May 21, 2009
Global warming is about Global politics. It should be about community and communion. It should be about connection, not the conservative agenda. Since the future is un-seeable by scientific methods, the immediate needs of civilization take president over any predictions. Curious as to why there is such a huge debate over climate change and population growth, I decided to investigate further. This week I’ve read opposing view points on Environmentalism.
The first book was Climate Confusion by Roy W Spencer. The second is Betrayal of Science and Reason by Paul and Anne Ehlrich. These two books helped me understand why there is a debate in the first place.
Any discussion of global warming seems ironic since it has been unseasonably cool the past couple of weeks. Temperatures hover in the 50s instead of the 60s and 70s. It feels as if the seasons have shifted. It was 90 degrees in October and 50 degrees in May. Perhaps we were in September weather in October, just as we are now in April weather in May. Does that make sense?
Anyway, the battle is between so-called Global Warming skeptics or the Brownlash and the traditional Environmentalists. Rachel Carson’s books Silent Spring on the use of DDT and other toxic pesticides began the debate back in the 1970s. Since then a host of other books have appeared.
Betrayal came out first, being published in 1996. It attempts to answer various attacks on the authors’ earlier works. This book does site plenty of articles and papers, both as support and points to refute. It contained a lot of good information, but it wasn’t organized as well as it could have been. It was rhetorically weaker than its counterpoint Climate Confusion, yet its logic was still stronger. Betrayal was the best at backing up their beliefs, but Climate was better at battering other people’s beliefs.
Climate Confusion was written with a biting sense of humor. Spencer thinks he is funny, but he isn’t. That aspect alone was enough to make me reject his position. I read on though, trying to understand. Spencer argues that everything influences the weather and that human beings haven’t been a very large part of it at all. He doesn’t place much faith in Paleo-climatology. Nor does he place much faith in people who are NOT experts. Stars, politicians and Journalists should all be ignored since none of them are climatologists like him. Spencer is quick to point out that science is about facts and not about truth. The facts can be bent to fit other people’s truths. Not to mention the fact that scientists are merely human and subject to bias. Spencer believes that correlation is not causation where CO2 levels are concerned. He taunts that “real” scientists are forced to admit that they simply don’t know. Spencer then attacks the church for supporting environmentalism by saying that we must worship the creator and not the creation. To be fair, he dismisses Pagans all together. Pagans and New Agers are painted as flakey and full of faulty logic.
The bottom line for Spencer is that he supports Capitalism, the free market and wealth. He says, “The lack of wealth in poor countries is actually a far greater risk than man-made global warming.” It is impossible NOT pollute in this day and age.
Spencer belittles Environmentalists by claiming that they all think that we should go back to living in caves and teepees. He calls that idea dumb and then proposes some less dumb ideas. Nuclear power, hydrogen power, solar and wind power as well as bio-fuels. He ends by saying that people shouldn’t label their religious beliefs as science nor should the state support any pagan religion. He concludes that DDT being banned is causing needless malaria related deaths in Africa and that we should feel guilty for allowing Environmentalism to cause such a holocaust. There were no end notes or citations or appendixes. The book was less than 200 pages.
Ehlrich calls Spencer’s philosophy “Cowboy Economics.” People believe if they own property that they have a right to trash it. They believe that people are all basically conservative in nature. No one wants to change their ways. Instead of altering our habits, we choose to deny and rationalize our bad behavior. Many of the claims both for and against man’s involvement in climate change comes from uninformed people who only half understand the complex mechanism at work. So-called experts are making some ridiculous propositions.
The consensus of the scientific community is that the earth and its resources are finite. There is a problem with over farming and over fishing—as well as over-urbanizing in general. The toxicfication of the land, air and water threatens the ecosystems—not just isolated areas. Global Warming will eventually destabilize our life support systems, over population and over-consumption contributes to the declining resources. Both developed and underdeveloped countries can be a part of the solution. Environmentalism will not cost precious jobs no destabilize the economy as the conservatives so fear.
My conclusion? Caring for the earth is not about being a liberal or a conservative. It is about common sense! We clean our houses and do repairs because it is important for our safety and our health. The earth is everyone’s home no matter what religion or political view they hold. As a part of a global family, we need to contribute to the upkeep of our home. Going “green” as it is now called isn’t cheap or easy, but it is the only way human beings are going to survive. Spiritually speaking, there is nothing wrong with feeling connected to the earth. We are a part of the eco-system. We not exist in a vacuum isolated from the plants and animals around us. Appreciating and conserving nature isn’t necessarily worshiping it. True, orthodox Christianity doesn’t provide a platform for promoting reverence for our home. For the most part, Christians, like the Jews before them, saw nature as a cruel punishment rather than a gift. Nature was feared and therefore subject to domination. It was a power struggle. Modern technology has yielded great advantages in protecting us from the cruelty of weather, but it hasn’t given us total control.
As I’ve said elsewhere, nature is not controllable. Our emotions aren’t controllable, as they are tied to our most basic existence. The key is to understand and coexist with nature. It should be respected, but not feared. We need to be able to see humans as part of a larger picture. We are neither more nor less important than any other part of the eco-system. There is a unity, a connection, between humans and the environment and it has nothing to do with religion. Scientifically speaking, we must have symbiotic relationship with the earth. To view ourselves as God over our dominion and kingdom of earth is a grave mistake.
There should be no debate, but there is one anyway. Blinded by fear, greed and laziness, many are reluctant to change. Courage is needed to create a new global community!