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

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Wed Dec 02 2009 - 13:37:50 EST

On Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 4:32 AM, John Walley <> wrote:

> 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?

Al Gore isn't a proponent of Gaia theory. That's James Lovelock. Al Gore's a Baptist.

> Isn't this the obvious fulfillment of the scripture that says they
> worshipped the creation rather than the Creator?

No. Over the past 30 years the environmental movement has gotten more
mainstream and more explicitly Christian. Organizations that are both
Christian and environmental are like this:

Christian environmentalists differ from the New Age ones like Lovelock by
stressing the concept of stewardship. For example, you can find the care of
the land and the creatures on it in the Sabbath Regulation of the Ten
Commandments. Humanity is to use Creation but not abuse it. As such,
business is not to be completely unhindered, able to abuse their resources
without giving them any rest. One of the sins of Old Testament Israel was
failing to give the land a rest. The quote about liberty on the Liberty Bell
was from the Jubilee proclamation in Leviticus 25.

The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai, "Speak to the Israelites and say to
them: 'When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must
observe a sabbath to the LORD. For six years sow your fields, and for six
years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year
the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow
your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or
harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of


Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all
its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return
to his family property and each to his own clan. The fiftieth year shall be
a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or
harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you;
eat only what is taken directly from the fields.

> 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?

No. But there is and was a political ploy. Starting in the late 60s and
early 70s the tobacco companies had a problem with the science that was
reaching a stronger and stronger consensus that cigarette smoking causes
cancer. So, they hired people like Fred Seitz to spread the message that the
science was uncertain to keep the tobacco companies from getting sued. The
very same people moved into organizations like the Marshall Institute.
During the 80s this organization focused on attacking physicists who were
skeptical that SDI would work. After the Cold War ended the focus turned to
environmental issues and the same M.O. of saying the science is uncertain
and therefore we shouldn't regulate any companies and by the way CO2 is
actually good for you. This constellation of groups started receiving money
from the oil and coal companies, for example the Western Fuels Association
and ExxonMobil. These organizations have interlocking boards of directors.
Other groups closely associated are the Heartland Institute, the Greening
Earth Society, and Friends of Science. The people that show up multiple
times on the boards or advisors in these are include Tim Ball, Sallie
Balliunas, Willie Soon, Pattrick Michaels, and Fred Seitz.

All of these organizations have one goal, keep industry completely
unregulated. Two weeks before the Nobel Prize in chemistry was issued on
work that showed that CFCs destroy the ozone hole these groups said that the
science was uncertain and we shouldn't be regulating any companies. The ban
on CFCs was a smashing success which had also a little known beneficial side
effect on global warming because CFCs are the worst kind of greenhouse gas.

President George HW Bush introduced cap and trade of sulfates to solve the
acid rain problem that was quite huge and was a major stick in the eye with
Canada. The groups again jumped in said the science was uncertain and it
would trash the economy and BTW don't regulate the coal industry. Again,
smashing success. A 2003 OMB study found for every dollar spent 40 dollars
was saved on health car costs due to acid rain. It also came in under
original cost projections and ahead of schedule.

The IPCC was progressing quite fine in 1996 when Fred Seitz (of the tobacco
lawsuits fame) did a hit piece in the WSJ on 2 June 1996 accusing Benjamin
Santer of malfeasance. This prompted the following official communication
from the American Meteorological Society

25 July 1996

Dr. Benjamin D. Santer
PCMDI, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
P.O. Box 808, Mail Stop L-264
Livermore, CA 94550

Dear Ben:

On behalf of the Executive Committee of the American Meteorological Society
and the Trustees of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
(UCAR), we take this opportunity to support you and the other scientists who
have participated in the preparation of the recent IPCC report, *Climate
Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change*. We are aware of the tremendous
effort you and other climate scientists from many countries around the world
have put into this document, and the thought, care and objectivity which
have characterized the process throughout.

We believe that attacks on the IPCC process in general, and you in
particular, such as occurred in the editorial-page piece in *The Wall Street
Journal* by Frederick Seitz (Attachment 1), have no place in the scientific
debate about issues related to global change. Dr. Seitz is a prominent
scientist, but his expertise is not atmospheric sciences and he was not
involved in the IPCC process. *The Wall Street Journal* essay is especially
disturbing because it steps over the boundary from disagreeing with the
science to attacking the honesty and integrity of a particular scientist,
namely yourself.

*There appears to be a concerted and systematic effort by some individuals
to undermine and discredit the scientific process that has led many
scientists working on understanding climate to conclude that there is a very
real possibility that humans are modifying Earth's climate on a global
scale. Rather than carrying out a legitimate scientific debate through the
peer-reviewed literature, they are waging in the public media a vocal
campaign against scientific results with which they disagree.*

We believe that it is important to separate two issues. The first one is the
scientific question of how and why climate changes. The second question is,
if the climate is changing and humans are causing part of this change, then
what should societies do about it. The appropriate arena for debating the
first, scientific question is through peer-reviewed scientific
publications--not the media. However, the appropriate arenas for debating
the second question of public policy are the media and political fora,
because answering the second question is inherently a public and political
process. And it is the responsibility of the scientific community to
participate in the public and policy processes as well as in the scientific

The recent exchange in *The Wall Street Journal* is an example of why
attempting to carry out a scientific debate in the media is inappropriate.
In response to the Seitz opinion piece, you and 40 other scientists prepared
a careful, thoughtful response, which is reprinted in its entirety below
(Attachment 2). This letter was printed in *The Wall Street Journal* with
minor changes, but without the names of the 40 distinguished scientists who
supported your rebuttal, including the other three lead co-authors of
Chapter 8.

More significantly, a letter supporting you (Attachment 3) from Dr. Bert
Bolin, Chairman of the IPCC, and Co-chairs of IPCC Working Group I Drs. John
Houghton from the United Kingdom and Luiz Gylvan Meira Filho from Brazil
which strongly supported your letter was edited so severely that less than
half of the original letter was published. Eliminated from the original
version was the crucial part explaining the IPCC review process (which was
the stated basis for the Seitz attack) and the key, reviewed and agreed-upon
conclusion *"our ability to quantify the human influence on global climate
is currently limited....nevertheless, the balance of evidence suggests that
there is a discernible human influence on global climate."*

This example illustrates why essays based upon opinion and other
communications in the media or other forms of popular public debate are
inappropriate mechanisms for legitimate *scientific* debate. Letters and
opinion pieces can be written by any individual, and one opinion piece can
carry as much or more weight in the public's mind as a letter signed by 40
scientists who have passed scientific muster over many years by publishing
on the topic in the peer-reviewed literature. By necessity, letters and
opinion pieces in the public media must be short, simple and non-technical,
and supporting scientific data or theories cannot be provided. Contributions
to the public media are not reviewed by scientific experts and can make
assertions and statements that are totally without scientific foundation.
And finally, key parts may be edited or removed altogether, leading to the
possibility that serious changes to the meaning of the contribution may be

The larger debate related to what actions should be taken by the nation and
the world in response to global change will take place in the public and
political fora; and it is our responsibility as scientists to take an
appropriate role in that larger debate, as you and others have done. What is
important scientific information and how it is interpreted in the policy
debates is an important part of our jobs. We appreciate your efforts in this
respect as well. That is, after all, the very reason for the mix of science
and policy in the IPCC.

In summary, we restate our strong support for the integrity and openness of
the IPCC process and for you and the many other scientists of diverse views
who have participated objectively and in good faith in providing this
valuable assessment of the state of our knowledge about climate change.


Dr. Susan K. Avery
UCAR Board of Trustees

Dr. Paul D. Try
American Meteorological Society

Dr. Richard A. Anthes
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Dr. Richard E. Hallgren
Executive Director
American Meteorological Society

cc: Dr. Frederick Seitz

See my bolded paragraph. What happened almost 15 years ago continues today.
By undermining the science the true costs and benefits of the various
alternatives get obscured. Then policy makers don't have good advice what is
best for all the citizens they represent. Furthermore, the goal of the group
of no regulation at all costs is patently unbiblical.

> 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.

The anti-christ's agenda is to get Christians to accuse Christians and it
seems to be working very well right now. I agree that this should be looked
at rationally. You have legitimate concerns -- like all Christians do --
 about how much any policy would cost, particularly to those who can least
bear them. Scientists and particularly scientists who are Christians need to
provide the best information possible so that we don't just have "feel good"
policies but policies that actually help people. My concerns is the
organizations I discussed above are feeding the fears and not contributing
positively to solving this difficult and complicated problem.

> Thanks to those that have indulged me in this.
> John

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Wed Dec 2 13:38:25 2009

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