From time to time the Cornwall Alliance receives requests for recommended readings on the debate over catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming (CAGW). Although it takes considerable time, we always send personal replies to such requests, believing that’s one of the ways we can serve people.
If you’re a Cornwall Alliance supporter, this is part of what your donations make possible. If you’re not, we hope you’ll consider becoming one.
But it also makes sense to make such recommendations available more widely. So here, with a little editing, is how we replied to one request that came just a couple of days ago. Although such responses ordinarily go only to individuals, they’re an important part of the work we do, and the time necessary to create them is costly.
Here, then, is our response:
To introduce you to the kinds of arguments pro and con about global warming, I’d recommend you first read our document A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science, and Economics of Global Warming. The work of 29 Ph.D.’d authors and reviewers, roughly evenly divided among theologians, scientists, and economists, this is probably the best treatment that integrates worldview, theology, ethics, science, and economics on the issue. If you read this, you’ll have a good grasp of the basic arguments.
After that, you’ll want to begin by reading two basic books in the field, and so that you’ll see both sides, I would recommend the following:
Houghton’s book is still probably the best basic presentation of the scientific case in favor of belief in dangerous, manmade global warming. I read it twice about seven years ago, and the most important parts four or five times to be sure I understood his case.
Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick’s Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy, and Politics of Global Warming is by an applied mathematician who specializes in the study of chaotic non-linear fluid-dynamic systems including climate and an environmental economist who has specialized in studying statistical analyses in climate science. The mathematician, Essex, is religiously agnostic but has become a friend and is quite cordial to Christians. McKitrick is an evangelical. Both are expert reviewers for the IPCC.
Both Spencer and McKitrick are on Cornwall Alliance’s advisory board and have contributed to papers we have produced.
One of the most common reasons for believing in dangerous, manmade global warming is that, allegedly, an overwhelming consensus of scientists believes in it and this consensus is represented by the IPCC, allegedly the world’s leading authority on the topic. These reasons commit the logical fallacies of argumentum ad populi (popular vote) and argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to authority). Neither consensus nor authority is valid in scientific debate, which focuses on data and theory.
Just in case appeals to numbers and authority do matter to you, you should know that farmore scientists (over 31,000) have signed onto a petition explicitly denying dangerous, manmade global warming than have ever signed onto anything supporting belief in such. The widespread claim that “97%” or “98%” of climate scientists believe in it is based on bogus surveys, as explained in Joseph Bast’s “The Myth of the 98%.” By the definitions used in those surveys, I’d have been counted as a believer—and so would any other skeptic I know of.
For a full explanation of what’s wrong logically with appeals to consensus in scientific arguments, see Cornwall Alliance’s A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor, beginning on p. 9. (This is not the same document as the Renewed Call to Truth recommended above.)
A few websites you might want to frequent:
- www.judithcurry.com (Curry is a climate scientist who several years ago began looking seriously into the “skeptics’” arguments and found them far, far better than she’d expected, and who now does an excellent job trying to be a neutral broker in the debates.)
- www.drroyspencer.com (Blog of Roy Spencer)
- http://joannenova.com.au/ (Jo Nova’s The Skeptics Handbook I and The Skeptics Handbook II are excellent, clear summaries of basic arguments.)
It’ll take you a while to get up to speed on the kinds of arguments that float around on those sites, but they’re very good ones.
The most voluminous documents supporting belief in dangerous, manmade global warming are those of the IPCC, available online at www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/, where the most relevant piece is the AR4 Working Group I Report.
Countering a mass delusion like fear of catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming is difficult, time-consuming work. We at the Cornwall Alliance appreciate your prayers and your financial support as we carry on this vital work to protect the world’s poor from the devastating consequences of the misallocation of resources that global warming mitigation entail.
Featured Image courtesy of Anekoho / FreeDigitalPhotos.net