Climate change: Causes and costs


Neil Snarr - Contributing columnist



In response to a recent column I wrote in the News Journal, my position concerning the human threat to the environment was attacked as irrelevant, mistaken or both. The premise of my argument was mostly based on the general acceptance of the scientific understanding of the growing threat to the environment caused by modern, industrial society.

Although science is a dynamic process, it is the best we have when trying to understand the environment on which we depend. Science is why we live so well, so long, and so healthfully. Denying science and the human impact on the environment is risky business.

Global warming is not debatable. I imagine the issue is whether the warming is caused by human activity, or is a natural process. Certainly, as the writer says, climate change has taken place over the centuries, before the industrial age. Central to the thinking and researchers who support anthropogenic (man-made) climate change is the rapidity with which the climate is changing.

I choose to accept the findings of the scientific community on what I consider to be a threat to our very existence. In a recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) publication the following appears, “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journal show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organization worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.”

Following this statement is a list of such scientific organizations, the first being the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Like the writer I consider myself a person of faith, but we come to very different conclusions herein. I feel it to be the responsibility of such persons to respond to the damage we have caused and are causing to God’s creation and attempt to correct and reverse it. This would be the exact response to assure our children and future generations of a livable planet.

What if we are wrong and global warming is a hoax, that human activity is innocuous with reference to the dramatic climate change we are experiencing? I seriously doubt that this is true and I feel secure in taking my chances with the findings that the best minds that God has given us.

To say that the “environment “is ultimately in the hands of the One who made all things for man and for His glory” is not to say that we can simply and naively have no responsibility in its care. I like the thought that God is the “Ground of Being” and also that we are the caretakers of the Garden in which live. To assure that our children and their children ad infinitum have an environment in which they can thrive, we must accept our responsibility as children of God.

One of the most important agencies analyzing the issue of global warming is at The Ohio State University. It is the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center which is a world leader in polar alpine and climate research. They have regular evening times for visitors to see their research facilities and for them to explain their findings.

I have not visited the Center, but I would be happy to visit with the writer to whom I am responding.

I’m sure both of us would learn a great deal.

Neil Snarr is a Professor Emeritus of Wilmington College.

Neil Snarr

Contributing columnist