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Dec 27, 2006

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Dana Ames

It's interesting to me that the spike in temperature during late medieval period corresponds with the time frame including development of banking, letters of credit, increased travel and the beginning of global exploration, etc. Except for the plague coming along (!) it was a good time for Europe.

Dana

Michael W. Kruse

Interesting observations. I don't know that I have ever read anything on how climate change might have affected by various periods in European history. There is a dissertation in there somewhere. :)

David M. Smith

Hi Michael,

Very well written and reasoned piece. I loved it.

Michael W. Kruse

Thanks David!

Ted Gossard

Michael, I'm not sure your critique of Gore's demonstration proves anything. Just as I'm not sure Gore and the scientists prove anything either. But I was led to understand that the data and measuring of it in Gore's case was according to scientific peer review and data, according to their work, and all such published work received there was unanimous. Again, I know that doesn't prove they're right. But neither do conflicting views prove them to be wrong, because if that were the case, scientists would be much more divided on this issue than they are.

Maybe we are just abandoning a mini-ice age. Maybe our dumping (I use colorful language here, which indicates my bias)into land, air and sea is improving. Worldwide, and even here in many places, I'm not so sure.

Thanks for presenting the other side of what debate there is. It doesn't seem to be much of a debate at all among scientists, but among others, from what I understand.

Michael Kruse

Hi Ted.

You wrote:

"But I was led to understand that the data and measuring of it in Gore's case was according to scientific peer review and data, according to their work, and all such published work received there was unanimous."

And this is one of the biggest lies Gore tells in his presentation while technically telling the truth.

First, we have to be clear about one thing. Has the temperature been warming over the past century? Yes. The issue is not the warming but what is causing it. More specifically, is it anthropogenic (human caused)?

Second, I have gone back an examined the article Gore referenced in the movie. What Gore does not tell you is that in about 25% of the articles examined (and I am working from memory here), no mention of anthropogenic warming is made. In other words, if I wrote an article showing the correlation between sun spots and temperature change and made no mention of anthropogenic warming, then my article would fall into Gore’s list of articles that don’t “contradict” anthropogenic warming because I didn’t show it was not the case.

Furthermore, I have read articles in some scientific journals that focus on some aspect of global warming and say things like “…while there is likely some anthropogenic contribution…,” meaning that the report believes the contribution may be marginal or negligible. Again, this article fits into Gore’s “no Contradiction list.” Is the contribution 1%? 10%? 50%? 100%?

Third, you can’t prove a negative. How can anyone conclusively prove that anthropogenic warming is not happening? Yet as long as someone leaves that door open they are in Gore’s “non-contradiction” list.

Fourth, science is not done by consensus. Climatologist George H. Taylor, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists also observes:

“But even if there actually were a consensus on this issue, it may very well be wrong. I often think about the lives of three scientists who found themselves by themselves, on the "wrong side of consensus." There have been many in the history of science, but I singled out Alfred Wegener (Continental Drift), Gilbert Walker (El Niño), and J. Harlan Bretz (Missoula Floods). None is well-known now among members of the public, and all of them were ridiculed, rejected, and marginalized by the "consensus" scientists -- and each of the three was later proven to be correct, and the consensus wrong. As a well-known writer once said, "if it's consensus, it isn't science -- and if it's science, it isn't consensus."”

Science is done by establishing a model that can explain a vast array of variables and can predict future events. With climatology we are dealing with five subsystems:

a) atmosphere
b) oceans
c) ice - covered regions (cryosphere)
d) land masses (lithosphere)
e) plant and animal life (biosphere).

There is no agreed upon model that integrates these five subsystems. In fact, among the those insistent about anthropogenic warming, are models that make assumptions that contradict each other at critical points. Therefore, to the degree there is a consensus, it is a consensus of opinions not a scientifically established model. Opinion is not science.

Finally, science is a human enterprise that despite even the best efforts of scientists, it is not objective. It is often tainted by the vested interests of the scientists. This affects what is studied and what is not studied. Climate change study began in earnest in the 1970s (predicting an ensuing ice age from greenhouse gasses until about 1990) and has become big business over the past two decades. Some scientists now have their entire careers invested in this science. Meanwhile the web of funders, government and scientists are enmeshed in an interdependent set of relationships that demands the care, feeding, and protection of the paradigm they have created.

Gore’s movie is very well done piece of propaganda. It cleverly uses facts and partial truths to demagogue and trivialize all dissenters into silence. Because there is already considerable animus toward the people Gore lays the blame on (Republicans, people who believe in economic freedom) Gore knows that he will be given a pass on his numerous misrepresentations. All dissenters are either quirky or evil. It is the classic tactic of demagogues throughout the ages.

I wrote:

“We also can not turn a blind to eye to the impact "greenhouse gases" might have locally and globally. It is reasonable to conclude that excessive production of such gases could have a net negative effect on humanity and efforts to reduce them are warranted. That said, the apocalyptic claims of impending doom are overblown.”

There may indeed be some serious bad effects from human behavior. Let us move forward prudently according to what we know. But as Christians let us not overstate the realities and align ourselves with demagoguery to advance our own proclivities. That is one of my chief concerns.

Ted Gossard

Michael, Thanks for your reply. I think you answer my objections or defense quite well.

I am concerned on the lack of concern Christians often seem to have about pollution and our care of the environment and creation. But your points are well taken. Thanks.

I do wonder, do you know anything about Gore's assertion as to the potential rising of the oceans 20 feet, with half of the melting of Greenland and Antarctica (I believe it is)? Thanks again.

David M. Smith

Hi Michael,

Your response to Ted’s question was as excellent as your original post.

Hi Ted [and Michael],

Are you ever concerned that Christians and others are too concerned with the environment? Did your heart grieve when DDT was banned internationally leading to the death from malaria of thousands and thousands of people?

Are you concerned with the burden placed on the poor when fuel prices increase due to increased regulations and restrictions on fuel production?

Are you ever concerned with environmentalism getting in the way of going forth and multiplying; both bodies and souls for eternity?

David M. Smith

BTW Ted,

Since you mentioned here and at RedBlueChristian that we should defer to experts regarding global warming, did you read Michael's other piece titled: "So what happened at AGU last week?" Kevin Vranes

It seems some experts are concerned that global warming has been oversold as a serious long term threat.

Ted Gossard

David, I am for an even-handed approach that takes into consideration everything, and is arrived at by a broad consensus, both nationally and internationally.

I do believe that as Christians, we are stewards of God's good creation he has given to us, that we're not only to multiply (ultimately, people for the kingdom of God), but we're to rule over in the sense of being good stewards of the earth. And I think the dumping of toxins in the air, land and water is something we should work in decreasing, especially when there is clear evidence of health problems occuring because of such practice.

This is just one part of what we ought to be concerned about as Christians. I don't think we should make it, as the Church, a major issue, except in those cases that clearly seem connected with human health. And David, as you say, it is fine for Christians as individuals to work on these kind of issues, according to our various vocational gifts, I believe.

David M. Smith

Thanks Ted, I agree with you, but I sometimes worry we are majoring in minors and minoring in majors.

Ted Gossard

One more thing I might add to this.

In spite of the idea that this is just another cycle, and we're now leaving a mini-ice age, so that there should be no cause for alarm, all of which may be true....

I would ask, if humans are possibly contributing to the earth warming, or to "global warming", then shouldn't we work as nations in decreasing it?

And it does matter that the polar bear is called an endangered species. Maybe there were some political and legal matters that forced the Bush administration to so act here, in making that declaration. But the melting of the ice caps, north and south, should concern scientists who study habitat. Yes, they'll be wrong in some things, but I would argue that if it's possible we humans can alleviate the problems, then let's do so.

My view of God's creation and redemption is interrelated. Redemption is unto the new creation but it is the changing of the old into the new. So this means everything in the old is special and is from God, and is important in God's eyes. This is what I believe.

Ted Gossard

Thanks, David. And thanks Michael, as well.

A good read on the review of the Gore movie, by Don Bosch as well, Michael.

Michael Kruse

David and Ted, I think you are articulating the discussion that needs to be engaged.

Personally, I read Genesis and that God made creation and called it good. God values creation for its own sake. He placed as his stewards over his creation and because he values it so should we. The words "subdue" and "dominion" are not calls to careless destruction but to take that which is "wild" and nurture it into something more fruitful.

Humanity is the height of God's creation and that means humanity is God's most cherished creation. Therefore, so should it be for us. The challenge is to discern what is best for humanity as we also act as stewards over the rest of creation. It is both/and.

There has too often been a tendency to view creation purely as "raw materials" for something else. Yet too much of the environmentalist movement views humanity as a parasite rather than seeing each individual as one more steward to bring creation more toward its fruition. I think many of the debates are about false either/or choices.

Personally, doing what we can in developed nations to reduce excessive greenhouse gasses (technically not pollution as plants consider CO2 air) and pollution. But much of the answer also lies in lifting the billions of poor out of poverty. Deforestation and disregard for the environment due bear survival living also contributes. While pollution tends to increase per capita up to about $3,000 a year it begins to decline significantly thereafter. As people's lives become more stable they turn much more of their energy toward environmental concerns.

It is a complex problem but as Christians I want to be clear about my biblical mandate and skillfully separating propaganda by vested interests from what is actually happening.

Gore isn't the only culprit in this debate and it isn't only his perspective that engages these tactics. It is just that he has done a masterful job of using the tactic in my estimation.

Peace!

Michael Kruse

"I do wonder, do you know anything about Gore's assertion as to the potential rising of the oceans 20 feet, with half of the melting of Greenland and Antarctica (I believe it is)?"

I have read several reviews of Gore's movie and I have yet to determine where he got 20 ft. (If someone else reading this knows I would love a source.) Scientific critics I have read say the literature places a worst case scenario at almost 3 ft. That is not inconsequential but it is not 20 ft.

Some climate specialist believe that while warming will melt ice it will also increase the amount of the earth that gets regular rainfall, thus dispersing the water over wider areas of the planet. It is also true that the temperature is staying relatively constant at the equator and warming at the poles. Furthermore, the recent trend seems to be little increase in temperature during the summers but less cold during the winters. Add extra CO2 to the mix and you have the potential for a much greater arable land mass with optimum conditions for vegetation. (CO2 is to plants as Oxygen is to us.)

I should also point out the Gore's claims of species depletion is based on a study done of one island and then the results are extrapolated to make general conclusions. Other studies do not indicate nearly the level of damage Gore projects.

Again, the changes are a complex mixed bag of tradeoffs. I don't wish to minimize the impact on species like polar bears and suggest we shouldn't try to assist. But the apocalyptic vision Gore gives just doesn't wash.

Ted Gossard

Thanks, Michael. I appreciate all the digging and finding you do.

Michael Kruse

You are welcome Ted. I always appreciate your challenging questions!

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