Kevin’s Conversations: Changing the Climate Discussing Climate Change
Climate change has been a hot topic for the past week or so due to President Trump opting to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.
This has predictably created much consternation around the world, and we especially hear the outrage here in the United States, many of the concerned voices coming from our own leaders and citizens.
Having strong feelings about climate change is understandable, especially for those who believe that human activity is causing serious harm to the earth and that we are risking the well being of future generations. It can only be expected that the news of last week would cause quite a stir.
And here we go again. On par with our current political plight, we hurl all kinds of insults at those who think differently than us on the issue and dig into the trenches to defeat the enemy, the wretched “other side”. And so, in many cases we direct our passion down destructive paths rather than constructive ones. We don’t seek to understand or work with or find any common ground with those whom we differ. Rather, we aim to humiliate them by demonstrating just how stupid and ignorant and immoral they are. All the more concerning when we see Christians participating in this type of behavior and they act no different than the rest of the world. Sometimes even worse.
As is usually the case, there is guilt of such conduct with those on both sides of the issue. Some who are upset by Trump’s actions have lashed out against anyone who supports his decision. The charges come strong that all supporters of this decision only care about themselves and money and their debased religion. That they are stupid and ignorant and thoroughly immoral science-deniers. That they dare not ever say another word about abortion because they have abundantly demonstrated that they, in fact, don’t care about life or the future of their children.
Meanwhile, some of those who support Trump’s decision lash back at the climate change proponents with charges of idolizing the earth and being so stupid and ignorant for being taken in by this big political hoax. That this Paris Climate Accord isn’t going to fix anything and people are dumb for thinking so. And that they are only concerned with pushing forward their political agenda of anti-Christianity and greater government control and purposefully economic killing measures.
Are there some on both sides of the issue who are guilty of the charges thrown at them? Probably so. But for many others, it’s not so cut and dry and brushing with that broad stroke causes more harm than good.
There are likely those who are against just about any kind of environmental regulation with an intentional head in the sand attitude and really don’t care much at all about how the future or even present environment is potentially being affected by human activity. Some who will not take the time to examine any evidence that shows that humans could indeed be damaging the earth and just write if all off as a hoax. Some who think that God will just take care of it and so that they don’t need to be concerned or that the Rapture is coming soon so why trouble ourselves with such superfluous things.
Yet there are others who are skeptical of climate change because they have seen evidence and testimony from more than a few other scientists who believe that human activity is having little to no effect on climate change, or that it is at least far from a proven fact as being so. Scientists with real credentials, some who are even environmental scientists. Also, those who are skeptical because they have seen evidence of data purporting climate change to have been manipulated for apparent political or job-preserving agendas. And they weigh the evidence for potential harm of human based climate change versus the potential economic harm caused by environmental regulation, economic harm which would hit low-income people the greatest because they are the ones who can least afford to take a hit, and they decide the greater good is to curtail environmental regulation where the whole of evidence in their informed opinion is that the overall probability of economic harm is greater than the overall probability of environmental harm. Many of whom are motivated by their Christian values to care for the earth in a responsible fashion and to care for other people, most especially the “least of these”.
And, yes, there are probably those who take on the mantle of fighting climate change and all those who “deny” it for purely, if not at least largely, political reasons. Some who do it with a heavy agenda to belittle those backward evangelical Christians or to advance their political ends in some manner. Some who will routinely use the claim of “settled science” and accuse many of being “science-deniers”, yet they, themselves, actually have done very little research or have very little understanding of the overall science.
Yet there are many others who have sincerely spent some time trying to understand the issue and the science of climate change and have come to the honest conclusion that climate change is a real risk and that we need to do something about the human activity that is believed to be a significant cause of it. They are not primarily motivated by politics or some kind of anti-Christian or anti-conservative agenda, but rather by a concern for the earth and the people who are or will be negatively affected by realized and/or anticipated climate change. Many of whom are motivated by their Christian values to care for the earth in a responsible fashion and to care for other people, most especially the “least of these”.
Nonetheless, we feel like we’re entrenched in another battle of us versus them. The good guys versus the bad guys. The learned and valiant versus the stupid and depraved. And we are none the wiser or better off when we engage in such comportment. In fact, we’re probably worse off in many ways.
Of course, each and every one of us thinks we are right in our stance. We wouldn’t be arguing for such if we didn’t think so. And we very well may have some credible reasons for being confident in our opinions. But just maybe there is some credibility and thoughtfulness to the other side, too. Just maybe we might make more of an impact in getting the other side to see our point of view if we’re first willing to acknowledge where they have reasonable points and mindful concerns. And just maybe if we had the perspective to try to work with the other side as much practically possible rather than to defeat them as much as utterly possible, we may just have a greater overall beneficial impact for all involved.
God help us to do so.
I find this topic to be incredibly difficult to parse.
I’m not an expert in the sciences behind it, nor do I understand all the various arguments.
I do know that once it became a political football, we had little hope of gaining any clarity at all…
Having recently taken a university level course that included several lectures on climate change taught by genuine scientists, featuring charts, graphs and data, I am convinced it is true and that it is caused by human activity.
Some arguments I have heard, and my response:
1. The earth has been here for millions (or thousands) of years and there’s nothing we can do to destroy it.
Answer: The earth will last* but it may become uninhabitable for humans.
2. Scientists change their minds all the time.
Answer: Yes, that’s the nature of scientific investigation. You produce a theory and your peers work it over, looking for flaws. New data improves the accuracy of your theory. The case for climate change is getting stronger each year.
3. God will take care of the earth.
Answer: Actually, this was the first job God gave to humanity: take care of the earth and its plants and critters.
4. It’s been awfully cold around here lately.
Answer: “Climate” is not the same thing as “weather.”
5. The only people who believe in Climate Change are those liberals who want to reduce America to a 3rd world power by destroying our industries.
Answer: Actually, countries that are moving towards non-polluting energy sources are prospering, like Germany.
6. There’s nothing we can do about countries like China.
Answer: China is a world leader in renewable energy. America is the country that produces more green house gases per capita than any other country.
7. I enjoy my lifestyle and don’t want to be bothered by any inconveniences that adopting green energy might place on the nation.
Answer: Christ said with food and raiment be content.
8. The rapture is just around the corner so I’m not worried.
Answer: No comment
* “The Earth will last….” It will last until the end of the age.
I know the climate here has changed,but I don’t know if it’s part of a natural cycle or man made or a combination of both.
I do know that I take the biblical injunction to be a steward of the earth very seriously…
One of the lecturers said he was a bit relieved things were warming up because originally, we were on track for a new ice age.
Now the fact that we were heading towards a new ice age and this was stopped in its tracks…. what stopped it? What caused the abrupt change?
Nicely done Xenia.
Don’t know where I heard this, but something to the effect that “the science of climate change doesn’t care what you think about it. It’s true.”
I am not a scientist, and what informs me from the Bible is, as Xenia said above, that God has entrusted us with ruling over the earth, and I will add, as His image bearers. Therefore, from a Biblical perspective, and so that human beings can be fruitful and multiply, Christians, above all others, should aspire to be wise stewards of the good world that God has blessed us with.
All to often, however, humanity treats the earth and atmosphere as a garbage dump, destroying ecosystems and wildlife, and does not look farther into the future than tomorrow. (I can’t help but wonder there are theological underpinnings to some of this short sightedness and narrow mindedness.)
The biggest thing that annoys me about the climate change debate is that some Christians (1) are anti-intellectual, and therefore are biased against empirical science as their worldview, and (2) they believe their Bible says either (a) humans cannot negatively impact the climate and potentially downgrade significantly human flourishing on earth, or (b) God will rescue us from our foolishness before we cause too much damage.
Good comments y’all!
Xenia, your post #2, item 4 reminds me of the joke (Stephen Colbert?) that goes something like, “What world hunger? I just ate a hamburger today!”
It saddens me that so many people take to the extremes in arguments in this issue. I have friends on both sides of the issue (friends who are scientists btw), and I see a few of them who do resort to ad hominem (spelling?) attacks and ridiculing the “other side”. I have my own views which will not be discussed here because I think the tenor of this post isn’t that we get into a debate on who’s right/wrong. In the spirit of full-disclosure, I do work in the atmospheric sciences and thus have some knowledge of climate dynamics and how the daily weather works – just so you know that I am not some guy sitting on his couch and speculating while watching FOX or MSNBC.
You are welcome to debate if you so please. The spirit of the post is not to avoid debate, but rather to consider how we go about debating/discussing the issue.
As you have real experience and knowledge in the field, I would imagine any contributions you would give to the discussion of the topic would be of real value.
Dan, I would enjoy hearing what you think about these matters. Say on!
Because you know what? I would be thrilled, and so would everyone else, if it turned out climate change isn’t true.
As to it being caused by human activity… If that turns out not to be true, then there’s nothing we can do about it and that’s more frightening although I do believe God will not abandon us.
do people affect climate? of course we do…
growing up in Southern California, what is now the area west of Burbank was all grapes and olives and then came the housing boom of the late 40s and 50s with the resultant lawns, trees and watering schedules, and the average summer temperature out there dropped a good 5 – 10 degrees (i’m sure there’s documentation more accurate somewhere, but i’m “just sayin’ ” … again)
and i have no doubt, no scientific proof at hand, but no doubt that what we’ve done to decimate the rain forests in the southern hemisphere has affected weather patterns – where will the next great desert form?
did civilization create smog? of course it does… and so on
can we do better? we’ve proved that we can and we should, i.e., catalytic converters, scrubbers in smokestacks ‘n such … However…
i am neither a scientists, nor a scholar, but my instincts tell me that much more is at work effecting climate change than just man’s voracious appetites – doesn’t mean we can’t do real damage, but i really don’t think we’re in control of either climate or weather
right now, in this place in time our beloved New World can be wiped out overnight with a few well placed (or misplaced) nuclear weapons, weapons that are at the ready as i type this… so we got troubles – lots of them – i just cannot see climate change as the main problem…
blind, but clairvoyant Em 🙂
if i were going to work to improve “planetary” conditions, the first thing i’d address is the tendency of nations to dump all their mistakes and refuse in the oceans
when one reads in our Bible of planetary conditions as things wind down, there are things described that i used to wonder, how could that transpire? now… sigh… there are indicators that it has begun…
not up to chapter and verse today, but some here know them and could cite them, perhaps
all i can do is agree with Michael’s #3 and, like the Brits, keep calm and carry on 🙂
I take the middle road. Who cares?
I have not heard anyone say what the down side is to climate change?
So, all of the ice caps melt, the sea level raised – you fill in the blank how many feet?
What is the impact? So we lose a mile inland of beach front property and people over the next 150 years need to move inland … so? If Manhattan disappeared, in the larger picture, does it matter? it will be hundred of years from now.
Perhaps at one time Newport Beach was an inland location. We know long before man disrupted the environment 1,000s of species had already disappeared off the face of the earth.
Perhaps now (the next 1,000 years) it is time for the mosquitoes to rule the earth.
Having said that, I am not against measures to clean things up … but I am not wringing my hands over it. But, in 2 weeks I am moving to Arizona that at one time was lush and wet – now it is dry and desolate … what made that difference a million years ago?
Climate change is one of those things that I’m not going to take the time to study for myself. I have to take the expert’s word on this, and they are overwhelmingly pointing in one direction.
If you like nature anyway, as I do, it makes sense to want to keep things beautiful and natural.
If climate change is true, more things will be lost than a few feet of beachfront property.
Your “who cares” is exactly what I expected you to say,
The earth was 3/4 covered with ice at one time. I think you are probably pretty satisfied with the results of that climate change as you reside on the central coast.
Imagine going out to the Farmer’s Market and having to watch out for Sabre Toothed Tigers and Wolley Mamoths. 😉
You are not paying attention when you read – I said mile inland and I also let people fill in the blank as to how far. I even said if Newport Beach disapeared – what if Anaheim became the new beachfront.
Also – would some other creature benefit from climate change and thrive – wouldn’t that be good?
As Christians, we should care. If humans are really causing significant climate change, then we should care because it could bring about many harmful effects for people in the future, with the poor being the most vulnerable to these effects.
For example of projected possible future effects: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/are-effects-global-warming-really-bad
Now that does not mean that every one of us Christians need to get intimately involved in figuring out or taking action on the issue, but we should still care. I have never felt the call to leave my current life and make a new life of feeding and serving the poor in a third world country. But I also don’t say, “Who cares about those people.”
At the same time, if man-made climate change is not real or significant, then we should still care because regulation that we put in place can be very detrimental to people, once again with the poor being the most vulnerable to the effects.
For an alternative viewpoint, and if one has the time or desire to read, here is a well articulated paper written by well credentialed people spelling out the concerns that man-made climate change is not real and that the more regulations we put in place to fight what is not believed to be a real problem, the more harm we inflict upon people, with the poor again being the most affected.
For those who don’t have the ambition to read the 55 page academic paper I just posted, here is a much briefer summary. 🙂
Don’t bite on MLD’s straw man BS. He wants to change the subject. Don’t let him.
Kevin’s article has nothing to do with what God, according to his hidden and inaccessible will was doing with the earth before he planted us or during.
The question is what is a biblical Christian worldview of environmental conservation?
What is our responsibility to our children and grandchildren.
Leave MLD to himself to contemplate saber tooth tigers and ice ages.
Don’t worry Jean, I wasn’t planning of going any further down MLD’s digression.
But I thought his “Who cares” question was a good opportunity to express to anyone reading why we should care.
Collecting my thoughts, but having a hard time codifying some ideas and concepts that I would like to discuss (a struggle I have, which is why I almost never debate with others, no matter the topic – I work better with numbers and theoretical concepts than I do with communicating them – I am no Carl Sagan!).
If only the climate change deniers/doubters would actually read a book on the topic…
“I have not heard anyone say what the down side is to climate change?”
This shows you have never read anything on the subject.
Thoughtful piece… with great responses (especially Xenia). By the way, Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si” is an amazing document…
I am sure that you are just having a bad day of comprehension. I was talking of I have not heard anyone here on the blog offer up any consequences to climate change.
I also said “Having said that, I am not against measures to clean things up ”
But then I will ask all the ‘goodie two shoes’ here – so what have you done today to clean up the environment – sell your gas powered car and but an electric? Have you gone solar? Are you willing to stop buying from countries that do pollute massively – China for example?
Cleaning up your garbage is a start. Not tossing cigarette butts out your window is a start.
I walk to the store and church as often as practical and we have compact cars. We cannot afford an electric car at this time. I try to avoid products from China and make extensive use of thrift shops. I have a compost pile and gardens. I make most of our food from scratch. We belong to a
“If only the climate change deniers/doubters would actually read a book on the topic…”
And thanks, Rob, for capably demonstrating my point of how we just love to throw insults at the other side.
I walk to the store and church as often as practical and we have compact cars. We cannot afford an electric car at this time. I try to avoid products from China and make extensive use of thrift shops. I have a compost pile and gardens. I make most of our food from scratch. We belong to a CSA (community supported agriculture). I make most of the presents I give.
I volunteer in the community and work with a conservation group.
Sorry about the repeat
We have chickens and fruit trees. I do not ever use pesticides or herbicides.
” Not tossing cigarette butts out your window is a start.” I am in CA – your are not allowed to smoke here – you are worse than a climate denier if you are caught smoking.
But seriously, I am all for not littering and cleaning up you mess … but I was for that long before the ice caps melted.
No solar because our roof is not the right shape and it’s overcast here most of the time.
Cow farts add to the carbon and break down the ozone.
Meat eating in destroying the planet faster than anything else. – I know because my daughter and son in law became vegan last year.
Yes, you are correct about the deleterious effects of over consumption of meat.
Solution: observe the Orthodox fasting schedule and you won’t be eating meat for half the year.
let’s see… snatches i’ve picked up from the man made climate change responsibility deny-ers… solar flares, massive volcanic activity under the Pacific Ocean, researched history of cycles in earth’s temperature, catastrophic comet impacts, the layers of the earth’s atmosphere are still under study…
one thing i know for sure – nuclear power plants are terrible and not a good source of clean energy … this is one cause for which i’ll join the march
from everything i’ve heard, we must give up all modern day comforts if we wish to save the planet
food, raiment and one of Paul’s good tents and be satisfied, i guess …
but no camels, cows or horses – they pollute 🙂
MLD, you are awesome!
meat eating isn’t destroying the planet, an over population of deer may be, tho that and corporate farms…
oh and i heard on the news today that some disease (can’t remember what) is growing in this country due to the increase in backyard poultry – seems people tend to kiss their chickens … say what?
i don’t mean to make light of the concerns here… well, maybe… just seems like a matter too big for human control… i remember when my daughter’s pediatrician said that he didn’t want her vaccinated for smallpox because it had virtually been eliminated from the U.S. – the odds were greater now (1968) that she’d suffer damage from the inoculation than from the disease … hmmm
that said, we do our best to obey the signs to “Keep Washington Green” and i guess we keep the other Washington green also or so our taxes make it seem … dunno
MLD, I live in GA and this state is filthy (sorry GA Chamber of Commerce but it’s true). Cigarette butts, those plastic toothpicks, Chick fill A bags – everywhere. I come from MN where it’s a lot cleaner, so like you I kind of grew up with the cleaning up mindset as well.
Even if the direction of the climate is uncertain, it is abundantly clear that we have polluted the atmosphere. We ought to work towards less pollution even if it doesn’t affect the climate.
So if MLD is moving to Arizona in 2 weeks (comment #13), do we have to rename him the Phoenix Lutheran???
Or is MLD going out there to join Mark Driscoll’s church?
1.) I had to find a state with a little red in it – too much blue in CA 😉
2.) Lake Havasu City – time to boat and fish in the evenings.
Our climate is changing- it is obviously not static. How much is man-caused is the more complex issue. Our planet’s history includes some huge temperature spikes upward and down, causing massive die-offs of plants and animals. I just hope we aren’t significantly contributing to another of those spikes.
Enjoy your new life in the desert. You will certainly become more red if you stay outside for any length of time.
1970s – Coming ice age
1980s – Acid Rain
1990s – Ozone layer depletion
2000s – Global Warming
2010s – Climate change
I see a pattern here.
Look, I am all for being a good steward. However, I am not so sure of how much change man is responsible for. Remember, cow farts and their effect on the atmosphere was studied once, I believe.
Point being, let’s not all panic and I agree with the comment that once it became political, i.e. money, jobs, and tenure on the line, any clarity was lost.
Lastly, remember science is trying to makes sense of all this on a global scale, not easily done with just computers and data imput. I am not saying it can’t be done, but this is scaling on a global magnitude, not model ship building.
+ What happened to stop the advance of the predicted ice age? (Increase in carbon output)
+ What happened to decrease the amount of acid rain?
+ What measures were taken to protect the ozone layer?
+ What measures will we take to slow down global warming?
The point here is that there were threats to the environment, as you have noted, but measures were taken to stop these threats. Yes, I see a pattern but maybe not the same one you see.
The pattern I see is that each time the purveyors of panic were out in full force.
Interesting that carbon output was good then. but is now too much. Also, if we had that much carbon, how did that affect acid rain?
See, when trying to model this we are not talking about model planes, this is a global scale, which is larger than all the researchers in the world combined.
Agreed, we don’t see the same pattern. I see too much panic and politicizing of the debate.
Also, if you really want to get anywhere you will need China and India to stop building coal plants and breakneck speed, as well as, cut down their waste.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for good stewardship, I just see too much of what’s in it for me, to get any real traction anywhere in the world.
As an aside, why aren’t we stopping all the defecating on railroad tracks in India before we worry about another coal plant in Nebraska.
From the above report, near the end:
Coal now provides 80 percent of China’s electricity, and national electricity demand doubled between 2000 and 2006. As a result, China’s economic development, environment, and public health are severely affected: for example, only 1 percent of urban Chinese breathe air that meets European air quality standards. Coal generation also leads to the build up of toxic metals, such as mercury, in water supplies and on agricultural fields throughout China.
China’s carbon dioxide emissions are on the rise and are expected to exceed total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions shortly, although Chinese per-capita emissions remain about one-sixth those of the United States. Nuclear power provides just 7 GW of China’s electric capacity, and even with the additional plants planned in the next few decades, it is unlikely to provide more than 5 percent of the country’s electricity.
When I ask “who cares” it is to point to the fact there are more important issues than climate change and it seems for now, only Spain has addressed it.
#53 – made me smile… the sign looks like a prohibition of exhibition of a sort
the subject of climate change i’m pretty sure is above the control of the human race… however, we can control environmental impacts from emissions and so many other careless and/or greedy profit making and corner cutting outcomes that the public is now subject to
as i think OCDan observed, there are people living very comfortably now from hoodwinking some bureaucrat into granting them large sums of money to “develop” clean energy projects … wasted on boondoggles such as subsidizing the large scale manufacture of wind turbines (well, maybe not wasted as they’ve proved those windmills to not be a very good idea for a number of reasons)
all those dollars could have been used to figure out a way to produce energy from tidal flows, which is still struggling to get off the ground
just my opinion from where i sit – sitting, watching the river rushing by on its way to the hydroelectric dam just down the road 🙂
It still boggles my mind that people like Al Gore can tell me I need to pay for carbon tax credits, etc. while living in a 27,000 sq. ft. home or DiCaprio flying all over the world to tell me about climate change.
Sheesh. Get a grip. I won’t call them hypocrites, but it is close.
Another thing, if the large Texas-size mass of plastic in the Pacific is so bad why doesn’t one of these really rich guys get an old oil tanker and collect it all and recycle what can be recycled and destroy the rest. Goes for that island in the Pacific where so much is washed up. Done right I bet there is some serious money to be made. I would but I don’t think I can rent an old oil tanker. My credit card isn’t large enough. Yeah no takers among the ruling elites. Thought so. I am so tired of this issue.
I think the larger issue is going to be population and not in the sense of environment. My thinking is that Asia is still growing. Where are the jobs going to come from for these people? Forget even living an American-standard style, just plain living.
OCDan, I remember reading an article about Gore’s opulent house and then compared it with President Bush’s house. The Bush house in Crawford was extremely energy efficient.
Let me see if I can find that article.
Here’s a Snope’s article that compares the 2 houses.
I miss President Bush. 🙁
Never thought I’d say I miss Bush, either. I wasn’t much of a fan.
But compared to President Insanity, he’s looking pretty good right now!
Shoot, I miss Spiro Agnew!
#60 – lol I need a chuckle today, thanks