God’s global warming worked just fine
Evidence from the pre-Flood world suggests that we need not fear global warming from carbon dioxide
Published: 11 August 2009(GMT+10)
Figure 1. The glass in greenhouse roofs lets light in but keeps heat from going out. “Greenhouse gases” in Earth’s atmosphere have a similar effect.
Governments today are trying to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the air, because they fear that the greenhouse effect (which traps heat trying to leave the earth) of CO2 will trigger a global climate catastrophe. They point to computer simulations suggesting that result. But the evidence suggests that about 6,000 years ago God created the world with large amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This lasted 1,656 years, from Creation until the Genesis Flood. The rocks and fossils laid down by that flood suggest that the result was very beneficial, with no climate catastrophe, as we shall see.
Aside from disposing of the main climate-change myth, that CO2 brings catastrophe, we first need to debunk a few secondary myths from both sides of the debate:
Myth 1: CO2 is a pollutant. Wrong. Other things coming out of smokestacks and car exhausts are indeed pollutants; things both harmful and undesirable. Examples are:
- Sulfur dioxide, which returns to us as sulfuric acid in rain, and
- Soot, particles of carbon that blacken the landscape and get into our lungs.
Such pollutants can be greatly reduced, and should be. But carbon dioxide, a colorless, odorless gas, is a God-designed part of the cycle of life. We do (and must) exhale it with every breath. Plants do (and must) “inhale” it in order to make all of their solid tissue: leaves, wood, bark, roots, fruit, seed, etc. It is amazing that the green we see around us comes from the tiny amount of carbon dioxide in the air today: 387 parts per million, just 0.0387% of all the molecules in the air (as at March 2009). The amount of CO2 in the air would have to increase some hundredfold, say to 30,000 parts per million (3%), before it would become a problem to our breathing.
Higher CO2 levels actually improve plant growth and productivity. There has been a substantial increase in the productivity of the world’s crops and forests due to the increased carbon dioxide concentrations, contributing to the food and fiber production to meet the needs of the growing human population.1
Myth 2: CO2 is not increasing. Wrong. Scientific records show a clear increase of 30% since 1880 and 22% from 1958 to 2007, the period of direct measurement. The measurements are not difficult to make or interpret. Moreover, we would expect roughly that amount of increase from the total volume of CO2 being released into the air. Debunkers of anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming (AGW) should focus on other points.
Myth 3: The earth is not warming. Analysis of temperatures from many locations, excluding those affected by urban growth,2 show a slight average (see Myth 4) global increase over the last century of about 0.5 degrees C. Whether this increase is due to normal climate cycles over the centuries, changes in the Sun’s activity,3 natural CO2 emissions, or man-caused CO2 emissions is the subject of fierce debate. However, the earth began warming following the end of “The Little Ice Age” (about 1850), well before the increase in CO2 levels due to burning fossil fuels.4 In fact, global temperatures have fallen over the past eight years, despite increases in emissions.A simplistic approach would suggest that increased carbon dioxide levels should increase global temperature, but the existence of 10 times current levels before the Flood without runaway warming suggests that the current and likely increases will not have a major effect.
A simplistic approach would suggest that increased carbon dioxide levels should increase global temperature, but the existence of 10 times current levels before the Flood without runaway warming suggests that the current and likely increases will not have a major effect.5
Myth 4: Global warming must mean hotter tropics. Not necessarily. Much of the earth is cool year-round, such as the poles and high latitudes. Most of the ocean, below a depth of a few hundred feet, is barely above freezing. We could increase the temperatures of just those cool parts without warming the tropics and increase the average global temperature a great deal. In fact, most climate measurements appear to show a greater warming trend at high latitudes than in the tropics. In his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore6 fails to make the distinction. Perhaps he found that particular truth inconvenient!
Myth 5: Melting icecaps will drown the continents. Wrong. In the last 100 years the sea level has risen by 180 mm (7 inches). In the unlikely event that all the ice melted and the temperature increased as much as the highest temperature climate model predictions (warming also causes thermal expansion of the ocean water), the oceans would rise by a few dozen meters. That would reduce the land area of the continents by a few percent. Of course this would affect people living in low-lying coastal areas but there would be plenty of other land above sea level.
Myth 6: Global warming is making weather more violent. Records of storm frequency and intensity show no increase in the violence of weather events such as hurricanes/cyclones and tornados. The number of severe tornados in the USA, for example, has declined 43% between 1950 and 2006.7
God’s created climate before the Flood?
Photo by Eurico Zimbres, Wikipedia.org
Figure 2. Goethite, an iron oxide mineral, retains carbon dioxide present when it forms. Goethites in Ordovician strata (buried very early in the Flood) show a world with fifteen times more CO2 in its atmosphere than today. Other studies show this was common in Paleozoic (first months of Flood) strata.8
Minerals from deep geologic strata indicate there was a time in the past when the earth’s atmosphere had much more carbon dioxide than it now has (see Figure 2 and Reference 8). Fossil plants (Figure 3) from the same strata show the world was indeed warmer—at the poles, not the equator. The fossils reveal a very green, wet world, teeming with animals and plants. There was likely plenty of land area available, with a lack of glaciers and polar ice caps and correspondingly higher sea levels. In fact, there seems to have been much less desert, and much more plant-growing land in higher latitudes than we have today.
The lesson we should learn is that higher carbon dioxide in the air and global warming are good things, not bad … unless you live on low-lying coastal land!
Some secular geoscientists are aware of the higher CO2 levels in the past, but they are not generally speaking out against the prevailing “politically correct” policies, which are trying to limit carbon dioxide emissions to prevent global warming. Part of their silence may be due to fear of the science establishment, but it may also stem from lack of understanding of why the world of the fossils had so much more carbon dioxide than today’s world. To the secular scientist, it is a mystery.
Creation explains the mystery
Photo by Don Batten
Figure 3. Fossils of tropical plants like this modern fern are often found in areas that were near the North or South poles. Photo of Dickensonia antarctica
Creation scientists, on the other hand, have in the Bible a much better foundation for understanding these things. We know that the Genesis Flood buried many land plants and animals (except those land animals on Noah’s ark). That accounts for most of the fossils and other forms of carbon deep in the earth, such as coal, oil, natural gas, limestone, etc.9 The fossils are a snapshot of life on Earth the day Noah stepped aboard the ark. Today there is at least 100 times more fossil carbon in the earth’s crust than is in the earth’s biosphere (air, sea, lakes, rivers, soil, plants, and animals).10 That means the earth’s biosphere before the Flood was teeming with life, filled with vegetation and creatures feeding on it. This, apart from the effects of sin, was the world God called “very good” just after creating it (Genesis 1:31).
Having much more carbon available than today, the pre-Flood biosphere cycled more carbon dioxide to and from its various parts. For example, plants took CO2 out of the air by photosynthesis. Then after dying, the plants returned CO2 back to the air by decaying (respiration of microorganisms). So the carbon-rich pre-Flood atmosphere would have much more CO2, just as minerals such as goethite suggest. The greenhouse effect of the very much higher carbon dioxide levels (15 times current) probably contributed to a warm, relatively uniform climate over the whole earth, just as the fossils show. Warmer oceans provided more moisture to the air, which in turn provided more rain. With more available CO2, water, and warmth, plants thrived. More tropical weather at high latitudes and fewer deserts (if any) meant much more of the land surface was suitable for plant and animal life. God designed the whole system, including the soil, to be rich in carbon and consequently sustaining abundant plant and animal life.
Why fear climate change?
A creationist atmospheric scientist, Dr. Larry Vardiman, once explained to me why the secular experts are so afraid of “climate change”. They fear the atmosphere is unstable because of their theory of the Ice Age (one Ice Age for creationists, many for people misinterpreting carbon-14 dating). Their model, the Milankovitch theory, depends on variations in the earth’s orbit and seasonal tilt of its spin axis.11 The “push” on the climate from such variations would be weak, which makes secular climatologists think the earth’s climate is unstable, needing only a slight disturbance to “trigger” a disaster. The recent movie, The Day after Tomorrow,12 takes such a catastrophe as its major premise, plunging the world into simulated Antarctic weather. The experts fear that a somewhat stronger “push”, such as a moderate global CO2 increase, might be enough to cause a climate collapse.
God created a world with much more carbon dioxide in the air—a lush green world.
Creationists, however, have received a good understanding of the post-Flood Ice Age from former U.S. Weather Service forecaster and present Ice Age expert Michael Oard.13 His theory depends on a very powerful “push”, the warming of the oceans by the “fountains of the great deep” during the Genesis Flood.14 More warmth would cause more moisture from the oceans that would cause more snow in the higher latitudes. More snow in the summer would reflect heat into space, and start buildup of the glaciers. Dust from Flood and post-Flood volcanoes would help cool the earth. The glaciers would persist until the oceans cooled about 700 years later. This theory explains many of the observed features of the Ice Age, such as the existence of temperate, wet, land corridors along the northern coasts of northern Europe and America between the warm sea and the glaciers.15
The main point is that the earth’s climate appears to be quite stable, not “triggerable”. Instead, it required a very robust and one-time cause, the Genesis Flood, to produce the Ice Age. Adding a little more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere shouldn’t bring a catastrophe.
The days after tomorrow
So we should not fear “global warming”. God created a world with much more carbon dioxide in the air—a lush green world. Such a world was indeed warmer on the average, equators being about the same as now, but poles much warmer. Scripture speaks of a future “period of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). It is ironic that our technology is pumping carbon buried by the Flood back into the earth’s biosphere, perhaps in preparation for a time when the earth will again be like Eden—at least in terms of the climate.
Editor’s note: This article prompted an additional correspondent to write, which can be seen together with our response at Bring on the hecklers?
We also had one comment chiding CMI for publishing a partisan view of a subject that is not really relevant to our mandate of defending biblical authority. Carl Wieland replied: “We pondered long and hard as to whether to publish this one, for some of the very reasons you mention. In the final analysis, we decided that even though it was one person’s viewpoint, it was not a pure climate change article, but contained a scientific assessment related to Flood geology, i.e. it concerned issues to do with the past, and was also by one of our own scientists who is highly respected for his work in creationist physics and geology. So as to hopefully make most people realise that it was not our official position (we don’t have one on global warming) we headed it with the very prominent word “VIEWPOINT”, in large letters, in a font type and size not used for our other articles. This was attempting to highlight that it was Russ’s own view.”
Carl’s reply also highlighted the range of views within CMI on the topic, as discussed in our article Global Warming: what is the creationist view? A range of CMI articles with differing emphases on environmental issues, while seeking to be faithful to Scripture, may be found at Ecology and Environmentalism Questions and Answers.
- Idso, S. B., et al., Effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on plant growth: the interactive role of air temperature, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 20(1):1–10, 1987; doi:10.1016/0167-8809(87)90023-5. “Comprehensive reviews of the plant science literature indicate that a 300 part per million (ppm) increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration generally increases plant growth by approximately 30%.” Ironically, the higher CO2 levels also cause plant growth to be optimum at higher temperatures, so many plants will also benefit from higher temperatures if they accompany the higher CO2. Return to text.
- There is a well-established effect of urbanization causing localized heating—a heat island effect—such that weather stations that are situated in such areas show significant rises in temperature that have nothing to do with global warming. Inclusion of such weather data exaggerates estimates of global warming. See Global Warming Petition Project: Summary of peer-reviewed research; petitionproject.org/gw_article/Review_Article_HTML.php, Figure 15. Return to text.
- There is evidence that major variations in temperature relate to the sun’s activity. See Ref. 2, Figure 3. This is an indirect effect, with an active Sun preventing ionizing cosmic radiation reaching Earth and thus reducing cloud cover—it is not a direct heating effect. See, Svensmark, H., et al., Experimental evidence for the role of ions in particle nucleation under atmospheric conditions. Proc. Royal Soc. A 463(2078):385–96, 2007. The author explains the effect here. Return to text.
- Ref. 2, Figure 13. Return to text.
- Computer simulations of what effect CO2 levels will have on temperature are fraught with difficulty because there are so many complicating side-effects, many of which act to counter any increase in global temperature. Return to text.
- Grigg, Russell M., Al Gore’s inconvenient errors, 31 October 2007. Return to text.
- Ref. 2, Figure 8. Return to text.
- Yapp, C.J. and Poths, H., Ancient atmospheric CO2 pressures inferred from natural goethites, Nature 355:342–344, 23 January 1992. The authors also cite many other studies supporting their conclusion, showing that Paleozoic samples consistently gave evidence of having been in the presence of high CO2 partial pressures. Return to text.
- Whitcomb, J.C. and Morris, H.M., The Genesis Flood, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, 1961. Return to text.
- Brown, Robert, The interpretation of C-14 dates, Origins 6:30–44, 1979. Return to text.
- Oard, Michael J., Astronomical troubles for the astronomical hypothesis of ice ages, Journal of Creation 21(3):19 23, December 2007. Return to text.
- Vallorani, Brandon, Movie review: The Day after Tomorrow, CMI website, 31 May 2004. Return to text.
- Wieland, Carl, Tackling the big freeze: Interview with weather scientist Michael Oard, Creation 19(1):42–43, December 1996. Return to text.
- Genesis 7:11. Return to text.
- Oard, Michael, The ice age and the Genesis flood, ICR Impact June 1987. Return to text.
Would not the following points have had a mitigating effect on the climate in the preflood world?
- I understand that the land mass pre-flood would have been mostly forested in contrast to today where I understand we have deforested more than 80% of the forests that once existed. Don’t forests greatly mitigate the effects of temperature and evaporation?
- Preflood I understand the shape of the earth’s landmass was quite different, and the human population and energy usage was greatly smaller. Now, most (all?) of the carbon that was a) locked up in forests preflood and b) locked up underground in coal and oil deposits post flood is being released as heat and gas at a historically massive and rapid rate. Given the deforestation of the planet and the different shaped landmass, could this not magnify the effects of dumping significant amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere over a relatively short time?
My personal opinion is that we should err on the side of caution whilst the debate still rages, and I am pleased to read in the related articles that CMI is treating this issue with care. Personally I see enviromentalism as a great opportunity for believers to demonstrate responsible stewardship of Gods planet. Christians were at the forefront of other great reforms (abolition of slavery, establishment of hospitals for the poor etc) enviromental responsibility from a christian perspective as distinct from a nature worshippers perspective I believe has the potential to be a witness to people who might get sucked into the pagan environmental movement. Global warming aside there are other related enviromental issues such as dwindling energy reserves, desertification, and pollution of air land and water that I personally believe we Christians should address as part of our lifestyle.
With reference to one of the related articles: Global warming (or climate change):
what is ‘the creationist view’?
“…And he (JS) points out the irony, if not hypocrisy, of those who fly around the globe on jets (which emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases) while lecturing in country after country on why we should limit such emissions.”
Ironic yes I agree, hypocritical, no I can’t agree with that. What alternative does someone like Al Gore have? He truly believes (rightly or wrongly I don’t yet know) global warming is a problem and he is using the only realistic means of passage available to him to get his message out there. Is it not ironic that when firefighters want to put out a fire, they will often light another fire (back burn) to bring the first fire under control? Al Gore is convinced he has to get his message out, and to do this he needs to lecture world wide. How is he going to get from one nation to another in a realistic time frame without flying? He would surely be far less effective if he did not fly! Imperfect people sometimes have to do what is less than ideal because they can find no other realistic way to acheive the worthy goal. (note, I stress less than perfect means-as distinct from evil means) I am pretty sure he pays into a carbon offset fund to compensate for the emissions his lectur! e tours cause.
Thanks for the work you do it is truly invaluable, and thanks for the opportunity to provide feedback.
What an excellent article—and the fact that it reflects my own thinking has nothing to do with my assessment.
With respect to myth 3, it seems to me that whether the earth is considered to be warming or not, depends on where one takes its temperature and over what period of time. For example, taking the temperature in the lower troposphere (ref. National Space Science and Technology Center website), from 1979 (when satellite measurements started) until 1997, although the temperature shows a lot of fluctuation there is rather insignificant trending. There is then a big perturbation (0.8 deg C) centred on the El Nino event in 1998, from which the temperature then pretty much recovers and since about May 2002 it has been trending downward pretty rapidly – I make it to be at a rate of about 2.4 deg C/century. On the other hand, the surface temperatures (ref NASA’s GISS website) are certainly higher today than they were in 1880. However, the increase has not been continuous by any means. There was a slight downward trend from 1880 to about 1920, followed by an upward trend from about 1920 to 1940, followed by another downward trend from 1940 to about 1975–76, after which it started going up again. In fact, the temperature in 1976 was actually well below that in 1880 and in the early ‘70s, climate scientists were predicting an imminent ice age unless we took some drastic measures such as spreading soot on glaciers. There is also some indication in the data that a downward trend in surface temperatures began in 2002, although the data are also consistent with a continuing upward trend so we need a couple more years to tell for certain either way. I guess in essence, the article acknowledges this by noting that “the earth began warming following the end of “the Little Ice Age” and that “[a]nalysis of temperatures from many locations, excluding those affected by urban growth, show a slight average (see Myth 4) global increase [in surface temperature (assumed)] over the last century of about 0.5 degrees C” but that “global temperatures have fallen over the past eight years”.
Two other things are of note with respect to the surface temperature records. During the downward trend from 1940 to 1975–76, CO2 levels increased by twice as much as they did during the immediately preceding upward-trending period of 1920 to 1940. Also, the upward and downward trending periods roughly correspond to the warming and cooling periods respectively of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. It seems to me that these observations, as well as the observed temperatures in the lower troposphere, all cast doubt on the premise that CO2 is the primary cause of increasing temperatures.
My second observation is that one would think that even “long-agers” whether secular evolutionists of “compromisers” would recognize the fact that at one point in the earth’s history, all the carbon that was/is locked in coal, oil and gas was at play in the earth’s biosphere and the earth seemed to be surviving and, if anything, even nicer than it is today. The occurrence of large deposits of coal, oil and natural gas under such currently inhospitable places as the Arctic, North Sea and the Middle Eastern desert clearly indicates that these places once had a climate that supported lush vegetation.
And finally a question: What do you make of Svensmark’s proposed mechanism based on cosmic rays acting a nucleation sites for low level clouds?
Editor: Endnote 3 references Svensmark’s research.
Great article….I have been thinking this for some time especially your concluding comments regarding GW’s providential role in the restoration of the Earth.
However, have you accounted for the “fact” that our current planet geography may possibly be radically different from the pre-flood world, in that there is now more exposed surface water? (After the release of the fountains of the deep). This must have a significant effect on the climatology … what, though, I am not exactly sure as I don’t have a 24 layer climate model and super computer running in my head!!!
I often marvel at the thought disparity of secular folk of, on the one hand, perceiving that Earth’s climate is balanced on the finest of hair-springs, ready for an instantaneous triggering that will wipe out all life, and then, on the other, perceiving that “there must be life out there”, irrespective of climate violence, justifying vast amounts of funding for projects such as SETI.
The two are absolutely contradictory, yet both are favourite secular hobby horses. Methinks they have their own shared agenda, revealed so very differently!
Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! I am so excited at this moment! Your article made me realize, or rather helped me to get a revelation of how wonderful and luscious green our world was before the flood. And your line “in preparation for a time when the earth will again be like Eden” made my eyes fill with tears. I can’t wait for the new earth to come! It’s going to be awesome!
I also just now saw that you created “share links” on the top of the page, immediately posted it on Facebook so that my friends (many unsaved and evolutionists) can view it as well.
Keep up the excellent work!
Thanks for your very informative article. I viewed a George Negus program recently. Included in his discussion was a segment on a shell oil refinery in Holland. They are pumping their CO2 directly into greenhouses and the plant life is thriving! I watched a 60 Minutes program promoting the idea that the Maldives will be swamped soon by rising sea levels. The president of the Maldives plans to move his country to higher ground. I found research showing no additional rise in sea levels from about 1930. The style of argument for GW is the same as evolution—lots of hot air and no substance!
Warmer oceans provided more moisture to the air, which in turn provided more rain?? I thought the biblical scenario was that the earth was watered by mist until the flood, this all still in keeping with all the rest of the good stuff in this article. Thankyou
Editor: There has been a common view that the earth was watered by a mist until the time of the Flood, but the Bible does not actually say that, as explained on p.173 (and footnote 3) of the Creation Answers Book (chapter available online at: http://creation.com/images/pdfs/cabook/chapter12.pdf). This book is highly recommended, available here: http://creation.com/store_redirect.php?sku=10-2-505.
I would like to personally thank Russ Humphreys for his well balanced presentation on CO2. Three years ago I got sick and tired of the headlines on the global warming issue, so I began researching it for myself. It has become a very engaging hobby of mine. To date I’ve archived thousands of articles by climate skeptics from all over the world who are all saying the same thing—CO2 is not a pollutant. If only The Green Study Bible had such contributors instead of the politically correct jet set within evangelicalism.
Russell, thanks for debunking some of the myths of Global Warming (GW) and explaining the facts that we should all know about the controversy surrounding GW. I’ve taken an independent look at what is driving the GW controversy and have come to the same conclusions that you have. My study, findings, and conclusions are published on my website at www.osta.com/gw and have been distributed to some of the leading climate scientists in the world.
I’ve long been a CMI supporter and thank God greatly for your work. Thank you!
I’ve also long thought about the high-CO2, lush pre-flood world in relation to global warming, and been uncertain what to think about the issue. Reading creation.com/global-warming-facts-and-myths is very exciting for me.
Some questions arise, though. For one: if the sea level does rise like that, what percentage of the earth’s population would be displaced? I think it’s well over 50%—we live near coasts.
And I would question whether our climate and biosphere can possibly return towards what it was. A lot of damage has already been done! For example, species are already extinct/adapted to current conditions; it sometimes seems to me that further change will invariably result in increased extinction once more.
Thank you for your work.
Many thanks for a great article. As food producers we are bombarded with the "facts" of climate change as revealed by a large group of people who all have a vested interest in creating some immanent catastrophe which can only be averted by the tax payers pouring large sums of money into their ever growing pockets. A little while ago in Australia, salinity was going to mean the end of agriculture as we know it, now it turns out that it actually was due to less rain. (CSIRO, 2009) before that Y2K was going to wipe us out. In that case the investment in new technology probably helped increase the world’s productivity; however climate change responses seem to focus on taxing the average person out of existence.
Dr Humphreys has obviously sought to provide an objective treatment of the issue of the facts and myths regarding climate change. It appears likely that he has been strongly influenced by the paper by Robinson et al (2007) as cited in his second footnote. This paper is full of undefended assertions and the data presented is highly questionable.
I have spent a lot of time looking into this issue, particularly in the last six months. I have not seen any arguments attacking the science of climate change that demonstrate that they have ignored or misrepresented any data. I can see nothing wrong with their approach to the problem. On the other hand, those who deny climate change is a problem have been highly selective in their use of data. Indeed climate change scientists present strong cases for fraudulent use of data, as is well documented on the internet; see www.adelaide.edu.au/climatechange/seminars/climateqanda/ for a comprehensive treatment of the issues.
The limitations of climate models relate to new phenomena that are expected from global warming. Consequently climate models have a strong tendency to be too optimistic. The IPCC has tended to underestimate projections for carbon emissions. Thus, the actual outcomes have been at the worst extreme of projections.
Climate scientists have specified particularly dangerous levels of carbon dioxide, such as the range from 400 to 500 ppm. Robinson et al (2007) have simply rejected all of the science and all of the computer models involved in making these determinations as though it is just a simple hypothesis. They argue that their empirical approach to interpreting only past data is an adequate basis for rejecting any mathematics or computer models into the future. This makes understanding past data more essential and it is important to use the most correct data. It is no surprise that there are no computer models showing that unlimited release of carbon dioxide and methane having no effect on global warming.
Those who deny climate change do not dispute that carbon dioxide and water are greenhouse gasses. It is intuitive that an increase in carbon dioxide must result in at least an infinitesimal increase in global warming. This will lead to an increase in water vapour and further global until equilibrium is reached. This is an obvious logical progression that cannot be justifiably dismissed in some Popper-based view of the philosophy of science. I recommend that readers look carefully at the logic used by Robinson et al (2007) and then check the validity of their data using the seminar series from The University of Adelaide cited above.
In this context, then, we can consider the myths discussed by Humphreys. If the addition of carbon dioxide above pre-industrial levels can lever global warming and cause acidification of the ocean, and thus threaten life on land and sea, then it is reasonable to regard carbon dioxide from fossil fuels as a pollutant, in contradistinction to his Myth 1.
I agree with Humphreys in relation to his Myth 3 that the earth is warming. However, I don’t think it is correct to say that global temperatures have fallen over the last eight years. The temperatures in the last decade are consistent with the overall upward trend. Average maximum and minimum temperatures have risen steady over this period, at least in South Australia. The subject is climate, not weather. It is disturbing to think that next El Nino event could be worse than in 1998. This is an obvious prediction based on the current trends in global warming.
I dispute the claim that the causes of climate change are the subject of fierce debate. There are contrary assertions but there is no debate. Scientists studying climate change understand each of these causes and are able to produce models the effects. Their explanations are entirely reasonable. Those who deny that industrial emissions of carbon dioxide have the potential to produce climate change like to portray climate scientists as if they only attribute all climate change to one cause. This is not the case. This is an important myth that Humphreys would have done well to have included in his list.
Regarding Myth 5, a loss of a few percent of low-lying land in Asia will have a devastating effect. Already there have been reports by Christian missionaries of thousands of people displaced as a result of high tide events.
I question Humphreys’ comments on Myth 6. He (following Robinson et al 2007) has only selected one piece of data (regarding tornadoes) that fits the assertion. Regarding hurricanes/cyclones, while medium intensity events have remained about the same in frequency, it is the high intensity events that have increased in frequency and severity. This is not apparent when plotting them all on one graph. When I look at Figure 10 of Robinson et al (2007), it looks like there has been an increase in numbers of violent hurricanes from 1995 onwards with only a few years before 1965 that were exceptional.
The question then is whether correlating the evidence of profusion of life in the fossil record with a biblical pre-flood “very good” environment is relevant to the threat of climate change. We have a completely different world in terms of the oceans and land mass distributions compared with the past and there is now a human population of six and a half billion people. A significant proportion lives in low-lying coastal areas.
Reasons for fearing climate change are not that obscure. An earth with a population of six and a half billion is extremely vulnerable to rapid changes to the outputs of agriculture. There is no time to adapt and no scope for migration to more suitable climates. The current trends involve an increase in the area of deserts throughout the world. The loss of summer melting after the glaciers are gone will have a devastating effect in Europe and Asia. There is no indication of a return to the pre-flood paradise.
If Michael Oard’s predicted in 1987 increased snow in higher latitudes my understanding is that this has proved to be incorrect and with increased rainfall in higher latitudes instead. Glaciers are retreating throughout the world. Less reflection from ice is results in greater warming.
Christians should be willing to face the truth and show discernment regarding the very real threat of climate change. Further, they should be leading in making responsible decisions for the future.
I am concerned that the article referred to the recent drop in temperatures but omitted the fact that this was not unusual over the past century of a consistent warming trend, is only present in one of the instrumental records, and is easily explained by the La Nina and the current "winter" in the sunspot cycle. Rising CO2 levels produce a rising trend with ups and downs produced by natural influences such as seasons, ENSO and solar cycles; temporary falls do not disprove the hypothesis.
Perhaps most seriously, the statement "The lesson we should learn is that higher carbon dioxide in the air and global warming are good things, not bad … unless you live on low-lying coastal land!" reflects a distinct lack of concern for the poor. If we consider just one example, Bangladesh has 1093 people per square kilometer and huge parts of the country will be flooded if sea level rises by 1m. Where will they all move to? That’s a lot of refugees, a lot of migration and competition for land, a lot of people complaining about "asylum seekers". Is this really a picture of Eden? It is critical that as Christians we pay attention to the welfare of the world’s poor, we cannot disregard such a level of impact because we think we might be ok personally. I enjoy the comforts that fossil fuels give me as well, but Christians are needed as the salt and light to show the world how to be selfless in this.
The Earth has always changed, naturally due to events triggering it. However, climate change is not "natural" in that has come through human intervention and use of carbon stores from fossil fuels. Not only that, but we have changed the state of the planet’s surface too by clearing, polluting, destroying eco-systems and causing extinctions of other species due to livestock industries, mining, over-consumption of natural resources and by over-population. We have failed in our custodianship of His handiwork. We humans may survive, but there are many other species that will suffer extinctions. Our oceans are under threat from acidification due to higher CO2 levels and thus biodiversity is threatened. Fishing is just not sustainable. People need to stop taking our planet for granted. Christians have no place for smug self-satisfaction or complacency.