John Coleman, award-winning meteorologist and co-founder of the Weather Channel, has long been an outspoken skeptic of man-made global warming. He recently claimed that the idea that humans are changing the climate via increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is "nothing but a lie."1 His remarks are just the latest salvo in this long-running debate.
Creation scientists have generally been quite cautious in their approach to this controversial issue, wanting to examine the data honestly and objectively. Creation meteorologist Michael Oard publicly stated that he thinks global warming might be occurring, although he suspects most of it is due to natural causes, rather than man-made causes.2
Likewise, retired ICR atmospheric scientist Larry Vardiman has studied this issue extensively, even going so far as to perform his own independent analysis of multiple climate data sets (something that few scientists—even those who are outspoken on this subject—have actually bothered to do). Although he considered himself a skeptic on this issue, Dr. Vardiman concluded that evidence for global warming does exist, at least for the recent past.3
But Dr. Vardiman noted the fact that both carbon dioxide and temperatures have been increasing does not automatically imply that higher temperatures are being caused by increased carbon dioxide. One should remember the rule that "correlation does not imply causation." Indeed, if one examines the data carefully, in some cases the increase in temperature actually occurs before the corresponding increase in atmospheric CO2 that supposedly caused it.4 Nor do past temperature increases necessarily imply that such increases will continue.
The debate is not over whether or not increased atmospheric CO2, in the absence of other factors, would result in warmer global temperatures. It would, due to the fact that CO2 is a "greenhouse gas." The issue is whether or not other factors would enhance or impede this warming trend. Due to these other factors, how sensitive is the climate to changes in CO2?
Despite predictions from climate computer models that past warming trends would continue, global average surface temperatures have not increased significantly since 1998. This fact has prompted Judith Curry, a climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, to argue that current climate models are "running 'too hot'" and are overestimating the climate's sensitivity to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide.5
Clouds are a significant source of uncertainty in these climate models, since it is not known whether they have a net cooling or heating effect. A better understanding of cloud behavior is an important step in gaining clarity on this issue, and there are good reasons to suspect that climate models are not taking into account all the factors that could be influencing cloud behavior.6
Christians should remember a few key points about this issue. First, much of the panic over climate change is tied to a denial of the biblical worldview. Despite suggestions that our climate is inherently unstable, precariously perched on a "tipping point," the atmosphere of our home planet has been well-designed by our all-knowing Creator. Furthermore, the Genesis Flood, as the greatest climate-changing event in history, is the only truly convincing explanation for an ice age.7 And the Lord promised that He would never send another world-wide Flood, and that there would be relative stability to the seasons in the post-Flood world (Genesis 8:21-22). These considerations should mitigate climate change hysteria. In fact, it is worth noting that uniformitarian interpretations of chemical clues within ice cores have actually made a subtle contribution to climate alarmism.8
Finally, Christians need to be aware that this issue, like the creation-evolution controversy, has been highly politicized. We should all be wary of uncritically accepting doomsday predictions that may be agenda motivated.
- Huston, W. T. Top Meteorologist: Climate Change 'Nothing but a Lie'. Breitbart. Posted on breitbart.com October 23, 2014, accessed October 23, 2014.
- Oard, M. 2010. The Great Global Warming Debate: The facts, the fiction, and the furor. DVD. Creation Ministries International.
- Vardiman, L. 2007. Evidence for Global Warming. Acts & Facts. 36 (4).
- Vardiman, L. 2008. Does Carbon Dioxide Drive Global Warming? Acts & Facts. 37 (10): 10.
- Curry, J. The Global Warming Statistical Meltdown. The Wall Street Journal. Text reposted on Dr. Curry's personal blog October 9, 2014, accessed October 22, 2014.
- Hebert, J. 2013. Two possible mechanisms linking cosmic rays to weather and climate. Journal of Creation. 27 (2): 91-98.
- Hebert, J. 2013. Was There an Ice Age? Acts & Facts. 42 (12): 20.
- Oard, M. J. 2005. The Frozen Record. Santee, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 128.
* 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.
Article posted October 24, 2014.