December 14, 2009
'Twas the week before Copenhagen, and all 'round the world, climate realists chuckled with delight. "Climategate! Climategate! What can we do with climategate?!" Well, among other things, drive a nail in the coffin of global warming alarmism, and file a lawsuit against a federal agency for misuse of federal research grants and evasion of the Freedom of Information Act.
Aside from being a lovely old city in Denmark, Copenhagen is also the location of COP-15, the fifteenth "Conference of the Parties" to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Before the conference ends on Dec. 18, negotiators will try to hammer out a treaty requiring massive reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to prevent allegedly dangerous global warming.
And what's "climategate"? The nickname for the release, by an inside whistleblower or an external hacker, of thousands of emails, computer code, and other documents from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in England. They expose serious scientific malfeasance—fabrication, corruption, destruction, hiding, and cherry-picking of data, not to mention intimidation and blackballing. The leaked information even includes physical threatening of dissenting scientists and journal editors—by scientists not just at CRU but also at major climate research centers around the world.
Why is climategate important? Among other things, because it undermines the case for dangerous manmade global warming—which was never strong anyway and was collapsing under discoveries of multiple and powerful natural drivers of climate change. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relies heavily on data generated by CRU, as do other climate alarmists around the world.
Furthermore, some of the conduct (especially Freedom of Information Act evasion and destruction of publicly funded research data) may be criminal. Ironically, the documents also expose the fact that key climate alarmists were in the pocket of big oil (precisely where they always accuse climate realists of being). Perhaps most importantly, this news jeopardizes the integrity of science across the board. Science is nothing without transparency and the open sharing of data and source code so that other scientists can test findings and confirm or refute them. Climategate shows that the inner circle of the world's most influential climate alarmist scientists has systematically, habitually and arrogantly flouted that scientific principle.
Finally, 'twas the week before Copenhagen, and the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation stayed right on track. "Who needs climategate? We already have a solid case against dangerous manmade global warming." Climategate doesn't really provide us with any new revelations on climate change science. We already had that information.
On Dec. 3, the Cornwall Alliance released two landmark documents, An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming and A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science, and Economics of Global Warming.
In a three-part radio program Saturday, December 5, Richard Land discussed the Declaration, the Renewed Call to Truth, climategate, and Copenhagen with me.
The short Declaration affirms several important facts about our world. First, that Earth and its ecosystems—created by God's intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence—are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting. These systems are admirably suited for human flourishing, and for displaying His glory. Earth's climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history.
Secondly, abundant, affordable energy is indispensable to human flourishing. This is particularly vital to societies which are rising out of abject poverty and the high rates of disease and premature death that accompany it. With present technologies, fossil and nuclear fuels are indispensable if energy is to be abundant and affordable.
Third, mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, achievable mainly by greatly reduced use of fossil fuels, will greatly increase the price of energy and harm economies.
Finally, the Declaration affirms that forced reduction of fossil fuels will harm the poor more than others. The poor spend a higher percentage of their income on energy and desperately need economic growth to rise out of poverty and overcome its miseries.
The Declaration pointedly disagrees with some of the popular notions of climate change policy. To start with, it denies that Earth and its ecosystems are the fragile and unstable products of chance, and particularly that Earth's climate system is vulnerable to dangerous alteration because of minuscule changes in atmospheric chemistry. Recent warming was neither abnormally large nor abnormally rapid. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.
Alternative, renewable fuels cannot, even with present or near-term technology, replace fossil and nuclear fuels, either wholly or in significant part, to provide the abundant, affordable energy necessary to sustain prosperous economies or overcome poverty.
We cannot agree with global warming proponents that carbon dioxide—essential to all plant growth—is a pollutant. Reducing greenhouse gases cannot achieve significant reductions in future global temperatures, and the costs of the policies would far exceed the benefits. Such policies, which amount to a regressive tax, do not comply with the Biblical requirement of protecting the poor from harm and oppression.
The Declaration does call on all Christians to practice creation stewardship out of Biblical conviction, adoration for our Creator, and love for our fellow man—especially the poor. Christian leaders need to understand the truth about climate change and embrace Biblical thinking, sound science and careful economic analysis in creation stewardship, while political leaders must adopt policies that protect human liberty, make energy more affordable and free the poor to rise out of poverty. We have to do this while abandoning fruitless -indeed, harmful! - policies to control global temperature.
We've included solid support for these ideas is in the Renewed Call to Truth. What kinds of support?
Theological: For example, belief that increasing carbon dioxide from 0.027% to 0.039% of the atmosphere will drive Earth's climate into catastrophic warming, threatening the destruction of human civilization and millions of species extinctions, rests on the assumption that Earth is the product of blind chance. But the Bible affirms that Earth was designed and is made sustained by a wise, omnipotent God, implying that our planet is robust, self-regulating, self-correcting and shouldn't be jeopardized by any such slight influence (Genesis 1:31; 8:21-22).
Scientific: For example, the finding from satellite observation of cloud response to surface temperature changes that Earth's climate feedbacks are overwhelmingly negative, not positive. This is contrary to every computer model on which alarmists depend for predictions of catastrophe. Rather than magnifying the hypothetical 2.16 degrees Fahrenheit warming from doubled carbon dioxide to 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit or more, they reduce it by about 58 percent, to 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit or less. This confirms the Biblical recognition that the Earth, like the human body, is "fearfully and wonderfully made."
Economic: For example, the recognition that drastic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions could be made only at a cost of trillions of dollars, millions of jobs and the slowing or halting of economic progress among the world's poorest people. This kind of action would condemn them to more generations of disease and premature death.
As global warming alarmism reaches a fever pitch and world leaders and activists in Copenhagen press for a global warming treaty, now is the time for Christians to make their voices heard. We are seeking signatures for the Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming. You can be confident that it represents outstanding theology, science, and economics.
E. Calvin Beisner is national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and helped found the WeGetIt.org Campaign, an effort to gather one million signatures of Christians concerned that global warming policy will hurt the poor.