A video going around Facebook again (first posted back in September 2015) shows Ted Cruz answering an impatient questioner on climate science. Cruz displayed a calm demeanor but he played loose with the facts. The questioner asked Cruz if he denies climate change. Watch:
Unfortunately the questioner got in his own way at first. However, once Cruz got to answer, he claimed three things.
- Thirty to forty years ago, there was a group of liberals and scientists who claimed the world was getting cooler. The consensus was that the Earth was cooling and required massive government intervention to stop it.
- Then when the data disproved global cooling, the same scientists started to claim the Earth was warming.
- According to the satellite data, the Earth has warmed over the past 18 years. Because of that, the preferred term now for those who urge massive government control is “climate change.”
There is irony in Cruz lamenting liberals who he claims have the same answer to every problem because Cruz rarely varies in his analysis of national issues. Nearly every problem comes down to the liberals in Washington who want to exercise over the people.
Cruz is wrong on each point and like his Super PAC president David Barton, constructs a false narrative which he uses to deflect attention away from inconvenient facts.
First, there was no consensus that the Earth was cooling complete with liberals calling for government control of U.S. citizens. A review of scientific papers published in the 1970s on climate found that only seven articles from 1965-1979 proposed “global cooling” as a theory. Forty-four articles supported the idea of a warming planet during that same period.
Second, Cruz said the scientists went to the “global warming” next when global cooling didn’t work out. Third, Cruz said the data shows no warming over the past 18 years. However, he refers to satellite data for his conclusion. Surface and ocean temperature warming are much more accurate indicators of what is happening on the surface of the Earth. Generally, satellite data records conditions in orbit and must go through conversions to approximate surface temperatures. Cruz apparently relies on satellite data because they support his views. The earth has been warming and the last couple of months have been the hottest on record.
This is a very brief narrative from Cruz but in just a couple of minutes, he made everyone who heard him less knowledgeable about climate change. He is wrong about some “global cooling consensus.” He is wrong about the reason climate scientists began warning about global warming and he is wrong about the direction of the temperature over the past 18 years. He sounds smooth and smart but is way off the mark.
Because accuracy regarding the climate is a critical scientific issue going forward, Cruz’s stance is one of the reasons I think he is not ready to be president. I outlined the remaining reasons yesterday.
*I want to thank Christian scientists John Abraham, Katherine Hayhoe, and Erik Anderson for helping me locate and understand data for this post.
The Pope’s encyclical on climate change will probably change the conversation among religiously conservative people.
Writing on the Biologos website, Katherine Hayhoe and Edwin Maurer argue that religiously conservative Christians should heed and follow the encyclical.
Biologos’ press release begins:
INTRO: Yesterday saw the release of “Laudato Si’,” an encyclical letter from Pope Francis. Although the massive document provides counsel on many contemporary issues, its primary focus is the worldwide ecological crisis caused by modern human activity. It explicitly affirms the reality of human-induced climate change, and urges Christians to move beyond debating the causes to stopping the damage. Today, we feature a response by world-renowned climate scientist and evangelical Christian Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, along with her colleague Dr. Ed Maurer. Look next week for further thoughts by the BioLogos staff as well as scholars in our community.
Hayhoe and Maurer agree with the pope and add a good bit more:
The Pope is not alone; the 2006 Evangelical Climate Initiative , the 2011 National Association of Evangelicals report, “ Loving the Least of These ,” and the 2013 letter from 200 evangelical scientists to Congress all state in clear and unmistakable terms that the basis for caring about climate change is nothing less than love—a fundamental Christian value espoused by any believer from any denomination. So whom should we believe? As scientists, we know the importance of evidence; whether revealed through God’s written word or through creation. There is nothing in the Bible that says human-induced climate change isn’t possible. And there is plenty in creation that tells us that it is.
In my opinion, Hayhoe and Maurer are bringing good information to Christians. The work I have seen certainly indicates a human element to the elevation of temperatures, as well as other problems.
Read the entire article here.
It is all over Twitter. Salon and Right Wing Watch have stories about David Barton’s claim that legal abortion has triggered climate change and all sorts of other weather problems. Barton’s theometeorological pronouncement came during an appearance on Kenneth Copeland’s television broadcast. You can watch the segment here where he begins talking about abortion and the weather at about 18:55. Watch until the end to get the context.
At that point, Kenneth Copeland says that storms and hurricanes and murders don’t just happen. Barton agrees and adds that since we (meaning the U.S. I suppose) have embraced a wicked policy (legalized abortion), then God will take away his hand of protection. Because of God’s absence, then Barton claims:
Whap! Here comes storms like we’ve never seen before, here comes floods like, and here comes climate stuff that we can’t explain, all the hot times and all the cold times. Too much rain and not enough rain; we’re flooding over here, and we got droughts over here. And you know back in the early America days, when something like that happened, first thing they did was issue a call for a national day of prayer, repentance, humiliation, fasting and prayer. We have screwed up somewhere. We gotta get God’s help to get blessings back on this nation. And today we’re saying ‘oh no, it’s global warming.” No, we opened a door that lost God’s protection over our environment and that’s our choice.
Even if there was some theological merit to this line of thinking, the facts don’t support the link made by Barton and Copeland, as far I can tell. Just looking at hurricanes (this seems fair since Copeland specifically mentioned hurricanes), the worst hurricane in the U.S. was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The National Weather Service ranks U.S. hurricanes by number of deaths, cost and intensity. Most of the deadliest hurricanes happened before Roe v. Wade.
In fact, Katrina is the only hurricane after Roe v. Wade in the top ten. I only count seven hurricanes which happened after Roe v. Wade in the top 52. When it comes to cost (see the NWS report for that), the most recent hurricanes top the list because the amount of the losses are not adjusted for inflation. However, in terms of intensity, only two of the top ten storms occurred after Roe v. Wade. In terms of numbers of hurricanes, there has not been an increase in recent years. In fact, the NWS report says: “Table 6, which lists hurricanes by decades since 1851, shows that during the 40-year period 1961-2000 both the number and intensity of landfalling U.S. hurricanes decreased sharply.”
No support for the thesis there.
The murder rate (also mentioned by Copeland) does not support the theory. As I pointed out in an earlier post, violent crime including the murder rate has been falling since the early 1990s. The murder rate now is lower than it was in 1961.
When it comes to floods, prior to the current Colorado floods, the worst flood in history is the 1927 Mississippi River flood, followed by the 1937 Ohio River flood (this flood is famous in my home town of Portsmouth, Ohio since flood walls were built in response). While climate change may indeed bring about long term weather changes, including increased flooding, it does not appear that one can accurately associate meaningful weather disasters with the Roe v. Wade decision.