Desperately Trying to be Relevant: Evangelicals and Global, Ummm, Warming

I don’t know a lot about blog etiquette, but I know what I like and so I’m reproducing this entire post from The Evangelical Outpost’s Joe Carter:

Let’s Melt the Ice Cap:Evangelicals, Scientific Consensus, and Global Warming

A group of more than 85 influential evangelical leaders has released a statement, the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), expressing a “biblically driven commitment to curb global warming” and calling on the government to “enact national legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that are contributing to global climate change.”

The group’s manifesto, “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call for Action”, includes a FAQ explaining the urgency of the issue. “Millions of people could die in this century because of climate change,” notes the website. “Why? Climate change will make natural disasters like floods, droughts, and hurricanes more damaging.” The site also notes that “few are in denial about the reality of the problem, a scientific consensus that climate change must be addressed has actually existed since 1995.”

Is there a scientific consensus that climate change is occurring? An article in Newsweek appears to provide strong evidence for that claim:

There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production– with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth….

The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually. During the same time, the average temperature around the equator has risen by a fraction of a degree – a fraction that in some areas can mean drought and desolation. Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars’ worth of damage in 13 U.S. states.

To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. “A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,” warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, “because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.”

This article would appear to shore up the ECI’s claim that “Climate change, also called global warming, is an urgent problem that can and must be solved.” Except that the article is titled “The Cooling World” and is dated April 28, 1975 during a time when the scientific consensus held that climate change, known back then as global cooling, was leading to a new Ice Age.

After a long history of eschatological predictions that that fail to come to fruition, you’d think that evangelicals would be more skeptical of doomsday scenarios. But like most people, we tend to have short memories and forget that what was once considered “scientific consensus” (global cooling will lead to environmental disaster) and “conventional wisdom” (the population explosion will lead to global famine) isn’t always gospel truth.

We also tend to suffer from “chronological snobbery”, the presumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited, and are prone to believe that since global warming is the consensus in 2006 that it is more likely to be true than the 1975 consensus that global warming was occurring. But if we were wrong in 1975 then perhaps we should be careful of assuming that we are warranted in believing that we are right just because the calendar says it is 2006.

We might also have justification for being skeptical of the idea of “consensus science.” In an intriguing lecture at Caltech titled “Aliens Cause Global Warming” , author Michael Crichton has some harsh words for the oxymoronic concept:

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

A counterargument that is often presented is that since it is possible that global warming is occurring we are better off taking action now than waiting for confirmation that we are correct. Some people have the attitude of the BR-549 song that “Sometimes I gotta’ do somethin’ even if it’s wrong.”

But what we had followed the proposals offered in the late 1970’s to counter global cooling? What if we had followed what Newsweek refers to as the “more spectacular solutions proposed” of melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers? These former solutions are now considered some of the dire consequences of our planet overheating.

But even the less far-fetched proposals can have a devastating impact. For example, there was much hand-ringing over the U.S. refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol even though it would have cost $150 billion annually and have only delayed the warming expected in 2100 by six years. For half that cost, notes Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg, we could provide clean drinking water, sanitation, and basic health care and education for every person in the world.

Almost all policy proposals offered to counter global warming would impede economic growth. The ECI warns that “millions of people could die in this century because of climate change.” But millions of people are already dying every year because of the greatest cause of environmental disaster on the planet: poverty. As Lomborg explains in the latest issue of The Wilson Quarterly:

The single most important environmental problem in the world today is indoor air pollution, caused by poor people cooking and heating their homes with dung and cardboard. The UN estimates that such pollutions causes 2.8 million deaths annually—about the same as HIV/AIDS. The solution, however is not environmental measures but economic changes that let these people get rich enough to afford kerosene.

While Bob Geldof is sponsoring global concerts that “raise awareness”, you won’t find too many celebrities raising money to end “indoor air pollution.” Handing out kerosene simply doesn’t have the same hip cache as handing out condoms. Even if it kills more people than HIV/AIDS, it will never be the issue du jour of the rich and famous.

That is why it is imperative that the evangelical community stand in the gap. Instead of keeping our car’s engine tuned as a way to fight global warming, we need to keep our attention tuned to the realities of our fellow man. Global warming may be the pressing environmental problem in 2106, but in 2006 the urgent ecological concern is poverty.

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49 thoughts on “Desperately Trying to be Relevant: Evangelicals and Global, Ummm, Warming

  1. “Except that the article is titled “The Cooling World” and is dated April 28, 1975 during a time when the scientific consensus held that climate change, known back then as global cooling, was leading to a new Ice Age.”

    And we all know that scientific methods never improve in thirty years. Why at work I still use an Altair computer:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altair_8800

    And I tell you running XP on it is a real pain.

    Okay seriously, Hunter, you;ve used this line a number of times and it has never stood up. Climatology has come a long ways in the last three decades what with computer modelling and satelite technology.

    “But if we were wrong in 1975 then perhaps we should be careful of assuming that we are warranted in believing that we are right just because the calendar says it is 2006.”

    Except that science has an incredibly record of increasing accuracy that utterly dwarfs any other field of human endeavor.

    “author Michael Crichton”

    I loved a lot of Crichton’s books but he went WAY off the deep end. Somewhere around Jurrasic Park something happened to him, I don’t know what but he lost his grip on reality completely. And seriously anyone who argues against “consensus science” has absolutely no idea how science works. Consensus is at the very heart of it. It requires that experiments be reproducible so that said consensus can be reached. The quote you give of Crichton is quite literally the most ignorant thing ever said on this board regarding science.

    “For half that cost, notes Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg, we could provide clean drinking water, sanitation, and basic health care and education for every person in the world.”

    A possibly compelling argument if in fact we WOULD spend that money on clean water, but we won’t. It’ll be wasted on missile defense and other boon doggles that provide no return.

    “Almost all policy proposals offered to counter global warming would impede economic growth.”

    And I care. Really I do…

    “But millions of people are already dying every year because of the greatest cause of environmental disaster on the planet: poverty.”

    Yeah because poverty will get so much better as climate change gets going. You seem to be arguing that if we do something about global warming we’ll take a hit in the economy but mystically idf we don’t the economy will survive the ruin just fine. Do you see the logical error?

  2. Except that science has an incredibly record of increasing accuracy that utterly dwarfs any other field of human endeavor.

    This is a darn good point. There’s computer modeling technology today that would have looked like something out of science fiction to a scientist in 1975.

    Just recently, scientists in the UK found that there is a saturation point for CO2 absorbtion in non-crop plants. That is to say, if you want to create reliable CO2-sinks, rainforests can do only so much. Large, self-renewing crops such as corn are required in massive quantities to deal with the amounts of CO2 we are pumping into the air.

    A team of English and Russian scientists discovered two very interesting things: Siberia is thawing and releasing tons of methane gas into the atmosphere and methane is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2.

    Today, in the middle of February, I am wearing a short-sleeve shirt to work because it is damn warm. This is odd, even for California. Scientists estimate that by 2030, rainfall in California will be at 50% of what it is today. This will devastate the US agricultural economy. The US Navy has been monitoring the thickness of the polar ice caps since the 1950s – they have found them to be thinning drastically.

    But don’t worry. There’s no such thing as global warming.

  3. But don’t worry. There’s no such thing as global warming.

    Let us try a more civilized approach, shall we?

    By global warming do you mean that there has been an upward trend in mean surface temperatures over the past 50 years?

    If yes, then I don’t think there’s an argument here … at all … we’re in perfect agreement

    By global warming do you mean that the presence of man on the planet (more specifically, man’s release of C02 into the atmosphere … and not just any C02, but C02 that was trapped beneath the surface of the earth) has been a factor in the recent rise in surface temperatures?

    If yes, then again, probably not a lot of disagreement here … maybe some.

    (this space intentionally left blank)

    By global warming, are you suggesting that man is the primary cause of the increase in surface temperatures over the past 50 years?

    Now THAT, my dear friend, is a debatable subject, and science is not on your side.

    By global warming, do you mean that if we stop all burning of “fossil fuels” the planet will stop warming? If you do, then science is not on your side.

  4. The real question is whether Jesus said, “Go forth and wreck your nation’s economy, based on theories that probably are, but not assuredly true.”

    I can see these evangelicals getting worked up about global warming as private citizens, but speaking on it under the umbrella of Christianity seems improper.

    Besides, if God takes care of the little sparrows and the lillies of the field, surely He can let us discover a way use pure, clean, non-polluting nuclear fusion to power our civilization any time He wants to. Better they should pray for something like that than preach.

  5. “All I know is that it is just darn good to see you standing with the church for once.”

    There’s a lot of issues I agree with conservatives about and plenty I agree with the church about. In fact I have no problem whatsoever with the overarching message of christianity: hey maybe being nice to each other *could* work…

  6. “By global warming, are you suggesting that man is the primary cause of the increase in surface temperatures over the past 50 years?”

    Man doesn’t have to be the primary source. All he has to do is take a system that cycles through various equillibrium points and nudge it just a little too hard when it’s already heading that direction.

    It’s called a tipping point, an inflection point, or the “Oh my god we’re doomd” point depending on your field and tolerance for dramatics.

    Life on all scales, from the single celled organism to the planetary excosystems relies upon negative feedback loops. If your blood sugar goes up your body produces insulin to counteract the effect. If the negative feedback loop is broken , in this case if the person has diabetes, then something as simple as eating a candy bar can be life threatening.

    With me so far? Negative feedback loops are stabilizing mechanisms.

    Positive feedback loops are anathema to life because life always depends on a fairly narrow range of conditions. Trying to counteract entropy is simply too hard across a wide spectrum of environments.

    Global warming has aspects of a positive feedback loop in that as sea water warms it loses it’s ability to store carbon dioxide which means that CO2 (a greenhouse gas) is released. and the cycle amplifies.

    That’s what happened on Venus. It’s why the mean temperature on Venus is around 450C despite massive cloud coverage (clouds made mostly of sulfuric acid).

    Still with me?

    Okay so the climate has a number of competing processes and it is absolutely vital for the ecology that the temperature (as only one example) not vary significantly. The greenhouse positive feedback loop is countered by other processes.

    All man has to do though is nudge it a bit to mess up that equillibrium.

    The goal should be to try and minimize our impact as much as possible. Extreme actions such as the melting of the arctic in Hunter’s quoted article is a bad idea. We shouldn’t mess with the system that has worked quite well for millenia.

  7. “The real question is whether Jesus said, “Go forth and wreck your nation’s economy, based on theories that probably are, but not assuredly true.””

    Well according to Christianity God gave us the earth as a gift. Maybe they just think we should treat God’s gifts with a tad more respect.

  8. It is a weird thing for preachers to be talking about.
    I know this preacher who likes to say, “I don’t want to preach politics from the pulpit,” and then do just that. Sometimes we get to hear about what the minimum wage should be, etc. The problem is that Christianity may tell us to help the poor and be good stewards of the planet, but it doesn’t say what the minimum wage should be or how to fight polution. That’s for politicans, economists, and others to figure out, not preachers. We already agree poverty and polution are bad; the question is what to do about them.

    As far as the blog posts here go… I’m inclined to agree that the “we thought something different 30 years ago and were wrong” argument is illogical. The situation is different. It’s like how liberals like to mix up world events from different times and/or places to confuse a current issue…. (Well, we supported this regime 20 years ago, so how can we oppose them now?)
    I also agree with Tlaloc (twice in one post, no way!) that the “we could be spending this on something else” argument is bad. Again, the liberal form is “Why spend money fighting terrorism when we could spend it on….” It’s a bit of a red herring.

    However, I think the point about consensus is excellent. Sure, science works toward a consensus through repeated experiments, but it is a problem when people attempt to shut down arguments by claiming consensus. Here’s the good and bad versions of consensus.
    1. “There is a consensus that light acts as both a wave and a particle.” This statement serves only to inform the audience of the nature of light. It’s true; if you polled physicists they would all agree.
    2. “There is a consensus that the theory of evolution accurately explains the origin of all species on the planet.” This statement is meant to shut down any discussion on evolution, though no poll has ever shown that 98%-100% of people, scientists, biologists, or any other significantly large group believe this (except maybe evolutionary biologists?). The fact is that a large chunk of the population disagrees, including a good number of scientists. You’re welcome to think they’re wrong, but it’s unfair to claim a “consensus” in this case. The only purpose of such a statement is to circle around anyone who disagrees. (“What, you don’t buy evolution? You must not be a real scientist.”) Same for global warming. Every time I hear someone mention the “consensus” on global warming I want to throw up. The author is right that “consensus” is a horribly abused word.

  9. “Sure, science works toward a consensus through repeated experiments, but it is a problem when people attempt to shut down arguments by claiming consensus.”

    It’s not about shutting down an argument within scientific circles, it’s about educating the non-scientist.

    There absolutely must be dissent within a scientific field so that we test our theories in new ways and evaluate how well the evidence really supports them.

    *BUT*

    when it comes to explaining to the masses, and especially when it comes to devising science basesd policy the consensus view is the ONLY view.

    The reason for that is because honestly people don’t want to know about technical debates or obscure issues that don’t really matter. They awnt an answer. As clear a one as science can provide. And if you give them a muddled answer there are those who will leap on it and try to manipulate it to their ends. People need to be able to trust that the science they are being told is valid.

    We already have hundreds if not thousands of corporate funded groups that conduct faux science to get the results they are told to get. We don’t need to hinder the actual science community as well.

  10. James>> This is a darn good point. There’s computer modeling technology today that would have looked like something out of science fiction to a scientist in 1975.

    That reminds me of the scene from Superman where the supercomputer tells all of the Kryptonians (or would it be Kryptonites?) not to worry, everything is fine – and then blasts off because it knows the place is doomed.

    I started thinking about all of the global warming calculations Tlaloc’s Altair 8800 was doing, and was getting a little nervous. But then I remembered that the Altair’s didn’t start shipping with rocket thrusters until the early 80’s.

    Whew. Always a good idea to make sure that your techno-gadgets are in it for the long haul.

  11. when it comes to explaining to the masses, and especially when it comes to devising science basesd policy the consensus view is the ONLY view.

    For some issues, we have not reached a consensus, and may not for a long time (if we ever do). What do you suggest in the mean time? Have scientists only tell the general public what the majority of scientists agree upon? Or just ignore anything that isn’t agreed by consensus? We can’t democratically devise sound policy with any of these approaches. I’m curious to know what your plan is. Do you really believe that there is always consensus in the scientific community?


  12. Let us try a more civilized approach, shall we?

    If that was uncivilized, I shudder to think about what you might call uncouth. Something like, “Liar, liar, pants on fire?”

  13. “There is a consensus that the theory of evolution accurately explains the origin of all species on the planet.” This statement is meant to shut down any discussion on evolution, though no poll has ever shown that 98%-100% of people, scientists, biologists, or any other significantly large group believe this (except maybe evolutionary biologists?).

    Not to flog a dead horse but to flog a dead horse, but polls indicates something like 99% of scientists agree with evolution. It’s an example of the non-expert feeling like he or she can disagree with the expert. I’m not about to tell an architect or even a carpenter how to build a house, since I know just enough about building one to be dangerous. It’s the same thing with things like the global warming and evolution “debates.” What is it about these particular subjects that makes people feel like you can argue with the experts just because you don’t like what you here?

    To borrow a phrase from the best show on television: It’s fracking ridiculous.

  14. I started thinking about all of the global warming calculations Tlaloc’s Altair 8800 was doing, and was getting a little nervous. But then I remembered that the Altair’s didn’t start shipping with rocket thrusters until the early 80’s.

    I like you. You get to live when the revolution comes.

  15. “Man doesn’t have to be the primary source. All he has to do is take a system that cycles through various equillibrium points and nudge it just a little too hard when it’s already heading that direction.

    It’s called a tipping point, an inflection point, or the ‘Oh my god we’re doomd’ point depending on your field and tolerance for dramatics.”

    It seems strange to me that if the earth has existed for billions of years that man’s contributions would be the ones to destroy it. For the last 4.5 billion years tectonic shifting, volcanic activity and various other geological processes have been pouring chemicals from the earth into the atmosphere, and yet instead of falling out of equilibrium, the earth became more stable allowing for the evolution of life! During the time that all of these geologic events were ocurring, as well as cosmic events, such as cosmic bodies which are constantly bombarding earth, it seems to have gotten stronger. Somehow earth managed to limp on and stay in equilibrium. It seems strange and almost arrogant to me to believe that somehow man’s contributions would be the ones to finish it off.

    I think what this argument really comes down to is man’s natural tendancy to believe that the end of the world will come as a result of their actions. For example, apocalypticists (sp?) during the middle ages believed that man’s sinful nature had doomed the world and that the apocalypse was coming. Now, every couple of decades or centuries, a new idea about how the end of the world will come about arises (i.e. ultraviolet catastrophe, global warming etc.). Therefore, I remain cautiously skeptical of these apocalyptic theories.

  16. “Not to flog a dead horse but to flog a dead horse, but polls indicates something like 99% of scientists agree with evolution. It’s an example of the non-expert feeling like he or she can disagree with the expert. I’m not about to tell an architect or even a carpenter how to build a house, since I know just enough about building one to be dangerous. It’s the same thing with things like the global warming and evolution “debates.” What is it about these particular subjects that makes people feel like you can argue with the experts just because you don’t like what you here?

    To borrow a phrase from the best show on television: It’s fracking ridiculous.”

    While even the most generous polls of scientists only place the evolutionary agreement at around 95%, it should be noted that 5% still hold a creationist view and 40% hold a theistic evolutionary view.

  17. TVD: The real question is whether Jesus said, “Go forth and wreck your nation’s economy, based on theories that probably are, but not assuredly true.”

    Thanks for returning the debate to where it started.

    Tlaloc: Well according to Christianity God gave us the earth as a gift. Maybe they just think we should treat God’s gifts with a tad more respect.

    While I tend to think that you’re using sarcasm here, you’re probably right on when you say, tad.

    IMHO, there is a fine line between conservation as a virtue and conservation as a form of worship.

    We are to adore out creator and not the creation.

    Further, the NT clearly states:
    “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37-40)

    Notice the order.

    Part I is between God and us, and sadly us Christians are probably incapable of the kind of love God requires of us. However, if we are good at part I, part II comes naturally.

    Thus, my initial reaction to a group of Ev’s making a statement like the above is that it is OK, as long as it does not detract from God’s command to love him and put him above all things.

  18. “For some issues, we have not reached a consensus, and may not for a long time (if we ever do). What do you suggest in the mean time?”

    For topics on which the scientific community is severely divided then we should avoid offering any advice for related issues of policy.

    “We can’t democratically devise sound policy with any of these approaches.”

    Sure we can because at this point the areas of true division are so esoteric they are irrelevent to human political life. It doesn’t matter to Washington how we resolve the manifold issues of quantum gravity. It’s a non-starter.

    “Do you really believe that there is always consensus in the scientific community?”

    Eventually, yes. Science is incredibly powerful in that regard. It is a continual refinement towards fact. Unlike history, or economics, or psychology or basically any other field physical science only gets better with time at least if it is left alone to run properly.

  19. “I like you. You get to live when the revolution comes.”

    Heh. That one got me. I like Huisman’s tangent and the reply was great.

  20. I like you. You get to live when the revolution comes.

    Thanks, James. I’ve been networking a bit more lately in the event something like that happens – you know, contigency planning. I figure your protection saves me the trouble of sucking up to at least a dozen left coast liberation movements.

    I’d offer to return the favor (revolutions can come from more than one direction), but those decisions are all made at HQ – I will put in good word for you though.

  21. “It seems strange to me that if the earth has existed for billions of years that man’s contributions would be the ones to destroy it.”

    I can understand why it seems odd but look at it this way:
    The earth has been dealing with volcanos for billions of years. It has been dealing with industrialized man for just over a hundred.

    Equilibrium systems always have a certain granularity in how quickly they can adjust. A huge force applied over a long time can generally be handled much better than a smaller but quicker jab. Human ability to manipulate the environment has been increasing geometrically both because of our exploding population and our incredibly technology. As a result for the first time a single species has the ability to severely wreck the planetary ecology, and to do so in the space of just tens of years.

    No terrestrial force has existed on earth like that before. I say terrestrial because a good sized asteroid impact can do it.

    Do you see what I’m saying? Our ability to aler the environment is totally unprecedented and so the history of everything that has come before has to be seen as a totally different situation.

    “It seems strange and almost arrogant to me to believe that somehow man’s contributions would be the ones to finish it off.”

    It’s fine if it seems strange to you, but the question is whether you will trust your gut sense of strangeness or the science. For me that isn’t even a close call. Physics has all kinds of very strange things in it, and yet it is correct. My gut is wrong, the numbers don’t lie.

  22. “IMHO, there is a fine line between conservation as a virtue and conservation as a form of worship.”

    Who said anything about worshiping the earth? I just said take care of it as it was God’s gift to us (according to that faith). That seems pretty reasonable.

    “Thus, my initial reaction to a group of Ev’s making a statement like the above is that it is OK, as long as it does not detract from God’s command to love him and put him above all things.”

    One could argue that conservation is PART of loving god.

  23. Just thinking about our confidence in global warming science a little – it sounds like we’re still about a century out on the total destruction scenario – at what point do we really freak out and start threatening (boycotts, blockades, invasions) countries who don’t participate in Kyoto-esque conventions?

    Right now I think people are (reasonably) a little shaky on the cost-benefit ratio of the whole thing. Has anyone ever put together any thoughts on when a point of no return might be (or might look like)? You know, something where the world can look at itself in the mirror and say, ‘Man, did I let myself go.’

  24. “It’s fine if it seems strange to you, but the question is whether you will trust your gut sense of strangeness or the science. For me that isn’t even a close call. Physics has all kinds of very strange things in it, and yet it is correct.”

    I’m afraid you didn’t seem to understand what I was getting at. While you claim that man’s industrialization is quite great, I am trying to say that in the grand scheme of things I don’t think it is. For example, all the chemicals and pollution man puts into the air have been circulating naturally for the last 4.5 billion years. How is it then that only when man uses it that it becomes an immediate threat globally?

    “My gut is wrong, the numbers don’t lie.”

    What numbers? I would be very interested in seeing any numbers that support your take on this “global catastrophe”.

  25. Sure we can because at this point the areas of true division are so esoteric they are irrelevent to human political life.

    What about the predicted impacts of various global-warming-fighting programs? What if there is no consensus over what a particular program will do or how effective it will be? Should scientists just throw up their hands and be silent?

    I hardly think that scientists can achieve consensus on everything, even excluding “esoteric” items. There’s no consensus on global warming (at least certain aspects of it), no consensus on the accuracy of the theory of evolution, and no consensus on when a fetus can feel pain, all issues that are immediately relevant to politics. The list could go on and on. It seems strange to me that you would suggest that all public discussion should be shut down if there is any dissent in the scientific community. You would advocate certain anti-global-warming programs, would you not? On what basis, if some scientists disagree? You have just undermined your own political views by claiming that you can only use science to support a public policy if 100% of scientists agree.

    Not to flog a dead horse but to flog a dead horse, but polls indicates something like 99% of scientists agree with evolution.
    Show me such a poll, if it exists. I have never seen one. This is exactly the kind of statement that we have been discussing. If all scientists agree with you, it can’t be that hard to prove it, given the public controversy over evolution.

  26. “While you claim that man’s industrialization is quite great, I am trying to say that in the grand scheme of things I don’t think it is.”

    Okay. Let me ask you this: when was the last time nuclear fusion or fission occured on earth? Never. If that doesn’t impress upon you man’s incredibly might through technology I can’t imagine what would…

    “For example, all the chemicals and pollution man puts into the air have been circulating naturally for the last 4.5 billion years.”

    They have? Are you sure, for instance, that all the fluorocarbons existed naturally before man?
    Even if you are right the presence is one facet, the quantity another.

    “What numbers? I would be very interested in seeing any numbers that support your take on this “global catastrophe”.”

    That’s the whole point! Go look at the climatologists warnings. Trust me you’ll get a eyeful of numbers. Then you have to decide whether you trust them to acurately discover and report these figures. Maybe you don’t.

    here’s one place you can start:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pub/un/syreng/spm.pdf

  27. I’d offer to return the favor (revolutions can come from more than one direction), but those decisions are all made at HQ – I will put in good word for you though.

    I appreciate it. My one hope is that the “reeducation camps” actually mean just that. Otherwise it’s up into the Sierras with my looted Big 5 gun collection, the wife, and the dog I go!

  28. “It seems strange and almost arrogant to me to believe that somehow man’s contributions would be the ones to finish it off.”

    I think Robin Williams and George Carlin put it best. It’s colossal arrogance to think that the earth and the ecosystem won’t survive our presence. They’re far too robust for that. We might be disease-ridden fleas, but we are fleas nonetheless, and can be shaken off. The real question of the “debate” is whether or not we can survive. We could nuke the place to hell and gone, and Mother Nature would still be there, peeking out from under the rocks and asking, “Can I come out now?”

  29. “What about the predicted impacts of various global-warming-fighting programs? What if there is no consensus over what a particular program will do or how effective it will be? Should scientists just throw up their hands and be silent?”

    If there is no consensus on how effective a program will be then certainly nobody in the scientific community should say otherwise.

    In a case like this where you have a consensus on the problem but possible division on solution then it goes like this:
    1) explain the problem
    2) explain the suite of potential solutions along with best understanding of their merits and flaws.

    “There’s no consensus on global warming (at least certain aspects of it), no consensus on the accuracy of the theory of evolution, and no consensus on when a fetus can feel pain, all issues that are immediately relevant to politics.”

    Maybe you are using “consensus” in its most literal form (i.e. the agreement of absolutely everybody) if so I can see your point. But that’s not how I or anybody in the scientific community mena it. Afterall there is no consensus that the world is round either in that sense of the word.

    What we mean by consensus is that there is OVERWHELMING acceptance of the idea among the scientifically literate. I guarantee you that in the case of the first two issues there is a consensus. The earth is warming, evolution is real. On the third point I believe there is still some matter of debate although it’s not a field I pay much attention to frankly because it seems irrelevent to the abortion debate except for appeals to emotion.

  30. We’re like roaches. I think it would be quite difficult to keep man away as long as there is a place somewhere for humans to exist:)

  31. ” We could nuke the place to hell and gone, and Mother Nature would still be there, peeking out from under the rocks and asking, “Can I come out now?” “

    Sure, but only a LONG time later. We absolutely can destroy the current ecology of this planet. The planet itself however still has a few billion years to develop new ones without us if we go that route.

  32. “Okay. Let me ask you this: when was the last time nuclear fusion or fission occured on earth? Never. If that doesn’t impress upon you man’s incredibly might through technology I can’t imagine what would…”

    Good point. However, I think we could come up with a “scientific consensus” that says that this nuclear fusion and nuclear fusion have zip to do with climate change.

    “That’s the whole point! Go look at the climatologists warnings. Trust me you’ll get a eyeful of numbers. Then you have to decide whether you trust them to acurately discover and report these figures. Maybe you don’t.”

    That’s my point! I do not feel personally that the numbers presented by your side are either accurate enough or unbiased enough to make me a believer in spending so much money to “fix” the “problem”.

  33. “Good point. However, I think we could come up with a “scientific consensus” that says that this nuclear fusion and nuclear fusion have zip to do with climate change.”

    Sure, but you were saying you just don’t see man as having much power to truly alter the natural world around him. So I pointed to an example of where we have created a little bit of a star on our planet.

    We have a tremendous power through our ingenuity.

    “That’s my point! I do not feel personally that the numbers presented by your side are either accurate enough or unbiased enough to make me a believer in spending so much money to “fix” the “problem”.”

    Okay, what is it you find untrustworthy? The numbers speak for themselves so I can only assume you find the people presenting them to be the problem.

  34. “Okay, what is it you find untrustworthy? The numbers speak for themselves so I can only assume you find the people presenting them to be the problem.”

    Both. I do not believe that the numbers do in fact speak for themselves. Nor do I trust the presenters of the information (namely because I don’t trust the information itself). The website you presented has many facets to it that are questionable. For example, the report arbitrarily jumps from looking at data from the last 150 years to the last 1000 years when convenient. Furthermore, they give no specifics on how they gathered their data (especially the data gathered about earth’s state of existence 1000 years ago). Further (skeptical) research into their methods will reveal that these methods are HIGHLY questionable and that results yielded from the examination of tree rings and coral reefs (among other things) should be taken with a grain of salt.

    With that in mind I will present a theory for global warming to you with questionable data and information for you to arbitrarily accept.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/07/18/wsun18.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/07/18/ixnewstop.html

  35. I just said take care of it as it was God’s gift to us (according to that faith).

    I’m with you 100% on that.

    However, those entities pushing for Kyoto (for example) have no proof that the world will be a better place after having implemented it.

    While accepting the science (ie, observations about the past and present) is not based on faith, accepting the predictions about the future is.

    Yes, comupter models of climate are better because we have better measurement systems in place (I know that directly), but I am not convinced that they are able to predict long term climate change.

    Using uncertain predictions (remember, we are in unprecedented times) to put forth even more uncertain policy changes seems short sighted.

  36. “Nor do I trust the presenters of the information (namely because I don’t trust the information itself). “

    That’s pretty circular reasoning.

    “Furthermore, they give no specifics on how they gathered their data (especially the data gathered about earth’s state of existence 1000 years ago).”

    Well it was a summary. You can find much more of the information at the main site:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/

    “Further (skeptical) research into their methods will reveal that these methods are HIGHLY questionable and that results yielded from the examination of tree rings and coral reefs (among other things) should be taken with a grain of salt.”

    What do you base that on?

    “With that in mind I will present a theory for global warming to you with questionable data and information for you to arbitrarily accept.”

    Okay, tell you what, lets say you are right. It’s increases in solar output that has caused the primary increase in warming.

    And the point is?

    See it ends up at the same place. No matter what is the primary cause everyone agrees human’s contribute. And everyone now agrees that the earth is in fact warming. Regardless of which cause is the dominant one there is only one we can directly manage: our actions.

    Look at it like this: it’s a hot day out. The sun is just blazing down. Your apartment is roasting. Your heater is also on.

    Do you turn it off?

    Of course you do. Because even though the sun is the main cause your heater is making the problem that much worse, and unlike the sun the heater is entirely under your control.

    Especially when the day is so hot that you may die.

  37. “While accepting the science (ie, observations about the past and present) is not based on faith, accepting the predictions about the future is.”

    Predicting the future is what science does. A theory that cannot predict is not a theory.

  38. Using uncertain predictions (remember, we are in unprecedented times) to put forth even more uncertain policy changes seems short sighted.

    Yes, and I am even more uncertain of how appropriate it is to use the cover of the church to push those policy changes.

    (My uncertainties are expanding geometrically.)

    The Biblical support for Kyoto is rather sketchy. In fact there’s a lot more in there about Providence. I found “be fruitful and multiply” but not “blessed are exchangeable pollution credits.”

  39. “The Biblical support for Kyoto is rather sketchy. In fact there’s a lot more in there about Providence.”

    So in November you’ll just stay home right? Cause there’s nothing in there about voting and providence will certainly provide all solutions to your problems.

  40. “In the World you have trouble but take heart; I have overcome the World“

    John16:33

    An Evangelical Christian has a duty to work to save our good, and work within the political system, but to believe that MAN can destroy the Earth is to believe that God is not in charge. Evangelicals believe the inerrency and completeness of the Bible. If they have to fight Global Warming, they are not putting their faith in Jesus. JESUS is the savior, not treaties and governments. This is a failure of faith to an Evangelical.

    The fact is, Global Warming is caused by an increase in solar radiation. The Earth has been warming since the 18th century, when the mini-Ice age ended. This coincided with the end of the Maunder Minimum, which was a period of reduced solar output. During the preceeding period we had a warm sun, and it was actually a couple of degrees warmer than it is now. Wine grapes grew in Britain, Olives in Germany. (If you don`t believe me, ask Tom Bethel.)

    Oceanic temperature measurements suggest the Earth is warming, while satellite data actually suggests a slight cooling. What explains this disparity? If sunlight is driving the warming trend, we would expect the oceans to heat first (since they are highly massive and catch sunlight) while the air should let more heat go. If CO2 emissions are the culprit, one would expect the reverse. The data strongly suggests increased stellar activity. The increase in sunspot activity with each new cycle backs this interpretation up.

    Let`s close the deal; Mars is warming. Unless Bush has Haliburton sneaking to Mars with greenhouse gases, we have to conclude that the Sun is responsible.

    If Evangelicals want to fight Global Warming, they want to fight the Will of the Lord.

    Oh, and tlaloc, the weather predictions are STILL wrong at least 50% of the time!

  41. “but to believe that MAN can destroy the Earth is to believe that God is not in charge.”

    I wonder why God bothered to give us eyes at all when he will so consistently remove any wall we choose to run at…

    “The fact is, Global Warming is caused by an increase in solar radiation.”

    As above it doesn’t matter. Do you turn off the heater or don’t you?

    “Oh, and tlaloc, the weather predictions are STILL wrong at least 50% of the time!”

    No not really. They do have a certain margin of error because the local weather pattern is far more chaotic than the system as a whole.

    for instance look at this study:
    http://www.customweather.com/accuracy/2003study.html

    between 55 and 60% of all forecasts predicted the temperature three days out to within THREE degrees of the actual.

  42. “That’s pretty circular reasoning.”

    Not really. I don’t trust the IPCC because I don’t trust the information they publish nor do I trust their (or their contributers) methods for gathering it.

    “What do you base that on?”

    Well the fact that it is nearly impossible to find their methodology reports on their website but quite easy to find their “findings” reports is a huge indicator. In fact, the only methodology report I could find was about forests and had little to do with global warming. However, they do claim that they were able to find all of their information about the warming of the earth and the presence of chemicals in the atmosphere over the past 1000 years from the examination of tree rings and coral reefs “among other things”. So, in response to your question, I ask a series of questions.
    What is the characteristic of tree rings and coral reefs that tells us that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 over 1000 years ago was 280 ppb?
    What characteristic in the bedrock tells us what the temperature on the earth was over 1000 years ago?
    When I ask these questions and am unable to find sufficient responses either on the website or in my own independent research I begin to doubt their fact checking ability.

    “Look at it like this: it’s a hot day out. The sun is just blazing down. Your apartment is roasting. Your heater is also on.

    Do you turn it off?

    Of course you do. Because even though the sun is the main cause your heater is making the problem that much worse, and unlike the sun the heater is entirely under your control.”

    Yes, but in that case I can turn off the heater without spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

  43. “Here is a petition signed by scientists who opposed the hot air that is Kyoto”

    I was talking about corporate created pseudo-science groups earlier that try to muddy the water. This is a perfect example.

    “Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    Founded in 1990 by widely publicized climate skeptic S. Fred Singer, SEPP s stated purpose is to “document the relationship between scientific data and the development of federal environmental policy.” SEPP has mounted a sizeable media campaign — publishing articles, letters to the editor, and a large number of press releases — to discredit the issues of global warming, ozone depletion, and acid rain.

    Spin: Moreover, climate change won t be bad for us anyway. Action on climate change is not warranted because of shaky science and flawed policy approaches.

    Funding: Conservative foundations including Bradley, Smith Richardson, and Forbes. SEPP has also been directly tied to ultra right-wing mogul Reverend Sung Myung Moon s Unification Church, including receipt of a year s free office space from a Moon-funded group and the participation of SEPP s director in church-sponsored conferences and on the board of a Moon-funded magazine.”

    http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/skeptic-organizations.html

    You have to be very careful with any issue that will involve a loss of revenue to certain industries because they WILL lie about the issue.

    By the way for a ton of documentation on such issues try the books “Trust Us, We’re Experts” and “Toxic Sludge is Good for You” both by John Stauber.

  44. “Often, fiddling with something makes it worse.”

    Yeah. We ARE fiddling. God didn’t create cars and factories now did he? You just shot down your argument, Tim.

    “By the way, I run my refrigerator in wintertime, and I suspect you do as well.”

    Do you live in it? Cause otherwise it doesn’t fit the analogy. We live in the world that is warming and we are helping warm it.

    “First, you obviously don`t live in St. Louis. Second, you are crowing about a 55% prediction rate that falls within a 3 degree margin for error. O.k., I was wrong; it`s not 50% of the time, it`s 45% of the time! Would you fly on a plane with a 45% failure rate?”

    You are actually complaining about being within THREE DEGREES 55-60% of the time? Assuming a normal gaussian distribution then given a range of about 8 degrees the predictions will hit it 95+% of the time. You are choosing a ridiculously narrow window for accuracy and pretending that invalidates anything.

    I might as well say that you can’t drive exactly 62.5 mph so you are a lousy driver. No because that level of precision simply doesn’t matter.

    “When the facts are against you, attack the motives of your opponenets.”

    I’m sorry but you are dead wrong. When the “facts” are provided by an industry shill organization they are almost guaranteed not to be facts at all.

    “inger has impeccable credentials, as do all of the signitories of that petition.”

    Really so you have personally inspected all 15000 signtories?

    “Well, those who you would put forward receive governmental largesse, and the well will run dry if they stop making predictions of doom.”

    A common line of argument by people who have no idea how academic funding works. I’ll clue you in: it’s wrong. All kinds of quiet fields get funding because thats what academicians do: they conduct basic research. Unlike corporate labs there doesn’t have to be a material pay off. I’ve worked in both.

    “So, we are supposed to suspend our disbelief where governmental financing is concerned, while we are supposed to be critical where private funding comes into play?”

    Yeah since the government is against doing anything in the first place but the science says the opposite. It’s when the “facts” conveninetly say what the money man wants them to say that you get suspicious. This is pretty basic logic. You don’t look for the person who lost money due to a crime, you look for the one who profits.

    “Oh, how much private funding are your Global Warming friends receiving, by the way? How much money is coming from Greenpeace, from the Sierra club? Hmmm?”

    Your asking how much of the entire field of climatology is funded by environmentalists? Um, zero. Seriously.

    “I`ve noticed that you have never mentioned exactly how much warming we are talking about. We are talking about a one degree rise in 100 years. That is one, o-n-e, 1, in a century. You believe we should institute an international, draconian policy over one whole degree rise.”

    Thank you for proving you have no idea what we are talking about. One dgree is the AVERAGE temperature change which means the actual temperature change is much more dramatic. To give an example many frog species die out if the average temperature of their environment changed only HALF a degree.

    “I, for one, am unwilling to be buffaloed into surrendering our national wealth, or freedom, and our heritage to this farce.”

    I’ll say this as nicely as I can: you don’t know what you are talking about, as I said you porved that above. Either you are dreadfully misinformed or you are another shill. Probably the former which means you have a chance to escape your ignorance. Good luck.

  45. “I’ll say this as nicely as I can: you don’t know what you are talking about, as I said you porved that above. Either you are dreadfully misinformed or you are another shill. Probably the former which means you have a chance to escape your ignorance. Good luck.”

    Tlaloc despite the fact that the two of you appear to be in a heated debate I don’t believe it was in good taste to attack Mr. Birdnow personally like that. I, at least, believe you owe him an apology.

  46. I, for one, am unwilling to be buffaloed into surrendering our national wealth, or freedom, and our heritage to this farce.

    Histrionic much?

    We’ll sacrifice our wealth… our freedom, and our heritage? Where do you even get that. Where’s all that faith in human ingenuity y’all use to shrug off global warming and the finiteness (Is that even a word? It is now!) of natural resources?

    Yes, signing Kyoto means American industry will crumble! We will fall under the jackbooted heel of… WTO bureaucrats?.. well, someone. And our very identity as a people will become as nothing as we are barcoded and turned into supranationalist automatons.

    Or something.

    Soylent Green is people!

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