Representatives of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and the Evangelical Environmental Network faced off in informal debate Thursday, May 31, at the Family Research Council in Washington. Dr. E. Calvin Beisner and Dr. Kenneth Chilton represented the Alliance on a discussion panel about global warming hosted by the FRC. Opposite them were EEN representatives Dr. Jim Ball and Dr. Rusty Pritchard. To hear the panel discussion, click here.
Welcome to the latest edition of the PowerBlog’s GLOBAL WARMING CONSENSUS WATCH, a weekly news recap where we highlight the continuing strength and enduring permanence of the universal scientific consensus on the causes and effects of global warming.
THIS WEEK: A fungus among us – again; more on Mars; are weather satellites creating more hurricanes?; Live Earth isn’t totally worthless; Laurie David is the GREATEST HERO IN AMERICAN HISTORY; and human sacrifice on the altar of environmental religion.
All this can be yours – after the jump! (more…)
Back in September of 2003, Michael Crichton delivered an address in which he made the claim that modern environmentalism has become much more than a desire to be wise stewards of our environment; rather, he said, it has become a full-fledged religion. Here’s a sample:
I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can’t be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people—the best people, the most enlightened people—do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.
Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.
Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday—these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don’t want to talk anybody out of them, as I don’t want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don’t want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can’t talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.
And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren’t necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It’s about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.
While I may quibble with some of the details, overall that address is well worth a read in full. The reason I thought of it today was that I ran across a news item this morning which indicates to me that a certain someone has genuinely achieved sainthood in the church of environmentalism:
Visitors to the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa won’t find the Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. Instead, on the bureau will be a copy of “An Inconvenient Truth,” former Vice President Al Gore’s book about global warming.
Thanks be to Gaia for inspiring the sacred, inconvenient word which was written down by Saint Albert, and through which we shall all be saved!
Update: John Reed – Media Relations at Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa – left a correction to the Bloomberg story quoted above in the comments to this post, noting that An Inconvenient Truth will not be replacing the Bible, but will rather be made available along with the Bible in each guest room.
Granted, that’s a little better than outright replacing God’s Word with the Goracle, but I still have to roll my eyes at the fact that it places Al Gore’s manifesto at the same level of importance as Holy Scripture…
Via Stephen Hayward at Planet Gore comes word of another scientist off the “consensus” reservation. According to David Evans (who, according to his bio, is a genuine rocket scientist – sweeeet…), “… in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty conclusive, but since then new evidence has weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause. I am now skeptical. As Lord Keynes famously said, ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?'”
Evans does a great job of laying out why the science on the issue of climate change is not settled, and also notes the potential dangers of the current “consensus”:
The evidence is not currently conclusive either for or against any particular cause of global warming. I think that it *is* possible that carbon emissions are the dominant cause of global warming, but in light of the weakening evidence I judge that probability to be about 20% rather than almost 90% as estimated by the IPCC.
I worry that politics could seriously distort the science. Suppose that carbon taxes are widely enacted, but that the rate of global warming increase starts to decline by 2015. The political system might be under pressure to repay the taxes, so it might in turn put a lot of pressure on scientists to provide justifications for the taxes. Or the political system might reject the taxes and blame science for misinforming it, which could be a terrible outcome for science because the political system is powerful and not constrained by truth.
Some people take strong rhetorical positions on global warming. But the cause of global warming is not just another political issue that is subject to endless debate and distortions. The cause of global warming is an issue that falls into the realm of science, because it is falsifiable. No amount of human posturing will affect what the cause is. The cause just physically is there, and after sufficient research and time we will know what it is.
Perhaps the best thing about this post is that it comes as part of a civil, rational debate about the merits of climate science, something that is sorely lacking in the current highly politicized climate. This sort of exchange is an encouraging sign that rationality may win out over hysteria in the end.
This week in the PowerBlog’s Global Warming Consensus Watch: A final pass at the Sheryl Crow/Toilet Paper controversy, just to ensure that the issue is wiped clean; The fight against climate change goes to 11; Global warming causes everything, and we’ve got professional athletes to prove it; and finally, what – if anything – are those carbon offsets offsetting? (more…)
Whoever wrote this deserves an award for managing to keep all of the various threads together. It’s almost a perfect storm of public policy ineptitude:
Just in case you lost track of the bouncing ball, here it is: Virginia has finally put the crisis-ignoring haters of truth in their place by passing a roads package to encourage the use of cars that are destroying the planet, so people can reach their sprawling subdivisions that Virginia is trying to keep in check with tax-subsidized conservation easements that will grow less popular as corn grows more expensive thanks to ethanol mandates from a federal government that is also mandating a cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay whose pollution will be made worse by corn farming.
I’m almost positive that there’s a really powerful moral to this story having to do with good governmental intentions going awry or something, but I’m laughing too hard to tease it out and I really need to get to bed, so go ahead and figure it out for yourselves.
HT: Planet Gore
An entire nation breathes a sigh of relief today, as Sheryl Crow has claimed that her proposal to restrict toilet paper usage to one square per restroom visit was a joke, as this blogger suspected. Unfortunately, Crow had no further comment on the status of her “dining sleeve” device.
You can count on the PowerBlog to bring you the latest news and updates on this important story as they occur.
More: Iain Murray at Planet Gore notes that all things considered, it was relatively easy to take Crow’s ludicrous suggestion seriously:
The reaction to it should tell her something about the environmental movement. People thought it was a serious suggestion because they are used to hearing equally ludicrous things coming from environmentalists. Even The Daily Show took her at face value last night. Until green environmentalists square the circle of modern life with their concerns about it and their proposed statist solutions, they’re going to face exactly the same problem.
Welcome to the first edition of the PowerBlog’s new
- Another scientist off the reservation: Somebody has to start doing something about all these “scientists” who openly question the unshakable, indisputable consensus on global warming. Like this guy, for instance. What in the world could he be talking about here?
Spencer contends there is not yet enough known about the Earth’s atmosphere to understand exactly what occurs naturally to stabilize the earth’s climate.
“I don’t think we understand what happens. We can watch it happen on the (climate) models, we know it happens, but we don’t know for sure how it happens…”
Nonsense. Didn’t he see Al Gore’s movie?
- Thank you sir, may I have another? Why certainly. Here’s Dr. Timothy Ball, a retired Canadian climatologist, on those climate models we hear so much about:
As I have said for years, climate models are a useful but severely limited tool in the laboratory that must meet scientific responsibilities. Unfortunately, they are clearly not doing this, which is why we need an independent audit.
When you go public and allow the output of the models to become the basis of global, national and regional policy there is a different set of responsibilities and these are definitely not being met.
Worse, they are deliberately being manipulated and misused.
- Balance = Bias: The potential catastrophe of global warming is too important to allow dissent on the issue in the media, according to Al Gore. And the major media seems to agree:
Al Gore has complained that the media are biased against the inconvenient truth of global warming. “I believe that is one of the principal reasons why political leaders around the world have not yet taken action,” Gore told a “Media Ethics Summit” at Middle Tennessee State University back in February. Gore lectured journalists that any coverage of views opposed to his own was irresponsible, calling it “balance as bias.”
It’s impossible to imagine the big TV networks actually accepting an edict from a conservative politician to report only their side of a major public policy issue, but a new Media Research Center study of ABC, CBS and NBC’s global warming coverage finds the networks are giving Gore practically everything he demanded. Not only does nearly every global warming story exclude any contrary voices, but the coverage of Al Gore personally has been exceptionally positive as well.
It’s amusing to think that Gore could claim that his position on global warming hasn’t gotten a fair shake in the big media without being laughed out of the room. I think it’s much more in line with reality to say that the reason Al Gore even has a career these days is because the media has long ignored his calls to rid the world of the internal combustion engine or the fact that one can barely tell the difference between Gore’s environmentalism and the Unabomber’s (I scored a 25% on that quiz, by the way – you’re invited to drop your score into the comments).
- The First Cut Is the Deepest: Noted environmental expert Sheryl Crow (who has a career as a recording artist on the side) used to like to soak up the sun. But she’s changed her ways, and what she sees now is not a pretty picture. The consensus on global warming is strong enough that she’s ready to advise us all to make some cuts – and it’s true when they say that the first cut is the deepest:
Singer Sheryl Crow has said a ban on using too much toilet paper should be introduced to help the environment.
Crow has suggested using “only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required”…
…”I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming,” Crow wrote.
“Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating.
“I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting.”
Now come on – this has to be a joke, right? No serious person would propose restrictions on how much toilet paper a person can use, right? It would be an understatement to say that this idea is “in the earliest stage of development.” For one thing, has she come up with a workable enforcement mechanism? The mind boggles. But this is a BBC article, not The Onion, so it at least has the faint odor of plausibility (no pun intended).
On the other hand, the article also includes this tidbit:
Crow has also commented on her website about how she thinks paper napkins “represent the height of wastefulness”.
She has designed a clothing line with what she calls a “dining sleeve”.
The sleeve is detachable and can be replaced with another “dining sleeve” after the diner has used it to wipe his or her mouth.
OK, there’s no way this is real. Unless somebody can point out to me evidence that Crow (or any other Hollywood celebrity) is actually using the “dining sleeve,” I’m just going to write this whole article off as a parody. After all, even climate change is trumped by vanity and hypocrisy in Tinseltown.
John Baird, Canada’s Minister of the Environment, says that following the requirements of the Kyoto protocol would lead to a deep recession in his nation’s economy. Mr. Baird claims that the 6 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions required by Kyoto would lead to a 25 percent increase in Canada’s unemployment rate by 2009. I haven’t researched John Baird, Canada’s economic status as influenced by global warming, or the accuracy of Mr. Baird’s numbers. I’m mostly amused by the close of the BBC article I just read on this matter.
Some opposition MPs and environmentalists countered that Mr Baird’s findings were based on assumptions chosen for their frightening conclusions.
Assumptions chosen for their frightening conclusions? Let’s not forget that we’re daily told that we’re all going to die in 25 years because of fill in the blank which is a direct result of global warming caused by human emission of greenhouse gases.
I wonder if there is a connection between terrorism and global warming. I’ve always imagined the Middle East to be a generally warm place – maybe terrorism is fueled by rising temperatures. I think if I lived in a generally warm place, I would have issues with the West for increasing temperatures too. As it stands, I live in Michigan (it snowed last week) and I don’t have that problem.
Here’s an interesting piece from the April 16 issue of Newsweek by Richard Lindzen:
Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we’ve seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators—and many scientists—seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare…
…Is there any point in pretending that CO2 increases will be catastrophic? Or could they be modest and on balance beneficial? India has warmed during the second half of the 20th century, and agricultural output has increased greatly. Infectious diseases like malaria are a matter not so much of temperature as poverty and public-health policies (like eliminating DDT). Exposure to cold is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable.
Moreover, actions taken thus far to reduce emissions have already had negative consequences without improving our ability to adapt to climate change. An emphasis on ethanol, for instance, has led to angry protests against corn-price increases in Mexico, and forest clearing and habitat destruction in Southeast Asia. Carbon caps are likely to lead to increased prices, as well as corruption associated with permit trading. (Enron was a leading lobbyist for Kyoto because it had hoped to capitalize on emissions trading.) The alleged solutions have more potential for catastrophe than the putative problem.
Well, surely Mr. Lindzen is a bought-and-paid-for mouthpiece of Big Oil, right?
Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.
You’ll want to read the whole essay – it’s well worth your time. And here’s one more quote to consider, which is perhaps Lindzen’s most important: “the evidence for global warming thus far doesn’t warrant any action unless it is justifiable on grounds that have nothing to do with climate.”
I neglected this earlier, but a Hat Tip goes to my good friend Adam Barr.