One of the striking things about most leading proponents of climate change skepticism is that they are not that interested in science. In last weeks Spectator one libertarian economist tried to argue that the Antarctic ice cap was not melting due to human industrial activity by citing the one report that could be interpreted as backing up his conclusion, while on the next page a prominant sceptical journalist lauded the effectivenesss of homeopathy!
A quick trawl of scientific sources available on the Internet- from Nasa to New Scientist- reveal that the complexity of the interplay between the geography of Antarctica, the relative depths of its ice sheets, surface temperatures and sea temperatures can in places neutralise the effects of global warming, but that the scientific consensus from climate scientists and oceanographers is that it is indeed apparent throughout the continent.
A criticism often aimed at those of us in the churches who express a concern with environmental matters is that we are merely leaping upon a secular bandwagon. The role of Victorian christian leaders in mitigating all kinds of social ills ,from slavery to the plight of slum dwellers, and the seminal role theologians and clergy played in developing Natural History as a profession and a hobby, makes that charge ring particularly hollow. In this week’s Tablet magazine the novelist and lay theologian Sarah Maitland asked herself some very searching questions about her hostility to wind turbines. As a recluse in the high moors of Scotland she has been appalled by the erection of dozens of massive turbines near to her home, but well aware of the justice of us taking our share of the aesthetic cost of producing energy- why should the people of the Nigerian delta, who are having their environment poisoned take all the collateral damage?- she wants to know how she can reconcile the apparent conflict intrinsic to the idea that God is the ultimate source of both justice and beauty. She has no answer but a few suggestions, including:
If God is indeed beauty then I need to shift my thinking from mere personal taste into a wider arena. two possible ways forward seem to be increasing the amount of praise in my own prayers and reading mathematicians who believe that a beautiful, elegant proof is likely to be a good proof.