Don Batten of CMI has done a thorough job of tackling a controversial subject from a Christian viewpoint.
Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) – a biblical and scientific approach to climate change
Can I suggest you go to http://www.creation.com to read the entire article. I have just given you the Summary which is comprehensive with a lot of data to evaluate and assess.
- Dr James Hansen, the ‘father of global warming’, presented temperature predictions to the US Congress in 1988. His model predicted considerably higher air temperatures than revealed by NASA’s subsequent satellite data, which show little change over the next 18 years, even though CO2 increased in that period. Furthermore, even where a radical reduction in CO2 emissions was assumed, with no increase in atmospheric CO2 after the year 2000, the model predictions exceeded the actual temperatures that occurred with continued CO2 production. That is, the model predicted quite excessive temperatures. Failure 1.
- The UN’s IPCC models, published in 1990. Again, compared to NASA’s satellite-measured air temperatures, even the lowest temperatures predicted exceeded reality (see Figure 2). Failure 2.
- Argo ocean temperatures from 2003. There is almost no change in the global ocean heat content from this unbiased data set. Why do we seldom hear of these data? The IPCC models greatly over-predict the heat content (temperature profile) of the oceans compared to these data (see Figure 3). Failure 3.
- The positive feedback in the IPCC models that amplifies the CO2 effect is claimed to be largely due to water vapour. If this were the case, there should be an atmospheric hot spot in the middle altitudes (the mid-troposphere) at the tropics. Both the global balloon data and the satellite data show no such hot spot in the atmosphere (see Figure 4), which means that positive feedback is not operating, contrary to the models’ predictions. Failure 4.
5. The IPCC models include positive feedback from increased water vapour due to the warming of the oceans. This extra water vapour is supposed to trap more of the incoming radiation and thus amplify the warming. Thus, as the sea surface temperature increases, there should be more water vapour and then less outgoing radiation from the earth. However, satellite measurements show increased outgoing radiation, the opposite of IPCC models’ predictions. As the climate scientists, Lindzen and Choi said, “The results imply that the models are exaggerating climate sensitivity.”45 Failure 5.
A summary of how the climate models have failed every test (from Evans, The Skeptics Case)
|Air temperatures from 1988||Over-estimated rise, even if drastic cut in anthropogenic CO₂|
|Air temperatures from 1990||Over-estimated trend rise|
|Ocean temperatures from 2003||Greatly over-estimated trend rise|
|Atmospheric hotspot||Missing (water vapour feedback not amplifying)|
|Outgoing radiation||Opposite to reality (water vapour feedback not amplifying)|
The last two points (4, 5) mean that the positive feedbacks (amplifications) which are so critical to all the IPCC’s models do not operate. That is, the maximum climate sensitivity (ECS) is 1.1°C (this, remember, is the amount of warming expected from a doubling of the level of CO₂).
However, the last point provides strong evidence of negative feedback, which would reduce the ECS to less than 1.1°C. This negative feedback is probably due to enhanced cloud cover with an increase in temperature. We all experience this; in cloudy weather, the temperature during the daytime is lower due to the cloud reflecting the sun’s radiation back into space. Clouds also maintain warmer night-time temperatures. This shows that in the daytime the reflective effect of the cloud (the albedo) greatly exceeds the greenhouse effect.
The negative feedback means that the ‘climate sensitivity’, the effect of doubling atmospheric CO₂ on global temperature, falls to about 0.5°C. It would be hard to argue that this would be anything but beneficial for the planet (see also later section: CO₂ is ‘plant food’).
Nevertheless, the feedbacks remain uncertain. An independent comprehensive study from the Helmut-Schmidt-University, Germany, arrived at an ECS of 0.7°C and also concluded that negative feedbacks more than offset positive feedbacks, and also that the sun contributed 60% of the recent warming.46
Using a somewhat different approach, other researchers found the median (most likely) value of ECS to be 1.5°C, at the bottom of the range published by the IPCC.47
Our opinion is that these sorts of values for ECS are nothing to panic about. And the IPCC would seem to tacitly agree, because their target (based on the faulty models) is to limit the warming to 1.5°C. The bottom line is that we don’t have to take any drastic action to limit the warming due to human-generated CO2 to less than 1.5 degrees C.
Indeed, life on earth flourished in the past when things were warmer (e.g. during the Medieval Warm Period when the temperature was about 1°C warmer than now, based on several lines of evidence). On the other hand, times of coolness (like The Little Ice Age) caused widespread poverty.
Other factors causing climate change on planet Earth
A study published in 2020 attributed a substantial amount of the warming in the Arctic to the rise in ozone-depleting substances in the second half of the 20th century. Such substances, such as chloro-fluorocarbons, or CFCs, are powerful greenhouse gases. The authors wrote, “Gases that deplete the ozone layer could be responsible for up to half of the effects of climate change observed in the Arctic from 1955 to 2005.”48 Also, a reduction in the area of snow or its annual duration results in less reflection of sunlight back into space, and therefore more Arctic warming due to this, irrespective of overall global climate change. This would be an ongoing effect of the earlier warming due to the CFCs.
Note added 26 November 2021:
A major study of the temperature of the Arctic Ocean over the last 800 years, using various proxies for temperature from sea-floor sediments, found that a jump in warming began around 1900, along with rapid sea ice retreat (Science Advances 7(48), 24 Nov 2021, science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abj2946). This is well before any significant rise in human-generated CO2 (Figure 1). The study attributed the warming to the increased penetration of the northward current from the Atlantic, but it is quite a complex situation.
Again, this cannot be explained by anthropogenic global warming. The authors acknowledge, “Currently, the latest CMIP6 historical climate experiments … fail to reproduce the post-LIA [Little Ice Age] Atlantification documented in our reconstructions.”
The sun is, rather obviously, a major driver of climate on Earth. Solar cycles affect the climate via stratospheric warming, cosmic rays, and cloud cover, and there are cyclical movements of Earth’s position relative to the sun. The 11-year solar cycle is evident in a cyclical variation in Earth’s temperature of the order of 0.2 degrees C,49 but longer-term cycles are harder to study.
The ‘Maunder Minimum’ was a prolonged period of very low sunspot numbers from 1645 to 1715, during ‘The Little Ice Age’, when it was very cold (with crop failures). We have recently moved into an exceptionally quiet period of solar activity. For the first time since the 1600s we have had several recent years with no sunspots. Maybe the normal 11-year cycle will resume, but maybe not. If the primary driver of the climate is the sun, and if we cannot yet predict what it will do on a short timeframe, how can we predict temperatures decades and centuries out?
In the 1990s, Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark and colleagues began publishing on the effect of cosmic rays on cloud formation, which would affect global warming/cooling.50 They demonstrated that ionising radiation causes nucleation sites to form, around which water droplets form, leading to cloud formation. The hypothesis is that when the sun’s solar wind is strong and Earth is protected from cosmic rays, there is less cloud formation and the earth warms. Conversely, when the solar wind is weak (i.e. when sunspot activity is at a minimum), more cosmic rays enter Earth’s atmosphere and more clouds form, cooling the planet.
Dr Brian Tinsley, professor emeritus at University of Texas, Dallas, proposed an alternative model wherein cosmic rays make clouds last longer, thus cooling the earth. This seems to explain a wider range of observations than Svensmark’s model.51
These important areas of climate science tend to get insufficient attention due to the excessive focus on CO2 as a driver of climate change.
Data tampering (fraud?)
- “Test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
The satellite data (Figure 2) show some global warming since 1980, but we need the land-based observations before that to determine if the recent temperatures are unusual.
Dr Evans (above) only used the satellite data that had not been subject to tampering in his evaluation of the climate models. There is good reason for this, as there is strong evidence that institutions such as the CRU of the University of East Anglia, NASA and NOAA in the USA, the UK climate authorities, and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) have been adjusting historical terrestrial temperature records to support the case for CO₂-driven global warming.
The now-infamous ‘hockey stick’ graph (Figure 5) produced by Michael Mann (Penn State University) and co-authors was the lynchpin of the AGW movement. The IPCC used the graph in the Summary for Policy Makers in their Third Assessment Report (2001). It was very influential. The graph was exposed as deceptive; it ‘erased’ the Medieval Warm Period from the temperature record, and worse.52 Mann even sued a critic, lost, and then refused to pay the court-ordered costs. Underlining how corrupt climate science has become, instead of being disgraced, Mann was awarded the 2019 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement!
Mann’s massaging of the data might be the tip of the iceberg globally. Other inappropriate data manipulation has been proven.
Dr Jennifer Marohasy54 demonstrates this for Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). The BOM has had two goes at adjusting the historical temperature record for Australia, dubbed Acorn1 and Acorn2. Acorn1 adjustments apparently did not produce enough warming, so they increased the recent warming with Acorn2! They did this by reducing earlier recorded temperatures and increasing recently recorded temperatures. They claimed that this was necessary because of changes in equipment and situations of the weather stations, and that they were following ‘world’s best practice’, without stating just what that meant. Changes in weather stations include
- Using electronic temperature sensors, which have short lag-times compared to a traditional mercury bulb thermometer,
- Use of small plastic temperature screens, instead of the formerly-standard Stevenson screen—the white, wooden, double-louvred box that is used to shelter the temperature sensors from direct or reflected radiation from the sun so that shade temperature is measured.
- The situation of the equipment, such as urbanisation causing a heat island effect.
Automatic weather stations with electronic sensors and small plastic screens have been increasingly adopted into weather data networks since about 1980.
Note that all the above changes would inflate recent temperatures. So any adjustments to make them comparable with earlier recordings should be to reduce them, not increase them!55 Furthermore, there are proven instances of the deletion of high temperatures from the past records—such as Australia’s hottest day on record, being 125°F (51.7°C) at Bourke on 3 January 1909. BOM claimed that it was anomalous because the nearest stations failed to record a similar temperature.
However, nearby Brewarrina recorded 123°F (50.6°C) for the same day. Furthermore, the second hottest on record, 124°F (51.1°C), recorded at White Cliffs on 12th January 1939, is also not included in the official digitized records (the late ‘30s was a hot period in the USA also; see Figure 6).56
Such claims as the ‘hottest year on record’ (etc.) that are periodically released to the media are based on these ‘adjusted’ historical data sets.
NOAA and NASA in the USA have been doing similarly. Two graphs illustrate some of the data manipulation that has been going on (compare Figure 6 and Figure 7).
Thus, it can be argued that there is no climate emergency. Spending money on an engineering solution to sea-water encroachment might make better sense than trying to arrest the ice melting through radical reductions in CO2 emission, when the warming due to human-produced CO2 is likely minimal anyway. That is, the melting could occur even if all anthropogenic CO2 production stopped tomorrow.
Engineering solutions are possible with a buoyant economy, but not if it is crippled by ill-conceived taxes and spending on ‘green’ power. Indeed, much of the country of The Netherlands is below sea level, and an engineering solution has been successfully applied. Dutch engineers are now helping Bangladesh and Vietnam in this regard.
A paper on the Denman glacier in Antarctica seemed to underline the need to be prepared with engineering solutions. The authors claimed that if this one glacier melted, global sea level would rise by an impressive 1.5 meters (5 feet).71 According to the refereed research paper, the bottom of the glacier is well below sea level and it is only protected from the sea by a shallow underwater shelf. The edge of the glacier advances and retreats from year to year, so they say that it is possible for the ocean to get underneath the glacier and accelerate melting. This could happen, they say, regardless of global warming. Of course, it would take many years to melt, giving time to apply engineering responses.
However, a recent re-estimation of the ice volume of all 215,000 glaciers outside of Antarctica and Greenland concluded that if they all melted, sea levels would rise “up to 30 cm” (one foot).72 This does not seem to tally with the Denman glacier claim. Indeed, we calculated that the contribution of the Denman glacier would be no more than about 6 mm (1/4 inch)! Note that much of the Denman glacier is sitting on the bedrock (grounded), and the melting of this ice below sea level would take up ~10% of its volume in seawater (that is, offset some of the melting of grounded ice above sea level), due to the fact that ice is ~10% greater in volume than the liquid water equivalent. It seems that we have to check every claim made in the name of climate ‘science’!
Concern for the environment
- CO2 is ‘plant food’, and planet Earth’s plants would benefit from more of it, not less. Indeed, the increase in CO2 is now responsible for 30% of the world’s biomass production (food and fibre) over the last century, as documented in a paper in Nature in 2017.81 This is food for people and animals. And with more CO2 in the air, plants have to spend less time with their leaf pores (stomata) open. Thus they lose less water during the day and can survive on less water.82 Deserts are greening, largely because of the extra CO2. With the pre-Flood Earth having up to 15 times the CO2 that we have now, plant productivity would have been amazing. That is where fossil fuels came from, as the vegetation of the pre-Flood world was buried during the Flood and then converted into coal and oil. The draw-down in atmospheric CO2, with the burial of much carbon in the ground and the re-vegetation of the earth after the Flood, has resulted in the CO2 ‘drought’ that we are now in. This habeen hampering plant productivity and the carrying capacity of planet Earth (at levels from 50–170 ppm, depending on the species, plants die).83
- Historically, the countries that have best cared for the environment are those that are wealthy. And their wealth is due to free markets and cheap energy (coal and other fossil fuels) combined with a Christian ethos, which gives a caring soul to the free market. The worst polluters have been the ones under totalitarian regimes with central control of the economy. They don’t equalize wealth; they equalize poverty, except for the ruling class. So people end up living ‘hand to mouth’ and survival is their priority, not looking after the environment. Extreme action on ‘climate change’ that kills the economies of the wealthy countries will mean that they will be less able to afford to care for the environment.
- The unintended, harmful environmental consequences of focusing on ‘climate change’ need to be considered. With so much focus on ‘climate change’, other environmental issues can be neglected (e.g. plastics pollution of the sea, heavy metals in drinking water, surface water pollution, etc.).
- A particular madness emanating from the focus on fossil-fuel derived CO2 as a driver of global warming is the conversion of coal-fired power stations in the UK and Europe to run on wood. Under the Paris Accord, wood is ‘renewable energy’, but coal is not—hence such crazy rules.
- Another example of unintended consequences is the recent destruction of southeast Asian rainforests to make way for palm oil plantations to produce biofuels. Existing crop areas have also been moved from food production to ethanol production (e.g. maize/corn).
Other factors that should guide a Christian approach are concern for the poor, and the welfare of children.
Vested interests are pushing an unscientific agenda
There is a lot of money to be made! For example, former US Vice President Al Gore lives in a mansion that uses 21 times the energy of the average US home. He says that’s OK because he buys carbon credits to offset his ‘carbon footprint’. Where does he buy his carbon credits? From the companies that he founded to trade in carbon credits, which are now worth many millions, having increased in value as he ramped up the hype! The Obamas bought a huge mansion ($US13 million), again with a huge carbon footprint’, hich casts doubt on the genuineness of concerns stated about ‘climate change’.
Many climate alarmist celebrities fly everywhere in private jets, although one flight uses more fuel than an SUV does in a year of driving. We might take them all more seriously if they lived by the constraints they demand of the rest of us.
There are so many ‘researchers’ who are on the grant money gravy train, and they are not going to speak out against the misinformation, because otherwise their funding will dry up.
Even electricity generation companies saw a profit opportunity with the shutting down of coal-fired power stations because this became a market disruptor. When that happens, it creates an opportunity for profiteering, because no-one is quite sure what the price of electricity should be anymore.
Political agendas associated with climate change alarmism
Much of the misinformation (e.g. arguments that the droughts and bushfires in Australia and elsewhere are due to ‘climate change’) comes from politicians who are using environmentalism as a vehicle to push for sweeping social and political change. They are using fear to generate public support to get their ideas implemented. As a prominent civil servant in the Tony Blair era of UK politics said concerning scaremongering over climate change: “In order to manage risk, you must scare people.”84
The approach of the more radical parties to ‘saving the earth’ is to depopulate it. They push for policies that kill people: abortion up to term with no limitations, infanticide, euthanasia, free-and-easy drugs, transgenderism, and rainbow politics. All of these will create misery, kill people, and decrease the breeding of people (look up their manifestos).
They also work for the destruction of the free markets that have been responsible for a massive movement of people out of poverty in the last 50 years (see World Bank report above). The leaders of these parties know that, if they can destroy free markets through confiscatory taxes and masses of green tape, they will destroy the means for people to make a living and create widespread poverty. At this point they hope the population will, (1) vote for neo-Marxist policies, and (2) decrease. But the environment will suffer (as it has in all Marxist states), but presumably, that’s OK because radical environmentalism is just a means to a political end. It is no surprise that these organisations are also strongly anti-Christian, because Christians stand for the sanctity of human life. Climate fear is thus being used to drive radical political change.
Michael Shellenberger has been a prominent climate change activist. He has been a long-time advisor to the IPCC and helped formulate President Obama’s energy policy. He now regrets his role in the fear campaign.85 In his book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All (2020), he apologizes for his role in scaring people, especially children, with the idea that climate change represented a global crisis and that the world would end soon unless it was addressed. He exposes many of the false claims and the unintended consequences for the environment. He still believes “climate change is happening. It is just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.” On Twitter, Shellenberger commented,
Negativity has triumphed over positivity. In place of love, forgiveness, kindness, and the kingdom of heaven, today’s apocalyptic environmentalism offers fear, anger, and the narrow prospects of avoiding extinction.
He joins a growing list of former advocates for radical action on global warming.
A Christian approach—final thoughts
- The politicization of climate science has led to corruption of the science.
- Over the last 100 years or so, the CO2 level has been increasing. However, the temperatures over that time have not been consistent with the hypothesis that human-generated CO2 is the prime cause of temperature increases.
- The science is not ‘settled’, or there would be one model, not over a hundred, that attempts to predict the global temperature. Furthermore, the official climate models that have predicted up to 4.5°C of global warming with a doubling of the CO2 have failed all five tests applied to them. They should be rejected.
- Because positive feedback does not operate, the warming from a doubling of the CO2 is likely to be less than 1°C, which would be beneficial to life on earth. Indeed, this is less than the 1.5°C of warming that the draconian policies formulated to limit CO2 production were set to achieve, based on the failed models.
- The impact of global warming on various natural disasters has been hyped and is not supported by the evidence.
- There is no climate emergency.
- The economic impact of radical policies to limit CO2 will most seriously hurt the poorest people.
- Because humans are intelligent and industrious, we can apply our God-given abilities to solve many (real) environmental issues, especially if we are guided by a Christian worldview.
The idea of dangerous climate change due to burning fossil fuels is unfounded in sound science, and divorced from biblical history.
As part of good stewardship, Christians should be at the forefront of a decision-making process that balances the needs of all the stakeholders: both in terms of economic development and in minimising negative impacts on the environment. A Bible-based approach to government, the environment, and justice will result in human flourishing, as it has in every country that has been strongly influenced by the Bible’s teaching (see The Bible is the bedrock of civilized society).
Clearly, there can hardly be a Christian approach without Christ. Christians need to be pro-active in working to see others come to faith in Christ. In doing that we will also be once again laying the foundations for human flourishing, but also the flourishing of the planet because man is needed to look after it; that’s the way God designed it to be. Indeed, Hosea 2:18–23 connects the health of the land to the spiritual health of the people.
There is a sickness in many once-Christian countries, and it began with the undermining of the Bible as the Word of God from the beginning. When we see the Lord Jesus Christ once again honoured as Creator and Saviour of the world, we will see health return to our nations.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)