I take the danger of global warming seriously for the following reasons. (1) I think there is enough data on increasing temperatures, etc., available to indicate that something resembling a warming trend is happening to the earth’s climate. (2) No scientist of whom I am aware questions the model, i.e., the scientific explanation, that carbon dioxide in an atmosphere helps to trap heat. (3) Industrialization, combined with population growth, has increased the amount of carbon dioxide humans release into the atmosphere. (4) Caution should be used with regard to the livability of our planet—it’s the only one we have. In 40 years we do not want to say “Oops.” It may then be too late. Having only a single resource (one planet), a reasonable approach is to be careful with it. I think the burden of proof is on those who would risk the livability of the earth.


Those who argue that we ought not to be concerned about global warming often do so from two mistaken premises. On the one hand, in a fashion similar to tobacco company spokespersons, some argue that global warming is not a scientifically proven fact. In response, I would point out that those who use this argument usually are misrepresenting the nature of “proven” in science. Science is not mathematics in which a conclusion inevitably comes from a proper argument using the proper axioms. Scientific reasoning is deductive, not inductive. In most areas of science a conclusion is regarded as justified if the data support it to a level of .9 or greater. That is, if probability testing of the data indicates that there is less than a 1 in 10 chance the number pattern is the result of chance. Is this “proof” in an absolute sense? No. But it is the best science can do. And only a fool would ignore high probability conclusions. In addition, to refer to (4) above, do we really want to wait until it is too late when the data seem to point toward change. On the other hand, the second mistaken premise is that since climate change has occurred over the course of the earth’s history, changes now are not to be viewed with alarm. In response I would point out that some climate changes of the past would have been devastating to humans. Secondly, we should distinguish between what happens in the world because of natural causes over which we have no control, and that which happens because of human activity. If we can control a human-influenced climate change that would be disadvantageous to us, why would we not prevent it?

The arguments above are grounded in reason. I also have religious grounds, as a Christian, for my position. Humans are created as stewards of the earth—caring for and keeping it. Created from the dust, our lives are bound together with this earth. Created in God’s image, we have greater power and greater responsibility than animals, e.g. beavers. Given dominion over the earth, we are to reflect God’s way of doing dominion. God creates, that is, God enables to exist that which is not Godself. God blesses and redeems creation. We should enable to exist that which is not ourselves, blessing and redeeming it. The earth itself has a future in God’s plans, a new heavens and a new earth. We do not have a no deposit, no return world.

There are those who argue that humans cannot destroy the earth, only God can do that. I would point out that we are not talking here about the earth’s destruction. We are talking about a world which becomes more or less livable for humans. Also, the Bible seems to teach that God allows humans to engage in activities of which God disapproves. These human actions then have consequences, sometimes catastrophic.