Thursday, October 21, 2021
HomeCulture WarsClimate calamity? An open letter to Justin Welby

Climate calamity? An open letter to Justin Welby

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I read your ‘Joint Message for the Protection of Creation’. 

I confess that I was very disappointed.

It was full of the usual canards. Firstly you describe the future scenario put about by ‘climate activists’ as a worldwide calamity. Why? Where is your evidence for such an extreme statement?

In a later part you reel off the usual supposed claims for such a calamity: rising sea levels, floods, droughts, cyclones, fires, loss of species etc. Where is the data for these claims? Let me examine a few of them:

Sea levels. Yes, they are rising, the best estimate is about six inches per century and possibly slowing. Were you aware that sea levels have been rising for the last 10,000 years? Initially, as the earth emerged from the Younger Dryas, sea levels rose by tens of feet per century as the Ice Age diminished. It has now slowed to a few inches per century and may stop and go into reverse in the next thousand years (the Lord tarrying).

Extreme weather events: floods, droughts, cyclones etc. Once again the data does not support the claims. In fact the data shows these have reduced in the last century as the planet warmed a bit after the Little Ice Age which ended around 1850. It is a fact of meteorology that if the planet warms, then the poles warm more than the equator (which gets wetter instead). Result? Less extreme weather as this results from the clash of cold air and hot air; in a warmer world this is reduced. Hurricanes and typhoons show little trend either up or down over the last 50 years (which was when global records began). As for floods and droughts, these have always occurred and always will. Again over the last few centuries these have been relatively ‘mild’. Africa in the more distant past experienced 100-year droughts.

Forest fires. We hear and see these courtesy rolling news 24/7/365. Again, though, actual data seems to show that they have been decreasing to some extent. The fact that sometimes they burn very fiercely is due to environmentalists’ foolish behaviour. All forestry needs to be managed properly, but new ‘environment’ regulations prevent this, leading to accumulation of dry tinder on forest floors which, in the past, was cleared to prevent fierce burning. The Aborigines understood how to manage fire in the eucalyptus forests; their way is now illegal. Also some tree species (such as eucalyptus) depend on fires to propagate.

As for loss of biodiversity, once again on what evidence? Ridiculous claims are made about extinction rates. Paul Ehrlich was/is one of the worst offenders. In the 1980s he claimed that by the year 2000 half the species on earth would be extinct and by 2015 all would be extinct. He is what the Bible calls a false prophet (Dt 18v22). On the BBC TV show The Big Questions, I asked the environmentalist Tony Juniper to name six species that had gone extinct in the last 100 years. He could not.

Moving to ‘the impact on people living with poverty’. A laudable concern, but in fact environmentalism makes the poor even poorer. Africa desperately needs reliable and cheap energy (mostly electricity). Yet the World Bank refuses to finance the building of coal- or oil-fired power stations. Africa has plenty of coal and (in Nigeria, as you should know) oil and gas as well. Yet they cannot use it effectively for ‘fear of CO2 emissions’. That comes under Isaiah’s heading, ‘Selling the poor for a pair of shoes’. The money made from the poor for ‘green’ energy goes straight into the pockets of the rich, who can also well afford the ridiculous strictures put on even the not-so-well-off living in the West; solar panels, windmills, electric cars, incredibly expensive electricity and gas, organic food, even vegetarianism. Frankly, it’s obscene.


As Jesus said, (Matt 23:4) ‘And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.’

Humans can do little to control the weather; that is God’s domain. After all he gave man dominion over the earth and the creatures in the seas, but not over the weather. That we, as fallen creatures, may have made a bit of a mess of that dominion is true, but God’s earth is quite robust enough to cope with that.

Jesus said, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’ I would add that the earth was made for man, not man for the earth. We are terrifying our children with imaginary hobgoblins. The Church should stand up to this and rebuke the scaremongers, not encourage them.

The author Michael Crichton, in his 2004 book State of Fear, wrote: ‘[Church leaders] promote “What would Jesus drive?” As if they have forgotten that what Jesus would drive is the false prophets and fearmongers out of the temple!’ 

‘Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.’ (Rev 3:2—3)

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Philip Foster
Revd Philip Foster MA (Nat.Sci. & Theol.)

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