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The Apologetics Resource Center (ARC) is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to reach the minds and hearts of people with the message and truth claims of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Samford Symposium on Environmentalism
By Craig Branch

{This article is an abstract of the presentation given by ARC Director Craig Branch at Samford University on April 21, 2007.}

The University of Connecticut’s Center for Survey Research and Analysis released a study last Earth Day (4/19/06) which indicated 66% of Americans believe that gradual global warming is true and is caused by carbon dioxide emissions from cars, factories and power plants. Only 31% do not. I was invited by the Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education to present an Evangelical Christian perspective on Environmental Stewardship at a conference featuring Dr. E.O. Wilson, Biology professor at Harvard University and known as the “Father of Environmentalism.”

Also a featured presenter was the Reverend Sally Bingham, an Episcopal priest in San Francisco and founder of The Regeneration Project.

Dr. Wilson stated that he saw the human abuse of the environment so dire, and the two most powerful forces in American society being science and the Christian Church, he wanted to “extend an olive branch” to the Evangelical community, and explore common goals and ways to cooperate on environmental stewardship.

My presentation had several purposes. The first was to clarify what “evangelicalism” is in relation to broad, nominal Christianity. Then I presented the basics of the Biblical doctrine of Environmental Stewardship from the cultural and creation mandate given in Genesis 1 and 2, the effect of the Fall and curse in Gen. 3, the new covenant in the New Testament, and all the way to the final judgment and new heavens and new earth. This view is held by almost all evangelicals but horribly neglected in teaching and practice.

We are to be involved with protecting and using creation is such a way as to preserve its usefulness to serve mankind, not on the basis of greed, or exploitation, but to best serve the human race. This includes numerous environmental issues.

But inevitably the issue is framed by the most important questions on who makes the decisions, on what grounds and with what approaches to resolve, on what basis for all these decisions, and with what consequences. I attempted to explain that evangelicalism is not monolithic in its response to the threat of climate change and global warming. The views range from (1) denial of any significant, enduring global warming trend; (2) some warming but without a human induced causation; (3) some warming with some human induction; (4) catastrophic warming with mostly human culpability.

I explained also that the response steps and solutions varied corresponding to the various scenarios listed above. I also stated that on environmental stewardship in general, most evangelical churches had seriously neglected both teaching and activism in that doctrine.

I stressed that we can and should work together with those outside our faith on like-minded projects, but without compromise of our basic or core beliefs. I disagreed with Dr. Wilson that science and Christianity are fundamentally at odds.

I then proceeded to present the two dominate views within evangelicalism on climate control and global warming. On the believing side I told of several working groups of evangelicals who are strong activists in combating this condition. I read excerpts from the documents and a quote from evangelical leader David Gushee supporting those in the Wilson-Bingham camp.

I then presented information about a formidable group of evangelical leaders and scientists who have debated and published, papers allegedly refuting the other sides claims. I also quoted a number of scientists who also oppose the global warming conclusions, as well as revisions being made by various pro global warming institutions like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), lessening the danger.

My purpose was to help everyone understand the reason for much reservation within Christian circles on engaging in strong activism on this particular popular issue. I quoted several respected scientists who claimed to refute the majority of claims made in Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” film.

I pointed to a probable cause for the confusion as was thoroughly laid out by Dr. Daniel Sarweitz who warns that often the attempts of such a diversified assortment of scientific fields and approaches, goals, and agendas, add to the confusion rather than present a valid consensus.

I ended with a challenge from Dr. John Bergstrom, professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at University of Georgia who wrote the lead article in our journal on Environmental Stewardship, to take seriously our call to engage in active stewardship, yet always guided by understood Biblical principles.

[Sally Bingham publicly stated that I misled the audience with my quotes from one scientist who she (and Dr. Wilson) claimed was found to be a fraud. I will address that in a postscript]

Presentation at Samford University, April 21, 2007

I am Craig Branch, director of the Apologetics Resource Center headquartered here in Birmingham. I want to thank the Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education for the opportunity to present an evangelical Christian perspective on Environmental Stewardship or responsibility. For those who are unfamiliar with the term Apologetics, it is an area of historical study within Christianity which involves defining, defending and advancing the worldview truth claims of the Christian faith.

Let me begin with a couple of clarification qualifiers. First, the term "Evangelicalism" represents a multi-denominational subgroup within the spectrum of professing Christianity. Evangelicalism’s distinctives are a belief in the inspiration, infallibility, and absolute authority of the Bible, also the one true God is the Triune God, and salvation is only by grace through repentance and faith alone in the redemption offered through Jesus Christ, and belief in the literal bodily resurrection of Christ. Using more colloquial terminology, evangelical Christianity is usually represented as conservative Christianity rather than moderate or liberal versions.

Within the multi-denominational evangelical spectrum, we all agree on the basics, and on most of the non-essential doctrines, but there are some differences of interpretation on some doctrinal issues.

So, today as I present the evangelical doctrine or position on environmental stewardship, I will present the defining characteristics of the two major groups within evangelicalism that agree on doctrine but are at odds on whether aspects of the current situation applies, or if they do apply, and to what course of action adheres to Biblical standards. There is not monolithic position although there is much congruency.

In addition, Christians should welcome any opportunity to work alongside people of different belief systems as cobelligerents on like-minded projects, as long as we do not compromise the standards of our faith. Like Dr. Wilson has said – let’s interact and see where it can go. I must say though that I do not agree with Dr. Wilson when he indicated that science and Christianity are at odds with one another. We believe Christianity is a science starter, not a science stopper. In fact our ministry has produced two journals which I believe establish that claim, “Science vs. Christianity”, and “Evolution or Creation?”

Regarding Evangelical churches, I must state that by-in-large, we have been seriously negligent in understanding the Biblical call and instructions on Environmental Stewardship. That needs to change. Many conservative churches, by-in-large have been reticent to be involved in social justice issues because of the perception that liberal churches do that. But that is wrong and must change. And it is beginning to change. Historically this responsibility/doctrine has been known as "the cultural mandate," normally in the Reformed theological tradition.

I understand I was chosen to speak because we work closely with most all evangelical Christian denominations and because of exposure to the Jan-Feb edition of our ministry’s Areopagus Journal, which is devoted to Environmental Stewardship.

So what is the Biblical doctrine of Environmental Stewardship? Biblical doctrine is not based on a verse or proof text here and there but on a theme of corresponding and interrelated passages.

Genesis 1:27-28 and 2:15 tells us that God produced a special creation – male and female, Mankind. I say “special” because it is the only creation God created in His own image. Man uniquely possesses many attributes of God, in a finite way. Man is a rational being with intellect. He can reason, has a will to choose. Man is moral by nature. He can love. He’s a relational and spiritual being. And he can exercise dominion.

In fact God explicitly appoints mankind to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it or have dominion over all of God’s creation, and He pronounced this arrangement as “very good.”

So what does “subdue it” or “have dominion over the earth” mean? It means that although the earth belongs to God, He has appointed its existence to serve human needs. But this dominion and subjugation is an entrusted stewardship. Man is biologically related to and interdependent on earth. Man is a caretaker of the earth. The earth is not to be elevated above or even equal to man as Eastern religions or new age pantheistic GAIA beliefs do. Worship is alone to God, not man or creation.

The process of exercising stewardship involves economic and ethical decisions. Economic growth must be sustainable growth – that is, meeting peoples needs while preserving resources and the sustaining capacity of the environment.

The Bible tells us that we are our brother’s Keeper. We are to love our neighbor, and when Jesus was asked, “who is your neighbor?” he pointed to someone outside their culture, even an enemy. The Good Samaritan gave financially to help get the injured Jew back on his feet. Jesus tells us that we are to responsibly feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, to visit or help the sick and to share our resources with anyone who has a legitimate need.

But there is the reality of the Fall – the rebellion of disobedience and human autonomy from God. Man and creation were cursed – death entering into the cosmos. Man’s fall into sin makes the propensity and actuality of abuse inevitable. This tendency towards abuse and making decisions that lead to death applies to individuals and collectively to families, voluntary associations, business enterprises, and governments – All human institutions.

Environmental abuses occur. Governments, business enterprises and individuals put toxic wastes into air, water and land. They (we) used mineral, plant, and animal resources wastefully – refusing to accept responsibility or restrain themselves from harmful actions. This is why laws for environmental protection are warranted to some degree. Man tends toward materialism, greed, selfishness.

But the dominion/stewardship mandate continued after the Fall, even though stewardship then became more difficult (more on that later). The restoration mandate was repeated after the flood in Gen. 9:11, when God made a covenant that “never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” This covenant has the implication that the earth and its inhabitants will be sustained until the final judgment and consummation of the new heavens and new earth.

But until then, how does God intend for people to subdue the earth, to exercise dominion or stewardship over it and what should that look like?

Indeed, it is inevitable that people will make such decisions. The great questions are: Who will make them, on what grounds or basis, and with what consequences? Will most decisions be made by individuals, private bodies, or civil governments? Will they be made on utilitarian or absolutist ethical grounds, with whose benefit in mind – the individual, the human community, the natural world, or the whole biosphere? To whom are people accountable for the use of creation? All ethics and legislation is based on someone’s morality – whose? And finally, how and to what extent can we know and ensure the consequences of our decisions?

The answers to those questions begin with being restored into a vital relationship with God through repentance and receiving the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. Then comes a transformational process of the renewal of our minds and hearts through the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

There is a general agreement among knowledgeable evangelicals on the Biblical basis for Environmental Stewardship. In fact two important evangelical documents have been written. One is titled “For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility.” It has a section titled “We labor to protect God’s creation”. The National Evangelical Association endorses it. A second document is titled the Cornwall Declaration. It states, “While some environmental concerns are well founded and serious, others are without foundation or greatly exaggerated. Some well-founded concerns focus on human health problems in the developing world arising from inadequate sanitation, widespread use of primitive biomass fuels like wood and dung, and primitive agricultural, industrial, and commercial practices; distorted resource consumption patterns driven by perverse economic incentives; and improper disposal of nuclear and other hazardous wastes in nations lacking adequate regulatory and legal safeguards. Some unfounded or undue concerns include fears of destructive manmade global warming, overpopulation, and rampant species loss.”

But there remain some significant differences within our ranks. Did you catch the first sentence in the Cornwall Declaration? “While some environmental concerns are well founded and serious, others are without foundation or greatly exaggerated.”

The big centerpiece issue in the environmental movement today is Climate Control and Global Warming. This is also a major focus of division.

There is a significant movement within evangelicals that accepts that global warming is real and dire. For example, a recent statement was issued by the Evangelical Climate Initiative group, titled “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” It was signed by 86 evangelical Christian leaders, including presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, and mega-church network pastors Rick Warren and Bill Hybels.

Early in the statement, a very significant proposition is made. It states “Because all religious/moral claims about climate change are relevant only if climate change is real and is mainly human-induced, everything hinges on the scientific data. As evangelicals we have hesitated to speak on this issue until we could be more certain of the science of climate change, but the signatories now believe that the evidence demands action.”

There is an issue of conflicting scientific data on the topic as well, questions on even the value of science due to its multi-disciplinary matrix of focuses and agendas.

Another major document which sets forth an exhortation for Evangelical involvement in Environmental Stewardship is “An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation,” released in late 2005, by the Evangelical Environmental Network. Ron Sider is the prime mover of this Network, and who formed a partnership with the late popular secular scientists Carl Sagan and Jay Gould, in order to make a joint appeal by religion and science for the environment. But this document too has been criticized by other Evangelicals for some unproven hypotheses and vague solutions.

There is another initiative taking place to unite secular scientist with Evangelicals which Dr. Wilson spoke of last night. But apparently national media has incorrectly communicated that the National Association of Evangelicals have joined with scientists at the Center for Health and Global Environment at Harvard Medical School which issued a letter to President Bush and other major political leaders titled “An Urgent Call to Action.”

The media assumed that because the NAE’s vice president for Governmental Affairs, Richard Cizik collaborated on the letter, that the NAE endorsed it. But the NAE did not participate nor endorse it as their official policy states, “Recognizing the ongoing debate regarding the causes and origins of global warming, and understanding the lack of consensus among the Evangelical community on this issue, the NAE Executive Committee, while affirming our love for the Creator and His creation, directs the NAE staff to stand by and not exceed in any fashion our approved and adopted statements concerning the environment within the Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility.”

Now on the other side there are a group of influential Evangelicals who agree with their colleagues who signed the documents about environmental stewardship, but do not agree with the application of it to Global Warming. One of the most formidable and active critics of Global Warming within evangelical circles is a group called Interfaith Stewardship Alliance made up of evangelical leaders, as well as, many scientists.
They have produced two important documents. One is titled, “A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming.” The second is “An Open Letter to the Signers of ‘Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action’ and others concerning Global Warming.” They have 160 Christian leaders and scientist signers and endorsers.

In it they claim to present extensive evidence and argument against the extent, and the significance of the much touted scientific consensus on catastrophic human-induced global warming.

They maintain that the best scientific evidence is that natural causes may account for a large part of the global warming in the last 30 years, but there have been many rising and falling cycles of global average temperature – well within the bounds of natural variability.

They also maintain that harm caused by Government mandated carbon dioxide emissions reductions, and mandated reductions in energy consumption will far exceed their benefits and this harm will be felt primarily by the poor. I strongly urge everyone to read the articles and documentation on their website (www.interfaithstewardship.org) as well as the pro-climate change documents mentioned earlier.

But then listen to Professor David Gushee at the evangelical Union University, and member of the Evangelical Climate Initiative writes in the Associated Baptist Press, “The global communities of science, business and policymaking have largely moved past the debate about whether humans are causing serious climate change and on to the question of what to do about it. But the conservative Christian sector in the United States remains either indifferent or deeply divided, and our reticence is slowing the movement of climate policy in the United States…All but a very tiny fringe of skeptics now agree that global warming is happening…On the question of whether climate warming is primarily human-caused, Professor Beisner quoted a number of scientists to claim that this remains an open question. I concede that there is not a 100 percent consensus on this issue among North American climate scientists. But I am still impressed by the fact that the strong majority of climate scientists, including the consortium of scientists called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as the national science academies of all leading industrialized countries, accept that climate change as we see it today is primarily human-induced…The mechanism for this human-caused warming is clear. It is primarily caused by the release from our cars, homes, factories and farms of billions of tons of heat-trapping gases (‘greenhouse gases’) that stay in the atmosphere for decades and block the escape of thermal radiation from the planet’s surface.”

So there is the dilemma.

I found it interesting that last month an organization called Intelligence Squared held a debate, broadcast on NPR, on the motion, “Global Warming is Not a Crisis.” There were 3 top scientists in their field debating on each side of the issue. Before the debate the audience was polled and 30% voted for the motion, 57% against, and 13% undecided. After the debate 46% voted for the motion, 42% against, and 13% were still undecided.

The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance also points out there is growing evidence that continued research is shifting against catastrophic human-induced global warming. For example, the most cited and respected body by the pro global warming advocates is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In their 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, they reduced the projected temperature impact of human-induced climate change by 25%, from their 2001 assessment report.
The 4th assessment also reduced the estimate of negative human contribution by 35% and greatly increased the roles of solar energy, sun spots and solar wind as contributions. They also concluded that there is no evidence that extreme weather events are increasing in any systematic way, agreeing with the U.S. National Hurricane Center and the World Meteorological Organization.

The World Meteorological Organization released a statement that no firm conclusion can yet be made for human induced climate change causing tropical cyclones and that no individual tropical cyclone can be attributed to climate change.

Several IPCC leading scientists have withdrawn in protest over what they say are continued unsubstantiated claims held by the group. For example Dr. Christopher Landsea, a climatologist and the Science Operation officer at the U.S. National Hurricane Center withdrew after a dismissal of his denials that man-made global warming was the cause of the 2004 active Atlantic hurricane season.

Richard Lindzen is the Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT and is a contributing author to the IPCC. He was featured in an article in Newsweek last week saying “Many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the current warming trend we’ve seen will amount to anything close to catastrophic.”

Lindzen (in addition to many other scientists) have expressed amazement and disdain over the claims of Al Gore in his Academy Award Winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Gore claims “there is no longer any serious debate over the basic points that make up the consensus on global warming.”

Lindzen in the Wall St. Journal, and other scientists in other forums, have taken apart most of Gore’s claims. I don’t have time here to list them but do a Google search and evaluate the assessments yourself.

I will add something though as it is a valuable resource to read. Al Gore testified last month at a congressional sub-committee hearing on Energy and Environment. After he briefly spoke and presented a 3 page paper, Bjorn Lomborg, a professor from the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Copenhagen Business School, spoke to the committee and presented a 23 page paper with 4 pages full of scientific, peer-reviewed articles and journals. Lomborg is the author of A Skeptical Environmentalist.

He made the following points:
1. Global warming is real and is man-made.
2. But statements about the strong, ominous and immediate consequences of global warming are often wildly exaggerated.
3. We need a stronger focus on smart solutions rather than excessive efforts.
4. Climate change is not the only issue on the global agenda and is one where we can do the least good first. If we follow Al Gore's recommendations, we will likely end up choosing very bad policies.

In the few minutes I have left, I want to focus on the issue of the problem of science. I do not agree with those who say Christianity and science are not compatible. We produced a journal which establishes that Christianity has always been a science starter, not stopper. But I speak of true science, not scientism or the philosophy of naturalistic materialism.

But I want to point you to a secular academic, Dr. Daniel Sarewitz, of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University, who published a major relevant article in Environmental Science and Policy in 2004, titled "How Science Makes Environmental Controversies Worse." He published a more popular version in the March-April issue of American Scientist.

In the paper's abstract Sarewitz writes, "Scientific uncertainty which so often occupies a central place in environmental controversies, can be understood not as a lack of scientific understanding, but as a lack of coherence among competing scientific understandings, amplified by the various political, cultural, and institutional contexts within which science is carried out."

He elaborates, "Consider climate change, which may variously be understood as a problem of climate impacts, biodiversity, land use, energy use, water use, agricultural productivity, public health, economic development, demographics and so forth. Each of these concerns involves a variety of interests and values, of potential winners and losers, and each depends on a body of relevant knowledge to help define, understand, anticipate and respond to the problem. The very wealth of reliable scientific information becomes an obstacle to achieving any type of shared understanding of what climate change ‘means.’ That is, the problem is not a lack of scientific input so much as the contrary – a huge and evolving body of knowledge with components that can be legitimately assembled and interpreted in different ways to yield competing views of the issue at hand.”

I will close with a quote from one of our Environmental Stewardship journal articles by Dr. John Bergstrom, Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Georgia who writes, “Christians are in a unique position to offer thoughtful solutions to the environmental and natural resource problems and issues we face in the world today. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there is growing recognition on the part of people from a variety of professional and personal backgrounds that effective, long-term solutions to natural resource and environmental problems and issues requires an appropriate moral basis for action. God’s Word found in the Holy bible provides this moral basis in the form of a Christian environmental ethic that results in responsible and caring stewardship of all of God’s creation. The principles of Creation Value, Sustained Order and Purpose, and Universal Corruption and Redemption provide the foundation of a Christian environmental ethic. To practice effective Christian environmental stewardship, we must work on increasing our knowledge of these principles from biblical, scientific and practical policy and management perspectives.”

Postscript

After Dr. Wilson, myself, and Sally Bingham spoke there was a time for questions and answers from the audience. But before that began, Mrs. Bingham appeared quite agitated and concerned and took it upon herself to initiate what she believed was a needed correction.

She addressed me in the microphone saying that she was quite upset and surprised that I would quote Bjorn Lomborg as an authority, yet who had been declared a fraud by the Danish government. She went on to say that I had misled the audience by using this fraudulent source and that was shameful.

I do not know if Dr. Wilson’s voice was heard through the microphone but he added that it was not the Danish government (as Mrs. Bingham said), but was the Academy of Science in Denmark that said Lomborg was dishonest in his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. The audience responded with some applause.

My response was that I was not aware of any controversy concerning Lomborg. I was quoting from his multi peer reviewed document presentation at the U.S. Congressional hearings only a month ago, and I could not imagine someone who’s been discredited as a fraud being allowed to testify before Congress.

The Reverend Bingham did pass me a note apologizing. She said her comments were “not meant to be personal.” She went on to say that she “knew there were people still wondering about the reality of the problem” but she had “honestly never been in the room with one or on the same panel, at least in the last five years.” She also passed me a several page overview of “The Stern Report” claiming it would answer any questions about cost/benefit ratios of environmental activism toward global warming.

During the question and answer session I stated that one of my life’s adages ironically was actually originally said by a famous agnostic, John Stewart Mill, who said, “He who only knows his side of a story, knows little of that.” I really believe in testing or formulating one’s position by weighing the best arguments and perspectives.

Apparently Reverend Bingham hasn’t been willing to weigh or test her beliefs in at least five years. This is disappointing for me. I am concerned because I recognize the beginning of a disturbing profile. I have been an expert in cults for many years. There have been certain well-established criteria for the implementation of what’s called mind-control, thought reform or more colloquially, “brainwashing.”

Secular psychiatrist Robert Lifton has listed a number of criteria or methodological factors that fosters this state. Some of these are: “information or milieu control” where attempts are made to restrict or discredit any outside or critical material of the groups position; “sacred science” where the doctrine of the group is ultimate truth and any questioning or criticism is ridiculed or condemned; “dispensing of existence” where anyone outside the group is viewed as inferior or even demonized.

Another example, it appears that proponents of the theory of human induced global warming have consistently declared that the debate is over. This almost mantra-like chant seems to serve as a tactic to ward off further debate.

Indeed, a typical approach taken by too many environmentalists is to revert to ad hominem attacks – criticizing the researcher’s motives rather than addressing the substance of their arguments.

I find this ironic on two levels. First, the concept of skepticism has historically been foundational as indicating a commitment to the idea that, in pursuit of truth, nothing is beyond question, every bit of knowledge is open to improvement and/or refutation as new evidence or better theories emerge. It’s called the “scientific method.”

The second irony is that with all the secularist’s false criticism of Christianity as being a matter of blind faith or myopic faith, the pro-global warming side appears to have adopted this caricature themselves and made their position more of a religion than science. This issue needs to be in the realm of healthy scientific discovery where testability, evidence, longevity and proof are king, instead of the unhealthy province of speculative “religious” belief, where unquestioning, blind proselytizing rules the day.

Also Dr. Wilson assured me after the program that the science on the catastrophic effect on human induced global warming was beyond dispute, and has been for some time. He told me that there were some “secondary” scientists that disagreed but they were on the fringes. He pointed to the 2000 most respected world scientists on the IPCC who were in agreement on this.

I then asked him specifically if the information I had on the IPCC’s very recent 4th Assessment was not correct, which had adjusted downward the temperature impact of global warming by 25% and the probability of the human induced factor by 35%.

Dr. Wilson and Dr. Bingham looked at my document and they said that they had not seen the 4th Assessment yet. According to my document the IPCC also reduced the sea level rise projection by 50% which was 2000% below Al Gore’s scenario. There were additional significant adjustments and even abandonments by the IPCC, including a major previous claim called the “hockey stick” standard on the historical measurement of global temperatures (see footnote).

So that evening I searched for information on Bjorn Lomborg’s “proven fraud” status and was amazed as to what I found. In 2001 Lomborg published the controversial book, The Skeptical Environmentalist (Cambridge University Pres). In January 2002, five scientists in the Scientific American magazine published an 11 page deconstruction of Lomborg’s arguments.

Then in January 2003 the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty issued a report that said Lomborg’s book had used “systematic one-sidedness” in selecting data. The report prompted calls for Dr. Lomborg’s removal as director of their government’s agency that examines environmental regulations. The committee also reported that Lomborg’s book was “objectively dishonest” and “clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice.”

This is what Dr. Wilson and Sally Bingham were referring to but more surprising is that they were apparently not aware of Dr. Lomborg’s appeal and the ruling that ensued. The Danish Ministry of Science, under which the Scientific Dishonesty Committee operates, released a highly critical assessment of the Scientific Dishonesty Committee’s report on Bjorn Lomberg.

The Danish Environmental Assessment Institute issued a press release stating that the Ministry of Science’s report “repudiated findings by the Committee on Scientific Dishonesty.” Among the charges against the Committee were that they had demonstrated “significant neglect in case processing.” The committee had not documented where Lomborg had allegedly been biased in his choice of data, and contained no argumentation demonstrating the alleged fallacies in Lomborg’s conclusions. The committee had even neglected to cite specifically what the “mistakes” were, so Lomborg had no opportunity to reply. The Ministry also noted the criticism included condescending, emotional, and unprofessional language toward Lomborg.

As a result the Committee on Scientific Dishonesty in Denmark decided not to renew or pursue their charges and ended their case on March 12, 2004. I read the 8 page summary of the Ministry of Science’s overturning document. All of these are easily accessible on the internet. Why wouldn’t the pro global warming side be aware of that?

Then came the disturbing focus on the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. I say “disturbing” because like the actual facts on Lomberg’s “fraud”, scrutiny on the Stern Review revealed the same blind, uncritical acceptance by at least some pro global warming activists.

The Stern Review is a 700 page report released October 30, 2006 by Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank. The Review was commissioned by the British government and garnered a great frenzy of media attention, and as a result, some immediate governmental posturing to take action.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the Stern Review showed that scientific evidence of global warming was “overwhelming” and its consequences “disastrous.” Blair also called it, “the most important report on the future ever published by the government.”

The Report discussed the effect of climate change and global warming on the environment, the earth, on peoples, and the world economy. Some main conclusions were that only 1% of the worlds (all countries) GDP (gross domestic product) is required to be invested in measures (like environmental taxes) in order to prevent disastrous effects that would cost $9 trillion (a 20% shrinkage each year)—a bill greater than the Great Depression and the two World Wars combined. The Review stated that the effort must be world-wide and it must occur within the next 10-15 years.

But did the Review hold up under the scrutiny of respected scientists and economists? It is revealing that the same BBC News that headlined the release of the Review was titled “Climate Change Fight Can’t Wait,” but several months later the same BBC News reported “Expert critics of the Review now claim that it overestimates the risk of severe global warming, and underestimates the cost of acting to stop it.”

For example, Robert Mendelsohn and William Nordshaus, prestigious economic professors at Yale University and Sir Partha Dasqupta of Cambridge University pointed out the report assumed a 60% higher global population growth rate than was expected by most all international demographers, assumed income growth rates would be less than half the present rate, and used inconsistent and absurd discount rates that substantially underestimate the costs of cutting carbon emissions, while simultaneously using a higher discount rate when calculating the benefits of immediate action. Do a Google search for “A Critique of the Stern Report” by Mendelsohn.

There were many other criticisms such as that of Dr. Richard Fol, an environmental economist and lead author for the IPCC, who said that if Stern’s Review had been a Master’s thesis turned in by a student he would have most likely given it an F. He cited that Stern consistently picked the most pessimistic for every choice and overestimates by “cherry picking” factors. And these critical scientists are not anti-global warming critics.

Part of the “wisdom literature” of the Bible is in the Book of Proverbs. A relevant passage states, “The first to plead his case seems just or right, until another comes and examines him” (Prov.18:17). This appears to be the case with the Stern Review - for both sides. This is a very important topic. Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stern_Review and evaluate both the positive as well as the critical responses to the Review.

It is important that I not be misread here. I have already clearly stated that evangelical Christian doctrine sets forth a Biblical responsibility for environmental stewardship as well as responsible care and rehabilitation for the poor and disenfranchised. The cultural and social mandate is clearly taught in Scripture and does have a tradition, especially in Reformed theology.

Christians should and need to be involved independently as well as alongside like-minded, co-belligerents in issues like habitat conservation, sustainable development of resources, waste management, disease control, soil erosion, endangered species, water quality, hazardous wastes, radiation control, pollutants, landfills, and environmental ethics (See http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/threats.htm). It is this last area, environmental ethics, where Christians are sometimes at odds with secularists. For example, certain secular solutions like abortion and genetic engineering or mandatory population control would not be acceptable to evangelicals.

But the debate on climate control and global warming raises a very important issue that needs to be addressed as we explore where we can or cannot connect as co-belligerents. What I encountered at the recent conference at Samford was a microcosm of a barrier.
There exists a fallen human trait called arrogance. Both Christians and non-Christians can display it. But Christians and non-Christians can be rightly and wrongly accused of this trait.

For example, because Christians believe what Jesus and the Bible teach that Christ’s revelation and plan for salvation is the only true way, Christians are accused of narrow-minded arrogance. But that should not be the case because (1) truth by nature is narrow; (2 )if Christ is truly the God-man, He would know the correct way of salvation; (3) Christians believe salvation is not by superior morals, merit or intelligence, but is a free gift, sacrificially given in mercy by grace. This is a far cry from arrogance.

But there are Christians who may sinfully believe or communicate a self-righteousness which is alien to the truth of the Christian faith, and thus be rightly accused of arrogance.

But the secularist can also display an ignorance and arrogance toward Christians or anyone else who disagrees with them. For example, a typical secular scientist’s view is that Christianity is a science stopper because of the sacred cow of macro-evolution. Yet we believe we can demonstrate that Christianity is a true science starter, that macro-evolution is a problem filled theory. Even the intelligent design, old-earth Christian advocates have seen major gains in the scientific community (even in the atheistic community; i.e. Anthony Flew.)

Footnote: [The hockey stick is an image used by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shows relatively stable temperatures from A.D. 1000 (and in later versions from 0 A.D.) to 1900, and a dramatic temperature increase from 1900 to 2000. The conclusion drawn by authors of the image is that human energy use over the last 100 years has caused a dramatic and unprecedented rise in temperatures across the globe.

However, several independent studies called into question the hockey stick's conclusions. A number of climate experts noted that the Earth experienced both a widely recognized Medieval Warm Period from about A.D. 800 to 1400, as well as the Little Ice Age from 1600 to 1850. The hockey stick missed both of these significant climate trends. Other researchers found methodological flaws with the hockey stick, arguing some data sources were misused, several calculations were done incorrectly and some of the data were simply obsolete.

Because the hockey stick image has been regularly used to promote and justify proposed climate legislation, Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to examine the hockey stick controversy. Their report, released in early July, confirmed many of the criticisms of the hockey stick. Whereas the authors of the research that produced the hockey stick concluded "the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium," the NAS found little confidence could be placed in those claims.

The NAS also found the original researchers used proxy data for past temperature reconstructions that were unreliable, the historic climate reconstruction failed important tests for verifiability and the methods used underestimated the uncertainty in the conclusions reached. A second major 2006 Congressional investigation into the hockey stick, the Wegman Panel Report, was headed by Edward Wegman of George Mason University, also the Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Theoretical and Applied Statistics. The Wegman panel not only fully endorsed the previous findings, but also presented a wide-ranging critique of the insularity of the paleoclimate community, their isolation from mainstream statistics, and their hostility towards external review and replication work. Wegman made a good recommendation about the need for higher standards of disclosure and review scientific research is used in public policy.

However, one would hardly know from news reports that the hockey stick had largely failed to pass scientific muster. Rather, press reports typically highlighted the limited areas where the NAS supported the hockey stick research and downplayed the substantive flaws the NAS confirmed.]

Craig Branch is the Director of the Apologetics Resource Center.

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