Published April 22, 2011
Although the issue of climate change may not be making headlines at the present, it remains very much alive and well. It is our intention to present an alternative view relating to the popular "Catastrophic Climate Change" issue and it's consequences for creation. This view draws from science, politics, Biblical theology and social welfare. The message is positive, edifying, requires only an eighth grade level understanding of science, a good measure of common sense and faith the size of a mustard seed. Although we do not ignore that man is imperfect and is capable of misusing any resource, we do not address such misuse in this article.
Before I propose an alternative view, let’s get a better understanding of the atmosphere, fossil fuels and the "carbon cycle." Our atmosphere is comprised of many gases including Nitrogen (80%) oxygen (20%) and Co2 (.035 %). Co2 is a molecule of 2 elements: oxygen and carbon. Animals, including humans, inhale these gases and absorb some of the oxygen and exhale the mixture of carbon and oxygen as Co2. On the other half of the cycle, photosynthetic plants absorb and separate the Co2 molecules, storing the carbon as sugars and tissue while releasing the oxygen back to the atmosphere. Co2 is but of one the gases labeled as a "greenhouse" gas. Greenhouse gases cause heat retention in the atmosphere and without them the planet temperature would be to cold for habitation.
Many propose that Co2 emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels result in unfavorable atmospheric changes to our planet such as: longer hotter summers, colder snowier winters, rising sea levels, increased temperatures, vanishing water supplies, and a host of farming problems resulting in food shortages.
Coupled with this bleak environmental forecast is a "social injustice" perspective. This theory proposes that the affluent nations -- which cause the lion's share of negative climate change -- are "oppressing" third world nations by forcing them to bear the brunt of their "excessive" consumerist lifestyle since they are not financially and technologically able to adapt to such changes. This theory is presented with an urgency to correct this problem immediately before we reach a tipping point of no return.
The remedies suggested by proponents of this view include getting the attention of governments to develop and place new laws, rules and restrictions upon peoples, businesses and industry to lower or eliminate Co2 emissions. Also recommended are fines and punitive taxation that may not reduce carbon emissions at all but put financial resources in the hands of those who think such resources can be better managed. Also recommended are means of "green energy" solutions including solar, wind and bio-fuel technologies. Population control is also considered.
So what are fossil fuels? Fossil fuels are huge deposits of decayed plant and animal matter also called "carbon sinks" under the earth’s surface. Some of these sinks once existed as living plants on the earth's surface and appear to have been buried by natural processes guided by the hand of God. These plants pulled billions of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere during their growth and took it down with them during their burial. Logically, the atmosphere at that time must have had higher concentrations of Co2 than we experience today.
These fossil fuels release tremendous amounts of energy when burned and also "recombine" the carbon and oxygen to "reproduce" Co2 gas. This is man's "intentional" part in the carbon cycle. You should notice that we used the words "recombine" and "reproduce". This is not the first time these carbon atoms have been in the atmosphere. This carbon is going home in the form of Co2 after a long vacation down under the Earth's surface.
The question at hand seems to be: "Can the atmosphere tolerate the addition of billions of tons of Co2 without exponentially causing excessive heating of the biosphere? This seems to be an odd question considering the above paragraph. Could these changes be beneficial rather than harmful? The purpose of this article is to suggest that the atmosphere is able as part of the Infinite Wisdom and Sovereignty of God which may be surprisingly "greener" than we may think.
When these gases are "reintroduced" to the atmosphere additional warming "may" occur. However, other effects occur that result in more favorable conditions that support life and improve plant development. Co2 is fertilizer and plants love it! Plants and vegetation will likely grow faster with higher yields than ever before in places where such growth was once impossible. Sea levels "may" be higher than times past but new ground also may be exposed from under ice sheets. With conditions more favorable for plant growth, the ability to feed our ever growing population is increased. Could this be part of the Divine plan to restore a planet subjected to futility?
Wouldn't it seem more likely that God in the past, met man's future needs for life and increase by creating a storehouse of energy beneath the earth's surface for man's disposal rather than for his harm? For the Christian, would this not seem "providential" and good rather than accidental and destructive? What better way for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham that all nations will be blessed by means of his seed, nations far above and below the Equator. I can only wonder how the building and preservation of the Church would fare without this energy.
Could it be that God is so lavish in Grace that He has provided abundant energy sources to provide the means for things like medical equipment, transportation, high yielding farm equipment, heat, electricity and breakthroughs in communication technology that allow information including for the Gospel to be transmitted at lightning speed?. And even things for our enjoyment -- like a gas-fired barbecue grill.
Socially and politically, movements trying to stop climate change seem to be creating other problems where the stakes are very high indeed concerning poverty and oppression.
Jesus says "the poor will always be with you." Does this mean the poor or oppressed are to be ignored? To the contrary. It means that because of our wealth, we are "able" and should be ready and willing to lift others out of poverty. Also, we should protect ourselves from all forms of oppression.
We have heard it said, “A poor man never gave me a job." This has been our experience as it has for countless others. We do not recall any of our successful neighbors oppressing us. But it could be said that my neighbor's government oppresses him and us every day by taxing away the fruit of our labor and diligence. Increased rules and regulations born out of unwarranted fear inhibit the growth of a free society. By removing earned wealth from a prosperous people, we deter them away from industriousness and diligence. Such actions by government limit our ability to help anyone. In our view they end in tyranny and oppression of not just the poor but ultimately of those who can help them. Who then are the oppressors? Is not the lion's share corrupt, national leaders and their misguided ideologies?
The Gospel teaches us that to be lifted up, someone stronger, richer and able must exist to help or create an environment that lifts people or societies out of poverty. When the knowledge of God, the benefits of technology and Gospel freedom are aligned, many can receive aid in their time of distress.
In this age we can better see the lavish Grace of God where His image bearers are blessed beyond living in a meager, survivalist life style. We are in a place where we can better help the poor and oppressed by reaping the fruits of our labor with the resources God has put at our disposal and for our enjoyment. A place where God works all things for the good to those who love Him.
It is our view that mining and burning fossil fuels is part of God's providence and plan for our age and that the by-product of Co2 is restorative rather than destructive, helpful rather than harmful and good rather than evil. Fossil fuels are for man's benefit and God's glory. Let us not be seduced by worldviews that call evil what God has called good. May it never be.
In closing, we would like to point out that we all have a responsibility to be good stewards of God's gifts. Let us not be wasteful and as we become aware of real problems make real changes.
Also, let's resolve to help the poor, the oppressed and those who suffer. And remember, the next time you drive your car, mow your lawn, or grill a burger, don't feel guilty. No, be humbled and at peace, knowing you are part of a bigger plan.
Got God? I pray that you do. I also hope you Got Co2, the fertilizer with a purpose.
Thank you for reading and God bless you and your household.
T. and J. Learn are auto repair shop owners and members of conservative Presbyterian churches in New Jersey.