Saturday, 23 October 2010

A Christian 'climate-change-scepticism' sceptic

I'm not quite sure why the subject of global warming excites so much, well, excitement over whether or not there is evidence that it is happening. For some reason, the question of the evidence is treated almost as a moral issue - as if whatever you believe (rather than whatever is actually the case) makes you a better, or worse, person.

And as is usually the case when human beings become moralistic, the other side is demonised (see John 8:1-5 for a typical example). Read George Monbiot pretty well passim if you're not sure what I mean.

I would have thought it is pretty obvious that human beings cannot go on increasing in number the way they are, and using up space and resources the way they have been, indefinitely. However, not having studied the particular subject of global warming, I'm quite content to listen to experts.

But that's where the trouble, and the squabbling, seems to start, and instead of plain facts we get emotion and controversey - which would be a great shame if global warming is happening and could be ameliorated if only we got on with doing something about it.

As a Christian, I see two relevant strands in the Bible. One is the mandate to rule the earth as God's image-bearers (Genesis 1:28). That means turning it into an Eden, not a wasteland. The other is the description of climactic disaster and chaos in Revelation 8:7-12. That suggests we won't succeed in carrying out the mandate - which means if global warming is happening on the scale some argue, it would at least be consistent with a biblical viewpoint.

Anyway, I was interested to find Evangelicals Now running with a story about a Christian 'climate change scepticism' sceptic, John Cook, who is  a solar physicist. You can find a scary bit of his website here.

Just remember what Jesus said, though:
There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. ... When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Lk 21:25-26, 28)
Either way, heaven on earth will never happen this side of Jesus' return. So there's always something to look forward to.

John Richardson

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  1. Dear John

    How about Revelation 11:18 as a wake up call for Christians where the elders in heaven thank God 'for destroying the destroyers of the earth'?

    Tim, West Sussex

  2. I don't doubt that climate change happens. Look at Psalm 107:33-35. Climates change. No doubt about it.

    I don't even doubt that catastrophic change may be headed our way, as shown in Revelation.

    What I doubt is that all climate change is due to SUVs and carbon footprints. Not many of those back when that psalm was written. Climates have been changing throughout recorded history. Satellite data and studies of climate change on Mars point to variations in the sun's activity being a huge factor.

    When the time is up, per Revelations, there's not going to be anything we can do about it. All this insanity about "saving the planet" by playing the carbon credits economic game, or by banning all incandescent light bulbs, is really just over-inflating Man's place in the scheme of things. The planet isn't ours to save, it's ours to care for. There is a difference.

    We are called on to be stewards of Creation. When we fail in that, we end up with a filthy living place. My problem is with the panicked "we must act now" politics. The politics of climate change have unfortunately led to a lot of really bad science, which in turn is used to support bad legislation.

    Danny Dolan
    Peachtree City, GA, USA

  3. Your post and the attached comments reminded me of the recent film 'The Road', based on Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name. It vividly shows an apocalyptic world of unspecified environmental catastrophe, with morality emerging blinking into a dark future.

    A harrowing story, beautifully shot, and well worth a look, if only for a compare-and-contrast with the certain hope of Revelation. The characters have nothing but their counterfeit hope in an indomitable human spirit.

    John, Manchester

  4. John -

    the way you put this: "For some reason, the question of the evidence is treated almost as a moral issue - as if whatever you believe (rather than whatever is actually the case) makes you a better, or worse, person"

    is an exedingly interesting way of framing the problem.

    It's almost as if a great deal of our discourse is aimed at what could be called "identity politics"* - i.e., sketching out "what kind of person am I, to which groups do I belong, to which causes am I faithful?" rather than actually attempting to understand and mutually engage in revealing discourse - which, in theory, should be capable of revealing new things to people on both sides of the debate.

    "Identity politics" in this sense is frequently not only aimed at establishing my own "identity" and loyalty to some group - but also at convincing others to adopt a similar loyalty, more by emotive association than by reference to facts or common virtues. I.e., "if you embrace that postion, you're on the same side as those people who ... ".

    This type of "identity politics" has become enormously prominent on the web. I wonder how. Perhaps one source is from the popularity of blogs and blog commenting - and the attempt of millions to find affinity groups, to establish themselves in such affinity groups, and to engage in advocacy for their affinity groups (against certain other groups) - often more or less simultaneously.

    * (note - I put "identity politics" between quotes since there already is a technical term "identity politics" with a somewhat different meaning - see, e.g. - I wonder if there is any better word for this phenomenon which isn't susceptible to this kind of confusion)

    James in Belgium

  5. Dear John,

    it is obvious that "that human beings cannot go on increasing in number the way they are, and using up space and resources the way they have been, indefinitely." A fact that would have been equally obvious to Adam and Noah as they went out to fill the earth. The question is how far away are we from being over full.

    We could double the worlds population, move everyone to Europe and the poplation density will be similar to Holland (which, google images assures me) still has lots of countryside to enjoy.

    Furthermore the last 50 years have seen the worlds population double, but food consumption per person increase (see

    The fear of overpopulation seems to stem from a lack of belief in the goodness of God's world and shows itself in people who seem to hate life.

    Christians need to be concerned about the global warming debate. The "cure" for global warming is causing problems now. Increased electricity costs (to pay for windfarms, lower demand for electricity etc) will lead to avoidable deaths this winter as people are no longer able to afford to heat their homes. Maybe these deaths are a price worth paying to avoid a greater calamity in the future, but from my perspective it's a massive gamble when there are questions over the validity of the science.

    Josh, North London

  6. Rev Stephen Bazlinton31 October 2010 at 11:15

    As a literalist and historicist regarding the Genesis ch1-11, along with the apostle Peter (see 2 Peter ch3 1-11) and our Lord and Saviour (see Mt ch 19 v4, Mk ch10 v5, Mt ch24 v26-39 etc), I understand that the world and probably the cosmos is not as old as current science would have us understand and this is why I am a climate sceptic.

    Climate change predictions are based on models assuming the planet is millions of years old, thus the small temperature variations over a relatively short period are assumed to have wil mega consequences.

    However, if in the consistency of Holy Scripture, we are dealing with historic truth then a totally different model can be deduced and the current minor variations in temperature ( which incidently have stabilized) cannot be regarded as soley due to to the 19.25 ppm of C02 which is regarded as anthropomorphic, against the current 385ppm total.

    A Scriptural understanding of a global flood will have great impications concerning climate because of God's covenant promise and the fact that Isaiah claims that it is God who ' created the heavens, who formed the earth and made it, he did not create it in chaos, he formed it to be inhabited' (Is 45v18), should give us understanding that God is, in his providence, in control of the ecosystems and that it is pure idolatory to think that human beings can through legalism save the planet.

    This would also help us understand that some of the contents of the Apocalypse of St John are not about anthropogenic climate change but as a result of the sovereign action of the Creator on a world which has taken the law into its own hands and worshipped the creature rather than the Creator.

    I would recommend a reading of the book "A cool look at climate change" by Lord Lawson. He is not a Biblical literalist or historicist but together with his role in the Global Warming Policy Foundation has a disperate view on the emotion we see over this issue.

    Rev Stephen Bazlinton