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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lowering CO2 and Our Carbon Footprint is Asinine

Don’t go getting your shorts in a knot, I didn’t say that, Ian Plimer did. For those who are not acquainted with Dr. Plimer, he is the two time winner of Australia’s highest scientific honor, the Eureka Prize. He is also professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at The University of Adelaide. Dr. Plimer recently wrote a book entitled Heaven and Earth. The sub-title reads: “Global Warming the Missing Science.”

I went out on a limb recently. Dan Kimball has a new book coming out and I got a message to that effect on Facebook. I’m happy for Dan, but also took the occasion to ask him in front of all his “groupies” when and if he was going to recant and take his name off of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change resolutions on global warming, especially in light of the long-term debunking by recognized scientists of the bogus numbers coming out of East Anglia University in England and from Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State University. No, I’m not talking about the hacker and the emails, although that is interesting enough. You see, reputable scientists who are not part of Money Prostitutes for Scientific Endeavor have debunked Mann, the infamous “hockey stick,” East Anglia University and a host of others. Oh, Dan hasn’t replied yet and it’s been about a week. So much for transparency and authenticity.

All the hoopla about CO2 emissions has many people wringing their hands. Modern man, they tell us, is throwing inordinately high amounts of it into the atmosphere and we are grossly polluting the earth. It’s enough to make even the coldest, conservative want to do something, anything to save the planet. Of course, we all want a clean planet, don’t we? Yes, we do. Most of us are willing to do our part to have clean air, clean water, and a clean place for our children and grandchildren to live. What I object to, however, is when someone tries to pull a fast one on me or when a “Christian celebrity” gets away with nonsense. Allow me to give you a couple of examples of what I mean.

With some degree of regularity, a number of Christian celebrities in the evangelical world cannot resist predicting the return of Jesus. To them, it’s better than winning the lotto. Many have tried and many have failed, but this time, it’s going to be different, they opine. Besides, if you happen to hit the right date, just think how smart everyone will think you are. But, to date, no one has succeeded. The fanfare accompanying the prediction is palatable, but the silence after the abortive fact is deafening. No one says much, so we get back on with life. Shouldn’t the one making the failed prediction be stoned? Hey, maybe they were stoned when they made the prediction. Seriously, nothing ever happens. The evangelical Church is more than willing to give a pass to whoever tried to do what Jesus clearly taught was impossible, namely pinpoint the Second Coming. But, hey, we’re a forgiving lot and we’re willing to cut the person some slack. We did the same thing with Rick Warren’s prediction that The Passion of the Christ would be the most effective evangelism tool of the century. It wasn’t and it isn’t, but no one called him on that outlandish statement because he’s Rick Warren. Infallibility is an attribute that I covet, but I know I shouldn’t.

Something very similar is now at play with men like Rick Warren (again), Bill Hybels, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, and others. They’ve signed on to the IPCC with the so-called “Evangelical Climate Initiative.” One of the statements in the ECI is almost laughable. It claims that over the last several years the signatories have engaged in study, reflection, and prayer related to the issue of climate change/global warming. The predictable result is that these evangelical leaders are as deeply concerned as, say, Al Gore, Michael Mann, and East Anglia University. These concerned evangelicals reflect, to some degree, the trepidation of Tony Campolo and Gordon Aeschliman in their book 50 Ways You can Help Save the Planet.[1] There they wrote, “Confusion, fuzzy thinking and unfriendly name calling surround the Christian community’s debate on our responsibility to the environment.”[2] I agree with them, but for very different reasons than I think they intended.

E. Calvin Beisner puts matters into perspective for us when he writes, “An important weakness of much environmentalism is its tendency to present false or highly debatable claims of environmental problems and their significance as if they were unquestionably true. Usually, environmentalists use such claims to frighten people into accepting a message of environmental crisis, after which they will be more likely to embrace policy recommendations environmentalists make. Unfortunately, evangelical environmentalists frequently accept such claims uncritically and often…pass them along to their fellow believers with the added moral authority of Scripture. And they, too, tend to use such claims to promote the crisis mentality.”[3]

A plethora of Christian “greenie” organizations exist today, partly because it is in vogue and chic to be green and partly because people are concerned to care for God’s creation. Until recently, there was an organization called the “Christian Society of the Green Cross,” which is now part of the Evangelical Environmental Network, replete with its own blog, deepgreenconversation. Sounds impressive. Before CSGC joined forces with the EEN, they informed us that “Increasingly, both church leaders and leading scientists see issues of the environment as the most serious which our society faces.” Did they really or did they merely jump on the “it’s-the-latest-fad” bandwagon? They provided a number of “bullet points” that were supposed to pass as “fact,” but I will select only one in this installment. They wrote, “Since 1945, Americans have consumed more of the world’s resources than have all previous generations who have ever lived on the planet put together. We have used more than our fair share.” (Emphasis added.) If you were to ask the new, emergent, liberal Christian if they agreed on this point, you’d probably get a large number who would find this a very valid point. Let’s think about it for a moment.

First, part of the secular and so-called Christian greenie movement wants us to feel guilty about abusing the planet—most of time. Of course, when you have to fly to Copenhagen in a private jet, stay in a five-star hotel, eat caviar, and ride back and forth to the global warming summit in a stretch limo, those principles must be abated for a while. Your deep and abiding concern about global warming trumps everything else. Sincerity and concern—kind of like Al Gore’s inordinate use of electricity, computer paper, ink cartridges—come equipped with an “override” button. But, in general, greenies want us to feel badly about our use of resources and to pay for our carbon footprint. This is why Ian Plimer’s statement comes as an unbelievable shock to Christian and non-Christian alike today. He writes, “To call for lowering the carbon footprint is asinine.”[4] Plimer made this statement in conjunction with the notion that CO2 is a pollutant.

For a scientist, he actually has a bit of a sense of humor, which is almost as rare as finding a theologian with a sense of humor. The only group less likely to have a sense of humor are liberals—Christian and non-Christians—and greenies. Just look at Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore. Plimer contends that “To refer to ‘carbon pollution’ is ascientific political spin.”[5] Many today might find that statement shocking, but “To tax, ration and control the basic element for life is a micro-management of human freedom.”[6] There are a couple of very valid reasons why Dr. Plimer says these things. First, “The most common compounds in the Solar System are carbon compounds—there are almost 10 million different carbon compounds known.”[7] Second, “Carbon is more basic to life than sex.”[8] Really? Wow. But we’re being told that CO2 is bad for the planet. Real scientists know better and since they’re the ones not getting government funding, they’re the most likely to tell you the truth. The unvarnished truth about CO2 is that it “is a colourless odourless non-poisonous gas. It is plant food, and it drives the whole food chain. All life is based on and contains carbon. Every cell in every living organism on the planet is based on carbon.”[9] Yes, some might say, but aren’t we putting too much CO2 into the atmosphere and harming the planet that way? That’s what the greenies are telling us. The truth, however, is that “During the history of the planet, CO2 levels have continuously fluctuated. During periods of high CO2 in the air, life underwent massive expansion and diversification, whereas in periods of low CO2, like today, plant life is not as energetic. The CO2 content of air has hardly ever been as low as today and ecosystems suffer because of this. Early in the Earth’s history, the CO2 content of air was tens to hundreds of times higher than today and, over time, this CO2 has been stored as carbon compounds in rocks, oil, gas, goal and carbonate rocks.”[10] Third, “There is more carbon in soil than the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere and living matter.”[11] Moreover, “Animals produce 25 times as much CO2 as cars and industry.”[12] You might not have known that, but it’s a handy little piece of information to have. Of course, this begs the question: Who’s going to pay for all that? I’m sure politicians will find an “animal carbon footprint tax” that will help fund welfare and universal health care.

Second, I believe we ought to use more energy because it’s better for everyone. I can imagine some raised eyebrows on this one, so let me ‘splain. Gregg Easterbrook, who is a self-professed liberal Democrat environmentalist has written a book entitled A Moment On the Earth: The Coming Age of Environmental Optimism. He explodes the “Western World Pollution Myth” by reminding us of the opposite of what the IPCC and many of our Christian celebs have been feeding us. Easterbrook states, “As anyone who travels the developing world rapidly discovers, the view that Western industrial countries are the polluted ones is a fantasy. Studies show that 1.3 billion people in the developing world live in zones of ‘dangerously unsafe’ air—air alerts at the ‘dangerous’ level having become almost unknown in the Western world. And one billion people in developing countries lack access to drinking water meeting the crudest safety standards. These figures are not just abstractions. What environmental problems kill human beings in numbers today? Not Alar or ozone depletion. What kills them is ‘dung smoke’ and diarrhea.”[13]

What is the solution according to this self-professed liberal Democrat? He sets the table for his answer this way: “There is a famous statistic that says that the United States has four percent of the world’s population and consumes 40 percent of current resources.”[14] That sounds vaguely similar to the greenies at Green Cross, doesn’t it? Imagine that: Christians parroting secular mantras. But I digress. Easterbrook continues, “Environmental orthodoxy says this proves U.S. resource use must go way down. What the statistic really tells us is that Third World resource consumption must go way up.”[15] Okay, you might be thinking, that sounds fair, but isn’t this precisely what the evangelical greenies want? Yes, with one caveat—and it is a very important caveat. They want U.S. resource usage way down and Third World use way up in order to balance or average everything out, but that’s not the way it works. Easterbrook contends that it “will be impossible to raise the standard of living of the world’s impoverished to anything like a morally equitable level without a significant rise in net global consumption of resources.”[16]

In other words, the wealthier a nation, the better its sanitation, general cleanliness, clean drinking water, transportation. In short, industrial nations are the only one prepared to help with the type of assistance that the Third World and developing countries need. So we need to drill here in the United States in ANWAR, offshore, and wherever we find oil. We need to tap into our natural gas reserves, for they are huge—huge. How about building nuclear plants? Wouldn’t that create real jobs? The government never creates jobs, because the government has no wealth. Private industry and entrepreneurs create jobs and can lead the way in aiding Third World and sub-Saharan countries into creating their own wealth, prosperity, food, infrastructure, and sanitation for a better environment.

[1] Tony Campolo & Gordon Aeschliman, 50 Ways You Can Help Save the Planet, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992).

[2] Ibid., 9.

[3] E. Calvin Beisner, Where Garden Meets Wilderness. Evangelical Entry into the Environmental Debate, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), p. 59.

[4] Ian Plimer, Heaven and Earth, (Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2009), p. 411.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 411-412.

[7] Ibid., 411. Emphasis added.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid., 412.

[12] Ibid., 413.

[13] See pp. 578-579. Emphasis added.

[14] See pp. 582-583.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.



Blogger randy buist said...

I hope you preach well today Ron.

2:00 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Thanks, but we don't do Saturday services.

10:08 AM  
Blogger sister said...

I hope you preach well every day, Ron!

2:03 PM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

I have to wonder about evangelicals embracing this nonsense. To be sure, we are to be good stewards of the environment. Do they intend to call God a liar when they ignore pretty plain Scripture about what will transpire in the last days? Do they think all their carbon credits will stop the elements melting with fervent heat, as the Apostle Peter foretells?

God is in sovereign control over His creation, and to think that man can (or would be allowed to ) destroy the planet is ludicrous. God will reserve that privilege all to Himself.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Great points. Stay tuned for the next installment that deals with the greenie notion of the fragility of Earth and the biblical concept of it being durable because of God's providence.
What most of the so-called Christian environmentalists fail to comprehend is that this really is, at bottom, a theological debate. Since liberals have very little theology--and what they have is bad--they don't get it.

12:24 PM  

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