links I suggested? I think that there are excellent biblical reasons for thinking that the earth will be liberated from its bondage to decay (Romans 8.20-21), and that our bodies, though they will die, will be resurrected, rather than replaced. Indeed, I think that these are at the heart of the Christian hope, rather than any kind of escape from body or world in a rapture (which has very shaky biblical foundations).

Here is another link (from someone else this time) discussing whether the idea of the rapture is biblical.

Matt said...

The point seems to be that we need to talk more about conservation of the earth from a Christian perspective whether global warming is real or not.

Just because there are doubts as to the authenticity of global warming does not mean we are free to abuse the earth. We can debate back and forth all day the veracity of global warming and get Zero accomplished. Or we can all agree that taking care of the earth is a godly priority and actually try to do our part. One is productive and the other is not.