Opinion: Studies show climate change is not as bad as portrayed
There is no denying that the Earth is warming. There is also no denying that Christians have an obligation to care for the environment.
However, despite what most media say, it is hardly a forgone conclusion that humans are the primary cause of climate change, nor that global warming is as bad as it is often portrayed.
According to the Washington Post, an environmental impact statement released by the Trump administration stated that the Earth’s average temperature could rise by as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit — which is approximately 4 degrees Celsius — from preindustrial temperatures by 2100.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in an October press release that countries and companies globally will have to work much harder to keep the warming level to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the catastrophic effects of a warming Earth. The U.S. has done its part toward that effort, spending over $300 billion on mitigating climate change in 2017, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Another international scientific panel, however, found that things are not as dire as they might seem.
According to their website, Dr. S. Fred Singer founded the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) in 2003. It is the “project of three independent nonprofit organizations: Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CO2 Science) and The Heartland Institute.”
In 2014, the group released a report entitled “Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts.” The report, written by four main authors and 29 contributing authors and reviewers from a dozen different countries, plus several anonymous authors, said that “No unambiguous evidence exists of dangerous interference in the global climate caused by human-related CO2 emissions.”
In addition, according to the report, human-caused “climate signal” is very small compared to naturally occurring climate change.
The report said that the temperature rise since the late twentieth century is normal compared to historical data and that the Earth’s average temperature has and will fluctuate naturally and regularly.
Moreover, the report indicated that extra CO2 in the atmosphere has actually benefitted the Earth, causing plants to flourish and spread. There is “little or no risk” of global warming causing more food insecurity and aquatic animals do not face a “significant threat.” In fact, many of Earth’s ecosystems have benefitted from higher temperatures.
This is the exact opposite of what IPCC predicted. While no one group of scientists can be definitive — it is impossible for science to prove anything definitively, after all — the existence of the NIPCC and its arguments at least shows that climate change is not a completely clear-cut issue.
While Christians should protect and care for the planet God has given us, we also have the biblical obligation to steward reasonably. That compels Christians to carefully examine the data on both sides of the issue. It would be bad stewardship to spend a great deal of money, time and convenience trying to fix a problem that may not exist.