Global warming alarmism 'fails the tests,' scholars say

Baptist Press
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Posted: Dec 04, 2009 3:15 PM
WASHINGTON (BP)--A group of evangelical Christian scholars has issued a challenge to "global warming alarmism," releasing a call to "truth, prudence and protection of the poor" as governments consider policies to combat so-called "climate change."

Their document, released in a Dec. 3 press conference at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., warns that the "science" of climate change "fails the tests of theology, science and economics" and alarmist policies being proposed to combat global warming will destroy jobs, cost trillions of dollars with "no net benefits," dangerously expand government control over private life and "slow or stop the rise of the world's poor out of poverty and so condemn millions to premature death."

The 76-page study, entitled "A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor," was accompanied by a second piece, entitled "An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming," which called for biblical stewardship of creation and careful deliberation in adopting policies designed to counteract "manmade global warming."

The release of the two documents were set against a backdrop of debate in the U.S. Senate on "cap and trade" policies, an emerging scandal over activist scientists who manipulated data and censored opposing viewpoints and a Dec. 7-18 United Nations summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, to draft an international global warming treaty.

Announcing the declaration were Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville; Charles van Eaton, an economist and founder of the Bryan College Center for Critical Thought and Practice; Craig Mitchell, associate professor of systematic theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and E. Calvin Beisner, national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

According to a Heritage House statement, the press conference featured Spencer explaining why he believes sound science doesn't support global warming fears, Van Eaton discussing the respective costs and benefits of alternative climate policies and Mitchell addressing the ethical implications of climate change policy. Sen. James Inhofe, R.-Okla., was scheduled to appear with the panelists as well, a press release from the Cornwall Alliance said.

The longer document examines three issues:

-- Theology, worldview and ethics. The group challenges the idea that earth's ecosystems are "the fragile product of chance," arguing instead that the planet is "the robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting product of God's wise design and powerful sustaining." It warns about a "rush to impose draconian reductions in greenhouse gas emissions ... ignores the destructive impact of that policy on the world's poor."

-- Science. The document disagrees with assertions that recent global temperature changes have been greater and more rapid than in the past "and therefore must be manmade." It criticizes over-reliance on computer climate models and false claims of overwhelming scientific consensus in favor of manmade global warming. The group criticizes efforts to intimidate or demonize scientific skeptics.

-- Economics. The group argues that global warming alarmism "grossly underestimates the costs and overestimates the benefits of policies meant to reduce carbon dioxide emissions" and "exaggerates the technical feasibility and underestimates the costs of alternative fuels to replace fossil fuels in providing the abundant, affordable energy necessary for wealth creation and poverty reduction." Alarmism also "fails to recognize that the slowed economic development resulting from its own policies will cost many times more human lives than would the warming it is meant to avert," the document states.

"A Renewed Call to Truth" is a landmark document, Beisner said in a statement to Baptist Press.

"Building on more recent studies in science, economics and theology, it goes well beyond our previous Call to Truth and takes a stronger position. Before, we said natural causes might account for a major part, perhaps a majority, of recent climate change. Now we're convinced they're the overwhelming cause and human activities are at most a minor contributor," Beisner said. "New economic studies also make clear the enormous costs of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, while atmospheric studies show that such reductions would have little if any impact on future temperatures. That makes us all the more sure that such policies are wrongheaded, destructive and detrimental to the poor."

Mark Kelly is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. Copies of both documents are available at cornwallalliance.org, the website of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. Supporters can endorse the Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming at the site.

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