Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Climate Change Reprise

Climate Change Issues…. Why does the climate topic frequently assume front and center importance in today’s culture? In recent days we have experienced a reprise of this famous “topic du jour.”  Mark Twain’s old literary saw, “Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it,” was meant to be humorous homespun philosophy. The current obsession with climate issues relates to the common belief that current climate warming is heavily linked with humanity’s release of CO2, mainly from fossil fuel consumption. Contrary to Mark Twain, we must be committed to doing something about it. Therein lies “the rub.” CO2 is a trace gas in Earth’s atmosphere. It comprises a small fraction of 1% of our atmosphere—1/25 of 1%—0.04% to be precise. A societal fixation has gripped our global psyche assigning (1) how much of Earth’s warming is attributable to CO2, (2) whether increased CO2 and concomitant warming is good or bad for life on the planet, (3) whether or not climatic disaster awaits humanity if climate “projections” for the future really occur, (4) how much planetary temperature change would accrue from reducing CO2 to previous levels, or (5) if planetary reversal of average global temperatures is realistically possible.

Climate alarmists are certain of their answers. They cite their own versions of scientific support to prove their points, claiming 97 or 98% of the world’s scientists agree with their version of the analysis. (This claim is in considerable dispute). All of the five above issues are uncertain at best, unanswerable at worst. A substantial contingent of influential planetary residents, however, has been over-swept with certainty. We are told, therefore, that we MUST act regardless of the cost. Present and future costs are measured, however, in many trillions of dollars. Anyone opposed to this agenda earns the title of denier on whom rests the onus of sabotaging humanity’s chances for healthy survival.               

The US rejection of the Paris Climate Accord resurrected public reactions with renewed vigor. Politicians, journalists, and commentators of every stripe have weighed in since the announcement of our national withdrawal from the Accord on June 1, 2017. Our national withdrawal triggered much global and national discussion. Our current series of posts was inspired by the recurring exchanges. Our 6-13-17 post linked nine previous posts from 2012 which followed claims of global warming enthusiasts linking the 2012 midwestern drought to climate change/global warming.

We link nine more personal posts from 2014 in the interest of thorough treatment of this lively current topic. These posts were triggered by another remarkable weather event: the brutal midwestern winter of 2013-14. Many climate alarmists claim such weather is somehow linked to global warming in their production of extreme weather events. Our blog posits that these are normal extreme weather events, not climate change events.

The following posts were inspired by the extreme mid-west cold and snow of the 2013/14 winter. Our posts dealt with the hot button issue of climate change in general. Many journalist commentators embrace such events to advance their climate change agenda. We link ten relevant posts published immediately following that memorable winter with an introductory overview of each:

Overview: The brutal midwest winter of 2013-14 is part of a sequence of Earth’s weather events recorded for thousands of years. The Book of Job 37-38 credits God’s breath for production of awesome winter weather events (3-7-14)

Overview: Earth climate is always changing. In the past 8000 years there have been at least nine major climatic temperature fluctuations before man even became aware of the trace gas carbon dioxide (3-9-14)

Overview: The all-night Democratic Senate filibuster highlighting “acting before it is too late” would have been more productive had they affirmed that “Earth and its ecosystems…are robust, resilient, self-regulating and self correcting” and display God’s glory (3-15-14)

Overview: This post highlights the history of the Earth warming obsession which first crept into the nation’s awareness when the environmental movement achieved prominence about 1960. Prominent among the players was the intense global activism of the United Nations (3-21-14)

(5) Overview: Ecology is a relatively modern term. Deep ecology is an even more recent term. Deep ecologists advocate a radical view of humanity’s relationship with nature. The movement is sympathetic to the climate change agenda and heavy environmental extremism (3-29-14)

Overview: We deal with the often quoted “98% of the world’s scientists support anthropogenic climate change.” Many realistic analysts place these statements in perspective as carefully manufactured to promote political and ideological purposes. This quote stands in for unchallenged truth on the matter of global warming (4-4-14)

Overview: Often the discussion of whether or not harmful global warming is happening  distills to arguments whether or not we believe the claims are real rather than discussions about the supporting science (4-9-14)

Overview: As our series of 2014 climate posts neared an end we became realistic concerning the genuine fear provoked during a violent thunderstorm or windstorm.
But as we study Earth’s wonderful climate system, we acquire appreciation for the wide variety of life-sustaining weather over the long term (4-12-14)

Overview: A tragedy of our time is the fear engendered by the climate change lobby. Shining through is God’s higher purpose: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (4-22-14)

Overview: Natural climate variability is hardly ever assigned explanatory power by climate change enthusiasts. The “oversimplified cause” is a betrayal of straight thinking. This errant thinking occurs when an effect has multiple causes, but only one cause is identified. (4-26-14)

Earth’s climate is ultimately God’s gift for the physical sustenance of the human race. In this assurance, we thank him and rejoice in his goodness! “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1 NIV.)   



Friday, June 16, 2017

Climate Alarmism

Since President Trump withdrew our country from the Paris Climate Accord we have endured a storm of despair and criticism from climate alarmists. Many are famous people in government or the entertainment industry who commandeer the microphones and turn up the speaker volume. They loudly claim affirmation from scientists. Our populace is deluged by claims from   the authority of science on multiple issues without being informed of the possibility of ideological overlay in the science profession. Climate is a hot-button issue which parallels the lines of political ideology. Generally, citizens divide themselves politically along the lines of climate alarmism on the left and climate optimism on the right. We use the somewhat hackneyed, time worn example of perceiving the glass as half empty or half full.

Dissent on environmental, historical, philosophical, political, religious, lifestyle, or worldview matters often generates heat instead of light. Many disagreements boil down to personal opinion or preference. The climate matter is said to affect our present and future welfare or even survival of the human race. For example, we quote utterances of two prominent politicians, one astronaut, and one actor. These are mere samples; hundreds of famous ideologues offer their opinions. They are not scientists but often clothe themselves in the imprimatur of science. Theologians sometimes inappropriately enter the fray. John Kerry, former Secretary of State under the Obama administration and Democratic nominee for president in 2004 voiced several incredible claims in response to the president’s decision: “He is not helping the forgotten American, he is hurting them. Their kids will have worse asthma attacks in the summer.” In 2014 after a US Senate all-night “filibuster” by Democrats to highlight the dangers of climate change, majority leader Harry Reid implored the world to “act before it is too late,” claiming also that it is “the worst problem facing the world today.” Astronaut Scott Kelly has stated withdrawal from the agreement “will be devastating to our planet.” Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio intoned “This is the most existential crisis our civilization has ever known.”

Global attitudes toward our exquisite planetary climate system have now been linked by the EPA to the perception that CO2, a plant-sustaining trace gas in our atmosphere, is a dangerous pollutant. The effects of slight warming of the Earth’s atmosphere (1.3º C in the last 136 years) provokes environmental horror and predictions of planetary doom in the face of a seven-fold increase in Earth’s population and concomitant multiplication of world food supply in the past two centuries. Many weather disasters such as floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and heat waves have statistically decreased in their frequency and intensity in the last few decades. How then do we account for journalistic zeal touting global warming when ordinary contemporary weather events are reported by the media? We are ruled by a cadre of climate model enthusiasts predicting conditions far into the future. We posit that this negative enthusiasm is unscientific and unhealthy.

Respected meteorologist Roy Spencer has presented meaningful contrarian research to counter popular global warming enthusiasm. For example, he claims the “climate system is dominated by stabilizing processes rather than destabilizing processes.” Spencer is a signatory to “An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming,” which states “Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by his faithful providence—are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying his glory.” Spencer believes most climate change is natural in origin, the result of long-term changes in Earth’s albedo (portion of incident radiation reflected by a surface) and  anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have caused some warming, but its warming influence is small compared to natural, internal, chaotic fluctuations in global average cloud cover.

Popular alarmist opinion poses release of CO2 from fossil fuel burning as a “destabilizing process” as mentioned in the above paragraph. CO2 is a divine favor supplied by the Creator of planet Earth. The tiny amount of warming experienced by Earth since 1880 should be considered a blessing, certainly not a bane. Moderate warming has been a boon to agriculture. A small increase in CO2 levels has been proven to promote better crop growth as have other man-made improvements in agricultural practices.

We would like to see the microphone transferred into the hands of reasonable climate scientists and out of the hands of unreasonable climate alarmists. Politicians and Hollywood entertainers feed on power and public adulation. Our perception is that the power of ideology has been manipulated by political parties and entertainers far too long. We pray that sound science and ordered thinking would predominate.                 

The climate system is exquisitely beautiful and productive in terms of its ability to supply our world population with food. Since world industrialization world population has increased dramatically. In 1900 world population was 1.5 billion; in 2000 population was 6.1 billion; in 2017 it grew to 7.5 billion. In 1880 fossil fuels began to be a major factor in the growth of humanity. In 1850 the world’s Little Ice Age came to an end and world temperatures began a slow climb. Shining through the haze of climate alarmism is the current obsession with CO2 emissions. Of course, CO2 contributes to some warming of the atmosphere, but likewise, so do many other atmospheric components. Often neglected in the climate change mania is the effect of stupendous world population growth and the rapid urbanization of the world’s elevated population. This elevated population has not always contributed positively as they densely wedged into urban areas, cleared the Amazon rainforest, and contributed to Earth warming in multiple other ways.  

Analysts have highlighted complex global weather oscillations which have existed since man inhabited this planet. These oscillations are not well understood or appreciated as many focus inordinately on fossil fuels. Not only have these weather oscillations existed since the Little Ice Age ended in 1850, but they were present to extricate Earth’s population from the Wisconsin Ice Age and launch humanity into the famous “agricultural revolution” when the Ice Age abated about 12,000 years ago. From the end of the Ice Age until the present there have been at least a dozen minor and major climate oscillations in which CO2 was not a major player.

In future posts we will develop the position that reducing the fossil fuel burning to a fraction of present levels in response to the perceived dangers of continued CO2 emission would devastate the health of uncounted millions of poor people in developing nations as well as shackle the United States with costs of trillions of dollars. These are financial resources which could be more appropriately expended to “subdue the Earth” and benefit humanity in other prudent and beneficial ways (Genesis 1:28).

The geologic history of Earth has provided hydrocarbons usable in modern times in great abundance. These are accurately described as fossil fuels. We now tap into petroleum, natural gas, and coal deposits produced tens or hundreds of millions of years ago as the result of decomposition of buried dead organisms originally produced by photosynthesis. Additional deposits are being discovered constantly. New methods are being discovered to recover these treasures of fossil energy. The Creator, timeless in his planning and provision had humanity in mind to provide wonderful stores of energy for our age of technology. For this, we offer humble thanks.        

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Climate Accord?

The Paris Climate Accord is woefully misnamed. President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the “accord.” In truth, there is very little accord. The lack of accord is only exceeded by the lack of wisdom manifested by the negotiators of the Paris agreement. I challenge readers to examine its fine print and the implications of compliance. Adherence by every nation to the Paris pact may promote economic disaster. Moreover, the trillions of dollars of costs in transitioning out of fossil fuels and into non-carbon renewables is projected to avert only 0.3º F of warming by the year 2100. That is less than 0.04º F per decade and would cost the United States multi-trillions of dollars. One must question the disordered thinking of the world’s globalists.

The climate change debate is grounded on certainty that harmful climate change has resulted in or would result from the addition of 50% more CO2, a trace gas in the atmosphere, since industrialization. This trace gas, a vital gift of God for sustaining plant life, has been labelled a pollutant by the EPA. The fraction of CO2 has increased    from 1/3600 of the atmosphere several hundred years ago to 1/2500 today, a mere difference of 1/8700. Climate models can only explain half of the warming that actually occurred. There was really not much warming: 1.3º C from 1880 to 2016. Intuitively, we perceive something is amiss with the global warming paradigm hanging over our society. We are sometimes obsessed with alarmist climate projections.

Many resources are available to promote diverse arguments from the climate discussion. In August 2012, I joined the discussion full force with respect to climate change. Our series of posts was triggered by a remarkable stretch of heat and drought in our midwestern states, the most serious in decades. Some observers proclaimed anthropomorphic climate change to be the culprit. My first two posts from 8-11-12 and 8-17-12 were written during the 2012 drought and heat wave. The following posts ensued with a more in-depth discussion of climate change arguments. We link nine posts below with an overview of each: 

Overview: Historically, our climate system is incredibly complex, albeit magnificent— too complex to assign a minutely increasing trace gas most of the blame for the vagaries of climate change (8-22-12)

Overview: The authority of science has been co-opted to highlight the ideology of climate change (global warming) advocates (8-30-12)

Overview: “Subdue” in this post connotes conscientious care for our planet, becoming sensitive to Planet Earth’s characteristics. Earth is incredibly dynamic. The Paris Climate Accord focuses most of its attention on curbing consumption of fossil fuels to reduce production of atmospheric CO2 at astronomical cost (9-6-12)

Overview: We deal with the unbending certainty of the effects of CO2 release from fossil fuel consumption among politically correct adherents of climate change in our global community (9-11-12)

Overview: The unrelenting dispute raging today on climate issues often ignores or fails to discover actual TRUTH (9-15-12)

6 -  Overview: What is the response of the evangelical community? The spectrum of opinion is very broad. Solutions from this community are sometimes at odds (9-22-12)

Overview: Concern over climate change may increase or decrease, depending on increasing or decreasing confidence in science and a realistic, unbiased appraisal of complex phenomena of climate (9-27-12)

Overview: Consensus is sometimes the enemy of truth discovery. Climate change relies on consensus but the issue is far from settled. At times our Christian worldview  competes with scientific consensus (10-2-12)

9 -  Overview: In brief, weather disasters are a small segment of Earth’s dynamic climate system. Every disastrous weather event is not an outcome of climate change (10-8-12)

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Our beliefs accord with those of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. In particular, we cite several items from their list of affirmations and denials:

We affirm that the Earth and all its physical and biological systems are the effects of God’s omniscient design, omnipotent creation, and faithful sustaining, and that when God completed his creative work it was “very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

We deny that an infinitely wise Designer, infinitely powerful Creator, and perfectly faithful Sustainer of the Earth would have made it susceptible to catastrophic degradation from proportionally small causes, and consequently we deny that wise environmental stewardship readily embraces claims of catastrophe stemming from such causes.

We affirm that by God’s design Earth and its physical and biological systems are robust, resilient, and self-correcting.

We deny that they are fragile.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Paris Climate Globalism

Climate change has become one of the most riveting political issues of our day. The climate issue has become not only a United States concern, but increasingly is becoming a global matter with intricate economic implications. 

At first glance, globalism seems to be a concept worth promoting. We desire collective benefit for the healthy well being of all nations of the world. But when we examine the concept we realize there is limited benefit in rampant globalism in climate and other issues. Of course, God’s people should be concerned about the welfare of all humanity. Globalism, however, is not a simple matter of seeking the benefit of all humanity altruistically. Complexity is inherent as we work out our altruism. Nationalistic traditions and pride in work and productivity are benefits gifted by the Creator to all peoples of the Earth. As we examine the diversity of humanity, we must maintain awareness of national differences while striving to live peaceably: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18 NASB).

The Paris Climate Accord of 2015 has a positive ring. Genuine “accord” on significant political differences between and among the nations of the world is a difficult standard to achieve. Political turmoil and conflict have been rampant since the rise of nations. The rise and fall of nations, often the title of a popular book or article, chronicles the unfortunate reality. Nations work for their own benefit and agree to actions which generally benefit themselves. Some of the most destructive “agreements” have been negotiated by our national leaders on dubious initiatives which could clearly harm our nation. For this discussion, we offer our analysis that The Paris Climate Accord exemplifies a dubious action. We are glad our president has turned us away from The Paris Climate Accord. The “accord” could harm our country and may not even benefit other countries for whom we profess concern.

We quote leaders within an organization which has gained respectability as an advocate of sound science as well as a champion of orthodox theology. I highly recommend The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. The following statement appears in virtually every one of their communiqués. “The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation seeks to magnify the glory of God in creation, the wisdom of his truth in environmental stewardship, the kindness of his mercy in lifting the needy out of poverty, and the wonders of his grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” This Ankerberg Science/Faith blog attempts to remain faithful to sound principles and practices of science and prudent political actions of our government in response to advances in science. After all, our leaders must be committed to wise executive decision-making which protects the interests of our own citizens.  

Accordingly, we lead with several acknowledged scientific truths and their counterpart in “politically correct science.” The primary cause of global warming is not the burning of fossil fuels. Global warming (now renamed “climate change”) is the natural, historically acknowledged tendency of Earth to react to many phenomena of our complex climate system. Science “experts” may pinpoint a cause among any of multiple causes for slight climate warming. From 1880 to 2016 global temperatures have risen only 1.3º C. Many scientific experts have chosen to highlight primarily ONE cause—consumption of fossil fuels and their production of CO2 when burned—as the cause of climate change (global warming) we have already observed.

According to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, consumption of fossil fuels is identified as the primary cause of global warming. This perception is reinforced by national and global politics resulting in the Paris agreement. The production of CO2 by fossil fuel burners, according to the Paris Climate Accord, must be mitigated by signatories to the agreement. Upon examination, the agreement unfairly places the United States at a substantial disadvantage for many reasons. Full compliance by all nations would supposedly drive the GAT (Global Average Temperature) “below 2º C above pre-industrial levels, along with an effort to limit the increase to 1.5º C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

Our readers may have become confused by these statements. In our next posts we will examine how unreasonable these requirements are in the light of scientific uncertainties. Science is touted as proving that present emissions of CO2 are projected to harm our future environment in specific ways. Dubious climate models concerning future conditions stray outside the bounds of sound science and are limited in their claims of certainty.                   

Monday, June 5, 2017

James Clerk Maxwell's Apologetic

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) is a model for affirming the reality of God in a powerful way. This brilliant scientist masterfully promotes the dual reality of the existence of God linked with the reality of a divinely designed and wonderfully ordered physical world. Incredible human achievement is but a subset of the orderliness of the physical universe and the God who created it. Among brilliant scientists who present scientific discoveries as God-affirming, James Clerk Maxwell is a giant. On the scientific level, Albert Einstein enthusiastically pronounced his work “the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.” Were Einstein (1879-1955) still living, no doubt he would utter the same statement. A review of our previous posts featuring Maxwell is instructive before you read further:

With this post we conclude our series on “the usefulness of science to promote faith and belief in God’s realty, especially the promotion of a viable faith in young people. We present statements from James Clerk Maxwell’s fertile mind concerning the dual spheres of science and faith, linking Maxwell’s deep spiritual insights with his profound scientific gifts. We encourage prospective parents and teachers to embrace this challenge in order to enrich their children’s faith search according to their age and level of their ability.

Maxwell believed religious faith and science were partners. He saw the ordered uniformity, orderliness, and simplicity of nature rather than its peculiarity and complexity. He spoke of “…(impressing) his own mind with the extent, the order, and the unity of the universe.” Maxwell referred to “the book of nature…written by the finger of God, that is, created by divine power.”

“The Creator governs his material works by definite laws resulting from the forces impressed on matter,” Maxwell stated. “Every atom of creation is unfathomable in its perfection.” He claimed, “None of the processes of Nature, since the time when Nature began, have produced the slightest difference in the properties of any molecule.” Details of the structure of atoms were not discovered or publicized until decades after his death.

Maxwell believed the features of the universe were created, not eternally existent. He opposed the philosophy of some scientists in his day, and would have opposed many in our present day who lean toward philosophical naturalism: Nature is all there is. “We are therefore unable to ascribe either the existence of the molecules or the identity of their properties to the operation of natural causes,” he voiced. He fits the definition of a theistic scientist without frequently endorsing a mysterious “God of the gaps” perspective in his practice of science. Natural laws were authored by the God of Creation.    

Maxwell’s Christian convictions were not threatened by the growing scientific materialism of the 19th century. Some Christians in our age struggle against this threat of materialism. Today’s scientists as a group tend to be less religious than the general population—a mysterious phenomenon. We posit that modern scientists rest in the perceived certainty and security of scientific laws. They derive, thereby, a satisfying personal effect. To them, the anchor of science knowledge is deemed more satisfying than the search for the so-called “mystery” of spiritual truths. I Timothy 3:16 refers to the “mystery of godliness.” Mystery connotes truths formerly obscured, but now more clearly manifest. Many other spiritual truths are classified as “mysteries” in Ephesians and Colossians, as well as in the gospels where some translators render the term as “secrets.”

We join with Maxwell in believing quality science is inseparable from faith. As the Creator of all things, God is also author of the science/faith duality. James Clerk Maxwell provides a reasoned, persuasive apologetic model for our Christian faith. His worldview is part of the legacy we strive to pass on to our young people.