Lift Thine Eyes

This article last month in the Financial Post, little noticed in the media, provides some refreshing and down-to-earth treatment of the so-called global warming controversy. Its author, David Evans, is a mathematician and engineer, with six university degrees; he worked from 1999 to 2005 in the Australian Department of Climate Change, modeling the carbon content in Australia's environment, and returned there to work part time in 2008 to 2010 -- but no longer. He was once fully aboard the bandwagon that claimed there is man-caused (anthropogenic) global warming; but now the manifold failures of models to predict our climate have convinced him to the contrary. (Or not exactly the contrary: he agrees that there is some man-caused global warming, but that it is minuscule, inconsequential, and completely swamped by the earth's own feedback mechanisms.) An excerpt:
The whole idea that carbon dioxide is the main cause of the recent global warming is based on a guess that was proved false by empirical evidence during the 1990s. But the gravy train was too big, with too many jobs, industries, trading profits, political careers, and the possibility of world government and total control riding on the outcome. So rather than admit they were wrong, the governments, and their tame climate scientists, now outrageously maintain the fiction that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant.
He explains the previously dominant theory in words that any layman can understand:
Most scientists, on both sides, also agree on how much a given increase in the level of carbon dioxide raises the planet’s temperature, if just the extra carbon dioxide is considered. These calculations come from laboratory experiments; the basic physics have been well known for a century.

The disagreement comes about what happens next.

The planet reacts to that extra carbon dioxide, which changes everything. Most critically, the extra warmth causes more water to evaporate from the oceans. But does the water hang around and increase the height of moist air in the atmosphere, or does it simply create more clouds and rain? Back in 1980, when the carbon dioxide theory started, no one knew. The alarmists guessed that it would increase the height of moist air around the planet, which would warm the planet even further, because the moist air is also a greenhouse gas.
Mathematical models of climate change are each based on an assumed "amplification" of the greenhouse effect that results from the increased production of moist air as the earth's temperature rises:
This is the core idea of every official climate model: For each bit of warming due to carbon dioxide, they claim it ends up causing three bits of warming due to the extra moist air. The climate models amplify the carbon dioxide warming by a factor of three — so two-thirds of their projected warming is due to extra moist air (and other factors); only one-third is due to extra carbon dioxide.

That’s the core of the issue. All the disagreements and misunderstandings spring from this. The alarmist case is based on this guess about moisture in the atmosphere, and there is simply no evidence for the amplification that is at the core of their alarmism.
Somehow, that predicted increase of heightened, moist air was never found, despite massive searches for its existence. To keep the theory alive, scientists used distorted and even falsified data:
At this point, official “climate science” stopped being a science. In science, empirical evidence always trumps theory, no matter how much you are in love with the theory. If theory and evidence disagree, real scientists scrap the theory. But official climate science ignored the crucial weather balloon evidence, and other subsequent evidence that backs it up, and instead clung to their carbon dioxide theory — that just happens to keep them in well-paying jobs with lavish research grants, and gives great political power to their government masters.
Instead of being locked into a cycle of steadily increasing warming, recent satellite data (unbiased by the artificial warming measured by earthbound weather stations, which are often located in direct sunlight, or next to hot asphalt, or air conditioning condensers) shows that we are headed into a shorter-term cycle of global cooling (as though anyone coming through the recent snowy spring needed to be told that):
The Earth has been in a warming trend since the depth of the Little Ice Age around 1680. Human emissions of carbon dioxide were negligible before 1850 and have nearly all come after the Second World War, so human carbon dioxide cannot possibly have caused the trend. Within the trend, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation causes alternating global warming and cooling for 25 to 30 years at a go in each direction. We have just finished a warming phase, so expect mild global cooling for the next two decades.
But the consequences of the mania induced by the global warming alarmists will continue to shackle us even as we huddle close to our heaters and furnace vents. California already has a cap-and-trade system in place, and there is still a strong movement among the Democrats to impose such a system nationally. The moratorium on drilling for fossil fuels, and the incentives to search for inefficient and environmentally harmful alternatives, from wind farms to mercury vapor light bulbs to ethanol, have contributed to a huge increase in consumer costs -- everything from transportation to utilities to commodities.

When government mandates change based on dubious science, we are all losers. But there is a larger picture here, which is harder to see, and which is the consequence of man's sheer conceit that he is all there is, the summum bonum of evolution, and able to control his environment (and soon, his own genetics) through the marvelous tools provided by science.

It was man's conceit that made him susceptible to the idea that the carbon dioxide produced by his activities alone would eventually bring about catastrophic change in the environment. And it is still man's conceit that he is the magnificent result of eons of random atomic jumbling and haphazard molecular assembly, winnowed out by natural selection, which fuels the "new atheism" so determined to replace the religion of God with the religion of science.

Attempts to elevate man to godhood in the place of, or at least as an equal to, God himself have comprised mankind's story since the Garden of Eden, through the Tower of Babel, Solomon's Temple, the Caesars, and most recently, the "new designer religion" in which people pick and choose the elements of a religion which they like, and discard or ignore the bits that do not suit. This is the essence of our fallenness -- to think that we are capable of doing and managing everything on our own, without the need of God or his all-enveloping grace, and that we can make the world as good as, or better than, He could.

The remedy for such conceit is the same it has always been, and was best expressed long ago by the Psalmist:

I lift my eyes to the hills --
From whence comes my help?

My help comes, yea, from the Lord,
The Creator of heaven and earth.

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