“An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming” states,
“Some people claim repeatedly that melting sea ice, an increase in global-average temperatures, stronger storms, more floods, and more droughts are occurring due to humanity’s burning of fossil fuels. But how many of these changes are real versus imagined? And of those that are real, how much, if at all, can they be attributed to human activities? Indeed, there have been some significant climatic changes in recent decades. For instance, the normal summer melt-back of Arctic sea ice has increased in the 30 years during which we have had satellites to monitor this remote region of the Earth. There has also been a slow and irregular warming trend of global-average temperatures over the last 50 to 100 years—the same period of time the carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the atmosphere has increased.
But correlation does not mean causation, and there has been a tendency in the media to overlook research suggesting that these recent changes are, in fact, related to natural cycles in the climate system rather than to atmospheric CO2 increases from fossil fuel use. That changes occur does not mean human beings are responsible. There is good evidence that most of the warming of the past 150 years is due to natural causes. The belief that climate change is anthropogenic (human-caused) and will have catastrophic consequences is highly speculative.”
Notice that the Cornwall Alliance does not deny that “there have been some significant climatic changes in recent decades,” and they even talk about the spectacular melting of Arctic sea ice and the irregular warming trend of global-average temperatures over the last 50 to 100 years. But they dismiss that this is human-caused, even though this occurred at the same time the industrialized world provided major increases in carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels.
They suggest a different view of the data:
“Recent progress in climate research suggests that:
1. Observed warming and purported dangerous effects have been overstated.
2. Earth’s climate is less sensitive to the addition of CO2 than the alleged scientific consensus claims it to be, which means that climate model predictions of future warming are exaggerated.
3. Those climate changes that have occurred are consistent with natural cycles driven by internal changes in the climate system itself, external changes in solar activity, or both.
In fact, given that CO2 in the atmosphere is necessary for life on Earth to exist, it is likely that more CO2 will be beneficial. This possibility is rarely discussed because many environmental activists share the quasi-religious belief that everything mankind does hurts the environment. Yet, if we objectively analyze the scientific evidence, we find good evidence that more CO2 could lead to greater abundance and diversity of life on Earth."
I don’t claim to be a scientist, and I’m sure that the scientists that the Cornwall Alliance cites are reputable. However, it must be said (and this always gets the roll-of-the-eyes from those who side with Cornwall) that the overwhelming majority of scientists who specialize in this area have not only clearly documented the steady rise in global temperatures over the last fifty years, but they also project that the average global temperature will continue to rise in the coming decades and they attribute most of the warming to human activities. "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," concluded the 600 scientists who were engaged in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report, Climate Change 2007 (AR4). There is at least a 90% likelihood that the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is causing longer droughts, more flood-causing downpours and worse heat waves.
What is it with Evangelicals and their skepticism and even cynicism toward the scientific community? Perhaps it dates back to the Scopes Trial (1925), and the ongoing fight over Evolution being taught in the public schools. Over the past 85 years, evangelicals (and especially those on the more conservative side of the movement, what can be called, for the lack of a better term, the Fundamentalists) have been trained to have antagonism toward scientists.
And this cynicism toward them rears its head in the supporting document from Cornwall Alliance, "A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor." In chapter 2, entitled, “The Science of Global Warming,” they write,
“While climate models have come a long way, and many of them do a reasonably good job of mimicking average aspects of today’s climate system, their ability to predict anthropogenic global warming and any changes associated with it has been overstated.
There are so many adjustable variables in climate models that the modeler must, at some point, decide that the amount of global warming produced by the model looks “about right.” Then, when modelers get together to compare results, there is peer pressure not to be an outlier—that is, the model producing the most warming or the least warming. This then causes the different models to converge to average—the result of ‘group think.’
Furthermore, scientists are people, and it is human nature to think we know more than we really do about our area of expertise. That tendency, combined with natural idealism—who wouldn’t want to be part of an international effort to ‘save the planet’?—suggests that there is ample opportunity for scientists’ biases to influence the results of scientific research. Climate models are indeed fairly spectacular inventions—but that does not mean they are up to the task of predicting the future state of the climate system.”
This is the same argument that those who advocate for Intelligent Design over against Darwinism have used: Scientists abdicate to “peer-pressure” and “group-think;” they get so caught up in being the experts and that they have already found the scientific truth, that they dismiss any contrary scientific evidence. I find this parallel very interesting.
And the recent scandal of hacked emails and documents from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia adds fuel to the fire that these scientists are ungodly people out for their own gain and the destruction of all that Americans hold dear.
But I think I agree with what conservative columnist Michael Gerson, George W. Bush’s former speechwriter, recently wrote in his Washington Post column,
“The hacked climate e-mails reveal a scandal, not a hoax. Even if every question raised in these e-mails were conceded, the cumulative case for global climate disruption would be strong. The evidence is found not only in East Anglian computers but also in changing crop zones, declining species, melting ice sheets and glaciers, thinning sea ice and rising sea levels. No other scientific theory explains these changes as well as global warming related to the rise in greenhouse gas emissions since the Industrial Revolution.”
Do All Evangelicals Hold to a Conservative Political Viewpoint on Economics?
Other posts of interest on "Global Warming:"
Evangelicals Divided Over Climate Change
Things We Can Affirm in Cornwall Alliance's Declaration
Imago Dei is More than "Dominion"
Cornwall Alliance's Denial of the Power of the FallCornwall Alliance’s “Christian Worldview”: Free Market Capitalism