Tag Archives: climate change

“Science is Real” Separating Facts from Ideology

As Kathy and I walk our neighborhood, we occasionally see signs that include a variety of slogans, including, “Science is Real.” This phrase is part of a campaign by climate activists to demonize any “deniers” that question human-caused climate change and support radical proposals to “save the planet because we have only 9, 12, 20, or 50 years left.”

Science is a wonderful part of humankind’s creativity and curiosity. It yields amazing breakthroughs for human flourishing, from healthy foods to medical care, technology for the workplace, and so much more. The founder of the modern state of Singapore was asked about the most important invention of the 20th century. His response? “Air conditioning.” Without it, computers cannot function and billions living in tropical climates cannot be productive. Science is an ever-evolving series of experiments and findings, discussions and discoveries, and the source of much debate! For people of faith, science is a gift from God, part of common grace or natural revelation. Science is not a deity, but the amalgamation of human inquiry. It can be used for good or manipulated for evil.

Human-influenced climate change is tracked using a combination of historical temperature readings, computer modeling, and current observations. Leaving aside exaggerated terms like, “97% all agree that…” or “there is no problem” – how do we sort our facts from ideology? And, just as important, how should consensual science inform economic and social policies affecting billions of people?

Let’s assume that “the science is real” and humankind is having a deleterious impact on the climate. Current solutions emanating from the UN and the West are radical and have little actual impact on global temperatures. Adding to this reality is the fact that we have seen a shift in language from “global warming” to “climate change” because the trends are not conforming to early computer models. Science is being used as a cover to destroy the fossil fuel, natural gas, and nuclear power industries, with inadequate replacements.

The way forward is neither denial nor apocalyptic measures. Good ecological stewardship is good economics. Science is already reducing emissions enormously in the developed world. Alternative energy solutions are emerging, but are not yet cost-effective as complete replacements. And here is the key: Global elites and politicians love greater control over people’s lives and arranging massive transfers of wealth – none of which affect them (unless they benefit)! The losers are middle- and working-class folks around the world that need affordable energy. We can improve the environment and ensure all can flourish without impoverishing billions for the wallets and power grabbing of a few. We need a concomitant strategy of improving the emissions of current sources while developing low-cost alternatives. As the science catches up to our dreams, we can see a better world without chaos and the loss of liberty.

Toward Principled Compromise: Reimagining the Common Good, Part Two

Continuing our conversation on the common good and better pathways for solving seemingly intractable problems, here are some more arenas crying out for creativity.

Education: Current Reaction: Write off a portion of student debt without reforming the bloated, inefficient systems that lead to the debt. A Better Way: Let’s open trade school avenues for high school grads (with remediation in general education available) so that we can fill the millions of job openings with skilled workers and prepare a new generation of qualified women and men for the exciting changes ahead. Let’s get out of the loan business altogether and increase scholarships for qualified students, while making schools much more efficient, focused and less political. Avenues for redeeming poor K-12 experiences through community colleges are worthy of support, and we must repent of the immoral practice of accepting loan money for students ill-prepared for higher education.

Education (K-12): Honor teachers, pay them better, reduce overhead costs, and rid schools of foolish programs having nothing to do with a real education for the future world of work. Learn from successful charter schools. Give parents choices, for a competitive landscape will improve quality. Federal ethics and general guidelines matter, but administration is always better locally and we should eventually have a very small Department of Education.

Climate Change: Recognize that the American carbon footprint continues to decrease while China, Russia, India, and others are responsible for most emissions and pollution. Recognize that all the current UN and treaty solutions, even generously interpreted, only minimally reduce global temperatures. This does NOT mean a return to old policies, but a wiser approach to environmental sustainability without exaggerated apocalyptic rhetoric and economically destructive solutions, including coercive transfers of wealth.

Gender and Sexuality: Affirm adult freedom to identify as they choose, while acknowledging the sincere beliefs of billions of people who hold more traditional beliefs. Toleration is not affirmation – it is living peaceably with different views of the world. End the war on the biological nuclear family and work on the crisis of fatherlessness (something President Obama cares deeply about) and help a new generation understand that their choices of intimacy and welcoming a child include immense responsibilities. 

And two deeper issues (for future essays): We need conversations on anthropology and epistemology. With compassion and respect, we need robust dialogue on what it means to be human and biologically male and female, and the implications for the family, education, and society. Epistemology speaks to the nature of knowledge. We are in a crisis concerning objective understanding of reality. Living with deep differences of perspective is a sign of liberty and maturity. Refusing to listen to other perspectives and attempting to suppress opinions (I am not speaking about direct evils or threats) is unhealthy for our future.

There are thoughtful pathways forward, if we have humility and love, listening ears and clear heads.

Inconvenient Insights for a Polarized World

This week after Groundhog’s Day and in remembrance of the Bill Murray comedy of reliving the same day over and over again, it is right to reflect on some enduring challenges:

We have miles to go in our pursuit of justice for women and men of all classes and cultures.
We can celebrate Christian contributions to social progress, and we must deeply lament historic ecclesial complicity with oppression.

We can criticize Israeli policies, but most of the responsibility for lasting peace rests with Arab leaders acknowledging Israel’s right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. Israel is not a western colonial imposition, but the historic home of an ancient people. The new plan presented by President Trump (and quietly endorsed by some Sunni Arab states in the region) is an opportunity that the current Palestinian Leadership is willfully ignoring.

Billions have been lifted out of poverty in my lifetime due to global trade, with access to new markets. We still have too many food, banking, and job deserts in our own American cities.

Our national debt and deficit spending reveal cowardice and a lack of concern for generations yet unborn. Both parties are guilty, and it will take both parties cooperation to find solutions.

UN officials admit that their proposals for climate change amelioration are of little practical use, except for the transfer of trillions in wealth. Unless China, India, and Russia sign on, little progress can be made. Every proponent of free trade and/or climate change skeptic must also care more deeply for the ecological life of our planet. Good environmental stewardship means a good economy for our grandchildren.

Let’s find a new way to fund education of all kinds without a lifetime of debt on graduates and ever-increasing tuition prices.

A rebirth of civility begins with an affirmation of the dignity and worth of each person we meet. We must end caricature, insults, and stereotyping of those different from us.

Letters to People of Influence Part One: To Religious Leaders

This is the first in a four-part series of “Letters To…” that will address concerns and insights touching on vital issues of our day.

Here in Part One, I address pastors in general and Pope Francis in particular. Please enjoy and add your insights to the conversation.

Dear Pastors (of every Christian tradition),

Thank you for your sacrificial love and service as you nurture communities of faith of all kinds.

As I pray for you as a fellow pastor, I have three requests as you carry out your holy calling:

One: Remember that it is the Triune God who calls God’s people together and is the object of worship. As Eugene Peterson says, our primary pastoral task is keeping people attentive to God.

Two: Please commission and empower all vocations as important to God’s kingdom. God’s work in the world takes place through people that work, whether paid or volunteer, labor or leadership, home or office.

Three: Please take time to nourish your soul and care for your “first flock” – your family (if married). If single, take time for healthy relationships that build you as a person. Eat well, exercise and rest…your health will help you inspire health in others.

Pastors, I am grateful for all you do – seen and unseen – that Christ uses to transform others. My prayers are offered not as a perfect practitioner, but as a fellow-learner trying to gain wisdom from mistakes and victories. 
Thank you!

Dear Pope Francis,

Thank you for caring for the poor and beginning to redeem the financial and sexual scandals in the church.

Thank you for reminding us that the deepest problems are spiritual and that our selfish/sinful hearts need change.

Thank you for reaching out to the “outsiders” in dialogue and well as showing compassion for the faithful afflicted by divorce.

I do, however, have deep concerns. 
Without judging your motives or sincerity, I beg you to…

…Avoid being manipulated by the agendas of global elites using climate change to unjustly redistribute wealth.

…Stand for the persecuted church and all dissidents that oppose totalitarian regimes, especially in Cuba.

…Use your office as a prophetic peacemaker, calling on Muslim leaders to affirm the dignity and equality of all persons.

…Support Israel’s right to exist while actively working for a peaceful solution, not just the protection of holy sites.

…Affirm that economic freedom, when rooted in value creation and virtue, is the best pathway out of poverty.

I pray you will use this moment to help millions envision a life rooted in Christ and serving the common good.