Because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, many are concerned that higher amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide will result in catastrophic global warming—including an increasing number of evangelical Christians.1
Higher amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide would result in a warmer planet, but other factors can enhance or diminish such warming. Computer models attempt to take these other factors into account and estimate the amount of warming that would occur. Much of the belief in impending climate catastrophe is based on these computer-model predictions.
Little, if any, actual warming has occurred since 1998 despite the fact that the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide has continued to increase (see figure 1). Hence, climate models are likely over-predicting the amount of warming.2 While it is true that a recent paper used adjusted temperature measurements to claim that the 18-year warming “pause” was not real, this paper has come under heavy criticism from other climate scientists for possible retroactive manipulation of the temperature data.3-6
Bible-believing Christians should be cautious about jumping on this global-warming bandwagon for at least three reasons.
First, it appears environmental activists are changing their story. They used to warn against “global warming,” but now increasingly warn against “climate change.” The fact that “climate change” is a rather vague description that could refer to either a warming or a cooling climate makes it harder to hold scientists accountable for failed predictions.
Second, past arguments for catastrophic global warming—such as the well-known “hockey stick” chart of climatologist Michael Mann—may be seriously flawed, as suggested by the work of Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick.7
Third, greater amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide could actually be beneficial. Scientific evidence shows that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are increasing the number of trees, even in arid regions.8
Climate and environmental alarmism has prompted some disturbing proposals. For instance, New York University bioethicist S. Matthew Liao suggested that we engineer humans to fight climate change. His ideas include altering genes to make people shorter, giving us drugs to take away our taste for meat, and giving us cat-like eyes so that we can see in the dark to reduce our nighttime energy use and carbon footprint.9 He wasn’t joking.
Unsurprisingly, climate panic is often tied to an unbiblical worldview. Secular scientists deny the Genesis Flood, which is the greatest climate change event in history and the only convincing explanation for an Ice Age. Moreover, God promised us a relatively stable climate in the post-Flood world (Genesis 8:22).
But those who see climate change as a dire threat generally deny biblical history. In fact, elements of full-blown paganism sometimes pop up in the environmental movement. For instance, a United Nations official opened the 2010 Cancun Climate Summit by invoking a Mayan jaguar goddess!10
The Lord Jesus told us that good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit (Matthew 7:17). The hysteria surrounding climate change is a good example of the harm produced by an unbiblical worldview that denies the Scriptures, starting with Genesis.
- Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action. 2006. The Evangelical Climate Initiative. This document is essentially a pledge to act; the undersigned are “American evangelical Christian leaders.” Virtually all have degrees in subjects other than science.
- Curry, J. The Global Warming Statistical Meltdown. The Wall Street Journal. Posted on wsj.com October 9, 2014, accessed November 6, 2015.
- Karl, T. R. et al. 2015. Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus. Science. 348 (6242): 1469-1472.
- Curry, J. Is the government tinkering with global warming data? Fox News. Posted on foxnews.com November 5, 2015, accessed November 19, 2015.
- Singer, F. Commentators excoriate a Science paper that denies global warming ‘pause.’ American Thinker. Posted on americanthinker.com July 1, 2015, accessed November 19, 2015.
- Lott, M. Climate scientists criticize government paper that erases ‘pause’ in warming. Fox News. Posted on foxnews.com June 10, 2015, accessed November 19, 2015.
- McIntyre, S. and R. McKitrick. 2003. Corrections to the Mann et al. (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemispheric Average Temperature Series. Energy and Environment. 14 (6): 751-771.
- Thomas, B. Global Warming? Trees to the Rescue! Creation Science Update. Posted on icr.org July 22, 2013, accessed November 6, 2015.
- Andersen, R. How Engineering the Human Body Could Combat Climate Change. The Atlantic. Posted on theatlantic.com March 12, 2012, accessed November 6, 2015.
- Eilperin, J. Cancun talks start with a call to the gods. The Washington Post. Posted on voices.washingtonpost.com November 29, 2010, accessed November 6, 2015.
The information for this graph was obtained from Met Office Hadley Centre observations datasets. Accessed from http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcr
.0.0.annual_ns_avg.txt on November 23, 2015. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government License v1.0.
* Dr. Hebert is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.