Thursday, 31 December 2015

Faith vs. Science. Why Can't We Have Both?

by Larry Powell 

NEEPAWA, MANITOBA: Do you ever wonder why so many people of faith, especially on the Christian right, still deny the science of climate change? There was yet another example of this in Ken Waddell's editorial, "Assessing change," before Christmas. It appeared in his newspaper, "The Neepawa (MB) Banner."

As we all know, Ken has been a respected leader in our community for a long time, in journalism, politics and religion, sometimes adorning his articles with passages from the Bible. In his editorial, he refuses to accept the conclusion now long endorsed by an overwhelming consensus of scientists - that  the burning of fossil fuel by we humans is the major culprit behind our planetary climate crisis. 

He even calls the federal and provincial governments "certifiably nuts" for the ways in which they've embraced the recent Paris climate accord.  No one could ever fault Ken for "beating around the bush!" And I don't either - just for being wrong! (Not for being a person of faith. But for repudiating the science.)
"HIS BANNER OVER US IS HIS LOVE," proclaims the Bible verse on the Banner newspaper building. PinP photo
After all, to accept that Christ was born to a virgin, walked on water, turned water into wine, cured the incurable, rose from the dead, walked the earth again, then ascended into Heaven and is still with us "up there" two millennia later, surely requires nothing less than a suspension of our earthly disbelief in order to grasp it all.
Lions, tigers and bears put aside their predatory instincts and, 2x2, obediently board Noah's Ark (Noah himself was 500 years old at the time),  along with zebra, goats and sheep, all in an orderly fashion. Indeed, all the creatures of the Earth from far and wide converge to ride out the Great Flood which a vengeful God was about to unleash on His creation.  
Notice the Ark rendering does not depict dinosaurs, even though some Christian Evangelicals believe the creatures actually co-existed with humans. Maybe the cartoon explains why they aren't around today, then. Noah forgot them and left them behind?
Then there was Jonah, who lived in the belly of a whale, Methuselah, who lived for almost a thousand years, Moses who parted the seas, Eve, who was made from Adam's rib, the talking snake and on and on.

So, if folks like Ken can seemingly accept such tales of miraculous wonder, why then is it so difficult for them to believe that our earthly home is now warming dangerously and that we humans are to blame? (For climate change, in the modern context, is not really a matter of "belief" at all. It is "fact!" And fact should not be that hard for the human brain to accept. Should it?)

For well over a generation, the planet’s top minds have accumulated massive, systematic and verifiable evidence that global warming is real, it is overwhelmingly negative and is caused largely by the volumes of fossil fuels we are burning. These findings have been accepted by an overwhelming consensus of scientists who specialize in this very field. Their findings have been supported by weather records, satellite images, aerial photographs, computer models, time-lapse photography, tree-rings and ice-cores. 

Thousands of climatologists, glaciologists, palaeontologists and others with specialized training, toil in government and university labs the world over, conducting their painstaking research. They also work in the field, often in hostile environments where some have even died in the course of their duties. Their work has resulted in a steadily mounting degree of certainty that our climate is warming, spawning sea level rise, melting ice caps, hurricanes, droughts and wildfires which are becoming more numerous and severe. 
As this has been happening, levels of greenhouse gases, produced when coal, oil and natural gas are consumed, have been heading "into the stratosphere" so to speak (see graph). Meanwhile, the experts have been documenting their evidence in countless peer-reviewed articles in respected scientific journals for a long time now. 

A few years ago, the leading authority on the topic, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its hundreds of scientists even won the Nobel prize, the highest award anywhere, for their work. 

Of course there are significant religious entities, including the United Church of Canada and the Pope, who strongly support the science, too. 

So I appeal to those who do not, to find it in their hearts (and heads) to accept not only the Biblical miracles (if they must), but the reality of global warming, as well. 

After all, do these things have to be "mutually exclusive?" I hope you'll agree that they do not.

Don't forget, floods of "biblical proportions" have been ravaging the northern UK and the Mississipi River basin again this winter. But, unlike the Great Flood of Noah's day, the evidence is clearly telling us, these tragedies are not likely of God's making at all, but of man's. 

Canadian ice caps disappear, confirming 2017 scientific prediction

PHYS ORG The white patch in the lower left and dark spot in the upper right were all that remained of two, once-mighty glaciers in the regio...