The Creator of All Things has provided both short term individual weather events and long term climate conditions for the benefit of humanity. Divinely created weather and climate conditions support our agricultural bounty and provide us with a highly enjoyable physical environment. Intuitionally, we perceive Earth’s just-right atmospheric composition and highly precise planetary temperature range to be but two examples of divinely fine-tuned Intelligent Design on this planet. But this is just the ‘beginning of the story.’ Our astronomical summer just concluded in North America was notable because of its unusual heat. Climate always changes as does our weather.
Weather is defined as the condition of the atmosphere over short periods of time. Are we experiencing rain, fog, wind, warmth, clouds, or any of a host of other weather conditions such as drought? Climate is defined as the condition of earth’s atmosphere over long time periods. These two terms are often confused. Today’s young people may be told by their grandparents that the they were obliged to hike to school in deep snowdrifts. Such tales may be exaggerations, or they may signal that climate has actually changed somewhat over the last few decades.
Many analysts blame ‘climate change’ for extended hot spells, droughts, floods, or other significant weather events. Weather scientists, journalists and politicians blame our apparently warming planet on emissions such as CO2 from burning of fossil fuels—coal, petroleum, and natural gas. They claim the world is in the throes of a climate crisis. They claim we must ameliorate the crisis with draconian measures such as purchasing only electric vehicles in place of internal combustion vehicles or cutting back on applications of fertilizer. Nitrogen fertilizer is most often produced by burning natural gas, ultimately generating CO2 as a waste product. The US congress recently passed a bill with $357 billion designated to finance climate change measures.
The science of climatology is far more complex than indicated by most articles headlining undesirable, unwelcome weather phenomena. While increasing CO2 concentrations have been shown to have some effect on Planet Earth’s atmospheric warming, there are many other natural causes of warming not well publicized or understood by activists who advocate for sudden, harsh national solutions.
El Nino is an ocean phenomenon where ocean surface water in the Pacific becomes warmer. It results from diminished speed of east to west trade winds north of the equator. Temperature and rainfall amounts around the globe are disrupted. A related phenomenon is La Nina, where the effects are generally the opposite of El Nino. Animal and plant life in the oceans and on land also responds to these changing conditions. It is not unusual for journalists to attribute unusual weather phenomena to climate change. But what is the actual meaning of such claims? Writers often claim tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, or flooding are becoming more severe. Historical statistics do not generally affirm this fact as we review hundreds or thousands of years of climate records.
Earth residents have just emerged from a brutal hot summer in the US, a horrendous flood in Pakistan, a drought in Europe, a destructive hurricane in Puerto Rico which continued up the east coast and caused extensive damage in Canadian Maritime Provinces, and other local meteorologic disasters around the world. Weather scientists have analyzed the reasons for these harsh weather events, including the above-mentioned El Nino and La Nina phenomena, heat domes, and ubiquitous meandering jet streams. Climatologists skilfully present natural explanations for these heartbreaking events. We do not deny that climate change has occurred with the less often repeated caveat that climate always changes.
Nearly a century ago the United States was in the throes of the nearly decade-long Dust Bowl of the 1930s. I personally recall my uncles recounting the horrors of animal and grain farming in Oklahoma and Kansas during that historic period. Temperatures spiked way beyond the current several tenths of a degree average rises. Reporting on the recent Pakistan flooding, Time’s “Spotlight Story” of 9/16/22 insightfully claimed multiple causative factors: “There are many ingredients to the still ongoing humanitarian crisis — some meteorological, some economic, some societal, some historic and construction oriented.” The 1930s Dust Bowl was linked to but not totally caused by imprudent agricultural practices by farmers in southwest US. Many planetary flooding events are exacerbated by human population explosions in flood prone areas. Recall: World population is eight times greater in 2022 than in 1800.
A popular 2011 article by NOAA could serve as a required reading primer for today’s meteorology students. It reminds us of the many divine wonders of our intelligently designed weather system. Here is the opening paragraph:
“Imagine our weather if Earth were completely motionless, had a flat, dry landscape and an untilted axis. This of course is not the case; if it were the weather would be very different. The local weather that impacts our daily lives results from large global patterns in the atmosphere caused by the interactions of solar radiation, Earth’s large ocean, diverse landscapes, and motion in space.”
Holy Scripture conveys similar feelings of wonder for our planet’s weather environment. Our world’s weather and climate systems are miracles of intricate intelligent design. The Bible promotes admiration, wonder, and awe for diverse weather events, violent and non-violent, harmful and beneficial. All types of weather inspire God’s people to ascribe glory to the God of Creation.