Re: [asa] finally convinced

From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
Date: Sun Dec 13 2009 - 07:44:56 EST

Just a few clarifications, John. Continents being connected by land bridges was effected by a much colder ice age with the water locked in massive glaciers, not a warming. And claims of "warmest decade in recent history" should always clarify "recent". I believe it is generally accepted that it was about 125,000 years ago when the earth was last as warm, if not somewhat warmer, than it is today. At that time, CO2 peaked at levels at or somewhat below where we were in the pre-industrial age. So CO2 levels have not been as high as today for at least a million years, if not significantly more.

As for higher CO2 being good for plants, there's no doubt that it's good for some things and not for others. No one is claiming that all effects are bad. But papers I've read recently also point out that the enhanced biomass growth due to increased CO2 is partially, if not largely, offset by decreased growth at higher temperatures. I believe the latter was a global statement--one can always find a region where higher temperatures will enhance bio growth, like when it goes from below freezing to above freezing!

No, no one is ignoring the fact that the earth has been warmer in the past. That is carefully taken into account, including when and why, to the extent we know it. So the deduction is not divorced from it at all.

Finally, the next long term cycle that "would happen anyway" is a glacial period. The Holocene is an interglacial period and, extrapolating from the past 420kya and looking at the solar/orbital dynamics, we're most likely headed for another major glacial period, not warming. That's why I said we will need the warming some day. The main problem is that it is likely a few thousand years away and we need to defer any warming till then! It's like running your furnace in the summer to keep warm in the winter.

In summary, the fact that warming is man-made is not "almost irrelevant." If it were, then all our focus ought to be on long-range adaptation. But it isn't. Where the data are unequivocal and not disputed by anyone, as far as I know, is that human activity is injecting about 30 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, of which half is absorbed by the ocean and the biomass, etc. The other half keeps raising CO2 levels. Finding ways to reduce that while still being able to leverage energy sources of all types, and continuing economic development for everyone is not a bad thing, no matter what one's opinion might be of how severe the impact will be. Our biblical mandate to be stewards of the earth means that we must learn and be aware of the impact our actions are having, and to take action where we can.

Randy

From: John Walley
Sent: Sunday, December 13, 2009 6:36 AM
To: Randy Isaac ; asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] finally convinced

Randy,

We are in absolute agreement on your summary statements below. I suggest that would make a great position statement for ASA on the Christian response to AGW. On that I am not a denier or even a skeptic, I am a true believer.

I accept your starting point on bigger picture perspective. I myself am puzzled how we hear constant dogmatic assertions that we are in the warmest decade in history in light of these obvious previous periods when all the continents were connected by land bridges. Whether or not this latest round is the warmest or the warmest in recent history appears to be less relevant that whether it is the warmest it has ever been, and I think it is safe to say that is not the case. I am curious why this point point seems to be lost in the debate.

In fact everything I read about the MWP seems to imply that that had favorable economic consequences for us. I understand higher levels of CO2 and good for the plants and rain forests. So I am not sure I understand the cause for alarm. I personally have been holed up all this weekend and last due to 40 degree weather and would actually appreciate some warming as I have some projects in my shed that I desperately want to finish. :)

Also because part of the warming this time is due to manmade activities seems to be almost irrelevant. From what I understand of the models, the deduction is that AGW is the only thing that can explain the current warming activity. But this seems to be divorced from the observation that the earth was much warmer before. So even if those mechanisms and causal relationships are completely unknown, I think it is naive to rule out the possibility that they may still be in play now as well in conjunction with AGW.

Therefore the rush to do something because we have detected AGW breaks down logically in my opinion. The only question that matters really is how fast is AGW possibly accelerating a cyclical trend that may otherwise happen eventualy anyway? This takes the focus off prevention which I always thought was short sighted anyway if not futile, and puts it more on adaptation which is where it is needed.

And I think your qualifier "that we can influence" on any mitigation strategy is key. That gives rise to what is effectively a Serenity Prayer for AGW alarmists in the church, which is exactly what I think they need, and a prerequisite for ever getting this resolved in any rational manner.

John

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
To: asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Sun, December 13, 2009 12:11:21 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] finally convinced

I'm not quite sure what aspect of Beisner's faith you found admirable, but I do agree with you that we need to step back and consider the big picture, and do so from a Christian theological perspective. Maybe one place to start is to compare and contrast the impending round of warming with the most recent major global warming.

The period from around 20,000 years ago to about 6,000 years ago (roughly across the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary at 11,700ya) was a period of major global warming, perhaps the only such period while modern human beings were alive to experience it. During that time, the atmospheric CO2 concentration rose from about 175 to 275 ppm and the temperature rose about 6-7 C. The sea level rose about 350-375 feet, trapping the humans who had migrated to Australia, the Americas, and other areas surrounded by water. Many species seem to have become extinct during that transition, of which the mammoths are probably the best known.

So far, no one is talking about such a dramatic rise in temperature or sea level this time. If only we could delay it till the next glacial period, it would be great!

What that historical experience tells us is that God's "good" planet has had some significant climate changes after humans had spread across the globe. It seems there are at least two major differences between now and then, other than magnitude. First, it was not anthropogenic back then. There weren't enough humans around nor did they have the ability to affect global climate. We've learned since then how to affect some global parameters rather strongly. Second, the dramatic sea level rise apparently had little effect on human life, other than isolating a few segments of population. That was mainly due to humans being a migrant species that obtained food from their own localized region. Any peril we now face isn't intrinsic to global warming as much as it is to our stationary habitat. We're clustered tightly in cities that are hard to move. Most populations are dependent on transportation of vital goods from a diverse region of the world. Climate changes in one region ripple through to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, many effects are episodic in nature, and not gradual. In other words, the impact will often be felt by occasional storms like the Perfect Storm or Katrina (neither of which are directly attributable to AGW). A series of storms like Katrina every couple of decades, getting stronger each time, is hard to cope with. The loss of life and property must get quite severe before a city moves.

So, in summary, a "good" planet doesn't mean there won't be major climate changes. We would normally have no problem adapting to these changes if we still had a nomadic lifestyle. But we don't, nor do we want it. The theological perspectives that need to guide us include stewardship (awareness of and responsibility for those aspects of this planet that we can influence), loving our neighbor as ourselves (recognizing our responsibility for all humankind), and passing on God's blessings to future generations.

Randy

From: John Walley
Sent: Friday, December 11, 2009 9:57 PM
To: Randy Isaac ; asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] finally convinced

One last for me as well but I have to respond to this.

Sarcasm aside, I see a grain of reasonable truth in this. It comes back to the theology of AGW, I don't believe God created us just to judge us and punish the earth. Like the Israelites trapped between the Red Sea and Pharoah's army, they chose to believe that He didn't bring them out of Egypt just to die in the wilderness, a belief which I also share.

As opposed to some on this list, I don't think we have incurred His judgment for taking the coal or oil out of the ground or for using it to develop technology that has benefitted the whole world. In fact I think the opposite is true that He has raised up and worked through America and other Western nations for this end.

I do think we are currently under His judgment for greedy materialistic excesses and selfish conspicuous consumption and for neglecting the widows and orphans, but not for lack of creation care. Further, we know that Western nations have been the ones that supposedly earned God's judgement by polluting the atmosphere but it will be the third world that pays the price for it. How fair is that?

Beisner's attempt may be a little simplistic but it reflects faith which is admirable. I think someone in the church needs to hold out hope to counter the fatalism from the secular world. I don't believe God works through scare tactics. You probably wouldn't approve of a fundamentalist church showing your kids the 60's films "Image of the Beast" or "Distant Thunder", but what passes today as AGW science in elementary schools is not much different. If any of you have seen those films you will powerfully understand this point.

Not understanding this key theological distinction is what is causing Christians to err on this issue.

John

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
To: asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Fri, December 11, 2009 9:23:04 PM
Subject: [asa] finally convinced

One more post tonight if I may. I just heard a very convincing argument against AGW. A few minutes ago, Cal Beisner was interviewed on the Christian TV network INSP. He pointed out that a planet that would be in peril from an increase in atmospheric CO2 from 0.027% to 0.038% would not be a "good" planet. But we know from Gen. 1 that the earth is good. Hence, global warming isn't due to CO2 and advocating AGW is tantamount to dismissing God.

I hadn't thought of that. Its irrefutable logic leaves me speechless and without response.

Where do I sign?

Randy

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Sun Dec 13 07:45:40 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Dec 13 2009 - 07:45:40 EST