CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The First Church of Climate Change

Apr 14, 2007

Many have noted the quasi-religious status of much of the environmental movement. Many seem to have elevated concern about the environment into a full-fledged religious movement, complete with prophets, holy texts, and sacred rituals.

Now there is nothing wrong with being concerned about planet earth. We should be. But hysterical over-reactions, false prophets, and hypocrisy all tarnish a legitimate concern. Take the issue of green hypocrisy for example. We have all heard of Al “An Inconvenient Truth” Gore’s double standards – living in an energy-wasting mansion, flying around the world in gas-guzzling planes, etc.

Yesterday there was an interesting piece in the press about Australia’s green hypocrites. It turns out that some of our vocal environmentalists, who are also MPs, are engaging in big-time double-standards.

Opposition leader Kevin Rudd drives one of the biggest gas-guzzlers available to MPs. His family car is a four-wheel drive Ford Territory. This car, funded by tax-payers, chews up 12.8 litres of fuel in 100km of city driving. It has one of the lowest environmental ratings of all government vehicles.

For example, the fuel consumption of the Territory is three times worse than that of a hybrid Toyota Prius. The Prius is available to MPs, but Rudd claims he was unaware of that. Given that Rudd wants to cut greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent, he really should start with his choice of personal vehicles, instead of preaching to the rest of us.

No one begrudges a legitimate concern about climate change. But a bit of consistency here would help. And a bit of humility as well. While some are arguing that the debate about climate change is over, many recognise that there still remain many questions about the extent and causes of climate change, as well as the best solutions.

Indeed, questions about climate change and global warming are many. But the mainstream media tends to obfuscate the issues, and capitulate to the scare mongers. Thus a whole new industry involved in panic-mongering has emerged, aided and abetted by the MSM.

Back in the 60s, the radical Left used to complain about the so-called “military-industrial complex”. American columnist George Will alerts us to a new threat: the “media-entertainment-environmental complex”.

In an April 12, 2007 article entitled “The media and global warming,” Will argues that the media has much to answer for in the hype and hypocrisy over global warming. Says Will, “In a campaign without peacetime precedent, the media-entertainment-environmental complex is warning about global warming. Never, other than during the two world wars, has there been such a concerted effort by opinion-forming institutions to indoctrinate Americans.”

He continues, “Democrats could demand that the president send the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate so they can embrace it. In 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 in opposition to any agreement which would, like the protocol, require significant reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions in America and some other developed nations but would involve no ‘specific scheduled commitments’ for 129 ‘developing’ countries, including the second, fourth, 10th, 11th, 13th and 15th largest economies (China, India, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico and Indonesia). Forty-two of the senators serving in 1997 are gone. Let’s find out if the new senators disagree with the 1997 vote.”

Indeed, there are many concerns about Kyoto. Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist says, “Compliance with Kyoto would reduce global warming by an amount too small to measure. But the cost of compliance just to the United States would be higher than the cost of providing the entire world with clean drinking water and sanitation, which would prevent 2 million deaths (from diseases like infant diarrhea) a year and prevent half a billion people from becoming seriously ill each year.”

And while Kevin Rudd needs to rethink the type of car he drives, perhaps the choice of the Prius as an alternative (one which two Australian Democrats and four Green Senators drive) needs to be rethought as well: “The Prius hybrid is, of course, fuel-efficient. There are, however, environmental costs to mining and smelting (in Canada) 1,000 tons a year of zinc for the battery-powered second motor, and the shipping of the zinc 10,000 miles – trailing a cloud of carbon – to Wales for refining and then to China for turning it into the component that is then sent to a battery factory in Japan.”

Moreover, opinions differ “as to whether acid rain from the Canadian mining and smelting operation is killing vegetation that once absorbed carbon dioxide. But a report from CNW Marketing Research (‘Dust to Dust: The Energy Cost of New Vehicles from Concept to Disposal’) concludes that in ‘dollars per lifetime mile,’ a Prius (expected life: 109,000 miles) costs $3.25, compared to $1.95 for a Hummer H3 (expected life: 207,000 miles). The CNW report states that a hybrid makes economic and environmental sense for a purchaser living in the Los Angeles basin, where fuel costs are high and smog is worrisome. But environmental costs of the hybrid are exported from the basin.”

Concludes Will: “We are urged to ‘think globally and act locally,’ as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has done with proposals to reduce California’s carbon dioxide emissions 25 percent by 2020. If California improbably achieves this, at a cost not yet computed, it will have reduced global greenhouse-gas emissions 0.3 percent. The question is: Suppose the costs over a decade of trying to achieve a local goal are significant. And suppose the positive impact on the globe’s temperature is insignificant – and much less than, say, the negative impact of one year’s increase in the number of vehicles in one country (e.g., India). If so, are people who recommend such things thinking globally but not clearly?”

Concern about the environment, in other words, is important. But the way we go about achieving a better environment is a complex and much-debated issue. The media-driven campaigns on global warming and the like are often simplistic, moralistic, and at times, counter-productive. Rational debate on these complicated and multi-faceted topics is needed. And there needs to be a lot less hype, hypocrisy and religious-like fundamentalism as well.

www.townhall.com/columnists/GeorgeWill/2007/04/12/the_media_and_global_warming

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28 Responses to The First Church of Climate Change

  • The hypocracy problem of the likes of Rudd and Gore etc just illustrate to me that global warming isn’t their only concern and perhaps not their main one. What they really want is a drop in industrial production and hence a drop in capitalist production in countries like the USA. Perhaps to reduce the west’s global influence? To hinder the momentum of capitalism? I think their concern for the environment is only secondary to these issues. I suspect it is just a covert way of getting Leftist agendas into global action.

    Damien Spillane

  • I think in Kruddy’s case he has no hidden agenda to cripple the economy – he just sees the AGW issue as an opportunity to gain a political advantage over the government. That’s why Labor are constantly trying to paint Howard as an AGW skeptic. Would that he was, then we may be spared the punitive carbon tax that everyone says we have to have to ‘save’ the planet.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • That’s why Queenslanders need to be reminded that it was KRudd who’s responsible for our current thirst. In 1989, as chief of staff to Queensland’s incoming Labor premier, his first act was to cancel plans for the Wolfdene dam, despite warnings that droughts were inevitable in Australia and, even more obviously, that QLD’s booming population would need more water. See Rudd recipe no good in a crisis: The Labor leader’s social democracy ethos would cripple Australia.

    Unfortunately Rudd knows he is on to a good thing when even parts of the CDP have jumped on the global warming bandwagon.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Bill,
    The story about the Prius being less efficient than a Hummer is disinformation put out by vested interests.

    The original version of this story was based on nickel, but now it has curiously changed to zinc, possibly because Al Gore once had an interest in a zinc mine. But the Prius battery is nickel metal hydride (NiMH), so how the story got changed to a zinc problem is most curious. Doesn’t anyone check facts?

    Other versions of this story assume the Hummer has a lifetime of 300,000 miles (not 207,000), versus 100,000 miles for the Prius, in order to arrive at the identical questionable cost figures.

    How could anyone claim with a straight face that a GM-manufactured vehicle, especially a Hummer, would get 300,000 miles while a Toyota-manufactured vehicle only got 100,000 miles? Toyota’s build quality is universally acknowledged as second to none, while Hummers are notorious for breaking down.

    There are so many anomalies and different versions of that story that one has to seriously question whether the whole thing is a hoax based on mischief-making. The US car industry is struggling in the current climate (sorry) so there are plenty of potential sources of disinformation.

    As to the rest of your story, it’s quite alarming that the climate crisis has become so politicised, with the Right aligning itself solidly with the climate skeptics, particularly in the US. This doesn’t make sense when it is primarily a scientific question.

    No doubt vested interests lie on both sides of politics, but this issue is too important to leave to politicians and media hacks.

    Alan Simpson

  • Certainly it seems that some MPs are using the global warming scenario for publicity purposes.
    The media are also promoting what suits them. Dr Bob Carter, from James Cook Uni in Qld, spoke to the Senate Committee last year about media bias on global warming issues. See
    His home page is at

    On the subject of global warming, we wrote an article last month about global warming – the hype, the media bias, the issue itself and how some Christians are speaking out against the hype whilst others are supporting the gw scenario. See
    On the Kevin Rudd front, our latest journal has a piece about his own statements about faith and politics… see

    Jenny Stokes

  • Sorry the links in my previous post didn’t show up. The Bob Carter article is at http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/RMC%20US%20Senate%202006%20-%20Witness%20Statement.pdf
    His home page is http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/index.htm
    My article on global warming is at http://www.saltshakers.org.au/html/P/382/B/0/
    and finally the article we have written on Kevin Rudd and faith in politics is at http://www.saltshakers.org.au/html/P/374/B/386/
    Hope it posts correctly this time!
    Jenny Stokes

  • Ewan

    I think you are right there. Even Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was seen to a lot of people as just another campaign for the presidency.

    Damien Spillane

  • There is a documentary called The Great Global Warming Swindle which contains some very interesting material. The official website is http://www.greatglobalwarmingswindle.com
    It is also posted on Google Video http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2332531355859226455

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Hi Jenny,

    I’m disturbed by the concluding comment in your article:
    “We cannot ‘save’ the planet. Only God can. This world will not be wiped out until Christ returns.”

    This seems to be a very dangerous statement. What if you are wrong and the Christian belief system is eventually found to be false?

    Your statement also seems at odds with your earlier statement that “We should be careful of the earth’s resources and take proper care of the environment.”

    Your article is not a balanced report. You present none of the science that supports the recent IPCC report and you mainly quote climate skeptics and people with no credentials in climate science. Andrew Bolt is a journalist, and a very biased one. He has no expertise in this area.

    James Dobson is a psychologist. Although you claim he warned against a consensus position amongst evangelicals, he has in fact spoken out opposing global warming theories. Yet he has no qualifications in this area. And you yourself have no scientific credentials.

    We all have an obligation to examine both sides of this issue in depth. The evidence has been steadily mounting for many years now, and the estimated probability that we have a serious problem keeps mounting. Yet the hysteria opposing the proposition that humans are to blame is becoming more shrill.

    We now have unprecedented levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the effect this has on ocean temperatures is well understood. Surely we should be questioning whether it is wise to continue polluting the atmosphere.

    Doing nothing and hoping God will save us seems to be a very dangerous approach.

    Alan Simpson, Queensland

  • “The evidence has been steadily mounting for many years now, and the estimated probability that we have a serious problem keeps mounting. Yet the hysteria opposing the proposition that humans are to blame is becoming more shrill.” This is nonsense, Allan. Firstly, the evidence is inconclusive and incredulous. Secondly, in terms of hysteria, the AGW skeptics have nothing on the AGW ‘evangelists’.

    You dismiss Bolt because he is just “a journalist”, but what about all those multitudes of journalists who just follow the herd and preach AGW doom? You don’t seem to have a problem with them.

    “We now have unprecedented levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the effect this has on ocean temperatures is well understood. Surely we should be questioning whether it is wise to continue polluting the atmosphere.” This is more nonsense. Firstly, we do not have “unprecedented levels of CO2 in the atmosphere” since there are good reasons to believe that CO2 was much higher in the past (see The Great Global Warming Swindle link above for some of them). Secondly, the effect this has on ocean temperatures is not well understood since it is more likely that ocean temps affect atmospheric CO2 levels, not the other way around. Thirdly, CO2 is not a pollutant – it is to plants what oxygen is to animals. In fact there may well be significant advantages to crop production from higher atmospheric CO2 levels.

    Seems to me like you’re the one who needs to do a bit of “in depth” research on this issue instead of just believing all the hype.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Alan

    From what I understand of Jenny’s position, I think her position that we should depend on God to save us is conditioned on the fact that the science supporting man induced global warming is weak at best.

    I too would agree that “God would save us” is not a good response to global warming. Because God has given us responsibilities that we have to deal with. But there are plenty with good academic credentials who are skeptical of man made global warming and we need to utilize some critical thinking on this issue before jumping to conclusions.

    Damien Spillane

  • Alan Simpson whinges about Jenny Stokes’ article for citing authors who are supposedly biased and lack scientific qualifications. Of course, AGW scaremongers are the epitome of objectivity, e.g.

    “To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance
    between being effective, and being honest.”

    Leading greenhouse advocate, Dr Stephen Schneider
    ( in interview for Discover , Oct 1989). BTW, in the 1970s, he was a scaremonger for the coming global ice age!

    And of course, Simpson seems not to mind that Gore has no scientific qualifications, and that Flannery has none in relevant areas. Conversely, Richard Lindzen of MIT is very well qualified in the issues.

    Simpson also seems to forget about cost/benefit analysis. Bill’s article cited Lomborg pointing out money spent on Kyoto would be far better spent on providing sanitary water.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Hi Alan
    The final statement of my article was a reminder, to Christian readers, in the middle of the hype and the doom and gloom of global warming, that the earth ultimately operates under God’s authority.
    It refers to Jesus saying in Matthew 5:18 that heaven and earth will not disappear until everything is accomplished.
    That doesn’t, of course, diminish our responsibility to be good stewards of our environment.
    Jenny Stokes

  • Hi Ewan,
    Believe me, I’ve read plenty on this subject, from both sides.

    Let me ask you this. Who stands to gain the most from disseminating disinformation, climate scientists or the fossil fuel industry?

    I’ve watched the Channel 4 video. I’ve also researched the response to it. There are plenty of rebuttals. Here is one:
    http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/2007/03/climate-change-who-is-swindling-who.html

    Your claim that higher CO2 may improve crops is novel, but CO2 is toxic to humans and other animals at concentrations only a few times higher than we have now. And the current level is the highest it has been for about 20 million years, before man existed. But the reason we need to worry about this is not because it’s poisonous, but because it causes global warming.

    Surely you can’t really think we shouldn’t be taking precautions by limiting carbon emissions?

    I don’t understand how you can think the evidence is “inconclusive and incredulous”. If you read the actual science, the evidence is very strong.

    I’m mystified why conservative Christians seem to be almost totally committed to the cause of the climate skeptics. Is this just part of your general anti-science attitude? If not, I don’t understand why we seeing this alignment.

    Alan Simpson, Qld

  • “But the cost of compliance just to the United States would be higher than the cost of providing the entire world with clean drinking water and sanitation, which would prevent 2 million deaths (from diseases like infant diarrhea) a year and prevent half a billion people from becoming seriously ill each year.”

    This is really scary, and one of the prime reasons I get annoyed with the climate change activists.

    I have heard people say “we should just let the babies in Africa die out- overpopulation is destroying our planet anyway”.

    I do believe we should take good care of this planet, but I am not interested in saving trees at the expense of people dying.

    Amanda Fairweather

  • Hi Bill,
    It’s interesting that you didn’t post my comment! But censorship is nothing new when it comes to the issue of climate change!
    Love Foxy, or Roxanne as my overly PC teachers used to prefer to call me

  • Ewan

    Thanks for the link, just finished watching the Great Global Warming Swindle, it was good to hear the other side of the story, at last a reality check.
    I’ve had alarm bells ringing about the Christian church jumping on the GW bandwagon ever since I spotted an article in my BUV (Baptist Union Victoria) “Witness” magazine back in October 2006.

    Part of a short article under the heading – Global Warming: A Christian Issue, stated that….

    “It is now clear that because humans have multiplied in number and developed our technology- so that more of us drive cars, fly planes, heat and cool our homes and eat beef, for example – we are warming our planet. For the first time in history, humans are causing massive changes in global temperatures, with many unknown consequences”

    In Genesis I recall God telling us to multiple and after the great flood eating meat was accepted, seems like my church now is proclaiming praises to the environmental movement. I have always believed that Christian have an obligation to protect and manage the God given resources on this planet, its not a new idea as some would have us believe. I pray our church leaders see through these new age ideas about worshiping the creation and not the creator.

    Dallas James, Melbourne

  • Thanks Roxanne or Foxy or whoever

    But please spare me the censorship bit. I have been more than generous with my critics, allowing most of their comments to get on this site. It has to do with following my blogging rules, and not allowing every contrarian to soapbox or grandstand on my website, when they can do it on their own. The truth is, there are around 7.8 trillion sites devoted to the global warming hysteria, while sites that offer an alternative view to the standard line are few and far between.

    And the mainstream media is the real censor here, preventing skeptics from making their case. I did allow a link from Alan, but I generally tend not to. It is terribly easy to find info on the standard version of events on this topic, but difficult to get alternative points of view, which I try to offer on this site.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Alan Simpson’s questions can be reversed on him. Why do christophobes seem totally committed to global warming bandwagon? Who has the most to gain: those who can follow the evidence where it leads, or those whose research grants depend on pushing the party line on AGW?

    And if you want motivation, AGW gives politicians an excuse to take more of the money we earn and control more of our lives. But just like the Communist “Red Tsars” who lived like kings while the people wallowed in poverty, the biggest preachers of our need to sacrifice will live in energy guzzling mansions and keep their fleet of greenhouse-gas-spewing private jets.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Alan asks:

    “I’m mystified why conservative Christians seem to be almost totally committed to the cause of the climate skeptics. Is this just part of your general anti-science attitude? If not, I don’t understand why we seeing this alignment.”

    The reason as I see it, Allan, is because conservative Christians are committed to seeking the truth in all areas of life. Contrary to your assertion, we are pro-science and we are usually pretty good at spotting philosophy masquerading as objective science (e.g. evolution & AGW). We are also pro-people which is why we hate abortion and support the type of industrialisation that raises people’s living standards and lengthens their life spans.

    Alan asks:

    “Let me ask you this. Who stands to gain the most from disseminating disinformation, climate scientists or the fossil fuel industry?”

    I would say the pro-AGW scientists and environmental journalists stand to gain (or lose) the most since their research funding and jobs, respectively, depend to a large extent on them promoting the AGW myth. The fossil fuel industry are smart enough to know that the majority of people are not stupid enough to stop using fossil fuels since at present there is no viable alternative unless we all go and live in caves.

    Did it ever occur to you that all this carbon contained in fossil fuel was at one time freely circulating in the biosphere? And not that long ago either if one accepts the biblical record of earth history.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Jonathan,
    Christophobe? New one on me. I suppose it could have a few different meanings, but one definition I found was:
    “One with an irrational fear or hatred of Christians.”

    I hope you are not including me in such a group. I have neither fear nor hatred of Christians. Several of my closest friends are Christians. However, I don’t share their beliefs, and they don’t force them upon me, although we do have some interesting debates. Nor do they resort to insults, and I guess they wouldn’t be friends if they did. In fact, insulting people seems kind of unChristian to me.

    Ewan,
    I accept that you think conservative Christians seek the truth, but to an outsider you do the exact opposite. You start with a belief that the Bible is absolutely true, so that when scholars or scientists uncover evidence to the contrary, you have no option but to dismiss the evidence and any theory arising from it. In other words, nothing can be accepted as truth if it contradicts the Bible. Pre-suppositionalism is the term I believe.

    Since all truth in your worldview is pre-ordained, how can you claim to be seeking truth?

    Alan Simpson, Qld

  • The phrase “there are none so blind as those who cannot see” comes to mind here. You are making a philosophical error here, Alan. You correctly identify that my worldview is based on the presupposition that the Bible is true, but what you fail to appreciate is that ALL worldviews are presuppositional. Assuming you subscribe to some kind of philosophical naturalism, you also have a set of presuppositions that you have to accept by faith. See here for one of them.

    I assume you think you are seeking the truth, but to me you are doing the exact opposite. You start by rejecting the author of truth and his word (the Bible) and instead put your faith in the ability of naturalistic science to determine truth. When scholars or scientists uncover evidence that contradicts the naturalistic worldview, you have no option but to dismiss the evidence and any theory arising from it. In other words, nothing can be accepted as truth if it contradicts naturalistic evolution.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Alan, I’ve had a chance to look at that New Scientist blog article link you supplied that attempts to refute The Great Global Warming Swindle. It made a few reasonable points but overall just reinforced my view that the science behind AGW is at best inconclusive. There are way too many uncertainties in these (pseudo) scientific arguments to draw any firm conclusions about what the future holds on climate.

    Of the various comments below the article I thought this the best:

    I stopped reading New Scientist many years ago when it started to present a one-sided view of global warming. I’m back via some casual browsing – and the tone of this article is just the same. As a (surprising) number of contributors point out, almost all climate change ‘science’ is based on theoretical models, and the complex assumptions therein. There is almost no experimental verification, so considerable caution is needed. The editorial team should be calmly reviewing and assessing the evidence for all views on the situation, not ridiculing anyone who is a ‘climate change denier’ – what a telling phrase! Reminds me of playground bullies…
    By Anonymous on March 23, 2007 5:02 PM

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Hi Ewan,
    My views are based on what the observable evidence shows us. I have never seen any observable evidence that supports the idea of a supernatural being. It seems a very odd idea to me, but if people wish to live their lives with that belief, it’s fine by me.

    I don’t want to enter into a discussion about evolution here because we’re straying off topic and probably testing Bill’s patience. But the thing about any scientific theory is that it must by definition be falsifiable. Falsify evolution and it will obviously lose all support. We philosophical naturalists are fickle like that. But no one has falsified it yet.

    Alan Simpson, Qld

  • Alan

    Jesus was certainly no wimp, but frequently resorted to challenge-riposte including strong insults. When believers are commanded to imitate Christ, nothing was said about only imitating Him when He was gentle. Anyway, Bill has written a column Rhetoric, the Bible, and the Believer.

    And what is the point of claiming to seek truth but never wanting to find it? Jesus claimed to be “The truth”.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Alan, evolution has been falsified in a number of ways, it’s just you philosophical naturalists refuse to accept any evidence that contradicts your religious faith. See: Primeval soup—failed paradigm Conversely, the Biblical creation account is quite compatible with real science.

    I have never seen any observable evidence that supports the idea that the material universe created itself and in turn then created life. It seems a very odd idea to me, but if people wish to live their lives with that belief, it’s fine by me. After all, unlike radical atheism, Christianity believes in freedom of religion!

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Over at Andrew Bolt’s blog, this comment was posted by a contributor:

    The following appeared in a bits & bytes column in The Australian. (19/04/2007, Features p 12).

    “SCIENCE journalists at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt knew something was afoot when a DVD of the contentious documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle was slipped under their doors, along with a newspaper titled The New Citizen, from Lyndon LaRouche’s rightist Citizens Electoral Council of Australia. …. Science journalist Robyn Williams asked eminent scientist (and Australian of the Year) Tim Flannery at the fifth World Conference of Science Journalists in Melbourne yesterday whether the ABC should screen the doco. That would depend, Flannery replied, on whether it was labeled as science, fiction or a piece of entertainment.”

    Here’s yet another example of the dismissiveness and censorship of alternative views by our cultural elite. It will be interesting to see if TGGWS ever sees the light of day on Australian TV or if it is seen as too politically incorrect to broadcast. This is why we need the internet if we want to be properly informed.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • See also An Inconvenient Truth or Convenient Fiction, available from the corresponding website http://www.aconvenientfiction.com, by Stephen Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute. Hayward even agrees that there is some AGW but rejects Gore’s extremism and selective use of data. Interestingly, he notes that Gore adopts all Kyoto’s recommendations—except adopting nuclear power!
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

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