There are many myths abounding in the popular press around the nature of climate change. California Interfaith Power and Light is dedicated to bringing accurate information to the public and utilizing this information in our educational materials. The following are links to well-respected, scientifically sound resources on common climate questions and myths. Take a look:
RealClimate.org – Climate Science from Climate Scientists
The Met Office – United Kingdom
Clarification of Hacked E-mails from the Climate Research Unit
At-a-Glance: The Role of Faith and Common Climate Change Questions
As people of faith, we are called upon to respond especially to the most vulnerable in our world. This includes those who are and will be affected most by climate change, but who did the least to contribute to it. We are charged to remember that the entire planet – including humanity – is not only God’s creation, but infused with God’s very self. Thus, when we respect the Earth, we respect God; when we misuse the Earth and her inhabitants, we are turning our backs on our Creator.
Is global warming real?
Yes – the scientific evidence is overwhelming. In addition to countless reports by many well-respected scientists all over the globe, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that there has been an estimated 1.3 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature since pre-Industrial times. The IPCC is an international scientific body of roughly 1,000 scientists. The IPCC holds conferences every 5-6 years to discuss and present their latest research. The National Academy of Sciences is a nationally-recognized organization activein the fields of science and public awareness. Their on-going research includes a suite of climate studies entitled America’s Climate Choices.
The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore; the former for its excellent leadership in science on the issue; and the latter for making this science more understandable to the public at large.
In addition to scientists, legislators, people of faith and environmental organizations, the Pentagon is taking the threat of climate change very seriously. As early as February 2004, the Pentagon was warning the American administration that ‘Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life’ in many countries. One military spokesman, Ret. Vice-Admiral Dennis McGinn, has been speaking on the subject, including giving a statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July 2009. He stated that climate change is a “…threat multiplier for instability.”
What about people who say the Earth is cooling, especially with the very cold 2010 winter?
1998 was an unusually warm year because of the naturally occurring El Nino. This phenomena is linked to marked increased global temperatures and events such as hurricanes. 2005 was the first year that came close to being as hot as 1998; therefore, there was a false perception in non-scientific circles that the Earth was cooling. This perception is wrong. In fact, 11 of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1998, including 2009. An excellent primer on the misunderstanding of global cooling has been put out by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Are we sure human behavior is responsible for these changes?
Yes. The key here is to understand the link between humanity’s burning of coal, oil and gas, and the increasing level of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, such as methane and water vapor, (referred to as “CO2/eq.”) Prior to the Industrial Revolution, CO2/eq remained at roughly 280 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere. Recent studies have shown that the current level of almost 390 ppm is the highest in 2.1 million years. What has changed? Humanity’s burning of coal, oil and natural gas, all of which are trapping an increased amount of heat in the atmosphere.