by William Trollinger
A few days ago, the New York Timesran an article by David Wallace-Wells, author of the forthcoming book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. In his article, “Time to Panic,” Wells points out that
The age of climate panic is here. Last summer, a heat wave baked the entire Northern Hemisphere, killing dozens from Quebec to Japan. Some of the most destructive wildfires in California history turned more than a million acres to ash, along the way melting the tires and sneakers of those trying to escape the flames. Pacific hurricanes forced three million people in China to flee and wiped away almost all of Hawaii’s East Island.
Wallace-Wells argues that while “we have probably squandered the opportunity to avert two degrees of [global] warming,” through collective action on the part of “communities, states, nations,” as well as “international agreements,” we “can avert three degrees and certainly all the terrifying suffering that lies beyond that threshold.”
Not everybody agrees that global warming is a cataclysmic crisis, or even a problem we must address. Take, for example, Ken Ham and his fellow young Earth creationists at Answers in Genesis (AiG).
When it comes to what AiG has to say about global warming, I am struck by the similarities with the infamous “Gish Gallop.” Named for creationist Duane Gish, who often employed the approach in debates with evolutionists, it is “a technique used during debating that focuses on overwhelming an opponent with as many arguments as possible, without regard for accuracy or strength of the arguments.”
This is precisely how Ken Ham and AiG approach global warming, with a cascade of arguments that often seem to conflict with each other. But what is great about print – be it blog posts or magazine articles or even museum plaques – is that you can slow it down, you can take the time to see what precisely is being argued.
In reviewing approximately 35 AiG articles on the topic of climate change, I have identified seven basic arguments that Ham and company make regarding global warming. Over the next few posts I will work through these arguments, proceeding from what seems to be less important to the young Earth creationists (i.e., science) to what is more important (i.e., politics and the Bible).
1. There is no conclusive evidence that the Earth is warming.
The science regarding global warming is still in its infancy, and the mathematical models that have been developed “are not yet useful.” Not only has the change in temperature been very modest over the past century, and “the earth really isn’t warming up as predicted,” but there is some evidence that it was “a little warmer, particularly in the northern hemisphere” in the years between 950 and 1250 than it is today. In fact, it could be that, instead of global warming, what we are seeing today are signs of global cooling.
2. But if the Earth is warming, it is not significant, and it is not because of us.
If there has been global warming, the “amount of warming has been slight, officially about 1.6 F since 1880,” and even that amount seems to be an exaggeration. Not only has this “slight global warming” had “no detectable effect on any severe weather phenomenon,” but whatever global warming has taken place, the fact is that “man’s contribution is slight, and not enough manmade warming has occurred to panic over.” Instead, as noted in an AiG article entitled “Is Man the Cause of Global Warming?,” there are “natural causes of climate change,” including volcanic eruptions, El Nino, and sunspots.
3. But if the Earth is warming and it is significant, that may very well be a good thing.
For one thing, “global warming will save the lives of many people, since many more people die of the cold than die of the heat.” More than this, the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has resulted and will result in “increased crop yields and enhanced forest growth.” More than this, “Canadian farmers could harvest bumper crops” where they can’t now, and there “would be increased shipping in the Arctic Ocean,” thanks to the melting of the ice.
There is no reference to the fact that bumper crops in northern Canada would suggest less than bumper crops in, say, Kansas. Perhaps Kansans should begin to migrate to the Yukon. But as regards coastal cities affected by the melting of Arctic ice, the suggestion is that people should “slowly move inland or build more and higher dikes.”
Encouraging words from AiG. More on young Earth creationists denying global warming (or denying that it is a problem) in my next post.
And thanks to Joe Arrendale, my graduate assistant and a doctoral student at the University of Dayton, for his work of gathering and summarizing the AiG climate change articles.