"How should a Christian view global warming?"
("Bagaimana seharusnya orang Kristen memandang persoalan global warming?)
by Question@org team.
As Christians, we should be concerned about our effect on our environment. God appointed man to be the steward of this world (Genesis 1:28), not the destroyer of it. However, we should not allow environmentalism to become a form of idolatry, where the “rights” of an inanimate planet and its non-human creatures are held in higher esteem than God (Romans 1:25). With global warming, as with any other topic, it is crucial to understand what the facts are, who those facts come from, how they are interpreted, and what the spiritual implications should be.
A careful look at global warming, as a topic, shows that there is a great deal of disagreement about the facts and substance of climate change. Those who blame man for climate change often disagree about what facts lead them to that conclusion. Those who hold man totally innocent of it often ignore established facts. My experience and research leads me to believe that warming is, in fact, occurring; however, there is little to no objective evidence that man is the cause, nor that the effects will be catastrophic. I think the idea of earth “wearing out” is an apt analogy. This entire world has been continually decaying since the fall.
Global warming “facts” are notoriously hard to come by. One of the few facts universally agreed upon is that the current average temperature of Earth is indeed rising at this time. According to most estimates, this increase in temperature amounts to about 0.4-0.8 °C (0.72-1.44 °F) over the last 100 years. Data regarding times before that is not only highly theoretical, but very difficult to obtain with any accuracy. The very methods used to obtain historical temperature records are controversial, even between the most ardent supporters of human-caused climate change. The facts leading one to believe that humans are not responsible for the current change in temperature are as follows:
· Global temperature changes from past millennia, according to available data, were often severe and rapid, long before man supposedly had any impact at all. That is, the current climate change is not as unusual as some alarmists would like to believe.
· Recent recorded history mentions times of noticeable global warming and cooling, long before man had any ability to produce industrial emissions.
· Water vapor, not CO2, is the most influential greenhouse gas. It is difficult to determine what effect, if any, mankind has on worldwide water vapor levels.
· Given the small percentage of human-produced CO2, as compared to other greenhouse gases, human impact on global temperature may be as little as 1%.
· Global temperatures are known to be influenced by other, non-human-controlled factors, such as sunspot activity, orbital movement, volcanic activity, solar system effects, and so forth. CO2 emission is not the only plausible explanation for global warming.
· Ice-age temperature studies, although rough, frequently show temperatures changing before CO2 levels, not after. This calls into question the relationship between warming and carbon dioxide; in some cases, the data could easily be interpreted to indicate that warming caused an increase in carbon dioxide, rather than the reverse!
· Computer simulations used to “predict” or “demonstrate” global warming require the assumption of human causation, and even then are not typically repeatable or reliable. Current computer weather simulations are neither predictive nor repeatable.
· Most of the global temperature increase of the last 100 years occurred before most of the man-made CO2 was produced.
· In the 1970’s, global temperatures had actually been dropping since 1945, and a “global cooling” concern became prominent, despite what is now dismissed as a lack of scientific support.
· The “consensus” claimed by most global warming theorists is not scientific proof, it is a statement of majority opinion; scientific majorities have been wrongly influenced by politics and other factors in the past. Such agreement is not to be taken lightly, but it is not the same thing as hard proof.
· This “consensus”, as with many other scientific theories, can be partially explained by growing hostility to those with differing viewpoints, making it less likely that a person without preconceived notions would take on the subject for research. The financial and political ramifications of the global warming debate are too serious to be ignored, though they should not be central to any discussion.
· The data being used to support anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming is typically based on small data sets, single samples, or measurements taken in completely different regions. This creates an uncertainty in the results that rarely gets the attention that alarmist conclusions do.
While the above list is not exhaustive, it does include several of the major points that raise doubts about mankind’s actual effect on global temperatures. While no one can deny that warming is occurring, “overwhelming evidence” of any objective type does not exist to support the idea that global warming is significantly influenced by human actions. There is plenty of vague, short-sighted, and misunderstood data that can be seen as proving “anthropogenic” global warming theory. All too often, data used to blame humans for global warming is far less reliable than data used for other areas of study. It is a valid point of contention that the data used in these studies is frequently flawed, easily misinterpreted, and subject to preconception.
In regards to issues such as this, skepticism is not the same as disbelief. There are fragments of evidence to support both sides, and logical reasons to choose one interpretation over another. The question of anthropogenic global warming should not divide Christian believers from each other (Luke 11:17). Environmental issues are important, but they are not the most important questions facing mankind. Christians ought to treat our world with respect and good stewardship, but we should not allow politically-driven hysteria to dominate our view of the environment. Our relationship with God is not dependent on our belief in human-caused global warming.
A Christian Perspective on the Kyoto Protocol
(Perspektif Kristen atas Protokol Kyoto)
by Rev. Jim Ball Ph.D
(the executive director of the Evangelical Environmental Network. The organization is the sponsor of the "What would Jesus drive?" campaign)
“While I believe President Bush cares about the plight of the poor, this is not reflected in his climate policy. As a country, and as the world’s No. 1 source of green house gases, America needs to do much more. In the absence of federal leadership, many states and businesses have stepped up to help. ”
Twelve-year-old Galib Mahmud had to get to school. There was just one problem. The streets in his hometown of Dhaka, Bangladesh were flooded. While flooding in Bangladesh is a normal occurrence, last summer the flooding was extreme, causing $6.7billion in damage in Bangladesh alone and resulting in over 2,000 deaths across the region. Although it was dangerous, Galib waded to school in his crisp white shirt through waist-high dirty water, carrying his shoes and books in a bag above his head.
Young Anna Nangolol lives in northwest Kenya, one of the harshest landscapes on the planet. For generations, her nomadic tribe had been well adapted to its arid home. That’s changed over the past 30 years, however, when the droughts have been relentless and dangerous. The herds they depend on are reaching the tipping point of their existence. Anna and millions of other Kenyans are in need of food aid because of the extreme drought.
Extreme. Dangerous. These are words that fit a growing global problem -- climate change -- that I believe is already bringing extreme flooding, extreme drought, extreme weather events of various shapes and sizes. With these extremes come dangers.
Jesus said in the 25th chapter of the gospel of Matthew that what we do to "the least of these" we do to him. That’s how profoundly he identifies with the poor and their plight. It is because he came to bring the abundant life for everyone that he has a special concern for those at the bottom.
Jesus is extreme in his concern for the poor. Today Jesus Christ looks at us through their eyes, through the eyes of Galib and Anna. What we do to the least of these through global warming we do to Jesus.
As someone who has confessed Christ to be my savior and lord, I look at global warming not as an "environmental" problem, but as an opportunity to love my lord by loving what he loves, by caring for everything he created. We call it creation-care.
Climate change is not creation-care. Nor is it some abstract theory. It is now a reality that brings death in its wake. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 160,000 people die each year due to the direct and indirect impacts of global warming. (That's as many as have died in the recent tsunami, which has rightly generated an outpouring of support from around the world.)
And the impact of global warming will get much worse as the century progresses. Millions could die. God's other creatures will suffer as well. A report in Nature magazine suggests that up to 37 percent of God's creatures will be on the road to extinction because of climate change by 2050, their songs of praise to their creator snuffed out forever.
On Wednesday, much of the developed world takes an important first step to address global warming as the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate treaty, goes into effect. The United States, however, is not participating. While I believe President Bush cares about the plight of the poor, this is not reflected in his climate policy. As a country, and as the world's No. 1 source of greenhouse gases, America needs to do much more.
In the absence of federal leadership, many states and businesses have stepped up to help. California has recently issued regulations requiring a 30 percent reduction in global warming pollution from vehicles by 2016. (However, it needs to withstand court challenges and receive a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency.)
Eighteen other states have requirements for electricity to be produced by renewable energy. DuPont and BP have made major efforts to reduce their emissions and are saving millions in the process.
Many individuals are also doing their part to reduce their global warming pollution by such activities as driving fuel-efficient vehicles and taking public transportation.
Sen. John McCain, Sen. Joseph Lieberman and others are pressing for passage of the Climate Stewardship Act, which would reduce U.S. emission of heat-trapping gases and be an important first step by the federal government to address our role in climate change.
All of these efforts are good for Galib and Anna. And they also help pave the way for our eventual re-entry into the international process.
For many of the world's poor, this century will be a dark night. Yet Psalm 30:5 says, "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
Christians and Climate Change:
Should Followers of Christ concern themselves with the threat of Global Warming?
(Kekristenan dan Perubahan Iklim: Haruskah Pengikut-pengikut Kristus peduli terhadap ancaman Pemanasan Global?)
by James Sherk
"Jesus cares about what we drive. Obeying Jesus in our transportation choices is one of the great Christian obligations and opportunities of the twenty-first century."(1) So proclaims the Evangelical Environmental Network on their "What Would Jesus Drive?" website. The issue seems absurd, but has a serious point. If the way we choose to drive harms other people, then servants of Christ must do what they can to minimize this harm. Doing otherwise would not entail loving one's neighbor as oneself. How can an individual's transportation choices harm others? The Evangelical Environmental Network explains, "Pollution that causes the threat of global warming violates the Great Commandments, the Golden Rule, and the Biblical call to care for 'the least of these,' and therefore denies Christ's Lordship."(2) If human activities cause global warming, then Christians have an obligation to avoid contributing to the problem.
The global warming theory states that human emissions of carbon dioxide cause the earth's atmosphere to trap excess heat, unnaturally warming the planet. Among other sources, automobiles, particularly less fuel efficient SUVs, emit large quantities of CO2. If man-made CO2 does in fact excessively warm the earth, then Christians should heed the Evangelical Environmental Network's call and watch what they drive, using only the most fuel efficient cars, and carpooling or using public transportation when possible. If, however, human CO2 emissions do not contribute to global warming, then the question "What Would Jesus Drive?" becomes an utter absurdity, since then gas guzzling would then harm no one, and carpooling does nothing to help the earth or one's fellow man. Consequently, Christians needs to know the facts about global warming in order to ensure that they live in accordance with Christ's commandments.
What are those facts? Anyone who reads the newspaper has no doubt learned that global warming represents a real and pressing danger to the health of the planet, and that it places millions of lives at risk. However, stepping away from the media spin, and looking at the underlying science reveals that scientists have uncovered little reliable evidence to support the popular hype that surrounds global warming. As a result, Christians have no reason to fear contributing to global warming, and may drive any vehicle with a clear conscience.
The Historical Record
The observed climate record of the past century represents one of the major flaws in the global warming theory. During the 20th century human emissions of CO2 grew rapidly, with most of that increase following the Second World War. According to the theory, this should have caused temperatures to rise over the past century, with most of that increase coming after World War II. Surface measurements reveal that the earth's temperature rose approximately 0.6°C during the 20th century, but this warming does not match the theoretical predictions. Most of the warming, 0.4°C, took place before the early 1940's, before the release of most man-made CO2 into the atmosphere. Then, until the late 1970's, while human emissions of CO2 rose rapidly, the earth actually cooled approximately 0.1°C, only to rise by another 0.3°C by the end of the century. Surface temperature records reveal almost no correlation between human CO2 emissions and temperature increases. The majority of the temperature increase took place before CO2 levels rose substantially, then the temperature decreased while CO2 emissions rapidly rose, only to reverse the trend and slightly increase by the end of the century.(3) Understandably, the history of actual human CO2 emissions and the temperature record does little to support the global warming theory.
However, climatologists base this temperature record on surface measurements from ground stations. Scientists know that these records suffer from a systematic bias that tends to increase the temperature they record, the urban "heat island" effect. Many ground-monitoring stations are located in areas that have grown into major cities. The high volume of human activity, and asphalt, which tends to trap heat, that a city contains raises the temperature of a city several degrees above that of the surrounding countryside. Consequently, temperature measurements taken in or near a city are noticeably higher than those taken in a rural area, and this bias shows up in the surface record.(4)
Fortunately, for the past quarter century scientists have an alternative climate record unaltered by the heat island effect, the satellite record. Since 1979, satellites orbiting the globe have recorded the earth's temperature using instruments with an accuracy of ±0.01°C. These more accurate satellite sensors show that, except for a one-year warming spike in 1998 caused by El Nino, the earth's average temperature did not rise between 1979 and 2000.(5) Temperature measurements from weather balloons corroborate these findings, which cast further doubt on the global warming theory. While atmospheric carbon dioxide has steadily risen, the most accurate measurements available show that the global temperature did not increase over the past two decades.
Still, the best records available suggest that global temperatures rose slightly over the past century. However, this is hardly unusual. Global temperatures naturally change, and have done so for thousands of years before the invention of the internal combustion engine. Over just the past millennia, global temperatures swung by several degrees. During the Middle Ages, in the medieval climate optimum, temperatures averaged one to two degrees higher than today's levels. During this time, Greenland was actually green, and supported vibrant Viking settlements. Following this warm period, and lasting into the mid 1800's, came the so-called "Little Ice Age," during which global temperatures dropped noticeably below today's levels. Since the 1850's, temperatures have risen as the earth left the mini-ice age.(6) These climate swings occurred as a result of natural processes, long before humans began emitting significant amounts of CO2. The fact that the earth has warmed by half a degree centigrade over the past century hardly represents an unusual historical occurrence or evidence that human activity has altered the climate.
The question naturally arises why so many politicians, journalists, and scientists believe in global warming when it has so little support from the historical record. The answer is that, despite the lack of empirical support, computer programs that model the global climate and make future predictions project that increased levels of atmospheric CO2 cause the global temperature to rise. It is on the basis of these climate models, run on some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, that almost every prediction of global warming rests. The U.N.'s Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. National Assessment of Global Warming, and virtually every other major global warming study rely on these computer forecasts to prove that human activity changes the climate.
However, these models are only computer simulations, not empirical facts. The quality of the programs, and the data fed into the programs, limits the accuracy of the model's predictions. If scientists don't fully understand all the parameters in the model, then the model will produce less than fully accurate projections. Unfortunately, all current climate models suffer from severe defects that limit their usefulness in projecting future climate change. These defects do not result from bad programming or dishonest intent on the part of scientists, but from fundamental limitations in current scientific knowledge that make more accurate models impossible.
Uncertain Parameters and Flux Adjustments
Current climate models do not accurately account for the effects of clouds and precipitation on the global climate.(7) Clouds and rainfall clearly affect the climate, but scientists don't know how model them accurately. Additionally, the models simply ignore changes in the level of the solar energy entering the atmosphere.(8) To put it mildly, the sun significantly affects the earth's climate. Nonetheless, the models assume that the level of solar energy striking the earth remains constant, despite the fact that scientists know that this is not the case. Climatologists must make this assumption, however, because they do not know how to predict future changes in solar radiation. Unsurprisingly, these limitations decrease the accuracy of the models.
Furthermore, researchers simply do not accurately know some climate parameters, and must use educated guesses in their models. Physics tells scientists that a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 increases the energy in the climate system by approximately four Watts per square meter (W/m2). At the same time, the uncertainty in measuring the amount of energy reflected into space or absorbed by the earth is on the order of 25 W/m2, and scientists cannot estimate energy flows from the equator to the North and South poles beyond a 25-30 W/m2 range.(9)
Scientists must use these parameters to model the climate, but they simply do not accurately know them. Models using "best guess" estimates of the parameters predict the unrealistic cooling of major oceans and other unlikely anomalies. To avoid absurd predictions, climatologists introduced "artificial flux adjustments," on the order of 50 to 100 W/m2, that stop the models from predicting the impossible. These flux adjustments lack any theoretical basis, but climatologists need them to make the models plausible.(10) In other words, the artificial adjustments that scientists make to their models to account for unknown or improperly measured or modeled variables are twelve to twenty five times the size of the effect of doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Consequently, no one has much reason to believe that the models can accurately forecast the future effect of increasing carbon dioxide on the earth's temperature.
Models Fail to Predict Current Temperatures
In fact, even the most advanced climate models cannot accurately model current weather patterns, much less those of a hundred years from now. No model currently in existence can produce forecasts remotely in line with the measured temperature of the troposphere, the lower 40,000 feet of the atmosphere.(11) Recent measurements over Antarctica indicate that major global climate models inaccurately forecast Antarctic stratospheric temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees centigrade, indicating that the models make fundamental errors in calculating how radiation disperses.(12) One of the two models that formed the core of the U.S. National Assessment of Global Warming "predicted" 300% more temperature change in America over the 20th century than actually occurred.(13) Due to systematic and unavoidable errors, even the most state of the art current climate models cannot accurately predict current weather patterns. The notion that they can predict the climate centuries from now is a stretch. Yet these models form the basis for the case that human activity unnaturally warms the planet.
No Scientific Consensus
Why, then, if the models face so many limitations, do newspapers, politicians, and advocacy groups proclaim that the scientific consensus is that the global warming theory is accurate? In fact, advocacy groups exaggerate these claims. Thousands of scientists do believe that man-made carbon dioxide emissions unnaturally warm the atmosphere, and thousands do not. Over 17,000 scientists signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine's petition proclaiming that "there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of … greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."(14) Separately, more than 4,000 scientists, including 70 Nobel Prize winners, signed the Heidelberg Appeal, testifying that science provides no reason to limit the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.(15) While many scientists believe in the global warming theory, many do not, and scientists have not come to a consensus on the issue.
Bias in the IPCC
Many reporters and politicians claim that the scientific consensus supports global warming because of the United Nation's Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. While earlier IPCC reports equivocated, in 2001 the IPCC concluded that human CO2 emissions do warm the earth. However, the IPCC does not represent an impartial cross-section of scientists. The UN resolution that created the IPCC defined its mission as being "…to initiate action leading as soon as possible to recommendations with respect to the identification and possible strengthening of relevant existing international legal instruments having a bearing on climate …"(16) Thus, if the IPCC announced that it had discovered that human activity does not change the climate, and that no further international action was needed, it would violate the very resolution that created it.
Additionally, the governments of the IPCC member nations selected the conferees; they did not serve on the IPCC purely on the basis of their scientific credentials. Furthermore, only a third of the IPCC scientists actually had training as climatologists.(17) It should not come as an overwhelming surprise that a panel of political appointees, only some of whom had proper scientific credentials, came to exactly the conclusions that the UN declared that it wanted them to arrive at.
Flaws with the USNA
The National Academy of Sciences U.S. National Assessment of global warming (USNA) has exerted just as much influence as the IPCC in influencing American public policy. The USNA claims that global warming will wreak environmental and economic havoc on the United States throughout the 21st century, and forms the scientific basis for legislation placed before Congress by, among other legislators, Senate minority leader Thomas Daschle.(18) This politicized, agenda driven report, however, has virtually no scientific justification and does nothing to support the global warming hypothesis. Indeed, the report demonstrates the extent to which global warming proponents will stretch science to make it conform to their beliefs, regardless of the facts.
Former Vice-President and known global warming alarmist Al Gore initiated the USNA in 1997, and despite serious flaws, the government published the USNA ten days before the 2000 election, conveniently just days before Americans decided whether or not to elect Gore to the Presidency.(19) The fourteen person National Assessment "synthesis team" (NAST) selected to conduct the assessment included no global warming skeptics, only two climatologists, and only one member with a doctorate.(20)
The team then selected two climate models to form the basis of the report. Of the many major climate models available, the NAST chose the British "Hadley Model" and the Canadian model to predict the effects of global warming. Both models are statistical outliers, respectively predicting that global warming will cause greater increases in precipitation and temperature than any other model available.(21) If the NAST was looking to predict a worst-case scenario, it could not have selected better models. However, they were not the most reliable models available. In fact, when it comes to predicting the effects of global warming, they directly contradict each other, predicting drought and flooding in opposite areas of America. Even the Hadley center states that its models cannot accurately predict changes in local climate conditions, only in areas of 1000 kilometers or more.(22) Nonetheless, the NAST selected the Hadley and Canadian models, and used them to predict the effects of global warming.
When the USNA report underwent peer review, the reviewers discovered a significant problem. In the words of reviewer Patrick Michaels, "The two climate models that are the core of the USNA perform no better than a table of random numbers when it comes to estimating U.S. temperatures during the period of greenhouse effect changes."(23) Even the United Nations agreed that the models were virtually useless. For all the effort that went in to the USNA, random guessing does a better job of predicting the climate than either of the models used by the NAST. The NAST commissioned its own study to analyze the models, and concluded that the reviewers were right; they also agreed that the models could not predict temperature change over the United States. Despite this, the team published the USNA anyway, less than two weeks before the election, predicting that global warming would inflict dramatic economic and ecological harm on America.(24)
The USNA received a great deal of media attention following its release, convincing many people that global warming presented a clear and present danger to America, but at best it represents a political document designed to elect Al Gore. At worst, it represented deliberate scientific dishonesty in the service of a political agenda.
Data Errors in the Hockey Stick Graph
Recently, auditors have revealed an even more disturbing case of scientific fraud in a report that promoted global warming. In 1998 Professor Michael Mann of the University of Virginia published a report analyzing the climate over the past six centuries. Since scientists do not have direct temperature records for all but the last century, Mann relied on 10 different proxy records, tree rings and ice core samples from around the globe, to discern the temperature of the earth before reliable temperature records began. On the basis of this study, Mann produced the famous "hockey stick" graph, which showed that the global climate had been relatively stable until 20th century, when temperatures rose dramatically. Based on this work, Mann claimed that the 20th century was warmer than any in the past 600 years.
It would be hard to overstate the influence of the Mann report and the "hockey stick" graph in the global warming debate. It seemed to deny the existence of both the medieval climate optimum and the Little Ice Age. It was one of the main reasons that the 2001 IPCC report unequivocally stated that humans were causing global warming, while earlier reports could not come to this conclusion. It formed the basis of Environment Canada's support for the costly anti-global warming Kyoto treaty, which the Canadian government has since signed.(25) The USNA also utilized the "hockey stick" graph in predicting dire consequences from global warming.(26) Mann's report seemed to provide supporters of the global warming theory with the empirical evidence that they had been lacking.
In 2003, Stephen McIntyre, a businessman with a strong statistical and mathematical background, and Professor Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph conducted an independent audit of Mann's report. Analyzing the data used to generate the report, they determined that
The data set of proxies of past climate used in Mann … for the estimation of temperatures from 1400 to 1980 contains collation errors, unjustifiable truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculation of principal components and other quality control defects. ... The major finding is that the values in the early 15th century exceed any values in the 20th century. The particular "hockey stick" … is primarily an artefact of poor data handling, obsolete data and incorrect calculation of principal components.(27)
Mann was only able to derive the "hockey stick" because of systematic errors in his data and his calculations. McIntyre and McKitrick corrected the data errors in Mann's work and produced the temperature graph Mann's research should have lead him to. This graph demonstrated that the 20th century was not unusual, that in fact the 15th century, with virtually no artificial emissions of carbon dioxide, was substantially warmer than the 20th century.
The Mann report, one of the most influential papers supporting the global warming theory, only achieved its breakthrough result through the use of poor data and erroneous calculations. Correcting those errors demonstrates that the empirical record does not support the global warming theory; it rests almost entirely on models of highly questionable accuracy.
The global warming theory has little to no empirical support, relies on highly inaccurate computer models that cannot forecast current, much less future, climate change, and is not supported by a broad scientific consensus. Key studies that support the global warming theory, the IPCC, the USNA, and Mann's 1998 report, all suffer from errors and biases. While these facts do not conclusively prove that global warming is not occurring - it is impossible to prove a negative - they certainly suggest that it is not. Consequently, Christians should not worry that their transportation choices might harm other people. Christians can choose to drive how they wish without fearing that their actions contribute to Global Warming and thus, in the words of the Evangelical Environmental Network, "deny Christ's Lordship." This does not mean that Christians do not need to consider God's desires in what they choose to drive. God clearly tells his servants not to glorify or take pride in material wealth, but to serve him first and store up treasures in heaven, and some luxury vehicles clearly express materialistic desires. It simply means that Christians have no reason to also consider the effects their car might have on the climate when purchasing a new vehicle. What Would Jesus Drive? Whatever he chose, the exaggerated hype surrounding the global warming theory would not concern him