Re: Climate change and the Christian (was Another Introduction)

Jonathan Clarke (
Tue, 25 May 1999 21:12:43 +1000

Dear Tim

Discussions on climate change are probably more relevant on the ASA reflector than
here on "evolution". However, now that we are here, let us run with it for a
while, provided the others in the group are happy with it.

You wrote:

> Dear Jonathan,
> Thanks for your kind comments.
> >> 2. I don't have the time to make substantial contributions to debates about
> >> which I am not particularly knowledgable, so I propose to limit my
> >> contributions to climate-related issues, about which I do know a little.
> >
> >So, what is your understanding about climate change?
> >
> Climate change is something that is inherent to the climate system
> (atmosphere, oceans, ice, vegetation). Change occurs on all time and space
> scales, all the time, due to both natural variability within the climate
> system, and to variability in the "forcing" (the energy that makes the
> climate system tick) imposed on the climate system. In recent years
> (particularly the last 150 years), humans have had a discernible influence
> on global climate.
> >To what extent do present changes in climate reflect human as opposed to
> >non-human ("natural" influences?
> >
> "To what extent" is a difficult question to answer, being the subject of
> much scientific research at present. However, there is little doubt in the
> scientific community that present changes in climate reflect a mixture of
> both human and non-human influences.
> >What should be our response and action as Christians to climate change
> issues,
> >especially as Christians in science?
> >
> Well, the first point is that the natural climate changes that occur are
> part of the beauty and order and complexity with which God endowed His
> creation. As such it is it to be admired and studied as a reflection of the
> character of God Himself, revealing His beauty, reliability and utter
> incomprehensibility to humans.
> The second point is that we have been given the abilities to study climate
> change to bring benefit to humans. The biggest benefit is probably success
> in prediction.
> The third point is that humans have been given the earth to steward, and so
> we are responsible for the changes we make to the earth. If we are changing
> the earth's climate (and we are) then we ought - at the very least - to
> understand the changes that we are making. If we are making "harmful"
> changes then we have a responsibility to take appropriate action to attempt
> to halt the "harm" that we are doing and to rectify it.
> I hope that this helps.
> regards
> Tim

It most certainly does. I especially like the three ways you describe the
Christian approach to climate change.

Given that a whole range of human activities -from land clearance to burning of
fossil fuels to animal husbandry - can change climate, how much anthropogenic
change do you believe is too much? Put another way, when do the costs of climate
change out weigh the benefits of the activities which cause the climate change?
What do you see as the responsible way ahead for Christians in science in the area
of climate change?One final question. What is your angle on climate change - do
you approach it from a meteorological, climatological, or geological perspective?

God Bless