Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Climate and Truth

In Acts 17 the Apostle Paul visited Athens, Greece, one of many locations he toured during his missionary journeys. One account relates his meeting with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, an adjunct to his primary goal of ministering to Grecian Jews and God-fearing Gentiles concerning the Son of God. They were apparently fascinated by Paul’s message, but called him an idle babbler who seemed to be a “proclaimer of strange deities.” They accused Paul of “bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” The Athenians “…spent their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17:18-21)

In our sanctified imagination we may imagine that the topics were deep and enigmatic. They discussed the role of “God who made the world and all things in it.” Perhaps, if we project the discussions to modern times, they might have discussed the world’s climate system. We are reminded of the frequency with which modern people are bombarded with the ever-present topic of climate change. The newest raging topic for us moderns may be that June 2019 was the warmest June on record for Planet Earth. The first half of 2019 was the second warmest half-year on record. We hasten to add that “on record” constricts the sample to modern times.

This post’s observations concerning climate change in 2019 are more subjective than objectively analytical. Some studies indicate there has been a slow rise in global temperatures since 1880—on the order of 1.4ยบ F. In that time frame there was a slow rise in world sea level—on the order of 6 to 9 inches. When media report the years between 2000-2019 were the “hottest” on record, we may wish to modify the statement with the caveat that temperatures on a very slowly warming Earth may not presage disaster for Earth inhabitants. Projected models of catastrophic planetary warming, and devastating sea level rises are speculative at best. The trend of climate change is slow, but not catastrophic. If we subscribe to belief in a benevolent Creator sustaining and keeping watch over His creation, our special home on Planet Earth, we need not fear climate change.  

Statistics do not reveal that disastrous droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, heat waves, and cold waves have proliferated abundantly. Slow changes in climate have occurred with attendant moderate environmental changes for wildlife and plant life. Agricultural productivity, however, manifests greatly enhanced food production of the world as a whole whose population has risen from less than 2 billion in 1900 to nearly 8 billion today. We are not headed for environmental climate disaster. Warnings of climate disaster contribute to a climate of fear. 

Climatologist Cliff Harris and meteorologist Randy Mann have achieved balance in their climate reporting for many years. They produce research on climate and make long-range forecasts for business and agriculture. Their statements make coherent sense, but are disparaged by some who trumpet catastrophic global warming. Harris believes “…society would be better off devoting its limited resources on ending poverty, curing diseases, or providing universal health care, rather than investing in costly forms of cleaner energy or curtailing business to reduce carbon dioxide.” He believes “…this planet is a breathing entity, made by God, to cleanse itself, adjust itself.” Our past post titles remind us of two truths concerning Earth: It is “A World Working Well; moreover, it is “A Place to Thrive.” Gifted agricultural technologists have improved crop yields many times over. Gentle planetary warming may have enhanced crop yield. In the past century, some population theorists warned of starvation. In 1970 warnings of a renewed “ice age” gained popularity. In the early 21st century we now have alarmists with different agendas.

On 8/13/18 Randy Mann posted “OK, Let’s Talk About Climate Change.” He stated, “Cliff and I DO believe in climate change. Our planet has been experiencing climate changes since the beginning of time. Our long term chart… back to 2,500 B. C., indicates there have been at least 78 temperature swings in the last 4,500 years. Two of those big changes have occurred since the 1970s. Therefore we, meteorologist Randy Mann and climatologist Cliff Harris, believe in rather frequent changes in our global weather patterns. Geologic evidence shows our climate has been changing over millions of years. The warming and cooling of global temperatures are likely the result of long-term climatic cycles, solar activity, sea-surface temperature patterns and more.”

In our imagination we may return to Athens when the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers questioned the Apostle Paul about his “strange deities.” Paul made a brilliant evidential case as time allowed. We long to have an ancient video documenting Paul’s apologetic skills. His request appears to be “…that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find Him.” The key concept is Paul’s exhortation that we should search for knowledge. 

Knowledge of climate change issues demand diligent study. The science surrounding the topic is complex and often subject to diverse interpretation. A complicating factor is that political principles influence some conclusions. Scientific conclusions are influenced by personal worldview and philosophy. Issues of truth, science, worldview, and philosophy become intertwined. Above all, we need a generous dose of wisdom spoken of in James 1:5.