Re: [asa] Theology of AGW WAS The Climate Science Isn't Settled

From: Christine Smith <christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed Dec 02 2009 - 13:16:16 EST

Hi all,

Oooh...so much to respond to...such a fun topic!! :)

Schwarzwald wrote:
"See, I don't think "lack of professionalism" really sums up those emails. Wearing a t-shirt with an obscene picture on it to the office is arguably a lack of professionalism. When references are being made to getting rid of data, trying to keep data away from skeptics, "tribalism", attempting to control the peer review process, talking about redefining peer review to keep certain papers out, etc, that's closer to "corruption"."

I can see where you're coming from, and I grant that on the surface, these emails do *appear* to show corruption. But when you move beyond "lack of professionalism" to "corruption" or something to that effect, you have now levied a charge against someone's integrity. I don't make such charges lightly, and would prefer to go the "innocent until proven guilty" route, seeing as I don't have any direct personal knowledge of the situation. 

Schwarzwald wrote:
"The way this reads to me is, "alright, we may be uncertain about whether this will be bad, or to what extent it will be bad - but damnit, whatever's going to happen will happen so we better do something about it now!" And yes, I know someone can come up with a vivid description of potential horrible climate change patterns, etc. History is filled with people who spoke of terrifying scenarios if their superficially reasonable suspicions bore fruit. And it should be clear that once we're starting to talk about these judgments, were really have left science behind in large part."

If I sounded alarmist, that was not my intent. It seems that our difference here is a difference in how to handle uncertainty. If you were the policy maker presented with this information, you would say something like "let's not tinker with the status quo because that might have negative economic impacts, until we're really, really certain about the specific scenarios we're facing" Whereas in the same position, I would react something like "well, the science isn't 100% certain, but our best scientific data from the past several decades indicates we may have some serious problems at hand if we do nothing. As the policies we would need to implement would likely be helpful in the long-run anyway, let's pursue climate change regulations." Do you think that's a fair assessment of our different perspectives?

Schwarzwald wrote:
"I'm more than comfortable leaving "competitiveness" almost entirely to the marketplace as opposed to the government.

And really, I think that's one of the biggest problems I have with the AGW policy debate. Conveniently, so many of the policies that people want imposed by force of government just so happen to be policies that they'd be pushing for regardless of AGW anyway. People should be eating this instead of that, they should be walking instead of driving, they should value one thing over another, they should be giving up money so other people who have been judged to "need it more" should have it, the government should be helping people make the "right" choices, etc."

I understand in part where you're coming from. I certainly don't want to the government imposing a rule saying I can't eat meat, or that by force of law I must walk to work everyday (25 miles would be a long walk!). But I don't think that's what anyone is suggesting. I think the suggestion is to address an externality to our economic system (I presume you know what externalities are?) - here we have a potential, significant cost to society, that the market does not place a value on. Therefore, the market cannot properly manage the risk and society will eventually (assuming that climate change predictions are accurate) have those costs imposed on us in ways that may be extremely unpleasant and will not be easily accomodated by the market in the future. Therefore, it seems good for the government to change the market framework so that a cost to this externality is assigned, and then the market can properly adapt to it and manage it in a way that harnesses
 the market's creative power and efficiency. In practical terms, if you place a price on greenhouse gases (whether through taxes or cap/trade), you're only forcing the market to address to climate change in general terms, you're not dictating how the market should respond in specific terms.

One more point here, more in terms of political theory. What I don't understand about this viewpoint is the faith that is placed in the free market as opposed to the government. To be blunt, neither system is perfect or foolproof. Both systems can become corrupted, and both systems are inhabited by many people - some with noble aspirations and some who are corrupt. The difference is that the marketplace - specifically, captialism - encourages greed through "enlightened self-interest" and the "invisible hand", and the only accountabilty that corporate executives are subject to (besides laws, obviously) are shareholders - and shareholder power is determined by wealth. In contrast, although government encourages corruption through the exercise of power, it is also designed to be a reflection of (and the exercise of) the people's will, and in that way, takes on the dimension of public service. Moreover, our leaders are directly accountable to everyone (not
 just the wealthy) through our vote and the public participation/comment processes. Although it would be wrong to have blind faith in either system, I tend to place more faith in the government's actions on behalf of the people, than the market's influence on the evolution of society (Note to Greg: I am using the term "evolution" here generically to mean something akin to "unfolding change" - please don't respond with another post about how you feel the term is being abused in the social sciences).

Cameron wrote:
"The movers and shakers of the Kyoto Accord thought exactly as you do.  They were willing to allow Third World countries exemptions from Kyoto targets, on the grounds of "fairness" to the poor nations.  After all, so the reasoning went, the Western countries had had their industrial revolution, and had become wealthy, while pumping out CO2 and damaging the environment; why shouldn't the Third World countries have their chance to get wealthy, and be allowed a little environmental spoilage in the process?  Thus, a sort of "Western guilt" over Third World poverty, a notion of "we have to square up on the economics before we get tough on CO2 levels with the Asians" ruled the day. No one, of course, noticed the complete illogic of this sort of reasoning...The CO2 emissions from *every* country have to be reduced immediately -- no exemptions for the Third World countries, especially not for major polluters like China."

I think you're reading too much into my post. I don't experience "western guilt" about 3rd world poverty - indeed, much of their poverty has nothing to do with us. I simply express a deep concern for them because that is Christ's example to us.

Regarding the Kyoto Protocol (which I might point out, I did not bring up and wasn't advocating for), I don't believe it was a perfect treaty by any means. I have in the past characterized it as a good first step towards addressing climate change. You're right that from a scientific vantage point, it is not helpful to reduce our emissions if China ends up making up for the difference and then some. However, a couple of things to point out - first, there is a hypocrisy here that most people are not aware of. The United States (and Canada) has always been and is still today a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (see: http://unfccc.int/essential_background/convention/items/2627.php), which in Article 3 explicitly states "The Parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and
 respective capabilities. Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.
2. The specific needs and special circumstances of developing country Parties, especially those that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and of those Parties, especially developing country Parties, that would have to bear a disproportionate or abnormal burden under the Convention, should be given full consideration."

The notion of "differentiated responsibilities", upon which the Kyoto requirements were based and to which our countries agreed to, is not even a new concept. It was also used successfully in the Motreal Protocols and its associated Framework Convention. Now, that's not to say that Kyoto is perfect; I think valid arguments can be made to say that perhaps the notion of "diffentiated responsibilities" should have been implemented in a manner that took better account of developing countries like China; however, the idea that we should reject Kyoto on the basis of the concept of "differentiated responsibilities" is, as I said, somewhat hypocritical since we already agreed to it.

Cameron writes:
"You say that if "we" lost a few thousand dollars to help some poor people in Africa, that would be a reasonable trade-off. Who, may I ask, is "we"? Are you saying that you personally would take a $3,000 salary cut to benefit Africans? If so, I applaud your compassion and generosity. But is your willingness alone sufficient moral justification to impose such a cut on everyone in the developed world?"

A fair question. When I said "I don't know about you, but if we..." that was meant to indicate that was more a personal statement rather than a policy statement. Nevertheless, as Christians, I wonder if we shouldn't be more direct in expecting ourselves, and each other, to make those kinds of sacrifices? But then, this is probably going off-topic...let's just say for the sake of expediency, I grant your point here - no, I probably wouldn't want that alone to be the basis of a climate change policy - it's not the proper place to make such an argument.

Cameron writes:
" Policy accords like Kyoto are "white collar environmentalism", and cater to class interests."

I can see some of what you say, but I think that's an oversimplification of the situation. Just the other day I read about a wind turbine engineering/technicians program at a community college that was booming with students and employers waiting to hire them for rather large starting salaries. Similar occurrances are happening in the solar industry and the alt. fuel industries (indeed, one of the stimulus grants given out by the DOE was for a technical college to start a curriculum for alternative fuel mechanics, targeting especially unemployed/underemployed veterans), etc. And the same blue collar factory workers that are making computer chips and refrigerators today will be will the ones making more efficient versions of those products in the future. These trades that are growing out of the climate change/sustainability push are just as blue collar as people working in a factory or an industrial plant; and perhaps more importantly, that is where our
 future lies - even if we had zero regulation, we still would be constrained by world oil supply, etc., and we would still have to make these adjustments eventually; why not make them now when they can also help us with climate change and other issues too?

Cameron writes:
"If Western nations are going to make this great and noble sacrifice to save the global environment, and transfer some net wealth to the poorer nations, I would like to see the blood and suffering spread around a little more fairly *within* the Western nations. Any environmental policy which doesn't do this is in my view morally bankrupt, and is nothing more than a self-deception adopted by the Western educated classes to boost their own sense of self-righteousness."

Point taken. If I remember correctly, I believe the climate change bills pending in the U.S. Congress do provide support for displaced workers and/or low income families, though it's been awhile since I read the details.

John wrote:
"But assuming that both of you are right and this becomes the obvious moral course of action, let me ask the following question. What are we to make of the theological implications of AGW?"

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post relating to this; I'll copy & paste here the relevant portions, and then draw them out a bit in response to some of your other comments:

The areas I see climate change relating to Christian faith and theology are as follows:

- The predicted impacts of climate change will disproportionally affect those in poverty, both because they are more directly dependent on nature (food and water shorages will hurt poorer populations sooner and more severely), and because they lack the resources to adapt to climate change (no money, technology to relocate or adjust through other means). As Christ particularly identified with the poor, this obviously must influence how we respond to climate change.

- More broadly, the impacts of climate change will affect industries such as tourism, agriculture (both land-based and marine), recreation (i.e. skiing), land-use/infrastructure/development, etc. Likewise, any response to climate change will undoubtedly impact the energy, retail, auto industries, etc. As Christians, we are called to care about the well-being of all those in our community, and this must influence how we balance the need to reduce greenhouse gases (which will benefit certain groups/industries) with the need to mitigate economic losses (for those negatively impacted).

- Many people, when addressing climate change, do so with a mindset of despair, fear, and hopelessness. As Christians, we are called to bring light to those experiencing these anxieties, and to counteract alarmism more broadly by reaffirming God's sovereignty and power even in the midst of serious problems.

- In Genesis 1 and 2, we are called to exercise dominion over the earth, as Christ exercises dominion over us. We have been entrusted with the gifts of the earth to be used for ourselves, our posterity, and all of God's creatures. Indeed, God reaffirms the His care of and for creation in such passages as Genesis 1 (where He blesses the animals and provides them food along with us), in the story of the flood (where He saves and makes a convenant with both the animals as well as humanity), in Christ's sayings to us (the relationship of shepherd/sheep, the lillies of the field, etc.), and in Romans 8 (creation will also experience redemption with us). Therefore, our responses to climate change must be conducted in the context of our stewardship of all creation, and the fact that we will ultimately be held accountable for how we exercised that dominion.

- In Romans 1, St. Paul affirms that in creation, all can see God's power and deity; in the Psalms, in Job, and in many other places, we find Scripture testifying to the beauty of God's creation as a reflection and glorification of God and a place within which we experience God's presence. It seems important then, that creation be preserved as well as possible so that all people may continue to perceive the beauty and peace and power which gave rise to these encounters with the divine.

John wrote:
"I think a good part of the resistance to AGW as a concept is rooted in the proud American Christian tradition of Dominionism and "subduing the earth". Isn't that what we have done? Looking back, was that wrong? Should we have left all that coal in the ground? That coal saved the lives of many a generation I think it is fair to say.

I'm not sure what you're referring to regarding coal saving lives - the heat it provides during the winter perhaps? To be fair, many a coal miner lost their life because of their work, so it cuts both ways.

There is an ever constant tension between conservation (wise use) and preservation (leaving something pristine). Both have their place and I applaud both in their proper contexts. Valid discussions can and should be had about what should be conserved vs. preserved and how the best ways are to do this. Particularly during the 1800s however, our "dominion" of the earth fell into neither of those categories; rather, it fell into the category of "exploitation" (you might define this as unwise use, or more graphically, the "rape of the earth") This is what I strongly object to.

I find it incredibly helpful, as well as theologically important, to ground our concept of "dominion" and "submission" in the Incarnation. Christ has "dominion" over us, yes? How does He exercise His dominion over us? What model would He have us follow? To draw on the parable, as He is our shepherd and we are His sheep, so too are we the shepherds to our "sheep" (all of creation). Just as Christ is both 100% human yet 100% divine, so too are we 100% part of and equal to creation, yet 100% above and outside of creation as "lords" with "dominion".

This doesn't so much define what our specific actions should be regarding climate change as it defines our approach and our context for discerning what decisions God would have us make. I think this is common ground that Christians could find moving forward in dealing with this very complex and significant issue.

John wrote:
"Further, what do we make of God's plan for the earth in light of this? Are all the catastrophic doomsday predictions of mass starvation and civil unrest and violence consistent with an all powerful loving God? What are we to make of Jesus' words where He says he feeds the birds and that He will feed us? Is Lindzen's faith that something else may work out besides the worst case scenario misplaced? Haven't we survived these Malthusian predictions before? I recently saw a similar doozy from Jimmy Carter that now makes him look really stupid. Isn't there a tad of sensationalistic overreaction in all this? How do we assess what is really prudent and what is just eco-guilt?"

Yes, I do believe there is a lot of sensationalism out there, and I do feel that much of this conflicts with an all powerful loving God. Specifically, I find less fault with the scenarios discussed (floods, famine, etc.) because if this is indeed what we face, then we should be upfront about it; I find great fault with the despair and hopelessness and panic that often accompanies such sentiment. We are "not given a spirit of fear" and even if the worst scenarios did occur, we are still called as Christians to live with a spirit of hope and faith and confidence in our all powerful, loving Creator who will not let His creation go astray (although, He may let us reap what we sow for awhile!).

I think assessing the prudency of an action must, as I already alluded to, be grounded (for us) in a serious discussion of how Christ would have us exercise dominion and how we can best practice Christian values and beliefs even in the midst of possible catastrophes. When we keep our focus on Christ, we won't lose ourselves in fear.

John wrote:
"How do we reconcile AGW with Christian theology when there appears to be a significant representation of anti-Christian philosophy in the movement, i.e. Al Gore and his Gaia theory?"

Simple, we reject the anti-Christian philosophy while presenting a Christian perpsective of the situation. To quote from the movie "Ben Hur":

Q: "how do you fight an idea?"
A: "with another idea."

John wrote:
"Also, I am curious if anyone has considered how all these AGW predictions may factor into Biblical prophecy. Is this all part of some endtimes scenario or perhaps judgement on the mighty and proud nations? Has anyone ever heard of written anything on this? I would be interested to read it if so....Isn't this the obvious fulfillment of the scripture that says they worshipped the creation rather than the Creator? How can we trust him and his new age and anti-Christian supporters and where do we draw the line between truth and deception? Isn't there some truth to Cameron's skepticism about this all being a political ploy to gain control of the world's systems? And wouldn't that be consistent with the anti-christ's agenda? Don't we have to wary of that in our rush to get on the AGW bandwagon?"

I don't think anything is obvious about what is written in Revelations, so I would hestitate to apply the apocolyptic metaphors to climate change or to any other significant movement. I don't know if anyone else has; probably so. I will be honest - it has crossed my mind though, albeit differently than you describe. It occurred to me that in Revelations it is written that God "will destroy those who destroy the earth" and that He will "create a new heaven and a new earth" and that many of the catastrophies in Revelations are not all too different from those predicted in severe climate change scenarios. But again, that's all personal speculation. It also did occur to me that since much of this is rooted in excessive material consumption, that climate change could very well be a judgement brought upon ourselves (God said He wouldn't destroy the earth again; He never said WE couldn't though!). Neverhtless, I would never advocate basing policy (one way or
 the other) on any of these speculations. I think that's just as foolhardy as all of those sci-fi time travel scenarios where they ask "what if my actions today will cause the actions of tomorrow...maybe I shouldn't do them...but then, maybe my not doing them will cause the effects I'm seeking to avoid..." and then they ultimately decide "let's just proceed as we would normally". I would concur with the latter and let God figure out the rest. :)

John wrote:
" When the children of Israel were trapped in the wliderness against the Red Sea pursued by Pharoah's army, many of them naturally were afraid, but some said that God didn't bring them out of Egypt just to let them die in the desert. Is it misplaced that God has some similar future for the earth and the first world that we just don't see yet? What is a reasonable application of faith in this scenario?"

With God, I have no doubt that even in the worst case climate scenario He could bring something good from it. Afterall, look at what He did on the cross. I don't think that means we should seek out climate change though, just as we wouldn't encourage Judas's betrayal nor would we "sin more, that grace may abound more"

I've been enjoying this conversation thoroughly - it's one of my favorite topics. Look forward to further discsussion.

In Christ,
Christine

PS - I have from time-to-time tossed around the idea of writing a book on the subject of Christian theology and environmental stewardship...do you suppose presenting my ideas in a book would be informative/helpful to others?? Are they helpful to you?

"For we walk by faith, not by sight" ~II Corinthians 5:7

Help save the life of a homeless animal--visit www.azrescue.org to find out how.

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--- On Wed, 12/2/09, John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com> wrote:

> From: John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: [asa] Theology of AGW WAS The Climate Science Isn't Settled
> To: "John Walley" <john_walley@yahoo.com>, "Christine Smith" <christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com>, asa@calvin.edu
> Date: Wednesday, December 2, 2009, 5:32 AM
> One last thing I promise. I also just
> thought of another point I wanted to make as well.  I hope
> this doesn't count as using up all my posts for the day but
> its just that the intellectual dam has broken for me and I
> am now being flooded with questions.
>
> How do we reconcile AGW with Christian theology when there
> appears to be a significant representation of anti-Christian
> philosophy in the movement, i.e. Al Gore and his Gaia
> theory?  Isn't this the obvious fulfillment of the
> scripture that says they worshipped the creation rather than
> the Creator?  How can we trust him and his new age and
> anti-Christian supporters and where do we draw the line
> between truth and deception?  Isn't there some truth to
> Cameron's skepticism about this all being a political ploy
> to gain control of the world's systems? And wouldn't that be
> consistent with the anti-christ's agenda?  Don't we have to
> wary of that in our rush to get on the AGW bandwagon?  I
> think that is why we need to decouple our AGW beliefs from
> the religious fervor it is often accompanied with and look
> at this rationally and with reason.
>
> Thanks to those that have indulged me in this.
>
> John
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>
> To: John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>;
> Christine Smith <christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com>;
> asa@calvin.edu
> Sent: Wed, December 2, 2009 5:57:35 AM
> Subject: Re: [asa] Theology of AGW WAS The Climate Science
> Isn't Settled
>
> A couple of more points I meant to add.
>
> When the children of Israel were trapped in the wliderness
> against the Red Sea pursued by Pharoah's army, many of them
> naturally were afraid, but some said that God didn't bring
> them out of Egypt just to let them die in the desert.  Is
> it misplaced that God has some similar future for the earth
> and the first world that we just don't see yet?  What is a
> reasonable application of faith in this scenario?
>
> Also, I am curious if anyone has considered how all these
> AGW predictions may factor into Biblical prophecy. Is this
> all part of some endtimes scenario or perhaps judgement on
> the mighty and proud nations?  Has anyone ever heard of
> written anything on this? I would be interested to read it
> if so.
>
> Thanks
>
> John
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>
> To: Christine Smith <christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com>;
> asa@calvin.edu
> Sent: Wed, December 2, 2009 5:39:41 AM
> Subject: [asa] Theology of AGW WAS The Climate Science
> Isn't Settled
>
> Christine,
>
> Thanks for your comments. I feel this exchange is now very
> productive. I think most of us agree now that openness and
> honesty is a better approach than automatically reacting by
> trying to sweep challenges to the science under the rug.
>
> Between your and Randy's posts below I am able to seriously
> consider for the first time, a legitimate interpretation of
> the proposed AGW legislation. As Cameron has pointed out,
> there is a lot of political baggage intertwined with this
> and I have not been very trusting of it.
>
> But assuming that both of you are right and this becomes
> the obvious moral course of action, let me ask the following
> question. What are we to make of the theological
> implications of AGW?
>
> I think a good part of the resistance to AGW as a concept
> is rooted in the proud American Christian tradition of
> Dominionism and "subduing the earth". Isn't that what we
> have done? Looking back, was that wrong? Should we have left
> all that coal in the ground? That coal saved the lives of
> many a generation I think it is fair to say.
>
> Further, what do we make of God's plan for the earth in
> light of this?  Are all the catastrophic doomsday
> predictions of mass starvation and civil unrest and violence
> consistent with an all powerful loving God?  What are we to
> make of Jesus' words where He says he feeds the birds and
> that He will feed us?  Is Lindzen's faith that something
> else may work out besides the worst case scenario
> misplaced?  Haven't we survived these Malthusian
> predictions before? I recently saw a similar doozy from
> Jimmy Carter that now makes him look really stupid. Isn't
> there a tad of sensationalistic overreaction in all this?
> How do we assess what is really prudent and what is just
> eco-guilt?
>
> I'm still seeking.
>
> Thanks
>
> John
>
>  
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Christine Smith <christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com>
> To: asa@calvin.edu
> Sent: Tue, December 1, 2009 11:00:50 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] The Climate Science Isn't Settled
>
> Hi all,
>
> A few quick comments on the most recent climate change
> threads. As most of you know from my earlier postings, I
> generally take the AGW position and believe that the basic,
> fundamental science of AGW is sound. I have always
> acknowledged that when you get into the details of specific
> predictions and/or outcomes, there's greater uncertainty,
> and that I don't have the technical knowledge myself to get
> into the nuts and bolts of all of the different data sets
> and models - I prefer to let others such as Randy or Rich
> chime in on the specifics.
>
> I've been following the CRU email controversy with great
> interest. From my perspective, I concur with Randy's earlier
> sentiments. Many of the emails seem to demonstrate a lack of
> professionalism which I find disturbing, and I believe a
> full investigation is needed (both of the hackers and of the
> scientists) but I think the whole story needs to come out
> before we jump to any hasty conclusions. I still see the
> basic scientific concepts of AGW as solid however, and I
> don't see that the emails change this, unless I somehow
> missed one that said that CO2 isn't really a greenhouse gas
> and weren't not really emitting a whole lot of it.
>
> I wanted to respond more specifically to one comment John
> made below:
>
> " Wouldn't Lindzen and others say that in the absence of
> certain evidence that we not jump to conclusions? Isn't that
> valid when we are talking about a very large scale impact on
> standards of living around the world?
> >
> If the recourse was something simple like just buckling up
> your seat belt I think we would all be on board, but when
> the consequences are so drastic, isn't it reasonable to make
> sure we are more certain with the science?"
>
> I think there are two problems with this approach. The
> first problem is that the "wait until the science is more
> certain" idea doesn't work for climate change. By the time
> the science is "more certain" (and how "certain" is "certain
> enough" for that matter?), the damage is already done. As
> Randy already noted, there is a time delay between the
> effect and the cause (analogous in some sense to the fact
> that smoking doesn't cause lung cancer right away - damage
> that is caused in the lung today may not actually generate
> cancerous cells until 15 years from now). Greenhouse gas
> build-up in the atmosphere even at present-day
> concentrations has locked us into climate impacts that will
> last for decades if not centuries. If we wait another 10,
> 20, or 30 years before we decide to act, we will have loaded
> the atmosphere with that much more greenhouse gases the
> impacts of which will be even more severe and long-lasting.
> To use John's analogy, it's like telling
> society to buckle their seatbelts after the accident has
> already occurred.
>
> The second problem I see with John's statement is that
> there is an underlying assumption that the societal changes
> needed to combat climate change will necessarily bring great
> hardship and a significant reduction in our standard of
> living. I don't see that this assumption is justified. I
> will grant that to certain sectors of the population (i.e.
> those involved in coal mining or oil production), hardships
> would be quite likely. But other sectors would almost
> certainly benefit (i.e. renewable energy, energy
> efficiency), while some might remain neutral (i.e. health
> care). The question then becomes, from an overall society
> point of view, what is the best course of action? From my
> perspective, the same strategies needed to reduce greenhouse
> gases often overlap with other beneficial policies, such as
> reducing our dependence on foreign oil, reducing
> waste/improving efficiency, reducing air/water/soil
> pollution, eating healthier (less meat, more locally
> grown/sustainable crops), reducing traffic
> congestion/increasing exercise (more bicyclists,
> pedestrians), etc. Although the cultural transition to such
> habits and means of production may be difficult in the
> short-term, I have a hard time seeing how such policies
> (whether advocated on behalf of climate change or on their
> own) would be negative for us in the long-term. In fact,
> they may even be beneficial for our quality of life in the
> long-term. In many ways, I see the challenge of climate
> change as akin to that of traveling to the Moon. It required
> a huge upfront expense and commitment of resources, but
> where would we be today without having gone to the Moon, and
> all of the technologies that came about in part because of
> space travel? Would anyone now suggest that we not have gone
> to the Moon because of the cost to society? Taking the
> leadership in climate change forces us to at the forefront
> of a whole host of other society issues and their attending
> technologies - if we do not seize leadership on this, I
> fear we risk losing our competitiveness globally as others
> seize this role and reap the benefits of their long-term
> investments.
>
> A final point to consider is this: when John says "standard
> of living around the world", to whose standard of living are
> we really referring to? Our own? Those of all wealthy, 1st
> world countries? But what about the standard of living of
> all those other people around the world - in developing
> nations, in nations where poverty is widespread? If climate
> change regulation in our countries reduced our standard of
> living, but increased their standard of living (though
> technology transfer, greater availability of resources to
> them brought about by our conservation, etc), would this be
> such a bad thing? I don't know about you, but if we lost a
> few thousand dollars due to societal changes rought by
> greenhouse gas regulation, but at the same time helped raise
> the standard of living for those currently in poverty in
> Africa, I would be all for it.
>
> In Christ,
> Christine
>
> "For we walk by faith, not by sight" ~II Corinthians 5:7
>
> Help save the life of a homeless animal--visit
> www.azrescue.org to find out how.
>
> Recycling a single aluminum can conserves enough energy to
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>
> --- On Tue, 12/1/09, John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>
> wrote:
>
> > From: John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>
> > Subject: Re: [asa] The Climate Science Isn't Settled
> > To: "Randy Isaac" <randyisaac@comcast.net>,
> asa@calvin.edu
> > Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 7:54 PM
> > Randy,
> >
> > Thanks for this very reasoned response. It makes it
> easy to
> > trust your insight. If all the AGW scientists were as
> > gracious as this I dare say we likely wouldn't have
> the
> > controversy we do. I do have one additional question
> though.
> >
> >
> > You say:
> >
> > "What I think he fails to deal with adequately is the
> > global thermal response to an unprecedented rate of
> rise of
> > both CO2 and methane. He claims that there is
> insufficient
> > evidence to indicate that the result would be
> catastrophic.
> > But has he any data to show it wouldn't be? He seems
> to
> > imply that the thermal response has been very small
> despite
> > a 30% rise in CO2 and that this indicates the earth
> isn't
> > that sensitive. But a hundred years or two aren't very
> long
> > for a large thermal mass to respond. It seems to me to
> be
> > more wishful thinking that somehow clouds will
> materialize
> > to save our planet. How I hope he's right. But I wish
> he had
> > some good data to support it rather than just doubting
> the
> > data that indicate there's a problem brewing."
> >
> > I agree we would all like to see more to data to help
> us
> > settle the question of whether the result of
> increased
> > CO2 would be catastrophic or not. But in the absence
> of
> > this data, are we certain that the results WOULD be
> > catastrophic?  Do we have any more convincing
> evidence to
> > support this opposite conclusion or is it just an
> > extrapolation? 
> >
> > Wouldn't Lindzen and others say that in the absence
> of
> > certain evidence that we not jump to conclusions?
> Isn't that
> > valid when we are talking about a very large scale
> impact on
> > standards of living around the world?
> >
> > If the recourse was something simple like just
> buckling
> > up your seat belt I think we would all be on board,
> but when
> > the consequences are so drastic, isn't it reasonable
> to make
> > sure we are more certain with the science?
> >
> > Thanks
> >
> > John
> >
> >  
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message ----
> > From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
> > To: asa@calvin.edu
> > Sent: Tue, December 1, 2009 10:23:02 AM
> > Subject: Re: [asa] The Climate Science Isn't Settled
> >
> > This article came out the night before I was debating
> a
> > friend of mine on global warming as guest lecturers in
> a
> > classroom last week. He surprised me with it since I
> had
> > missed it. Lindzen is a well known figure in this
> debate. He
> > has a reasoned tone, at least in this piece, and
> raises
> > specific points that can be discussed. I think that is
> very
> > helpful and healthy for the debate. Here are some
> initial
> > reactions I would have to this article:
> >
> > "It is generally accepted that a doubling of CO2 will
> only
> > produce a change of about two degrees Fahrenheit if
> all else
> > is held constant." I don't have the citation handy
> right now
> > but I think the value I've seen in the literature is
> running
> > closer to 3 degrees Centigrade. That's a big
> difference. I
> > wonder where he gets that.
> >
> > He's right, I think, about the uncertainty of water
> vapor
> > and clouds. In general, we know more about potential
> > positive feedback than negative feedbacks. How we hope
> the
> > negative feedbacks will be stronger than we think.
> > Unfortunately, his uncertainty argument can go both
> ways.
> > The situation may be more dire or less severe.
> >
> > "Some have suggested CO2—but the amount needed was
> > thousands of times greater than present levels and
> > incompatible with geological evidence." I don't
> understand
> > what he is saying. Measured values, if I understood
> it
> > correctly, for global temperatures 12C higher than
> today
> > were correlated with CO2 levels of about 1000ppm, not
> a
> > thousand times higher than today. Perhaps he's saying
> the
> > models would require more CO2 to explain the
> temperature? If
> > so, then perhaps the models are underestimating the
> effect
> > of CO2.
> >
> > " The notion that complex climate "catastrophes" are
> simply
> > a matter of the response of a single number, GATA, to
> a
> > single forcing, CO2 (or solar forcing for that
> matter),
> > represents a gigantic step backward in the science of
> > climate."  It seems to me that no one is suggesting
> a
> > single number responding to a single forcing. That's
> a
> > significant oversimplification. What I've seen in the
> > literature is an analysis of many trends responding to
> the
> > full set of forcings. I don't understand his comment.
> >
> > What I think he fails to deal with adequately is the
> global
> > thermal response to an unprecedented rate of rise of
> both
> > CO2 and methane. He claims that there is insufficient
> > evidence to indicate that the result would be
> catastrophic.
> > But has he any data to show it wouldn't be? He seems
> to
> > imply that the thermal response has been very small
> despite
> > a 30% rise in CO2 and that this indicates the earth
> isn't
> > that sensitive. But a hundred years or two aren't very
> long
> > for a large thermal mass to respond. It seems to me to
> be
> > more wishful thinking that somehow clouds will
> materialize
> > to save our planet. How I hope he's right. But I wish
> he had
> > some good data to support it rather than just doubting
> the
> > data that indicate there's a problem brewing.
> >
> > Randy
> > --------------------------------------------------
> > From: "John Walley" <john_walley@yahoo.com>
> > Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 8:35 AM
> > To: "AmericanScientificAffiliation" <asa@calvin.edu>
> > Subject: [asa] The Climate Science Isn't Settled
> >
> > >
> > >
> > > This is from a well known skeptic who appears to
> be
> > qualified in the field. He seems to be saying that
> the
> > additional CO2 is not established as proving temp
> > increases.
> > >
> > > "Even a doubling of CO2 would only upset the
> original
> > balance between incoming and outgoing radiation by
> about 2%.
> > This is essentially what is called "climate forcing."
> > >
> > > I am curious if there is any technical response
> to his
> > arguments from any of the AGW proponents on the list.
> > Besides the fact that he is in the pocket of the coal
> > companies.
> > >
> > > Thanks
> > >
> > > John
> > >
> > > The Climate Science Isn't Settled
> > > Confident predictions of catastrophe are
> unwarranted.
> > > http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703939404574567423917025400.html
> > > By RICHARD S. LINDZEN
> > > Is there a reason to be alarmed by the prospect
> of
> > global warming? Consider that the measurement used,
> the
> > globally averaged temperature anomaly (GATA), is
> always
> > changing. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes down, and
> > occasionally—such as for the last dozen years or
> so—it
> > does little that can be discerned.
> > >
> > > Claims that climate change is accelerating are
> > bizarre. There is general support for the assertion
> that
> > GATA has increased about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since
> the
> > middle of the 19th century. The quality of the data is
> poor,
> > though, and because the changes are small, it is easy
> to
> > nudge such data a few tenths of a degree in any
> direction.
> > Several of the emails from the University of East
> Anglia's
> > Climate Research Unit (CRU) that have caused such a
> public
> > ruckus dealt with how to do this so as to maximize
> apparent
> > changes.
> > >
> > > The general support for warming is based not so
> much
> > on the quality of the data, but rather on the fact
> that
> > there was a little ice age from about the 15th to the
> 19th
> > century. Thus it is not surprising that temperatures
> should
> > increase as we emerged from this episode. At the same
> time
> > that we were emerging from the little ice age, the
> > industrial era began, and this was accompanied by
> increasing
> > emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2, methane
> and
> > nitrous oxide. CO2 is the most prominent of these, and
> it is
> > again generally accepted that it has increased by
> about
> > 30%.
> > >
> > > The defining characteristic of a greenhouse gas
> is
> > that it is relatively transparent to visible light
> from the
> > sun but can absorb portions of thermal radiation. In
> > general, the earth balances the incoming solar
> radiation by
> > emitting thermal radiation, and the presence of
> greenhouse
> > substances inhibits cooling by thermal radiation and
> leads
> > to some warming.
> > >
> > > That said, the main greenhouse substances in the
> > earth's atmosphere are water vapor and high clouds.
> Let's
> > refer to these as major greenhouse substances to
> distinguish
> > them from the anthropogenic minor substances. Even a
> > doubling of CO2 would only upset the original balance
> > between incoming and outgoing radiation by about 2%.
> This is
> > essentially what is called "climate forcing."
> > >
> > > There is general agreement on the above findings.
> At
> > this point there is no basis for alarm regardless of
> whether
> > any relation between the observed warming and the
> observed
> > increase in minor greenhouse gases can be
> established.
> > Nevertheless, the most publicized claims of the
> U.N.'s
> > Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deal
> > exactly with whether any relation can be discerned.
> The
> > failure of the attempts to link the two over the past
> 20
> > years bespeaks the weakness of any case for concern.
> > >
> > > The IPCC's Scientific Assessments generally
> consist of
> > about 1,000 pages of text. The Summary for
> Policymakers is
> > 20 pages. It is, of course, impossible to accurately
> > summarize the 1,000-page assessment in just 20 pages;
> at the
> > very least, nuances and caveats have to be omitted.
> However,
> > it has been my experience that even the summary is
> hardly
> > ever looked at. Rather, the whole report tends to be
> > characterized by a single iconic claim.
> > >
> > > The main statement publicized after the last
> IPCC
> > Scientific Assessment two years ago was that it was
> likely
> > that most of the warming since 1957 (a point of
> anomalous
> > cold) was due to man. This claim was based on the
> weak
> > argument that the current models used by the IPCC
> couldn't
> > reproduce the warming from about 1978 to 1998 without
> some
> > forcing, and that the only forcing that they could
> think of
> > was man. Even this argument assumes that these models
> > adequately deal with natural internal
> variability—that is,
> > such naturally occurring cycles as El Nino, the
> Pacific
> > Decadal Oscillation, the Atlantic Multidecadal
> Oscillation,
> > etc.
> > >
> > > Yet articles from major modeling centers
> acknowledged
> > that the failure of these models to anticipate the
> absence
> > of warming for the past dozen years was due to the
> failure
> > of these models to account for this natural internal
> > variability. Thus even the basis for the weak IPCC
> argument
> > for anthropogenic climate change was shown to be
> false.
> > >
> > > Of course, none of the articles stressed this.
> Rather
> > they emphasized that according to models modified to
> account
> > for the natural internal variability, warming would
> > resume—in 2009, 2013 and 2030, respectively.
> > >
> > > But even if the IPCC's iconic statement were
> correct,
> > it still would not be cause for alarm. After all we
> are
> > still talking about tenths of a degree for over 75% of
> the
> > climate forcing associated with a doubling of CO2.
> The
> > potential (and only the potential) for alarm enters
> with the
> > issue of climate sensitivity—which refers to the
> change
> > that a doubling of CO2 will produce in GATA. It is
> generally
> > accepted that a doubling of CO2 will only produce a
> change
> > of about two degrees Fahrenheit if all else is held
> > constant. This is unlikely to be much to worry about.
> > >
> > > Yet current climate models predict much higher
> > sensitivities. They do so because in these models, the
> main
> > greenhouse substances (water vapor and clouds) act to
> > amplify anything that CO2 does. This is referred to
> as
> > positive feedback. But as the IPCC notes, clouds
> continue to
> > be a source of major uncertainty in current models.
> Since
> > clouds and water vapor are intimately related, the
> IPCC
> > claim that they are more confident about water vapor
> is
> > quite implausible.
> > >
> > > There is some evidence of a positive feedback
> effect
> > for water vapor in cloud-free regions, but a major
> part of
> > any water-vapor feedback would have to acknowledge
> that
> > cloud-free areas are always changing, and this remains
> an
> > unknown. At this point, few scientists would argue
> that the
> > science is settled. In particular, the question
> remains as
> > to whether water vapor and clouds have positive or
> negative
> > feedbacks.
> > >
> > > The notion that the earth's climate is dominated
> by
> > positive feedbacks is intuitively implausible, and
> the
> > history of the earth's climate offers some guidance on
> this
> > matter. About 2.5 billion years ago, the sun was
> 20%-30%
> > less bright than now (compare this with the 2%
> perturbation
> > that a doubling of CO2 would produce), and yet the
> evidence
> > is that the oceans were unfrozen at the time, and
> that
> > temperatures might not have been very different from
> > today's. Carl Sagan in the 1970s referred to this as
> the
> > "Early Faint Sun Paradox."
> > >
> > > For more than 30 years there have been attempts
> to
> > resolve the paradox with greenhouse gases. Some have
> > suggested CO2—but the amount needed was thousands of
> times
> > greater than present levels and incompatible with
> geological
> > evidence. Methane also proved unlikely. It turns out
> that
> > increased thin cirrus cloud coverage in the tropics
> readily
> > resolves the paradox—but only if the clouds
> constitute a
> > negative feedback. In present terms this means that
> they
> > would diminish rather than enhance the impact of CO2.
> > >
> > > There are quite a few papers in the literature
> that
> > also point to the absence of positive feedbacks. The
> implied
> > low sensitivity is entirely compatible with the small
> > warming that has been observed. So how do models with
> high
> > sensitivity manage to simulate the currently small
> response
> > to a forcing that is almost as large as a doubling of
> CO2?
> > Jeff Kiehl notes in a 2007 article from the National
> Center
> > for Atmospheric Research, the models use another
> quantity
> > that the IPCC lists as poorly known (namely aerosols)
> to
> > arbitrarily cancel as much greenhouse warming as
> needed to
> > match the data, with each model choosing a different
> degree
> > of cancellation according to the sensitivity of that
> model.
> > >
> > > What does all this have to do with climate
> > catastrophe? The answer brings us to a scandal that
> is, in
> > my opinion, considerably greater than that implied in
> the
> > hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit (though
> perhaps
> > not as bad as their destruction of raw data): namely
> the
> > suggestion that the very existence of warming or of
> the
> > greenhouse effect is tantamount to catastrophe. This
> is the
> > grossest of "bait and switch" scams. It is only such a
> scam
> > that lends importance to the machinations in the
> emails
> > designed to nudge temperatures a few tenths of a
> degree.
> > >
> > > The notion that complex climate "catastrophes"
> are
> > simply a matter of the response of a single number,
> GATA, to
> > a single forcing, CO2 (or solar forcing for that
> matter),
> > represents a gigantic step backward in the science of
> > climate. Many disasters associated with warming are
> simply
> > normal occurrences whose existence is falsely claimed
> to be
> > evidence of warming. And all these examples involve
> > phenomena that are dependent on the confluence of
> many
> > factors.
> > >
> > > Our perceptions of nature are similarly dragged
> back
> > centuries so that the normal occasional occurrences of
> open
> > water in summer over the North Pole, droughts,
> floods,
> > hurricanes, sea-level variations, etc. are all taken
> as
> > omens, portending doom due to our sinful ways (as
> epitomized
> > by our carbon footprint). All of these phenomena
> depend on
> > the confluence of multiple factors as well.
> > >
> > > Consider the following example. Suppose that I
> leave a
> > box on the floor, and my wife trips on it, falling
> against
> > my son, who is carrying a carton of eggs, which then
> fall
> > and break. Our present approach to emissions would be
> > analogous to deciding that the best way to prevent
> the
> > breakage of eggs would be to outlaw leaving boxes on
> the
> > floor. The chief difference is that in the case of
> > atmospheric CO2 and climate catastrophe, the chain of
> > inference is longer and less plausible than in my
> example.
> > >
> > > Mr. Lindzen is professor of meteorology at the
> > Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu
> > with
> > > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the
> > message.
> >
> >
> > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu
> > with
> > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the
> message.
> >
> >
> >
> >      
> >
> >
> > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu
> > with
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> message.
> >
>
>
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Received on Wed Dec 2 13:16:55 2009

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