Friday, February 29, 2008

Good intentions are not enough

Several prominent Evangelicals have taken strong public stands on global warming, arguing that Christians have an obligation to support policies that will reduce it. Richard Cizik, head lobbyist for the NAE, is perhaps the most vocal.

Christians should take stands on matters of public policy, but when the correct position cannot be determined without reference to complex, and perhaps unknowable, technical information, caution is in order.

The man-made disaster may not be what is produced by greenhouse gases but, rather, what we do to reduce them.

First Things posts an account by Thomas Sieger Derr of a debate he had with Cizik on the subject and, in the course of the article, he summarizes many of the problems with the arguments of the global warming true believers.
.... I then ran through my litany of objections to the reigning paradigm that human activity is causing dangerous global warming: the earth’s long history of natural climate swings; the probability that solar cycles are the principle driver of warming and cooling periods; the fact that climate swings do not correspond to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere; the fact that glaciers grow and recede all the time and their melting will not cause serious sea level rise; that rising temperatures will not cause more severe storms; the fact that warming will save more lives than a cooling planet and be otherwise beneficial. ....

.... any serious effort to reduce emissions by any significant amount, let alone the 60-80% called for by the European Union and some of our presidential candidates, would destroy economies all over the world and condemn the poor to perpetual poverty – which is why China and India will have nothing to do with emissions caps. .... Economic growth
, which requires energy, and is not possible if greenhouse emissions are severely curtailed, is what will permit us to adapt to the climate changes which nature has always produced naturally and which we cannot stop.

.... Conservation and environmental cleanliness are worthy goals which I fully support; and they can be, and are, addressed by mostly sensible public policies. But cutting “greenhouse gas” emissions drastically would be an epic disaster. ....

Frankly, if I wanted to worry about climate change, I would worry about global cooling again, since the sun is behaving very weakly just now, and sun-watching scientists have even dared to suggest that a reprise of the Little Ice Age is in the offing. Maybe earth is already cooling. We’ve had ten years without a temperature rise, and this past winter, in both hemispheres, has marked a substantial downturn. And the sea ice is back, both in the Arctic and Antarctic. It’s too soon to tell if this is the beginning of a long trend, and we’d better hope it isn’t. But we have no more control over that than we do over warming.

.... My final word, then as now, is this: Global warming is slight, is natural, cannot be stopped, and is on the whole beneficial. Trying seriously to stop it would waste billions of dollars that ought to be spent addressing real human needs.
It was a debate, and I have left out Derr's description of Cizik's part in it. That can be found here.

First Things » Blog Archive » Debating Mr. Cizik

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