Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Theology Of Global Warming

In The Wall Street Journal, James Schlesinger argues that the theology of global warming is based on politics, not science.

He writes:

The issue of climate change urgently needs to be brought down from the level of theology to what we actually know. It is, of course, quite likely that the greenhouse effect has to some extent contributed to global warming--but we simply do not know to what extent. The insistence that global warming is primarily the consequence of human activity leaves scant room for variation in solar intensity or cyclical phenomena generally.

Over the ages, climate has varied. Generally speaking, the Northern Hemisphere has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 17th century. Most of the global warming observed in the 20th century occurred between 1900 and 1940, when the release of greenhouse gasses was far less than later in the century. Between 1940 and 1975, temperatures fell--and scientists feared a lengthy period of global cooling. The reported rise in temperatures in recent decades has come rather suddenly--probably too suddenly given the relatively slow rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

We must always bear in mind that the earth's atmosphere remains a highly complex thermodynamic machine. Given its complexities, we need to be modest in asserting what we know. Knowledge is more than speculation.

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