Menu Close

Global Climate Change: Probable, not human-caused, and good4 min read

Listen to this article
Jay W. Richards, Ph.D.

Jay W. Richards, Director of Acton Media and a Research Fellow at the Acton Institute, recently gave an excellent lecture entitled Is it Hot In Here? What Should Christians Think About Global Warming?  It is well worth a listen, but I would like to quickly summarize.  He asked and answered five questions about GW:

  1. Is the earth warming?
  2. Are humans primarily responsible?
  3. Is global warming bad or good?
  4. Are the proposed corrective policies worth pursuing?
  5. How do you know when you are resisting established science rather than political orthodoxy in science?

Here’s my brief summary:

1. Is the Earth warming?

  • Depends on how you measure.
  • Measure global ocean temps, no
  • Measure surface temp from 1850 A.D., yes
  • Measure surface temp from 1000 A.D., no
  • How do GWA’s explain pre-industrial warming periods? (they backpedal, saying that it is the PACE of warming that they are concerned with, not just warming – Richards did not answer this).
  • CONCLUSION:  According to the most recent data, , the earth probably IS WARMING.

2. Are humans primarily responsible? 

  • CO2 in the atmosphere HAS gone up, and humans are contributing to that.
  • Probable mechanism of CO2 increases in the past – warming caused by some other natural process released CO2 from the oceans.
  • Al Gore’s infamous confusion of causation and correlation, shown in his overlay of global CO2 and warming trends, was a huge mistake – he should have shown that CO2 went up about 100-150 years AFTER the warming trends began.  GWA’s backpedal, make the claim that CO2 magnified the warming, but the unexplained fact is, it did not initiate it.
  • What caused the ‘magnified’ warming to reverse in the past?  Why do we not depend on that mechanism now?  What makes us think that our contribution to CO2 will overwhelm the natural cooling that has happened historically?
  • Other more probable causes?  Sun activity (see Willie Soon), which highly correlates with climate change.  Also, recent Tyler Prize winner, Danish scientist Willi Dansgaard, showed 1500 year solar cycles that occur naturally that correlate with global climate changes.
  • CONCLUSION: According to the most recent data, our contribution is probably INSIGNIFICANT.

3. Is warming bad?

  • Depends how you measure it – it’s a trade off either way.
  • In general, while some places become uninhabitable, more become inhabitable
  • In general, warming is good for human, animal, and plant flourishing – increased crop production, less disease (more people die in cold conditions than hot) (NOTE:  the CO2 Science group is suspect because it is funded by Exxon, but I supplied this reference, the the speaker did not).
  • Assumes that we know what the optimal temperature is – are we moving towards or away from it? We don’t know.
  • CONCLUSION: Moderate warming (up to maybe 3 degrees), is probably good.

4. Are the proposed corrective policies worth pursuing?

  • Even if all nations signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, the lowering of global temperatures was estimated at 0.07 degrees (by 2050), which is infinitesimal, nearly unmeasurable.  And the cost would have been about $10-50 TRILLION.
  • When we could, for instance, create sanitation and clean water for ALL of the world’s poor for about $200B, is this type of unprioritized spending for ineffectual global warming changes really smart?
  • CONCLUSION: The risks of leaving other improvements undone is measurable and severe.  Until we come up with proposed plans that can make a real difference, we will be wasting money.

5. How do you detect whether you are resisting established science or orthodoxy?

  • When the discussion is no longer about facts, but the majority
    resort to ad hominems, professional black-balling, and public ridicule of credentialed dissenters, you are probably
    dealing with orthodoxy and not science.
  • When an increasing number of people with excellent credentials
    are among the persecuted doubters, and are willing to suffer the loss of their professional prestige to express doubt, you may be fighting intellectual orthodoxy, not
  • CONCLUSION: We are fighting orthodoxy, and perhaps not good science.  At the very least, GWA’s are suppressing good science for ideological reasons, otherwise they would engage in science instead of politicking.