Global Warming

By Hugh Ross and Jeff Zweerink | Reasons to Believe: Staying Connected | March 2007

Global warming is real. But its causes—therefore its solutions—are more complex than most people seem to realize. We tend to think Earth’s climate will always be optimal for human civilization if we just take good care of it. But nothing could be farther from the truth. When we put emotion and politics aside and take a rational look at our planet’s history, we see a different picture.

Ice and sediment cores show that over the past four million years, the global climate has oscillated many times. The changes are caused by variations in Earth’s orbit. Each cycle lasts about 100,000 years with an ice age typically taking up 90,000 of those years, and a global warming effect, the other 10,000 years.

Many natural phenomena significantly affect the global climate. Atmospheric conditions are impacted by tectonic activity, erosion, and changes in Earth’s biomass, for example. While politicians and activists focus on the effects of fossil fuel burning, no one seems to mention that the breeding and domestication of cows and cultivation of rice, for example, actually do more harm than does the driving of SUV’s.

According to the Journal of Quaternary Science, over the last 8,000 years cattle farming and rice crop cultivation alone have nearly doubled the quantity of methane in the atmosphere. At the same time, deforestation has increased the atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. Both methane and carbon dioxide are greenhouse gases that trap the sun’s heat. Contrary to the claims of a few high profile politicians, celebrities, and environmentalists, some of our human activities in fact create a cooling effect.

The release of aerosols and particulates actually blocks out sunlight and generates light-reflecting cloud layers, especially over densely populated and highly industrialized regions where pollution is loosely, if at all, regulated.

The bottom line here is that there are dozens of physical, chemical, and biological processes that contribute to both heating and cooling the planet. When any one of these factors gets out of balance with the others, Earth is at risk of losing its optimal climate for human civilization. This delicate balancing act of multiple and diverse natural processes and human activities gives us reason to be cautious. But to suggest that we can stop global warming simply by cutting back on fossil fuel combustion and altering our industrial processes is naďve, at best. If we ignore one or more of certain mechanisms that contribute to either global warming or cooling, our attempted solutions could actually make matters worse.

Scientifically speaking this intricate balance, designed specifically for humanity’s benefit, is no accident. The amazing fine tuning observed in all these complex processes gives us a clear picture of a Creator who exquisitely prepared a place for humans to live in and to launch—at least for awhile—a global high-tech civilization.