When the lively contemporary topic of global warming is raised, we discover the topic provides ample opportunity to voice our personal views. Many participants in the discussion assume any prudent person ought to be informed and perhaps share a consensus belief. Some vigorously believe in anthropogenic global warming, others confidently deny any connection to human activity, and still others voice confidence in primarily natural, cyclical climate change but leave the door open to the possibility that human activity on climate warming remains significant.
Our title is meant to convey two meanings: (1) The term global warming has come to mean anthropogenic global warming. When the common usage term is applied in this fashion, it is almost always used to convey a negative meaning. (2) The secondary meaning relates to the incessant tendency to link global warming to virtually every harmful weather event as a probable cause. Journalists reporting on natural events such as heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, storm frequency, change in sea level, and receding glaciers frequently spice their reporting with the event’s probable connection to global warming, most often anthropogenic global warming. Some enthusiasts even credit cold weather events ultimately to events triggered by the global warming phenomenon. They claim these extreme events are intensified by a warming earth.
The Genesis mandate to “fill the earth and subdue it” may be applied broadly to our obligation to care conscientiously for our God-provided home on Planet Earth. Responsible care of our earth’s resources is a mandate of scripture. If our earth is warming dangerously as a result of human activity and this truth can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, human remedies are needed. In my discussions with friends who assume various positions on this issue, we must realize that caution is necessary before embracing a single location on the climate change spectrum. We must begin with the realization that our earth’s climate is an incredibly complex system.
An early pioneer of climate change, Hubert Lamb, in 1971 established the Climate Research Unit at the
. He planted in the public awareness ideas which have persisted since that time. First he envisioned the onset of global cooling. He was dubbed the “ice man.” Then he switched viewpoints as University of East Anglia experienced a drought and heat wave in 1975-76, and became an advocate of global warming. Rising temperatures, melting ice caps, and rising sea levels were permanently implanted in the public awareness--a decades old legacy which still survives among climate alarmists. Lamb superimposed his ideas of anthropogenic global warming within his teaching and writing along with his descriptions of natural, long term change. England
Since 1850 glaciers worldwide have been retreating with few exceptions. Changes in ice cover may be triggered by the long term rise and fall of annual temperature of only a degree or two. The Medieval Warm Period of roughly 300 years was followed by the Little Ice Age of approximately 500 years until 1850. Glacier retreat has generally been occurring worldwide since then. It precedes any significant worldwide fossil fuel consumption. Hubert Lamb was aware of the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Ages but is better remembered for triggering public alarm over human caused climate change.
Earth is a finely tuned and incredibly sensitive dynamic machine. Our climate responds to multiple factors. We have discovered cause and effect relationships of dozens of weather events, including the long term ups and downs of temperature and precipitation patterns. Climate changes are evident from the geological record both since the onset of man’s presence on earth and in the eons of time before he arrived. The Creator’s handiwork has left us to discover, benefit from, and sometimes suffer from the dynamic effects provided by our incredible weather machine. When it becomes apparent that man impacts our climate in a detrimental way, we may be able to act in prudent ways to reduce harmful effects at least to a small degree. We should remain aware that multiple natural influences in our climate system overwhelm our worldwide weather events. “Subduing global warming” may not mean we are capable of climate control.
The Christian response to climate change issues should be reasoned and carefully studied. Whether climate changes are triggered by man or result from natural causes is an issue our churches may wish to include at some level in their instructional offerings. Our Creator seeks to have His children seek knowledge of the truth concerning our natural environment as a providential gift of God.