Christians Debate Global Warming

From Peyton Knight:

Yesterday, the Family Research Council hosted an event titled “Faith and Science in the Global Warming Debate.”The debate featured global warming “skeptics” Dr. Calvin Beisner, associate professor of historical theology and social ethics at Knox Theological Seminary, and Dr. Ken Chilton, Director of the Institute for Study of Economics and the Environment, squaring off against global warming “alarmists” Dr. Jim Ball, President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), and Dr. Rusty Pritchard, National Director of Outreach for EEN.

First to speak was Dr. Jim Ball of EEN. You may remember EEN from its controversial (and borderline blasphemous) “What Would Jesus Drive?” ad campaign, which sought to incorporate Christ as an anti-SUV zealot. Jim Ball’s presentation was centered primarily on alarmist and exaggerated scenarios. Dr. Ball claimed that global warming is causing “more floods and droughts” and is “driving our weather patterns to the extremes.” He also claimed that there are “major deadly consequences” just around the corner for Africa if we don’t tackle the global warming issue immediately. For effect, Dr. Ball showed a slide of a woman from Northwest Kenya who, understandably, was in despair over a recent drought – not that this particular drought had anything to do with global warming, of course. According to Dr. Ball, Christians should consider embrace global warming as a moral issue from the standpoint of caring for the poor and less fortunate, as well as caring for God’s creation. Dr. Ball also informed the partisan crowd that Newt Gingrich is on board with the global warming alarmists.

Next up was Dr. Cal Beisner. His presentation was quite impressive. It is clear he has a very confident, articulate and well-read command of the issue. Dr. Beisner stressed that mandatory CO2 restrictions like those called for in the Kyoto Protocol would have no discernable impact on the overall climate. However, he pointed out, “Capping CO2 emissions would be economically devastating to the world’s poor,” and such an action would be “unconscionable.”

EEN’s Dr. Rusty Pritchard followed next. In my view, his presentation and command of the issue was much more effective and coherent than that of his colleague Dr. Ball. Dr. Pritchard told the audience that EEN essentially agrees with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Newt Gingrich. Dr. Pritchard said that in order to avoid disaster, we could not allow the planet to warm more than two degrees Celsius. At one point Dr. Pritchard stressed that we do not need more government, but he quickly followed that up with a call for government to cap CO2 and set a greenhouse gas regulatory agenda. With those government controls in place, it would then be left to “the market” to price and distribute CO2 emissions. As for the poor who would be harmed most by the rising cost of energy? Dr. Pritchard said they can be assisted “through the tax code and subsidies.” In other words: more government.

Last to speak was Dr. Ken Chilton. Dr. Chilton began by emphatically stating that the science of modeling the future of the climate was far from accurate or settled. Dr. Chilton also echoed his colleague, Dr. Beisner, stating, “Kyoto is costly but ineffective.” Chilton noted that efforts to create a cap and trade system, like the one promoted by EEN, would be a bit cheaper than the Kyoto Protocol, but would do literally nothing for the climate, making it ultimately an expensive “symbolic gesture.” He stressed that developing nations needed and wanted better healthcare and technology, and that restrictions on CO2 would inhibit their progress toward these goals. As for the connection between Christianity and the global warming issue, Dr. Chilton advised: “My advice to most of my brothers and sisters in Christ is to remain agnostic on this issue.” Dr. Chilton added that it is “the height of human hubris” to think that man can manipulate God’s creation on such a large scale.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.