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News

Saturday Selections - Nov. 4, 2023

Click on the titles below for the linked articles... One reason rent is high Rent control involves the government deciding for apartment building owners the maximum they are allowed to charge. While God does call on us to have compassion for the poor (Prov. 19:17), it'd be to miss the point if we were to understand this as a basis for government rather than individual action. An appeal could be made to the 8th Commandment to argue against rent control, as the more the government decides for you what you can and can't do with your property, the more there is a real sense in which they are taking over ownership from you. The 10th Commandment is also relevant here – such laws wouldn't be passed if we hadn't previously been looking over our back fence at how much our neighbor had. Another reason to believe such programs aren't biblical? No matter how well-intentioned, they don't achieve those intentions. We were designed for music Human beings are able to appreciate music, compose it, and perform it with instruments we've designed or with our own onboard equipment (our vocal cords). But evolution can't really account for these abilities, as they aren't necessary for our survival. Music, then, is one more way in which God is making Himself evident, this time by equipping us to be worshippers. The Christian poetry of John McRae As Remembrance Day approaches, Jonathon Van Maren shares how the author of In Flander's Fields wrote more memorable lines. Hamas attacks deliver clarity on Darwin, atheism, and determinism Michael Egnor notes that Hamas' attacks expose the insufficiency of the scientific dogmas of the 21st century: Darwinism, atheism, and determinism. If atheism is true, there is no Moral Lawgiver, and thus, no good or evil with which we can condemn the killing of innocents. If determinism is true, then we have no free will, and, likewise, can't condemn others' moral choices because they weren't choices. And if Darwinism is true, then the strong killing the weak is simply the natural state of things, and railing against it is as silly as complaining about gravity or the speed of light. But we all know that it was evil, and the terrorists made wicked choices, and that while evil is all too common, it isn't how it should be. So in condemning the Hamas attacks, the world has exposed the insufficiency of its worldviews. 8 steps along the path to wisdom "Really wise people have put a lifetime of effort into gaining wisdom. How do they do it? Here are eight steps." Famous climate predictions that never happened For the last 50 years and more, we've been told that a coming climatic cataclysm is nigh. And if not just around the next corner, then the very next one. Okay, maybe not that one either. This video is from three years back, but just as illuminating today. And as Dr. John Robson says, these false climate predictions would be amusing if it weren't for the poor millions who have to pay more for housing, food, and medicine because of the war on cheap fossil fuel energy. ...

News

Climate mandates will hike house prices, do little for CO2 emissions

The federal government’s upcoming energy efficiency mandates will make new homes more expensive. That’s according to a recent Fraser Institute report, “Wrong move at the wrong time,” which says mandates could increase the cost of new homes and commercial buildings by 8.3%, even as the mandates would have little effect on greenhouse gas emissions. The Liberal Party’s “2030 Emission Reductions Plan” requires that newly built homes must use 65% less energy than houses built in 2019. The “Plan” also mandates a 59% reduction for new commercial construction. The result? The Fraser Institute report expects that housing prices will increase about $72,000 in Ontario, $78,000 in B.C., $35,000 in Alberta, and $27,000 in Manitoba. This increased cost is projected to result in just a 1% drop in greenhouse gases emitted nationwide, while causing a loss of construction jobs, and a decline in national gross domestic production. When the cost to build new homes and business places increases on this scale, investors and consumers rethink their plans, perhaps deciding not to open a new restaurant location, or deciding not to develop a piece of property. That softens demand for new construction, and the demand for the many industries that support builders. Ross McKitrick, the report’s author, suggests that if the free market were allowed to operate without government intervention, many individuals and businesses would choose to upgrade their new homes or buildings with energy-efficient appliances anyway, and add more insulation to their building envelope. For some the reduction in their long-term living or operating expenses would justify the initial costs, so they would make the upgrades themselves. But by making these energy-efficient systems mandatory, the government will be hampering economic growth for the nation, while increasing costs for its citizens, and all for very little benefit to the environment....

News

Saturday Selections – June 24, 2023

A seed that walks? Absolutely awn-some! (5 min) These seeds can walk and dig themselves into the ground! Psychology's culpability in the transgender movement The transgender movement's devilish overreach – trying to force us to say boys can be girls and girls can be boys – clarifies for us what Paul meant when he said the wisdom of the world is foolishness in the sight of God (1 Cor. 3:19). "Experts" can be delusional. We're in freefall because we've never had it so good (10-minute read) Prosperity is blamed here as a key culprit for our culture's ongoing decline in civility. Good diagnosis, but this secular article offers no hope. However, there is hope. Some 300 years ago. Cotton Mather explained that: "Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter devoured the mother." If the good times have our nation turning from our good God, then the solution is to urge them to repentance. Most US teens are watching porn regularly This is a must-read for parents, which has help to offer. The Synod of Dort and the Sabbath (10-minute read) Today many evangelicals might argue that there are 9 Commandments and not 10. However, in the article linked above Dr. Bredenhof weighs in on how the Synod of Dort made the case for 10, and Pastor Wilson offers a very different defense in his 11 Theses on the Glory of the Lord's Day. How do Canada's 2001 climate predictions measure up? (11 min) Today's Canadian government is increasing the cost of energy based on dire predictions of what will happen to the climate if they don't. But how good is the government at prognostication? Are they prophets or pretenders? In the video below, John Robson takes a look back at Canada's 2001 climate predictions and asks, if they got it wrong then, why should we trust that they are reliable today? ...

News

2023 wildfires an exception to three decades of declining fires

As millions of Canadians and Americans have been exposed to the smoke from Canadian forest fires already this year, along with a steady stream of media coverage, they would be forgiven for coming to a similar conclusion as Prime Minister Trudeau, who recently tweeted “We’re seeing more and more of these fires because of climate change.” But as Dr. Ross McKitrick, professor of environmental economics at the University of Guelph, explained in the Financial Post, Trudeau’s statement is wrong twice over. Pointing to publicly-available data from the Wildland Fire Information System, McKitrick said that wildfires have in fact been getting less frequent in Canada over the past 30 years. “The annual number of fires grew from 1959 to 1990, peaking in 1989 at just over 12,000 that year, and has been trending down since. From 2017 to 2021 (the most recent interval available), there were about 5,500 fires per year, half the average from 1987 to 1991.” The same is true for the amount of area burned, which also peaked 30 years ago at 7.6 million hectares, far above the current average of 2.4 million. McKitrick also pointed to global data which shows a similar decline in wildfires in recent decades. One reason why fires are getting so much attention this year is because 5.29 million hectares have already burned in 2023, and we are still relatively early in the season. Another reason why fires are getting more attention is because they seem to be getting more dangerous, spreading quickly and threatening entire towns. Is it due to global warming? McKitrick offers another explanation, quoting from forestry experts Stefan Doerr and Cristina Santin: “ aggressive fire suppression policies over much of the 20th century have removed fire from ecosystems where it has been a fundamental part of the landscape rejuvenation cycle…. We cannot completely remove fire from the landscape…That is the misconception that led to the ‘100 per cent fire suppression’ policies in the U.S. and elsewhere that have made things worse in many cases.” In the past government agencies, and even private land owners, have used “prescribed burns” – deliberately lit and managed fires – to burn away undergrowth. When done with some regularity these are lower temperature fires, clearing the ground but without burning the trees down. 100 per cent fire suppression policies do away with these burns, and as McKitrick explained, “this has led to a buildup of fuel in the form of woody debris leading to the risk of more explosive and unstoppable fires.” God has entrusted us with stewardship of His creation (Genesis 1:28) and part of stewardship requires an accurate understanding of this creation, including the importance of fires for healthy forests. Picture is of fires near Hope, BC earlier this year (edb3_16 / iStockphoto.com)....

News

Saturday Selections – Jan 28, 2023

British comic on climate change (7 min) Comedian Konstantin Kisin went viral in mid-January for his common sense counter to climate change hysteria. What we can learn about sacrifice from John Calvin’s "School of Death" "If any of our seminaries today were nicknamed 'The School of Death,' they would be empty!" Denmark secretly inserted IUDs in Greenland's women for decades In a 15-year span, from 1963 to 1978, Greenland's fertility rate dropped from 6.74 births per woman to just 2.21, and it was due in part to Danish doctors secretly and systematically chemically sterilizing Greenland women. While the world doesn't know how such a widespread evil like this is even possible, John Stonestreet offers an explanation above. Lord Acton offers another: "all power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." A Christian response to an arrogant government's abuse is to urge citizens to minimize its powers. Instead of expecting our governments to run not only justice and defense, but healthcare, education, the overall economy, and even whether we should have children, we should demand our elected leaders control much less. When a government is forced to acknowledge it doesn't know better than its own citizens how best to run their lives, that humility can counter the temptation to abuse its powers. And should it still succumb, a smaller government won't have the power to do harm on this scale. 8 ways we normalize the abnormal The world is normalizing certain sins, but as Paul Tripp notes even Christians – orthodox Bible-believing Christians – are busy normalizing our own sins. 8 times C.S. Lewis displayed brilliant political commentary in the Chronicles of Narnia Peter Jacobsen shares "what Narnia can teach us about politics in our own world." A key difference between social justice and biblical justice (4 min) Voddie Baucham says that one big difference between the two is how they each define "injustice." ...

Science - Environment

How should Christians view climate change?

Chatting with the Cornwall Alliance’s Dr. Calvin Beisner This is an overview of a recent episode of Lucas Holvlüwer and Tyler Vanderwoudes’ Real Talk podcast. Real Talk is a bi-weekly podcast of Reformed Perspective featuring great conversations on everything from propaganda to pornography, and if you haven’t checked it out already, you really should. And you really can, at www.RealTalkPodcast.ca. **** Is climate change real, and if so, how should Christians think about it? How should we take care of God’s creation in a way that still allows us to use its resources for the good of the crown of creation, mankind? Lucas Holtlüwer recently sat down with Dr. Calvin Beisner, founder and national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation (CornwallAlliance.org), to talk about these and other issues. Dr. Beisner summarized the Cornwall Alliance’s work in a memorable tagline: “Our work is to defend the planet from the people who are trying to defend the planet.” More formally, it is a network of about 70 Christian theologians, natural scientists, economists, and other scholars educating for Biblical earth stewardship, economic development for the poor, and the proclamation and defense of the good news of salvation by God’s grace. The climate is always changing Beisner started with a summary of how the earth’s climate is constantly changing: daily of course, with high and low temperatures, seasonally each year, and also in decades-long cycles driven by different ocean tides and oscillations. Geologists are certain the earth was significantly warmer than today for a few thousand years prior to Christ’s birth, as well as during periods of the Roman empire, and of the Middle Ages. During multiple cooling periods over the last 2,000 years, glaciers have covered much of the world in ice before receding again over centuries. “We’re in an ice age now, although most people don’t realize it, and that’s because Greenland is covered by ice for the most part, and Antarctica is covered also…. All of these happened entirely naturally: there were no SUVs running around burning diesel, and so the human influence had essentially nothing to do with those.” Beisner points to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 as one of the first times that the phrase was re-defined to mean changes driven primarily by human activity, especially the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Change, but not catastrophic He believes that mankind’s activities do contribute to climate change, but to a very small degree, and that modern technology has an enormous net economic and life-sustaining benefit to human beings that is worth the relatively small effect on the climate. Beisner made the case that the alarmist language and dire predictions of today’s environmentalists do not come from actual scientific climate studies, with their measured tones and scientific language. Rather, these reports are summarized by government bureaucratic appointees, and they tend to push more alarmist mentalities than the reports themselves. “Crisis, danger, catastrophe, existential threat; by environmentalist activist organizations, and by the mainstream media, and by politicians because that’s the kind of language that can get people on board for spending trillions of dollars to solve a problem, whereas, if you speak in very measured moderate scientific terms, you won’t get that kind of support.” Warring worldviews Holtvlüwer asked if Christians in general were less worried about climate change because of the worldview of those who were sounding the alarm. Beisner agreed that non-Christian views such as pantheism, materialism, and animism are prevalent in the environmentalist movement, and contribute to the dangerous error warned about in Romans 1. “When you deny the Creator, you begin to worship the creature instead of the Creator… You elevate the earth to the supreme concern… Paul tells us what happens when you do that. God gives you over to a reprobate mind, professing yourself to be wise you become a fool, and you fall into all kinds of different errors, both intellectual and moral… I think that’s a large part of why… there is a great deal of really shocking folly in much environmental thought.” Seeing babies as blessings From a Biblical perspective, we are called to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). “Rather than seeing the earth as delicate, but nurturing, we see it as robust: very tough, very resilient, self correcting. But, dangerous, unless subdued, unless mastered, and that means that instead of trying to minimize our impact on the world, we don’t maximize it, but we optimize it… to enhance the fruitfulness and the beauty and the safety of the earth for human well-being as well as for the glory of God.” Dr. Beisner pointed out that human deaths from natural catastrophes have actually dropped 95% in the last one hundred years – during the exact period that mankind’s impact on the climate is the greatest it has ever been. Why is this? Man’s prosperity and technological advances have allowed us to build safer homes and businesses, to heat and cool our dwellings, and to travel long distances in relative safety. So, rather than decry the slight impact we have had on the planet’s climate, we should encourage the development of greater wealth, of even safer structures, and of other means by which humans can live long and productive lives. The current rate of warming, stated Beisner, is much lower than often portrayed, and may actually have positive effects on our ability to farm more efficiently in larger areas of the world: “The benefits of this sort of warming are going to outweigh the risks! There may be some problems here and there, but I think it will be much less expensive to adapt to those than to try to control them.” Bigger problems “So should the church not be concerned about climate change, because there are bigger problems?” asked Holtvlüwer. Beisner believes that, “there are going to be some problems that come with human-induced climate change, and that we should be aware of those, and we should be trying to deal with them by mitigation… or by adaptation.” Beisner laid out some likely scenarios as sea levels and temperatures are likely to rise in the coming decades and centuries, but put these in the context of human adaptation as has been the case in the past. In short, there is nothing new under the sun, and part of our mandate as God’s creatures is to subdue the earth, to use its resources in a responsible manner as stewards of creation. According to Beisner, the Cornwall Alliance does not advocate government subsidies for alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. Although there is a place for this type of energy use, the tax dollars of citizens are better used in the limited role that government should play, and the free market should be allowed to work out what energy sources are the most efficient and economical over time. “Nuclear, large-scale hydro, fossil fuels (such as) coal, oil and natural gas would far outstrip wind and solar not just now but for decades, possibly generations, to come.” To dig deeper Dr. Beisner also gave his opinion on the work and writings of Danish author Bjorn Lomborg, expressing his support for most of Lomborg’s views, but disagreeing with the responsibility of government to incentivize alternative energy sources. In the rest of the podcast, Holtvlüwer and Beisner also discussed the overall idea of environmental conservation, and touched on the situation faced by farmers in the Netherlands – who are dealing with new government restrictions on the use of vital fertilizers – along with their protests. Overall, this is a very helpful podcast for Christians who wish to think Biblically and reasonably about climate change and environmentalism, and well worth the 90 minutes of listening. You may even find yourself rewinding and pausing, as you look up statistics and the Cornwall Alliance website for confirmation of the data and studies cited. Real Talk is published twice per month and can be found at ReformedPerspective.ca, RealTalkPodcast.ca, YouTube, and many podcasting platforms. Listen to the whole 68 minute episode below.  ...

Science - Environment, Theology

Catastrophic global warming? A brief biblical case for skepticism

The media tells us that the question is settled, there is a 97% consensus, and that anyone who has questions is a “denier,” likened to those who are either so foolish, or malicious, as to deny the reality of the Holocaust. But there are reasons to question. And while climate science might be beyond most of us, God has given us another means – a far more reliable means – of discerning truth, via His Word. Gender: the Bible shows the way Sometimes it doesn’t take much Bible study to be able to discern truth from error, and that’s certainly true in today’s gender debate. Young children are being surgically mutilated and hormonally sterilized and yet the government, doctors, psychologists, and media are applauding. While it might not be at 97% yet, the consensus is growing such that fines are being issued, teachers fired, students expelled, and Twitter mobs set loose on any who disagree. Despite the pressure, few Christians are being fooled, though that might be due as much to the newness of the debate as it is that Evangelicals are turning to their Bibles for guidance. But if they do open His Word it won’t take a believer long to figure out God’s position. In Genesis 1:27 we learn it is God, not Man, who determines our gender: “So God created Man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Population: following the Bible would have saved tens of millions The overpopulation crisis has a longer history to it and, consequently, many more Christians have bought into it. Since the 1950s we’ve been hearing that sometime soon the world’s population will outstrip the planet’s resources. In his 1969 book The Population Bomb Paul Ehrlich warned: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.” You would think that by now it would be easy to see that these overpopulation fears were mistaken. As economist Arthur Brooks has noted, what’s happened is the very opposite of Ehrlich’s dire prediction: “From the 1970s until today the percentage of people living at starvation’s door has decreased by 80%. Two billion people have been pulled out of starvation-level poverty.” Yet the overpopulation hysteria has never gone away. And the damage it has done has been on par with that of a Hitler or Stalin – tens of millions have been killed. Under threat of this crisis China implemented their infamous one-child policy, with its fines and forced abortions for couples who tried for two. And the deaths weren’t limited to China; overpopulation fears were used to justify the push for legalized abortion in countries around the world. Murdering your own children wasn’t cold and selfish anymore; now it was a woman doing her part to save the planet. Christians opposed abortion, of course, but some believers started questioning whether overpopulation concerns might be correct. Maybe God’s call to “be fruitful and multiply” and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28) was just a temporary directive that we’ve fulfilled and should now treat as being over and done with. But it takes only a little more digging to find out that’s not what God thinks. Overpopulation proponents saw children as more mouths to find – they saw them as a problem – but God speaks repeatedly of children as a blessing (Ps. 113:9, 127:3-5, Prov. 17:6, Matt. 18:10, John 16:21). And opportunities present themselves when we see children as God sees them. When we understand they are a blessing, then we realize that not only do children come with a mouth that needs filling, but they also have hands that can produce even more than their mouth consumes. And they have a brain to invent and problem solve. When we see children this way – as a blessing and not a curse – then we'll realize there’s a real practical benefit in having lots of them: as we’ve been told, many hands make light work, and two heads are also better than one! That’s why it shouldn’t have surprised Christians when in the 1950s and 60s a group of inventive sorts, led by American Norman Borlaug, helped develop much higher-yielding strains of cereal crops. This “Green Revolution” turned wheat-importing countries into wheat exporting countries by more than doubling yields. And while there are no prophecies in the Bible specifically mentioning Norman Borlaug, Christians could have seen him coming, and in a sense some did. Those who continued having large families, despite the dire predictions, could do so confident that any problems caused by the innumerable nature of their progeny would be solved by something like the Green Revolution happening. Today, decades later, we can look back and see that a country like China, that ignored what God says about children, is facing a different sort of demographic crisis. A young Chinese couple will have two sets of parents and four sets of grandparents to look after and support, but have no siblings or cousins to help them. As soon as 2030 China will see their population start to decline, with not nearly enough working age citizens to provide for their aging population. It’s not all that different in the Western world where, even without government coercion, our families have been shrinking and women are averaging far less than two children each. We aren’t as near the crisis point as China, but by aborting a quarter of the next generation, we’ve created our own coming demographic crisis. Catastrophic global warming: a biblical case for skepticism The population and gender debates remind us that the Bible is more reliable than any-sized consensus no matter how big. They also teach us that the world can get things not just completely wrong, but monstrously so, leading to the deaths of tens of millions. That’s why when it comes to global warming, where we’re being told once again that the fate of the planet is at stake, we want any and all guidance we can get from God’s Word. Cornelius Van Til once noted: “The Bible is thought of as authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything. We do not mean that it speaks of football games, of atoms, etc., directly, but we do mean that it speaks of everything either directly or by implication.” The Bible does speak to global warming, but not directly. This isn’t like the gender debate, which runs smack up against Genesis 1:27 (“male and female He created them”) or the overpopulation crisis, which directly opposes the very next verse (“be fruitful and multiply”). When it comes to global warming the Bible isn’t as direct. But there are lots of implications. Time and space only allow me to present a half dozen texts. I’m not pretending that any one of them makes the definitive case for skepticism. But I do think that together they start pointing us decidedly in that direction. "You will know them by their fruits" – Matt. 7:15-20 In Matthew 7 Jesus tells us that we can tell a good tree from a bad one by the fruit on it. His concern wasn’t with trees though, but with telling false prophets from good ones. When it comes to global warming the science is beyond most of us, but we can evaluate the people. So let’s return to this 97% consensus we’ve heard so much about. This statistic is used to argue that there is no question but that the planet is headed to catastrophic climate change. But is this a reliable number, or is it like the greatly exaggerated 10% figure commonly given for the homosexual population? The figure has a few different origins, but one of the more commonly cited is a paper by John Cook and his colleagues reviewing 11,944 published peer-reviewed papers from climate scientists. Did 97% of those papers’ authors agree with the statement “humans are causing global warming”? That’s what we would expect. But instead of 10,000+ papers with that position, there were 3,894, or approximately 33%. So how did the 97% figure come out of that then? Well, it turns out only approximately 34% of the papers took a position one way or the other, with just 1% disagreeing or uncertain, and 33% agreeing. Thus, of the 34% who took a position, 97% agreed that humans are causing global warming. Is it honest to ignore the two thirds who didn’t state a position, and say there is a 97% consensus and no room for a debate? How this statistic has been used reminds me of a trick from another debate – equivocation about the definition of “evolution.” In his book, The Greatest Show on Earth, Richard Dawkins notes that when poachers shoot elephants with long tusks, the next generation is liable to have shorter tusks. Okay, but creationists also believe species can undergo changes over time. We’re the folks arguing that the array of cats we see today are all modified versions of a single cat kind brought on the ark. Dawkins has presented “minor changes over time” – a definition of evolution so broad that it enfolds even creationists into the evolution camp – as if it were proof of the from-goo-to-you sort of evolution that is actually under dispute. Similarly, the 97% consensus is being presented as if all those counted hold that the warming is catastrophic, humans are the primary cause, and there is a need for immediate, drastic, global action. But the agreement was only that “humans are causing global warming.” And that’s a statement so broad as to enfold even many of the so-called “deniers.” So on a statement we can verify – whether there really is a 97% consensus on catastrophic global warming – we find “bad fruit.” There are many other facts and claims we can’t evaluate, but doesn’t this tell us something about the “tree”? “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” – Proverbs 18:17 God says that to find the truth good questions are helpful. That’s not going on here, where questioners are likened to Holocaust deniers. But here’s a few questions worth considering: Aren’t there bigger priorities than global warming, like the millions who will starve to death this year, or the billions who lack basic access to clean water and sanitation? If fossil fuels are harmful, and solar and wind problematic, why aren’t we turning to nuclear? How will the world’s poor be impacted by a move away from fossil fuels toward more expensive alternatives? Are we again (as we did in response to overpopulation fears) seeking to save the planet by harming those who live on it? Samuel’s warning against kings – 1 Samuel 8:10-22 President Obama’s chief of staff famously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste” and if you want to understand what he meant, looking no further than Justin Trudeau’s proposed ban on single-use plastics. This past year a video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck up deep inside his nose went viral, alerting the tens of millions of viewers to the growing problem of plastics in our oceans. The movement to ban plastic straws has taken off since then. But will Trudeau’s single-use plastics ban save turtles? No, because our straws don’t end up in the ocean. Of the mass of plastic in the ocean it’s been estimated the US is responsible for one percent, and it’d be reasonable to conclude that Canada is responsible for far less. So how, then, does all the plastic end up in the ocean? It turns out that the vast majority of it comes from poorer countries that don’t have proper trash disposal. They simply dump their waste into the ocean and into their rivers. Trudeau’s ban will do nothing to help the turtles…but it will expand the government’s reach. The proposed solutions for climate change all involve expanding the government too, giving it a larger role in directing all things energy-related. So, how is 1 Samuel 8 relevant? Here we find Samuel warning against an expansion of government – get a king and he’ll start intruding into all areas of your lives. If there is a biblical case to be made for limited, small government (and there is) then Christians have a reason to question crises that seem to necessitate an ever-expanding role for the State. “…and it was very good.” – Gen. 1:31 While we no longer live in the perfect world Adam and Eve started with, we have only to wriggle our toes, or watch a ladybug crawl across the back of our hand to recognize that God’s brilliant design is still evident and at work all around us. We are on a blue and white marble, spinning at just the right angle, and orbiting at just the right distance from the sun, for it to rain and snow in season. We have a moon just the right size, and circling at just the right distance for us to study our own sun, and to bring the tides that sweep our beaches each day. And our planet is graced with a molten iron core that generates the very magnetic field we need to protect us from the solar winds, which would otherwise strip away the ozone layer that protects us from ultraviolet radiation. It is wheels within wheels within wheels, and while we can do damage to it, when we appreciate how brilliantly our world is designed we aren’t surprised there is a robustness to it. Meanwhile, the unbeliever thinks our world is the result of one lucky circumstance after another – a tower of teacups, all balanced perfectly, but accidentally. If the world did come about by mere happenstance, then what an unbelievable run of happenstance we’ve had, and isn’t there every reason to fear change? Sure, the teacup tower is balanced now, but if we mess with it, how long can we count on our luck to hold? “He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker” – Prov. 14:31 At first glance, this text might not seem to provide much direction in this debate. After all, couldn’t a Christian who holds to catastrophic man-caused global warming cite it in support of their position too? Yes they could. If climate change is real, then the oppression it would bring on the poor would be a reason to fight it. Yet this text does provide a very specific sort of direction. It lays out limits on what sort of global warming plans Christians should view as acceptable: any plan to save the planet that does so by hurting the poor is not biblical. That means increasing energy costs has to be out. Millions are starving already and raising energy prices will only increase those numbers. “Be fruitful and multiply” – Gen. 1:28 Children come with an inevitable “carbon footprint” which is why some global warming proponents echo the same sentiments as the overpopulationists before them. “Save the earth; don’t give birth” is catchy, but if that was the only possible way we could lower carbon emissions then Christians could, on that basis, conclude there was no need to worry about CO2. Because God tells us children are a blessing, not a curse. Of course there may be other ways to lower carbon emissions. But the more we hear people portraying children as a problem, the more we should recognize there is an element in the global warming movement intent on attacking God’s Truth, rather than taking on any real problem. Conclusion Other passages could be mentioned like Genesis 8:22, Romans 1:25 and Psalm 102:25-26 but this is good for a start. And that’s what this is: a start. My hope here is to encourage an exploration of what Scripture says that’s relevant to the issue of catastrophic global warming.  The Bible isn’t silent on this topic; we need to look at global warming biblically. This article first appeared in the July/August 2019 issue under the title "Global warming crisis? A brief biblical case for skepticism."...

Assorted

Losers are part of the plan

As far as many politicians and voters are concerned, “going green” is the equivalent of “motherhood and apple pie.” Typically, the “transition to a green economy” is presented as a major step toward solving issues connected with the environment. For example, on May 1, 2019, the British Parliament declared a “climate change emergency.” According to the report in Nature (May 9, p. 165): “The declaration is not legally binding and there is no clear definition of what it means, but it is taken as a signal of Parliament’s intention to act.” And what was the particular emergency or crisis that led to this declaration? There were some major demonstrations about climate change in that country in April. That may have been the emergency. In any case, there is no doubt that the U.K. politicians mean business. And the U.K. is not alone in this endeavor. Enormous costs The next day following the declaration of an emergency, a British think tank on climate change issued a major statement. This group recommended that the U.K. should aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions – including international flights and marine shipping – by the year 2050. That should prompt a question: how exactly can society fuel jets, and ocean transport ships, without burning high-intensity fossil fuels? The think tank recommended that Britain should spend 1-2% of Gross Domestic Product (about $26-52 billion US per year) to achieve a result where emissions of carbon dioxide from industry and transportation and domestic heating and cooling are completely eliminated. Interest and support for the “green transition” is a major concern of many governments worldwide. For example, an intergovernmental agency, International Renewable Energy Agency was founded in 2010. With headquarters in Abu Dhabi, it works closely with the United Nations to make recommendations on ways to achieve the green economy. As far as specific countries go, Germany seems particularly keen to support studies on the economic implications of adopting renewable energy on a worldwide basis. For example, the German Federal Foreign Office funds a Geopolitics of Energy Transformation project out of Berlin. Climate change as a reason to abandon democracy? Four experts concerned with the worldwide political and economic ramifications of a move towards green technology, and away from an economy based on fossil fuels, published an article on this issue on in the May 12 edition of Nature titled: “How the energy transition will reshape geopolitics.” They consider four scenarios with respect to energy use up to the year 2100. The one they favor, which they entitle the “Big Green Deal,” involves a wholesale abandonment of fossil fuels. The scenario they really don’t want to see is called “Dirty Nationalism” which really refers to the status quo. Labels are powerful things. That’s why the activists who brought us the term “dirty oil” to refer to Alberta’s production of oil from oilsands, now bring us “dirty nationalism” to disparage any emphasis on national concerns (as opposed to an international agenda).  These authors define the status quo as a situation when “Politicians want to protect local jobs and incumbent industries such as coal and manufacturing.” Note that they seem to consider that manufacturing is on the chopping block along with fossil fuels like coal. They then continue to list what they don’t like today: “Elections bring populists to power in world’s largest democracies and nationalism grows. Nation-first policies put a premium on self-sufficiency, favoring domestic energy sources over imported ones.” The problem is, of course, that voters obviously desire an economy which will allow them to make an adequate living. But, the experts declare: “abating carbon will create losers.” They take this as a given. There are few people, however, who want to vote themselves into a loser category. Therefore top-down totalitarian measures may be necessary, these people declare. For example “China has scaled up renewable energy through top-down rule and state planning.” Indeed Western support for democracies should be questioned, they insist. Causing a crisis So what kind of costs is society facing as, or if, they contemplate a transition to using renewable resources for energy production? For a start, economies that produce oil and gas could lose a total of $7 trillion US in the next twenty years. (p. 30). Some oil companies and some states could go bankrupt. Oil exporters might lose global influence whereas importers will be empowered. We see that already in regional conflict in Canada. None of this is at all appealing to voters in oil-exporting jurisdictions. There is no point crying to government that such measures will cost many jobs. That is all part of the plan! The Yellow Vests movement in France is a case in point. In October 2018 large demonstrations took place to call attention to the high cost of fuels which was making life so difficult for ordinary working people. Wikipedia calls it a “populist grassroots revolutionary political movement for economic justice.” Similarly, we can consider the controversy over a carbon tax in Canada. A headline in the June 14 Edmonton Journal read “Carbon Tax must double to meet targets.” Apparently parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux calculates that for Canada to meet her Paris agreements (on climate change) by 2030, the carbon tax must increase to $102 per tonne compared to the present $20 per tonne and it would have to apply to all sectors of the economy. At present, large industries pay on only a fraction of their emissions. This is so that Canadian manufacturing can compete internationally. The objective of the tax, however, is to make it expensive to generate energy from fossil fuels, and that will impact anyone who drives, or wants to heat or cool their homes, or works in industries. Who are the desired losers? Of course, it is the ordinary citizens who will not be able to find jobs or pay for necessities. That is what the carbon tax is supposed to achieve. Platitudinous declarations that there will be other jobs, are not at all convincing. Alternatively, however, the zero-carbon world is not appealing either from a geopolitical point of view. A zero-carbon world does not do away with the conflict over access to fossil fuels, it merely produces different conflicts. Thus the authors point out: “In a low-carbon world, the struggle will be how to finance the infrastructure and to control the technology needed to harness wind, solar and other renewable power sources, and how to secure access to the materials required for the manufacture of that technology.” (p. 31) Significantly the rare earth metals lithium and cobalt are very important for battery manufacture and only a few countries can supply these. Even more concerning is the issue of land use under the new regime. The authors point out that “Competition over the use of land for energy production will have implications for food and water security.” (p. 30) We are already seeing some of this kind of conflict. Solar farms, for example, cover large tracts of land and yet yield quite low energy. There are no crops, no natural plant or animal communities under solar collectors. Wind farms produce their own problems including bird and bat deaths and noise. These sources of energy are so dilute and sporadic that huge tracts of land would be required. The climate modification (cooling) that natural communities provide, would be lost. This is not the way to a greener ecology! Conclusion The interesting thing is that governments are, presumably, aware of the costs of a green transition. Yet they have been so overwhelmed by the declarations of “the established science of climate change” that they press grimly onward with the green agenda, spending billions of dollars in the process. There are, however, a number of exceptionally qualified experts who deny that carbon emissions and climate are tightly linked. Let us not act like the people of the U.K. with their declaration of a “climate emergency.” Perhaps they are like the fabled Chicken Little who fooled everyone into believing that the sky was falling. It is to be hoped that more governments will display the courage needed to review the issue of climate change in a critical light.  The money saved from the green agenda would be put to much better uses. ...

Assorted

Fossil fuels are essential to the modern world

“Magical” thinking won’t provide us with the energy we need **** Concern about climate change has reached a fever pitch with Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna calling it a “climate emergency.” Her motion in Parliament on June 17, which was passed overwhelmingly, 186 to 63, described climate change as a “real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity, that impacts the environment, biodiversity, Canadians’ health and the Canadian economy.” The burning of fossil fuels is considered to be a major culprit in global warming. Thus a principal thrust of climate change activism is to switch from using fossil fuels to carbon-free, renewable energy sources in order to create a “new energy economy.” Wind power, solar power, and battery technology are the key elements of this strategy. Those who support this move to “green energy” often oppose further development of petroleum resources, effectively shutting in the ground the vast energy wealth of western Canada. However, physicist Mark P. Mills of Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science has recently completed a paper that challenges the idea that such a new energy economy is even possible. This paper, The “New Energy Economy”: An Exercise in Magical Thinking, was published in March 2019 by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank based in New York. THE PROPOSED SOLUTION  Advocates of the new energy economy claim that recent technological developments are making renewable energy so cheap and plentiful, that soon the world will no longer need hydrocarbons, i.e., oil, natural gas, and coal. The modern wind turbine, commercially viable solar technology, and the lithium battery were all first created about fifty years ago. They have become much more efficient and practical since that time. As Mills points out, "Over the decades, all three technologies have greatly improved and become roughly 10-fold cheaper." PROBLEMS WITH THE “SOLUTION” 1. Fossil fuels still power modern society While there have been significant advances in renewable energy, as Mills states, there are inherent physical limitations that will prevent any known renewable energy source from displacing fossil fuels. As things currently stand, hydrocarbons supply about 84% of the world’s energy. That is only slightly lower than the 87% of twenty years ago. But over those twenty years, world energy consumption rose by 50%, which means that there was, in fact, a huge increase in overall fossil fuel usage. In comparison, wind and solar energy currently provide only 2% of the world’s energy and 3% of the energy used in the United States. And none of the renewable energy sources can hold a candle to fossil fuels when it comes to “energy density” which is the amount of energy contained in any particular unit. Mills writes, "The high energy density of the physical chemistry of hydrocarbons is unique and well understood, as is the science underlying the low energy density inherent in surface sunlight, wind volumes, and velocity." 2. Wind and solar is intermittent Besides their low energy density, wind-generated power and solar-generated power are not consistent sources because they depend upon the wind to blow and the sun to shine. The wind does not blow all the time, and the sun does not shine all the time. As a result, they produce energy only about 25%-30% of the time. This is much lower than conventional power plants. Therefore, when wind and solar power production are used, backup power plants fueled by hydrocarbons need to be available to cover the gaps. This amounts to an admission that hydrocarbons are more reliable. As Mill concludes, "The issue with wind and solar power comes down to a simple point: their usefulness is impractical on a national scale as a major or primary fuel source for generating electricity. As with any technology, pushing the boundaries of practical utilization is possible but usually not sensible or cost-effective.” 3. Batteries don’t help much, and also hurt But wouldn’t wind and solar become more practical if we could store their output via batteries? Well, tremendous progress in improving the efficiency of batteries has occurred in recent years. However, they remain vastly inferior to petroleum for storing energy. Mill writes, "$200,000 worth of Tesla batteries, which collectively weigh over 20,000 pounds, are needed to store the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil. A barrel of oil, meanwhile, weighs 300 pounds and can be stored in a $20 tank. Those are the realities of today’s lithium batteries." And batteries will never have the energy storage capacity of fossil fuels: "The energy stored per pound is the critical metric for vehicles and, especially, aircraft. The maximum potential energy contained in oil molecules is about 1,500% greater, pound for pound, than the maximum in lithium chemistry." To put this in a bigger context: "The $5 billion Tesla ‘Gigafactory’ in Nevada is currently the world’s biggest battery manufacturing facility. Its total annual production could store three minutes’ worth of annual U.S. electricity demand. Thus, in order to fabricate a quantity of batteries to store two days’ worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of Gigafactory production." Manufacturing batteries consumes a large amount of energy. It also creates a high volume of carbon emissions, which is what the new technologies are meant to eliminate. China produces, by far, the largest number of batteries of any nation. Mill writes, “70% of China’s grid is fueled by coal today and will still be at 50% in 2040. This means that, over the life span of the batteries, there would be more carbon-dioxide emissions associated with manufacturing them than would be offset by using those batteries to, say, replace internal combustion engines.” 4. Green energy has built-in limitations Even with more advanced technological development, wind and solar power will never be able to produce energy on the scale of fossil fuels. As Mills points out, "The physics-constrained limits of energy systems are unequivocal. Solar arrays can’t convert more photons than those that arrive from the sun. Wind turbines can’t extract more energy than exists in the kinetic flows of moving air. Batteries are bound by the physical chemistry of the molecules chosen." CONCLUSION Mills concludes that fossil fuels are essential to the modern world and won’t be phased out any time soon: "Hydrocarbons – oil, natural gas, and coal – are the world’s principal energy resource today and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future. Wind turbines, solar arrays, and batteries, meanwhile, constitute a small source of energy, and physics dictates that they will remain so. Meanwhile, there is simply no possibility that the world is undergoing – or can undergo – a near-term transition to a 'new energy economy.'" In short, fossil fuels will continue to be necessary sources of energy for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the development of petroleum resources, such as those in western Canada, must be permitted to continue. The alternative to fossil fuels isn’t clean energy – the alternative is to not have much energy at all....

News

Saturday Selections - March 23, 2019

#1 reason & #2 reason you shouldn't worry about global warming In reason #1, Del Tackett and Dr. Larry Vardiman discuss how, when you understand the earth is only thousands of years old, it was designed, and it only tipped into an Ice Age after the cataclysmic Flood, then that will have you looking at global warming catastrophism differently than if you believe the planet is millions of years old, was created by chance, and has gone through repeatedly cycles of catastrophic weather in the past. Reason #2 relates to how history shows us that whenever doomsday predictions run up against the Bible, they'll eventually be shown to be wrong. That happened with overpopulation fears, which presented children as a curse, rather than the blessing God says they are (Prov. 17:6, Ps. 113.9, Ps. 127:3-5). Of course, that some global warming proponents now also think of children as being a curse isn't absolute proof they are wrong about the danger of global warming. But we can be confident that solutions that require fewer children are absolutely wrong. Environmentalist pushes for less solar and wind and more nuclear (17 min) While this presenter may or may not be a Christian, his approach to reducing greenhouse emissions aligns with Christianity better than zero population initiatives (which conflict with Prov. 17:6, Ps. 113.9, Ps. 127:3-5) or carbon taxes that hurt the poor (which conflict with Prov. 14:31, Is. 1:17, etc.). I was America’s first ‘nonbinary’ person. It was all a sham. (10 min. read) A man who tried to become a woman shares how he "should have been stopped, but out-of-control transgender activism had made too scared to say no." Best bit of premarital advice we got and love to give... This isn't profound, but it is wise. Is your child enslaved by a complaining spirit? Moody teens most often start as complaining kids. How can we help them in their early years? Sex matters - everyone knows men and women are different (4 min) Philosophy professor and Christian apologist Sean McDowell on how it takes a lot of effort to keep denying the obvious. ...

News

Chip and Joanna Gaines and global warming

When Fixer Upper’s Chip and Joanna Gaines announced earlier this month that they were pregnant with child number five, the congratulations rolled in. Thousands of encouraging messages flooded the home-improvement-show hosts’ Twitter and Facebook pages. But over at CBC.ca there was one voice of dissent, notable for the objection she raised. In her article “It shouldn’t be taboo to criticize parents for having too many kids” Kristen Pyszczyk characterized the Gaines’ decision to have baby #5 as “a choice that affects everyone who inhabits our planet.” Yes, she was making the case that, due to the threat of climate change, the Gaines’ newest little one shouldn’t be seen as a blessing: “Procreation is becoming a global public health concern, rather than a personal decision. So when people do irresponsible things like having five children, we absolutely need to be calling them out.” Pyszczyk gets some facts wrong – she claims that “populations are multiplying exponentially” and they simply aren’t. But Christians don’t need to know the latest statistics to see through her argument. We just need to know our Bibles. It’s there we find that procreation isn’t a “public heath concern” and large families aren’t a problem. Children are a blessing, not a curse (Ps. 113:9, Ps. 127:3-5, Deut. 7:13, Gen. 48:4, etc.) But what of the increasing numbers of mouths to feed that Pyszczyk is worried about? Well, her worldview blinds her to the full truth. Yes, children come with their own carbon footprint, and a mouth that needs filling, but they also come with two hands to work, and a brain to dream up innovations. And as Solomon teaches us, we can “sharpen” one another (Prov. 27:17). Why have we seen so many technological leaps this past century? Because we have more minds on the planet than ever before, and that means all the more opportunities for one to sharpen another. We are not just consumers but producers and innovators too. The reason this matters is because Pyszczyk’s short-sighted “children as a concern” narrative isn’t just a minor mistake. This perspective has been a major justification for abortion, which, over the last half century, has killed hundreds of millions. So it’s vital, then, that we teach the world to see children as God sees them. We can do that by congratulating families, like the Gaines, who are blessed with growing families, and we can do so by, when God allows, embracing that blessing ourselves....

Science - Environment

The Poor: why we can't let the Global Warming debate be over

It’s been 25 years now since Vice President Al Gore famously declared “Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the Global Warming crisis. The time for debate is over.” Is it different now? We’re still being told the time for talking is done, and yet “warming” has become disputable enough to necessitate a rebranding – now it’s the “Climate Change” debate that’s over. This is a brilliant rhetorical move in so far as climate change is indisputable –  as Heraclitus declared, the one constant in life is change. Despite what we’re being told there is still a lot to discuss. Think it’s a given that we should spend trillions to slow global warming? It’s nowhere near that simple, as E. Calvin Beisner* pointed out in an article last May – there are an “enormous range of opinions among scholars about: • how each of the thousands of subsystems of the climate system will respond to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. • how much warming will come from the added CO2. • how much harm and benefit will come from that warming. • how much benefit will come from the fertilizing effect of rising CO2 on almost all plants. • how to balance those harms and benefits against the benefits of the energy derived from fossil fuels; and • what would be the costs and benefits of efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by substituting other energy sources for fossil fuels” He continued: Earth’s climate system is one of the most complex natural systems ever studied. It consists of thousands of subsystems — feedback mechanisms — most of which we still don’t understand. We don’t know how strong they are or in some cases even whether they increase or decrease warming or the balance of benefits and harms from it. Providing energy to everyone is one of the most complex activities ever undertaken. The cost of reducing fossil fuel use — which now delivers about 85% of all energy in the world — is scores of trillions of dollars that could be used otherwise with far more benefit. This brings us to a key point for Christians to consider: how are the poor being impacted? We have to speak up for them, because they seem to be forgotten in all of this. To underscore just how important it is that we speak up for them, let's remember what happened the last time the United Nations wanted to solve a world crisis. Starting in 1969 the United Nations Population Fund warned the world about the dangers of overpopulation - we were going to run out of food, out of space, and out of resources! As a result of this fear-mongering, millions of children around the world were aborted. In China many mothers were forced to do it, due to China's one-child policy, but in the West it was sometimes a terribly misdirected sense of nobility that drove women to abort, rather than bring another child into a world they were told was crowded to capacity. Except it wasn't, and isn't. Overpopulation was a myth. That's obvious today, as countries like China, Japan, Russia, are already dealing with a different type of population crisis – they have shrinking populations, leaving an increasing number of old people, and fewer and fewer young people to care for them. Even western nations like Germany, Canada, and the United States may start to decline in the not too distant future. This was the crisis that never was. Millions were killed for no reason at all. And Christians should have seen through it from the start. How could we have known? Because God tells us children are a blessing (Ps. 127:3) but overpopulation proponents treated them as more like a curse. When it comes to Climate Change, God gives us clear guidance in His Word once again. No matter what you think of Global Warming – no matter what degree you think it is, or is not, happening – the one thing all Christians can agree on is that we must not oppress the poor (Prov. 14:31). So when we craft climate change policies then we need to ask, how will the world's poorest deal with the rising energy costs, and the rising food costs that come with them? If we help the planet, but hurt the poor, is that a good tradeoff? It's nice to talk about renewable energy, but that's remains expensive and intermittent. How might the poor in Africa, or Asia, or South America be helped if they had access to cheap, reliable fossil fuels? And if we're going to spend trillions to fight carbon emissions, shouldn't we consider what might offer us a better return on that money? How many lives could be saved if we spent those trillions another way? How many millions could be saved with access to clean drinking water? Or a cure for malaria? Or access to housing? Or by the employment opportunities created by natural resource development? We're being told the debate is over but for the sake of the world’s poorest we can't let it be. * E. Calvin Beisner will be the feature speaker for Reformed Perspective's 2017 Spring Tour "The Grass is Greener." He is the author of books on economics, the Trinity, the Psalms, as well as environmental policy, and he is the spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation....