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

From: Christine Smith <>
Date: Sat Dec 05 2009 - 00:50:39 EST

Hi all,

Schwarzwald wrote:
"That certainly doesn't mean the tone of these debates should not improve, or that two wrongs make a right, etc. But I will stress a point that seems to be quickly getting thrown down the memory hole here: The immediate response to these leaked emails by some people, including some people on this very list, was to label people as thieves and felons for discussing their contents or distributing them.

I'm all in favor of discussing subjects with a level head and avoiding charges of corruption. But as with other subjects, I'm not going to be in favor of using careful, polite, calm language for one side, while the other side always has the worst claimed about them."

It is in the very spirit of "discussing subjects with a level head and avoiding charges of corruption" that I specifically chose not to use stronger language regarding the leaked emails, lest I be accused of partaking in the "two wrongs make a right" error. I am surprised that you would criticize me for being so non-judgmental in my words while in the very next email chastising those who are employing a stronger rhetoric - you can't have it both ways. What would you have liked me to have said?? For the record, I also never use the term "denialist" to describe those skeptical of AGW because it is inflammatory and counter-productive.

As for the supposed lop-sidedness of the rhetoric being used, I for one would rather hold my temper and be mocked and berated for doing so in a debate, than to engage in it myself. I think that's Christ's model for us standing before Pilate and the Pharisees during his trial, was it not?

Schwarzwald wrote:
"It's not alarmism I was speaking of in this case, actually - so much as the attitude that even if the data is inconclusive (and I'm speaking here about the actual impact of these climate changes even granting global warming/"climate change") that we'd better do all these things anyway, just in case. And not only must we do something, we must do a very specific 'something' despite there being a wide variety of ways to approach the issue even if we're entertaining such possibilities....this also assumes that the right 'externalities' are being addressed, that addressing other externalities wouldn't be an as-good or better path, or whether an entirely different policy wouldn't be optimum. Again, it's very convenient that the actions we absolutely have to take to save the world from certain doom just so happen to be all the actions people the same people are normally in favor of anyway."

I'm not sure I know where you're going with this. You've granted here that climate change is real, and I've granted that the more specific scenarios and impacts are still somewhat uncertain, albeit constrained within an envelope of possibilities. If you're a policy-maker, you are then faced with the following: 1) there is a problem, and 2) the extent of the problem is uncertain, but doesn't look pleasant at the very minimum. What would you suggest that they do? Isn't it their job to seek out specific policies and solutions that address the issue in the optimal way (which ideally, help address other problems we're facing - kill two birds with one stone strategy), and/or to seek input from those who identified the problem for their policy advise? What alternative "something" would you present to them given this set of information?

Schwarzwald wrote:
"But those specific terms are already what you yourself have had in mind, and what others have had in mind as well. And that's a big part of the problem here - one that doesn't get solved by trying to achieve those goals in a more technically indirect sense."

No, the examples I gave such as biking more or eating less meat or whatever, are not guaranteed outcomes of greenhouse gas regulations, nor would they be forced on to people. The idea (from my perspective at least) is to construct a *framework* that achieves the ultimate goal (reducing greenhouse gases) while providing enough flexibility to the marketplace to sort out which solutions or set of solutions are optimal for the thousands of businesses and millions of individuals that are participants in our economic system.

Schwarzwald wrote:
"In the interest of not getting into what would be a very deep, expansive conversation on a greater political subject, I will simply say this: I do not have nearly as negative a view of capitalism as you do, nor as positive a view of government. In fact, I think the very idea of government as "a reflection of the people's will" is tremendously hard to sell. Look at the 20th century. And the 19th century. And the 18th, and 17th, and..."

Well, I certainly wouldn't mind a discussion of political theory so long as we stayed away from the rhetoric and politician/party bashing that I think is what is to be avoided on this list. Afterall (Greg will appreciate this) political science is a science by ASA's definition.

In any case, I think it's fair to say I have a more positive view of government than I do industry, but I wouldn't characterize my overarching view of capitalism as "negative". Rather, I would say that it is good to a point and is at its best when given the proper framework/boundaries to work within; perhaps the analogy would be the government as the referee creating/enforcing the rules and the business sector as the sports teams that are competing. As a side note, just as you correctly note that the "people's will" has been put to poor use in a number of occasions throughout the past centuries, so too could you point to abuses from industry. As I said earlier, neither system is perfect nor deserving of our complete faith and loyalty (indeed, it would be idolatrous to do so, but I digress).

John wrote:
"To me, the actions of some on this list defending Al Gore's Christianity is more of a smoking gun than the leaked emails. I simply cannot understand what kind of Christianity that is that people think he represents. I can tell you it is not Baptist Christianity. Anyone who believes that would believe anything.
And whatever kind it is, I don't think I want to have anything to do with it. I think it should almost be an article of faith that true Christianity is aware of and accepts the wisdom of Paul's prescient and prophetic admonition of those that would come that would worship the creation instead of the Creator, and turn the truth of God into a lie. I just don't see how people can't see that we are already on the verge of that slippery slope with AGW."

I make a point of never bringing Al Gore up when discussing climate change, because he is not what climate change about. At best, he's only its most famous spokesman (and I think that's only because he had a political career to give him a soapbox; I doubt he'd be so center-stage otherwise), which says little. In any case, since it's come up, the quotes you presented for Gore on Gaia tell me that he greatly admires this idea, but it doesn't tell me that he himself adheres to it. If he does, obviously that would conflict with his Christian faith; if he doesn't, then I don't see his talking about it as a problem. In any case, since he isn't on this list to defend himself, I have no interest in questioning his claim to be a Baptist. Ultimately, that's between him and God, and I don't see that it has any bearing on this discussion.

In a broader sense, I don't see how AGW brings us any closer to a "slippery slope" than anything else we do. As with everything in this world, if we keep our focus on Christ, we will not go astray; if we lose that focus, then something else (whatever happens to be important to us, which may or may not be AGW issues) will become our god. If you see AGW as such a slippery slope, then please point out to me, based on the very long email I wrote on my specific perspective of how climate change interacts with Christian theology, where it is that I am about to lose my footing or lead others astray?

John wrote:
"As we have discussed on other threads, in a world where nature is red and tooth and claw, I contend this applies to human nature as well, and as a result human affairs are as messy as the animal world. I am not sure why on a list of TE's and EC's, we apply ideals to humans when we accept messiness from nature in general."

Perhaps I missed something, but I thought it was pretty clear from Jesus's teachings that we are held to a higher standard than the default idea of "every man for himself" because we are created in God's image.

John wrote:
"This scenario has been repeated all throughout history for all the valuable resources everywhere on the planet. How far back do we go and where do we draw the line between Western Civilization's view of morality and nature? Is it conceivable that maybe this is just the way God works? It appears to be that way in the OT when he gave the promised land to the Israelites and commissioned them to go and kill the inhabitants."

I think it is a dangerous abuse of scripture to presume that just because God gave Canaan to the Israelites, this somehow applies to every nation/people in every time.

John wrote:
"If we believe God gave us the earth to "replenish" and to subdue, then that includes all the natural resources like coal and oil. And if there are byproducts from consuming those resources, then we need to adapt to mitigate them, but I reject the negative "judgment" hysteria of "raping the planet" and the like.

This crosses the line to worshiping the creation instead of the Creator in my mind, and where I part ways with with the AGW movement, even though I will accept Randy's assessment of the science and his predictions of the ultimate fate of the earth. I think there must be some middle ground response between denial and alarmism and why there should be room at the table for skeptics like Lindzen to consider calm and rational, non-religious, doomsday type solutions."

As I wrote earlier, I have no problem with wise-use of resources, which includes coal and oil. Does that mean I embrace the whole-sale destruction of land, such as in mountain-top removal techniques, or the dangerous "byproducts" such as "black lung" or cancer or climate change that using these resources entails - no. I think when alternatives are available or when technologies exist to reduce/eliminate these byproducts, we need to fully explore them and accelerate their deployment as quickly as is feasible. But until such alternatives exist and/or are ready for commercialization, yes, we do need to continue utilizing what we have today, which again includes coal and oil.

I think that the viewpoints I am presenting represent the "middle ground" you're looking for, do they not?

In Christ,

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

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Received on Sat Dec 5 00:51:22 2009

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