Friday, February 23, 2007

Of Cardinals and Climate Change

The cardinal-president of the German bishops is urging his countrymen to drive green:
Cardinal Karl Lehmann said in Bild newspaper on Thursday that the period of 40 days before Easter in the Christian calendar "requires us to rethink our lifestyle."

"Far too often, we do things that are harmful to our fellow citizens and the environment.

"Let us use Lent to make a personal contribution to improving our climate by having car 'fast.'

"Preserving creation is a duty which falls to all of us," Lehmann, the chairman of the German bishops' conference, said.
...meanwhile, following in the footsteps of another vox Clara Pell, Australia's senior prelate bespoke a "Where's the Beef?" on the same question earlier this week:

We have been subjected to a lot of nonsense about climate disasters as some zealots have been painting extreme scenarios to frighten us. They claim ocean levels are about to rise spectacularly, that there could be the occasional tsunami as high as an eight story building, the Amazon basin could be destroyed as the ice cap in the Arctic and in Greenland melts.

An overseas magazine called for Nuremberg-style trials for global warming skeptics while a U.S.A. television correspondent compared skeptics to “holocaust deniers”.

A local newspaper editorial’s complaint about the doomsdayers’ religious enthusiasm is unfair to mainstream Christianity. Christians don’t go against reason although we sometimes go beyond it in faith to embrace probabilities. What we were seeing from the doomsdayers was an induced dose of mild hysteria, semi-religious if you like, but dangerously close to superstition.

I am deeply skeptical about man-made catastrophic global warming, but still open to further evidence. I would be surprised if industrial pollution, and carbon emissions, had no ill effect at all. But enough is enough.

A few fixed points might provide some light. We know that enormous climate changes have occurred in world history, e.g. the Ice Ages and Noah’s flood, where human causation could only be negligible. Neither should it be too surprising to learn that the media during the last 100 years has alternated between promoting fears of a coming Ice Age and fear of global warming!...

The evidence on warming is mixed, often exaggerated, but often reassuring. Global warming has been increasing constantly since 1975 at the rate of less than one fifth of a degree centigrade per decade. The concentration of carbon dioxide increased surface temperatures more in winter than in summer and especially in mid and high latitudes over land, while there was a global cooling of the stratosphere.

The East Anglia university climate research unit found that global temperatures did not increase between 1998 – 2005 and a recent NASA satellite found that the Southern Hemisphere has not warmed in the past 25 years. Is mild global warming a Northern phenomenon?

While we might have been alarmed by the sighting of an iceberg off Dunedin as large as an aircraft carrier we should be consoled by the news that the Antarctic is getting colder and the ice is growing there.

...and so it continues.