Competing Claims on Global Warming. What Should We Believe?

Global WarmingAs we navigate the uncertain waters of the 21st Century, we hear alarming reports of impending disaster as a result of the polar icecaps melting under the onslaught of the global warming phenomenon that some scientists are predicting and, in fact, may already be well underway. Others dismiss this theory out-of-hand and see it as a ploy to expand government control and increase taxes. As world citizens with a healthy concern for the environment and an interest in promoting social justice and a sustainable planet, how then should we react to these competing claims?

As in most current issues that are polarizing and debatable, there are two extreme views that we would do well to avoid, as the truth of the matter may lie in finding a balanced, reasonable world view that gives credence to valid scientific evidence, but is founded primarily on a faith-based approach from truths we find in scripture. On one hand, we have what some call the left-wing radicals, the environmental activists and tree-huggers. On the other hand, we have the camp that seems willing to exploit natural resources, drilling and fracking and strip mining with no concern for the future, thus hastening the impending doom.


An environmentalist view

We will examine first the claims of the environmental activists with the following information obtained from the website of the Environmental Defense Fund:

“Scientists have closed the case:  Human activity is causing the Earth to get hotter. How? Primarily by two actions: burning fossil fuels, with a smaller contribution from clear cutting forests, known as deforestation …. When we extract and burn fossil fuels such as coal or petroleum, we cause the release of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping ‘greenhouse gases’ into the atmosphere. Though natural amounts of carbon dioxide have varied from 180 to 300 parts per million (ppm), today’s levels are around 400 ppm. That’s 40% more than the highest natural levels over the past 800,000 years. We also can tell that the additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes mainly from coal and oil because the chemical composition of the carbon dioxide contains a unique fingerprint….. Clearing forests also releases large amounts of carbon dioxide. On top of that, plants and trees use it to grow. Worldwide deforestation means we don’t have as many trees to absorb the extra carbon dioxide. This means more of it stays in the atmosphere, trapping more heat.”

The article goes on to predict that the Earth’s water systems will be thrown off balance, that ocean levels will rise as much as four feet, and that the average temperature of the Earth will rise 7.2 degrees by the year 2100 if we do not do anything about it. Of course, this supposedly places most of Florida under water, if we believe some reports, in spite of the fact that most residences in South Florida are more than 10 feet above mean sea level. The article states categorically that “scientists have closed the case.” However, there is wide disagreement within the scientific community about the magnitude and inevitability of these changes.


A view from Pope Francis

In addition, Pope Francis has issued an encyclical that discusses several themes on global warming, including: pollution and climate change, the issue of water, loss of biodiversity (i.e., the extinction of plants, animals, etc.), decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society, and global inequality. The Pope’s encyclical focused primarily on the scientific evidence, and not as much on providing divine wisdom on this subject.

Concerning the idea that the climate is getting warmer in general, the pope writes:

“A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it [LS 23]”.

Although the Pope sees there being scientific consensus regarding the idea of global warming, he is more cautious on the question of whether it is due to human activity. He refers to human responsibility to address “at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it”— suggesting that there may be other causes as well. He goes on to name some:

“It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle); yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes [Ibid.]”.

In contrast to the “very solid scientific consensus” he points to for the issue of warming, he says only that “a number of scientific studies” indicate that “most” recent warming is due to greenhouse gases, and he also cites deforestation as a contributing cause.


A skeptic’s view

Then we have a view held by Ed Moore, an engineer who was trained and employed by major oil and chemical companies. He was also a designer for the Trans-Alaska pipeline project. He has done “extensive Bible research” and has concluded that while man can in fact effect small changes in the environment, that these are insignificant in the larger picture of Bible prophecy, and that the Earth as we know it is scheduled for destruction by fire by God, and there is “nothing we can do about it.” He has outlined his views in a book he has written called The Sweet Mystery of Humankind and Climate Change. We contacted Ed Moore and asked him for a brief summary or synopsis of his book, which we have not reviewed, nor do we endorse his views, but we include this to demonstrate that there is not a universal consensus today on the issue of global warming. Following is his brief and contextual response:

“To answer your question, the real climate change is coming soon, as ordered by God according to His time table (sic). The fact is that small variations of temperature, up and down, have been going on in history for centuries; i.e. the great flood of Noah’s days and the long droughts of Egypt, etc. The latest claim they have published in great panic is that the temperature of the earth has risen, 0.01 Degree F. All that great? Then the president is blaming the Islamic war on the ‘pollution’ problem. His latest claim is that the earth is running out of water; then he says; ‘the ice caps are melting and that will raise the oceans 4 feet.’ Please, that claim is totally invalid,” he said.

“It is true, we will have small changes. But the important ones will come at the exact same time when God begins His judgment of an Earth that has rejected Him and has increased their persecution of Christians and Israel. They are described in Revelation as:

  • the antichrist will take command of the ‘New World Order.’
  • the ‘peace’ they now seek will be gone.
  • murder of man by man will take place worldwide.
  • famine follows.

“This is only the beginning of climate change; it gets worse and worse as time goes by, and mankind can do nothing about it…”

He goes on to state that his position is that the climate change issue is “just another move for more control and taxation of the people by the money cartel … as we draw nearer to the Tribulation years, we will see more evidence of mild climate change,” he says. “But it will not be the disaster that is coming when God starts His judgments,” as he references Isaiah 24:20, Revelation Chapters 6 – 19, and Matthew 24: 7-31.

As his views appeared to be strident and not open to debate or discussion, we asked him the following:

Do you believe that Christians should be good stewards of the planet, believing that it will all perish in flames within five years or five hundred thousand years? “Yes,” he replied.

Do we have anything to worry about with greenhouse gases? “Not to panic proportion,” he responded.


What does it all mean?

This means that we as Christians, as well as concerned world citizens, should restructure our priorities to take care of our environment and our planet, but not worship it. If we see the Earth as our Mother, but not God as our Father, then we are missing the purpose for which we were created. On the other hand, if we ravage the natural resources without regard for the fact that the End Times may be five years or five thousand years in the future, then we are doing a disservice to our children and grandchildren and demeaning their quality of life.  The fact that the heavens and the earth are scheduled to perish in flames we know to be at least 1000 years from now, if we believe in the premillennial return of Christ, as most Christians do.  The Great Tribulation, while bringing about wars, famines, and bloodshed, does not mean that the heavens and the earth will be destroyed during that time, but will clearly be after the 1000 year reign of Christ on Earth.  It may take 1000 years to restore the environment to the paradise state that it had at Creation due to mankind’s careless misuse of the planet.

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Bob Woods has worked as an engineer at AECOM Technical Services and WGI, and is a published Christian author. He can be reached at [email protected].

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