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Is the crusade against man-made global warming the new world religion?

The Methodist Church is limbering up for an infallible declaration

By on Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that man-made global warming is incontrovertible (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, file)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that man-made global warming is incontrovertible (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, file)

“The belief in man-made global warming”, observed the climate-change sceptic Christopher Booker recently “has become for many a new religion”. It is undoubtedly the case that those who believe in whatever analysis the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) comes up with tend to do so as though this body were infallible (despite the fact that some of its most confident pronouncements have been shown to be false, one or two ludicrously so).  Mr Booker cites in support of his observation a lengthy document published by the Methodist Church, which it is proposing for discussion as official Methodist policy. They decide these things at a conference, it seems; thank the Lord (literally) that the Catholic Church has other means of deciding “official” Catholic belief.

The document is called Our Hope in God’s Future and it contains, among much else, the following: “The theological task is to reflect on modern scientific accounts of the threats presented by climate change in the context of affirming the triune God as creator and redeemer of the universe. The scientific analyses of climate change and the role of human carbon emissions are well-grounded. It is now intellectually and morally irresponsible to fail to acknowledge and address the urgent need for radical cuts in greenhouse gas …. ” “What is required of God’s people,” it says later, “is repentance.” The first step must be “confessing our complicity in the sinful structures which have caused the problem”.

Well, Cor.  And excuse me, but what authority does the Methodist Conference have to pronounce that  “The scientific analyses of climate change and the role of human carbon emissions are well-grounded” and that it is “irresponsible” to fail to acknowledge this? Maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t (I’m saying nothing): but it is disputed by some that there is any consensus on the matter even among scientists; and even if there were, the history of science is the history of one collapsing consensus after another. 100 years ago, Eugenics was the great scientific “consensus” (Chesterton was the one major figure to stand against it).  Following that consensus, in 1902 H G Wells wrote that the “swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people, who do not come into the new needs of efficiency” would “have to go”.

So maybe the Methodists might care to reign in their self-righteous shafts against the “irresponsibility” of those who fail to acknowledge a clear link between the rise in greenhouse gases and an inevitable and dangerous rise in mean global temperatures. After all, there are not lacking those who blame global warming on a rise in population (which they sometimes amiably describe as “popullution”): maybe some of those  “swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people” will just “have to go” if the problem is to be solved.

Or maybe we might like to “reflect” theologically on why exactly there was no mean global warming between 1998 and 2010 at all, despite the continuing rise in man-made CO2? The difficulty in explaining this away was one of the embarrassing problems referred to in those very interesting leaked emails in East Anglia. Maybe the Methodist conference would like to make an infallible declaration about that?

  • Kevin

    “Or maybe we might like to “reflect” theologically on why exactly there was no mean global warming between 1998 and 2010 at all, despite the continuing rise in man-made CO2?”

    I was surprised that this claim is still being made, so I went off and grabbed the data and checked it. You can do so too. I grabbed the global surface temperature anomalies from NASA, NOAA, and Met Office, and use the Excel 'slope' function to look for a trend over the years 1998 to 2009 (2010 not being complete yet, although the first half year was hot globally). I get a warming trend in every case, although it is much smaller in the MO data than in the NASA or NOAA data.

    I had a look at the data, and the smaller warming trend in the MO data arises from the fact that 1998 is the hottest year according to that dataset. However, based on an independent reanalysis of their data by the ECMWF, the Met Office think they are wrong on this, see:
    (Of course depending on your view of ClimateGate, you may not trust MO data anyway).

    A more important issue is the computation of trends starting with 1998. Given that 1998 was an exceptional El Nino year, then if you wanted to selectively pick your data to give the result you want, then always starting with 1998 would be a good way to do it. However if I look at a 15 year trend, then I get similar values whichever dataset OR start date I use.

    Here's where you can get the data:

  • W Oddie

    In an interview with the BBC in February 2010, Prof. Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and emailer extraordinaire (then under suspension) was asked: “Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming.”

    “Yes,” said Jones, “but only just.”

    There's your 15 year period.

  • hab

    Yes, belief systems and science are 2 differnt approaches to viewing the world around you. The problem you will have to face one day is when reality becomes impossible to ignore.

  • Rev. Daniel W. Blair

    The oil spills, hurricanes, floods, mudslides, and the global heat wave (which have been the cause of many fires, toxic smoke, and deaths) have many searching for answers. The internet is buzzing with articles and excellent blogs. But could it be simply the biblical sequence of God's wrath being poured out upon the earth which is relevant to current events in today's world. What if we are dealing with the wrath of God? Please understand the wrath of God is letting man slip deeper and deeper into the consequences of his own sin. Please visit my website at . Rev. Daniel W. Blair author of the book Final Warning

  • Yve Martin

    Let the world not get crazy of global warming. It will always stay unsolved until humans can break their national frontiers and sort out an new geographic settlement where every human being would be allowed to live in naturally warm conditions. If we manage to reach that civilisation and avoid wasting money on heaters and balance the development of the world regions, then climate issues will be ended. Global warming is a sign of a heated human heart, the sign of dispesion and hatred that was so deep to the point of pushing so many of us to living in so hostile conditions (Babel Tower). God said to humans to spread across the world not to be so violent to the point where (I am from a tropical) millions if not billions of people would spend money on flights to the sun and heating everything in winters! How the churches, including the catholic cheuch do not perceive this reality, I dont understand! Let the warm nations give some space to their brothers. At the end of the day, the Congo in Africa is almost as big as western europe. But reality is until warmers countries which happen also be at the mercy of world exploitation are given some chance, they will find it hard to make this space. Western countries will struggle to see this need because their government are powerless and have to follow the interests of the big companies that make up their tax systems and those most of those companies dont care about the long term interests of humanity. I see however any attempt to break national frontiers such the EU as a good sign, one day the EU and other blocks such as AU (African Unity) will eventually come to better solutions

  • Yve Martin

    s Labour always says and I dont mean to do politics here, no country cant solve global warming. The final solution lies in life moving back in tropical areas and that is the message churches should have the faith to preach as a gospel obligation. In that way, not only we will need less heating for winters but also saved money will develop deserts or arid places which have natural capacity to be developed in a carbon neutral fashion but also the space left if colder centres will allow better flows of cold wind which would, I assume cool the tropical heat with much strength. Is this nuclear sciences? No Is it a high demand on human heart? Absolutely and that is where christianity is meant to show its uselfulness.