November 19, 2017

Floods, Climate Change, and Christian Credulity


Floods, Climate Change, and Christian Credulity

Like many of you, I was astounded and appalled at the results of Hurricane Harvey on the Houston area.  Appalled at the extent of the suffering undergone by so many of my fellow countrymen.  Astounded at how much rain fell in so short of period of time.

For a long period of my professional life, storm events and their statistics were an integral part of my job.  I was in charge of assessing the impact of contamination on several spring systems in the Bloomington, Indiana area.  So I measured spring flow, rainfall amount, rainfall rate, rainfall duration, soil antecedent moisture and temperature, and vegetative cover variability over 20 years and dozens of storms.  Given the season and the antecedent moisture conditions, and the rainfall amount and duration; I could predict the peak storm flow rate at the spring and the peak contaminant concentration as well.   This body of data was useful in the engineering design of the remediation treatments that were eventually built to ameliorate the contamination to the environment; such as the size and capacity of the spring treatment plants, the culverts and conveyances necessary to route the flows, and so on.

The graph shown as Figure 4 is from the rainfall produced by the remnant of hurricane Katrina as it passed through Bloomington; total rainfall amount was 2.58 inches.  It shows flow, PCB concentration, conductivity, and total suspended solids at the spring.

Part of my job was comparing the data we had collected with the national statistics on storms and storm probabilities and setting our data in context including recurrence interval.  A good primer on recurrence interval is here .  Most people have heard of the “100 year flood” since that is the typical basis for setting the level for required flood insurance.  The 100 year flood plain is the topographic low lying areas that can be calculated to be flooded by the 100 year storm.  Most of the public thinks the 100 year storm is the storm that only happens once in a 100 years.  That is not quite right, though.  It is the storm that has the statistical probability of occurring once in a 100 years or the probability of 1% i.e. 1/100.  So a 500 year flood, the maximum flood level usually mapped by FEMA, has a probability of 0.2% (1/500).

One of the problems in Houston, was that realtors and insurance agents weren’t recommending flood insurance to homes within or above the 500 year flood level because no such flooding had ever occurred and the chances were small that they would.  But due to the fact that the low pressure system that was hurricane Harvey became constrained by the two high pressure systems over the rest of the continent, Harvey stalled over Houston and dropped a maximum record of nearly 52” inches of rain.  The probability of that occurring was 0.1%, so Harvey was a 1000 year flood event.  Indianapolis averages 42 inches of rain per year.

The other common public misconception about recurrence intervals is that a 100 year flood only occurs once every 100 years.  Not so, you could have back to back to back 100 year floods three years in a row.  The probability of that happening is still 1% each year.  Which brings us to difference between climate and weather.  The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time (see here) .  So climate change is the change in AVERAGE conditions over longer periods of time.  It is not the inherent variability in weather from year to year.  That is why it is nonsense to say, “If they can’t predict the weather 10 days in advance, how can they predict the climate years ahead.”  A trend can be graphed and projected, the caveat is that the causes producing the trend stay relatively consistent.

Most of you have heard of the “bell curve” which shows the “normal” distribution of variables that are random.  The center point is the average or mean value of all the values measured.

As you move out from the average the probabilities of the values occurring becomes less and less.

That means that the values at either end have a lower change of occurring, not that they can’t occur.

As we compared our collected data sets for the spring flows vs. rainfall in Bloomington we noticed that the larger storms were occurring more frequently.  In other words the data set from 1990-1995 compared to the data set 1995-2000 compared to the data set 2000-2005 there were more of the larger storms on the average.  Another way to put it was that in the distribution curve for each 5-year data set the whole curve was moving to the right (bigger numbers).  We were actually measuring climate change.

So as a geologist, I was initially skeptical of climate change.  After all, 20,000 years ago, Indianapolis was covered by a mile thick sheet of ice.  At the end of the Permian period, it is estimated that average global temperatures may have been as high as 140° F.  But as the data continued to accumulate, the conclusion has become increasingly firmer.  See these series of graphics, for example .  The trend of the average global temperatures has been increasing.

And the best correlation with that warming does appear to be greenhouse gases.

Now correlation does not mean causation, but for now, the tentative conclusion of the science is climate change is real and man-made causes are the major factor.

Did climate change cause hurricane Harvey?  The short answer is nobody knows i.e. see the difference between weather and climate above.  The extreme rainfall does seem to have a more weather-related explanation vis-à-vis the high pressure systems.  But, if average global temperatures are rising an inevitable consequence will be more frequent and more powerful hurricanes.  That is simple cause and effect.

Which brings us to Christian Credulity.  We talked about the eclipse and certain Christians ascribing God’s judgment to natural phenomena.  That was on display again for Harvey; although why wouldn’t Matthew 5:45 apply (…for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust) since Christians and non-Christians both live in the Houston area.  And anyway, who decides what God intends with any natural phenomena?  So here, any pronouncement of God’s intentions should be met by Christians with incredulity.  Shouldn’t Christians remember Luke 13:1-5 when trying to ascribe motives for judgement?

 13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. ’”

Finally, it aggravates me to no end that evangelical Christians regard climate change as a hoax.  It’s the same anti-science incredulity that causes them not to accept the age of the earth.  At the same time they pay big money to go see a display of supposed Noah’s ark  where the proposition of all the species on the planet were on one boat, and when they got off they hopped, crawled or whatever to the ecological niche they are in now.  All the kangaroos and other marsupials traveled all the way to Australia from the Middle East and didn’t leave any trace.  Why did they all go to Australia?  The climate of the Middle East was just as hospitable.  Why didn’t they stay there?  Or new world sloths that move at 1 mile an hour.  How did they cross the ocean, even being good swimmers?  But no, climate change, that’s the thing to be incredulous about.

This is why I blog on science and faith.  If we are going to present the reality of Jesus Christ to the world then we darn-well better be able to grasp reality—period.

Comments

  1. The biggest problem with defenders of climate change is that the vast majority got into bed with the anti-nuclear brigade, thus eliminating the only realistic means of diminishing CO2 emissions without menacing civilisation.

    And I am very wary of the underlying motivations of the ecological scaremongers: it is all about power. “The gods are cross with you and are going to punish you with terrible storms and earthquakes. It’s all your fault, and if you want to avoid their wrath, you must do what I say.”

    It’s the new religion. Everything is there: guilt, wrath of nature, impending disaster, a priestly caste, penance and sacrifice.

    A little thought experiment for you: If tomorrow morning we came up with a method to reverse global warming, AND eliminate nuclear waste, do you think the ecologists would rejoice and dance? No, they’d start casting around for the next apocalyptic disaster scenario. The next ice age, lithium running out, asteroids. Something, anything, to continue their power trip.

    Many ecologists are fundamentally anti-human. You hear people saying, or implying, that the world would be better off without us. Knowing that, I can’t help suspecting that what they really want is to increase poverty so that more of us die off, and less of us are born.

    I love nature, and I believe that God wants us to tend the planet, but I refuse to take on this secular guilt just for existing.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > the ecological scaremongers: it is all about power.
      > It’s the new religion. Everything is there: guilt

      Respectfully, I don’t hear that message.

      > If tomorrow morning we came up with a method to reverse global warming,

      We know how to do that.

      > Many ecologists are fundamentally anti-human.

      I recommend you go out and hang out with some ecologists.

      • Point taken.

        The rant mostly stems from my frustration with the situation laid out in the first paragraph. Any solution which doesn’t involve sackcloth and ashes seems to get pushed away.

        And I’m not sure it’s true that “we know how to do that” without nuclear, without risking worse consequences for lots of (poor) people.

        • Nuclear energy is very expensive to produce; it requires so may safeguards against accidents, and expensive clean-up procedures to deal with nuclear waste. Even when things are done well, by a closely government-regulated nuclear power industry, such as in Japan, you end up with Fukushima, which is still a slow-moving disaster only barely contained, if it actually is contained. I wonder: did all the energy Fukushima produced during its productive period outbalance the economic loss that has been incurred by the ongoing effort to control the disaster that started there in 2011?

          • And the Titanic sank. But people carried on building and travelling on ships.

            Zero risk does not exist. You have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages. And right now, as far as I’m concerned (and I have actually thought about this a bit), the disadvantages of having to wait for the sun to shine or the wind to blow when I need electricity are far greater than the risk of a power station having a problem. Solar is great in a hot place where you need aircon when it’s hot. Not so much in cooler places. And storage is way too expensive (and has it’s own dangers) to be a viable solution at a macro level.

            And, to my mind, your question about Fukushima doesn’t correspond to the position that (I presume) you’re defending: You should ask, does the economic loss that has been incurred by the ongoing effort to control Fukushima outbalance the loss of power from never building any more nuclear power stations anywhere in the world? And does the resulting pollution from gas, coal, charcoal and wood outbalance the nuclear waste that – yes – we don’t know what to do with right now, but which tends to stay where we put it while we’re working out what to do, rather than clogging up peoples lungs?

            I’m not against ecology, it’s just not a hill I’m prepared to die on. Ecology is a rich people’s thing: poor people aren’t far enough up Maslow’s triangle to start thinking about the next 100 generations.

            I’m not interested in tokenism, nor in virtual signalling, nor in anything that will make poor people poorer in order to let rich people feel better about themselves.

            Stop consuming so much STUFF; step away from your acquisitivitis; start recycling more (or better, reusing); if you feel that it is important, pay more for locally sourced stuff instead of whining that the government should make you (and everyone else) do so.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says:

              > Ecology is a rich people’s thing

              Sorry, that’s just not true. These issues have a huge impact on the poor, and their solutions provide the poor with economic opportunity.

              • Burro [Mule] says:

                It would be nice to know how. I understand the impact on the poor, as it is the poorer neighborhoods in Houston that are still underwater and without power. Irma will likely illustrate this yet again.

                But I can’t for the life of me understand how the currently poor will find any economic opportunity in this mess unless it’s to hire themselves out as protectors to the newly poor crowding onto public transport while the elites buzz by in their $160,000 hybrids enroute to conferences on the Impact of Climate Change and Interstitiality on Left-Handed Parasexual Communities of Color.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                  Highborn and their First World Problems…

                  Maslow’s Heirarchy can really bite. When you come from a stratum that has the Survival Game nailed down and all you have are First World Problems a la the Weird Al song, you will react to your shower running out of hot water in only an hour or your smartphone battery going low in only two hours of tap-and-swipe as life-and-death survival situations.

                • Exactly. Environmentally-friendly products seem to be associated with higher costs, similar to how organic foods tend to carry a higher price tag. This makes it difficult for the poor to participate in “healthier” options.

                • Well, for one, clean technology can help the poor a greate deal. For example, people in some parts of the world still rely on kerosene or other such products for light. It’s expensive, dirty and can have adverse effects on health. Along comes solar, gravity-driven power devices, LED lights, etc. Clean, cheap light and power. And with it, more time to study and be otherwise productive.

                  There are many things like this that may seem small but have both a big environmental and a large, positive economic impact when multiplied.

              • Klasie Kraalogies says:

                Agreed. Ben is speaking out of profound ignorance here. Having worked on projects and travelled in the Developing world, I can attest to that.

                We are talking about South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Botswana; Guinea, Brazil, Peru, and other places (like Illinois 🙂 ).

            • >Zero risk does not exist.

              Of course not. But some risks are greater than others, with much higher losses when (not if) mishaps occur. If another significant earthquake/tsunami were to hit the Fukushima installation right now (which is not impossible, and probably only a matter of time), the disaster could easily restart in a completely uncontrollable way, with widespread, international ecological and human costs that cannot even seriously be compared with the sinking of the Titanic, or the explosion of a fossil fuel power plant.

            • >I’m not interested in tokenism, nor in virtual signalling, nor in anything that will make poor people poorer in order to let rich people feel better about themselves.

              While you’re criticizing the virtue signaling of others, you might consider whether the sentence wherein you are doing so is not an example of your own virtue signaling with regard to “poor people”. Glass houses and stones, you know….

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                Is “virtue signaling” the technical term for “rubbing MY Righteousness in your Unrighteous face”?

            • > if you feel that it is important, pay more for locally sourced stuff instead of whining that the government should make you (and everyone else) do so.

              There it is: The so-called conservative American insistence that all problems can and should only be solved by private action. Big government bad, individual freedom the nostrum in all things, from salvation to cleaning up the planet. With such a philosophy, it’s obviously assumed to be a big mistake to regulate the nuclear power industry so much that nuclear energy becomes extremely expensive, so that fossil fuel energy generation become economically preferable, as is happening in my state, PA, and around the country. No, let private industries decide that: the invisible hand, that deus ex machina of Adam Smith, will surely sort it all out!

              • Because in their worldview it was all the brave boys who left their family farm’s to go fight that won World War II.

                Definitely not the United States’ government.

                • Yeah, war is the biggest socialist project any nation can undertake, and the only one conservatives are okay with. That’s why fascism in general is so attractive to them: it authorizes socialism in the service of a national existence understood to involve perpetual war.

        • And of course, in this country, the whole idea that any industry, including the nuclear one, should be under strict national, much less international, control and standards is met with howls against the tyranny of federal centralization, or against One World globalism, from the conservative side.

          • Even in my Left Behind days I didn’t understand the fear of one world government. Or one world currency.

            Still don’t.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              It’s THE ANTICHRIST! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!

              Which obscures another, more valid caution:
              The larger the State and the more concentrated it becomes, the more bureaucracy and bureaucrat caste are needed to run it. And the centralization of Power makes the resulting Iron Throne a bigger prize for the Power-Hungry with more intense and vicious Power Struggle. Plus, if it goes sour (like turns into a North Korea), there’s no other state to escape to.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > And I’m not sure it’s true that “we know how to do that”

          You are qualifying the problem solely in terms of energy production. But there is a **LOT** of low-hanging fruit through-out the system.

          The US transportation sector produces more CO2 than THE ENTIRE ECONOMY OF ANY OTHER NATION OTHER THAN CHINA. That is just our transportation sector. Improved transportation infrastructure can easily make huge reductions in that number. It doesn’t need to be this way, and improvements have many justifications beyond greening.

          Pick whichever of them you like, but lets just do it. I won’t even bother to list the environmental reasons.

          – Safety: travel by bus is 800% safer per-passenger-mile than travel by automobile, rail raised that to 1,300%+
          – Safety: containers on rail are a dramatic safety improvement, to drivers and pedestrians alike.
          – Economic Development: non-road transportation sector investments often reap HUGE economic benefits to urban areas. Non-road investments includes not just transit but things like container and transfer loading facilities; which, BTW, the business sector loves. There is still a road truck involved, but we can dramatically reduce the portion of the total trip involving the road truck. These are investments with great ROI.
          – Social Equity: 1 in every 3 Americans cannot drive or has not access to an automobile. **Yes, one in every three**. Our system largely ignores 1 in 3 Americans, it basically flips them the bird and shouts “good luck”.
          – Economic Equity: In Michigan rural communities are struggling, some desperately. We have counties where the MEDIAN AGE IS 57. Let’s be real – your hope of building a sustainable economy in that situtation are extremely bleak. It is a good economic investment to create connections from these struggling communities to economic centers. In the urban center we have restaurants so desperate for workers they offer 401K matching to dish washers; meanwhile less than a county away you have high unemployment – that makes no economic sense – these are places connected by both a four-lane highway and rail infrastructure.
          – Humanity: The one major northern transit agency estimates EIGHTY PERCENT of its riders are going to or from the ONE regional hospital. Agreements between the frail rural transit services allow people to transfer, so people cross three systems [bascially counties] each way to access medical services. Waiting at each transfer for the next bus. Can anyone do that AND keep a job? And many of these people are elderly, not to mention ill. It is inhumane what many rural citizens have to endure. Of course they are slipping further and further behind; of course they are angry; of course they feel betrayed.
          – Economic Development: If you connected those struggling rural communities to economically viable places . . . what do you think would have to the [currently subteranean] property values in those places? Some of the people there are trapped there – who is going to buy their house? They certainly cannot afford to just-walk-away; where will they go?
          Aside: And every year more and more of those communities CANNOT DRINK THE WATER from their wells. What does that do to property values?

          So, yes, we can make a much more ‘environmental’ America, we do know how, today, and it will be a better America in so many other ways, for everyone, including many of our most desperate fellow citizens.

          But I also know, first hand, politicians have opposed these things *because* they have an environmental justification. So supporting them would be “endorsing” [like baking a cake, I guess] “climate change”. They live in terror of the Evangelical Bloc. I’ve been told that, by an elected representative, first hand.

          • Might explain why we’re talking past each other a bit. I’m in the ‘wrong’ country 🙂

            • Adam Tauno Williams says:

              That would make sense; there is probably little hope of understand the American conversation about these things from the outside . . . as the conversations make little sense from the inside. 🙁

      • So how do we reverse it?

        • Make the incremental changes that make sense to make right now. Indiana is a great example. Every stream in Indiana has mercury warnings for fish consumption. This is due to Indiana’s use of coal power plants. In Indianapolis, temperture inversions would cause asthma attacks. As of April 2016 Indiana Power and LIght phased out the coal plant in Indianapolis and replaced it with a cleaner form of energy (gas). They did so with only a 3% increase in utility bills through 2018.

          • It can only be done with lots of government regulation and oversight, and the bureaucracy necessary for that. This is where you will lose most American conservatives every time. They don’t trust big government, at least not when it doesn’t support what they consider traditional American/Christian values.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            When I was on the East Coast in 2016 (pre-Trump), I remember seeing billboards along the Turnpike to “Bring Back Coal! Coal = JOBS!”

            “Bring Back Coal”? As in I drive my coal-burning car to my job with its coal-fired servers & PCs, then get back home to coal up my water heater and stove? Coal’s been in a decline for around a century, superseded first by oil then by natural gas. The new-construction powerplants in my area are smaller gas-turbine plants burning natural gas, and all local buses and a lot of other fleet vehicles run on natural gas.

            How clean a fuel burns depends on its ratio of carbon to hydrogen — the more hydrogen and less carbon, the cleaner the burn.
            Coal = mostly carbon.
            Gasoline, Diesel, Fuel Oils = two hydrogens per carbon.
            Natural Gas = three to four hydrogens per carbon.

            • Ha! Natural gas. That’s the biggest marketing genius of all time.

              I bet the coal guys are kicking themselves 🙂

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                We have a lot of natural gas in the Los Angeles oilfields. More gas than oil these days.

                When I was on the East Coast a year ago, I was stunned by all the diesel plumes from bus exhausts; out here they’d all be natural gas-fueled.

                • Adam Tauno Williams says:

                  Here in the midwest fleets are currently in the process of converting to CNG.

                  I know one of the challenges to east coast fleets is that many of them are so large that the conversion is logistically more complicated; CNG filling requires special fueling stations, etc…

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                    And I think there was paranoia about natural gas fires/explosions in confined spaces such as tunnels and garages. (East Coast has a lot more tunnels than out west.)

                    Our buses have their fuel tanks on the roof (with a fairing around them) so in case of leak or fire it’ll vent to open sky instead of building up an explosive-mixture proportion.

    • “And I am very wary of the underlying motivations of the ecological scaremongers: it is all about power.“

      The cure for that is to bypass the loudest media voices and interact directly with the folks on the ground doing the work and research. Just like with evangelicals, the looks are the ones who get the press.

      “Many ecologists are fundamentally anti-human.”

      I submit that they are anti-industrial civilization, not anti-human. Even acknowledging the benefits that its technology has brought us, I think their voice in critiquing it *must* be heard.

      • “Kooks”, not “looks”

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > bypass the loudest media voices and interact directly with the folks on the ground

        As a general rule don’t let the Extremists define a movement or group. There are mentally ill or unbalanced people in every category. And the media is biased towards seeking them out. Go an listen to the actual people who form the actual center of a movement or group; that is pretty easy to do these days – and you’ll have a lot more fun and meet some amazingly interesting people.

        That’s like become my mantra-advice: Go. Actually go. What’s the risk?

        It is increasingly clear that arguing with people who despise or contempt some group is pointless.

        > I submit that they are anti-industrial civilization,

        Most of them are of the post-industrial generation. And many are a bit delusional-Luddite, I’ll give you that. The massive factories or container yards stretching to the horizon are things they haven’t seen – only because most of those things have MOVED away from them – so they aren’t in their consciousness [as **necessary**].

        But they also aren’t wrong.

        As a technology-logistics-transportation guy I’ve had great conversations with greenies.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          As a general rule don’t let the Extremists define a movement or group. There are mentally ill or unbalanced people in every category. And the media is biased towards seeking them out.

          Take this from the guy with 20+ years in Furry Fandom:
          There is NO way to keep the Extremists from defining your movement or group. Because the Extremists have no life, only their Obsession. They can yell louder and longer than the sane people in the group because the rest of us have jobs and lives while they can “build their Brand” 24/7/365.

          And the Extremists seek out the media. Not only “Hey, I’m on TV! I’m a CELEBRITY!” but they KNOW that if they just EXPLAIN to their Friends the Media everyone will UNDERSTAND and ACCEPT them. (See “Zoos” = bestiality fetishists — and “BabyFurs” = infantilism.)

    • “I love nature, and I believe that God wants us to tend the planet”

      Then take a good hard look at what we’ve been doing to it. This planet is NOT so big that a fossil fuel-driven global civilization can’t make a dent in the environment.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        I think it would be wise for the greenies to go back to a more Pollution centric rhetoric. Pollution is bad – nobody argues about that – and it is often locally visible. Where in middle America, where anti-green sentiments are the strongest, is there not waster water overflows, pollution plumes marching outward in the ground water, gritty abandoned factories [often super-fund sites], or some idiot who wants to pointlessly plow yet another four lane road through the last bit of forest?

        That the greenies jump straight to Climate Change and Global Warming is rhetorically head+desk. It is solid science; it fails to understand how [economically stressed] people work. That, when most environmentally positive infrastructure works on both levels: locally and globally [aside: it can also create new jobs].

        • Exactly. It may be solid science, but it’s not incontrovertible-right-now-wait-and-you’ll-see-it.

          And global warming is ripe for political exploitation:

          Just for a laugh,
          https://vimeo.com/124391891
          https://vimeo.com/124392955

          (NSFW – because you’ll LOL)

        • “Climate Change and Global Warming… is solid science; it fails to understand how [economically stressed] people work.”

          Believe me, I get it. I’ve argued this enough to have a feel for it. And IMHO, the social and economic arguments against acting on global warming will always win. It’s quite simple – modern civilization is *impossible* without fossil fuels – our electricity, our transportation, our agriculture, our materials for manufacturing – all absolutely need the vast amounts of energy that fossil fuels provide in order to function. To cut back on carbon emissions to the extent necessary to avoid a worst case scenario (we’re already WAY past stopping 2 degrees Celsius) would cause a catastrophic collapse of civilization. No government will volunteer for committing socioeconomic suicide.

          I actually think most people realize this, if only unconsciously. Hence the great popularity of climate change denial – no junkie wants to hear about how their fix is killing them.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Many ecologists are fundamentally anti-human. You hear people saying, or implying, that the world would be better off without us.

      They’ve been around for a long time. I remember Donna Kossy’s Kooks including the “Voluntary Human Extinction Movement”, whose Manifesto was literally to hurry up human extinction for our Sins Against The Planet.

      And a few years ago, one of the documentary cable channels ran a series on how The Planet could heal Herself once the cancer of humanity is finally expunged. (That might not have been the series’ intention, but that’s how it came across.)

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        The problem is the word “many”. It is like saying “Many conservatives are racial supremacists”. Of course they are there. And some are very loud. Doesn’t make them “many”.

    • Projection?

      • Bigly!

      • And deflection. Because conservative Americans, Christian or otherwise, don’t want to be told what to do by big government. They are against big government of all kinds, unless that big government is enforcing their own values, of course.

  2. It’s the new religion. Everything is there: guilt, wrath of nature, impending disaster, a priestly caste, penance and sacrifice.

    Great point, Ben. Same things that are used when homosexuality or other sins are blamed for storms by kooky Christians. Many who subscribe to climate doom refuse to see that they are using the same tools they would rail against if it was a Conservative Fundamentalist Chistian making a claim of “wrath”

    Interesting post, Mike. Christian credulity on climate change is annoying. And it is that ignorance that pays for ark museums. But a lot of money goes to what could be climate hoax as well. You admitted that we just don’t know if climate change caused Harvey. I have doubts, but like you, I don’t know.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Many who subscribe to climate doom refuse to see that … using the same tools

      Or those who see the environmental movement in those terms are so entangled in the Apocalyptic-Guilt-Context that they cannot interpret what is said any other way? That is more of it, IMO. It is not the “same tools” at all.

      Pretty much nobody over on that side is talking about Guilt.

      And many of them are quite optimistic [but the last time I met an optimistic Evangelical was …..]. I suggest you go hang out with some of them.

      • Yeah, I don’t hear much of a guilt message coming from environmentalism. I think the evangelical mentality is projecting that onto the cause-and-effect warnings that are actually being given.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It’s the new religion. Everything is there: guilt, wrath of nature, impending disaster, a priestly caste, penance and sacrifice.

      THE PLAAAAAAANET IS ANGRY BECAUSE OF OUR SINS!!!!!! WE MUST MORTIFY OURSELVES TO ATONE FOR OUR SIIIIIINS AGAINST THE PLAAAAAAAANET!!!!!
      (See How Morally Righteous I AM? SEE? SEE? SEE?)

      It’s the funhouse mirror reflection of John Piper and Pat Robertson. As Burro put it, “New England Puritans, seven times distilled down to eliminate any hint of God, but retaining all the Righteousness and Moral Fury.” Especially with Counting Coup against all the Unrighteous.

      I am jus old enough to remember the tail end of the 1950s — Golden Age for Evangelicals, Hell on Earth for others. One of the things I remember was the attitude of Can-Do Optimism from not only surviving the Great Depression and World War Two, but coming out of it stronger and more prosperous. If Global Warming (instead of nuclear war) had been the big problem during that era, you would not have seen Activist Marinating/Masturbating in Oh-So-Delicious ANGST! ANGST! ANGST! but “This is a BIG problem; how do we solve it”? Granted, a lot of the solutions might be dumb ones (see “Project Plowshare”), but they would be doing something towards a solution. And churches wouldn’t be stuck with their heads in the sand or clutching their Rapture boarding passes waiting to be beamed up.

      I also think “Kyle’s Mom Looking for a New Cause” (cue Petra’s “Witch Hunt”) was a factor. After the Second Russian Revolution ended their Beloved Soviet Union, a lot of Social Justice Warriors had to find a new cause and “Watermelons” (Green outside, Red inside) went with environmentalism. And in doing so, discredited their own cause with their Activist extremism. (Inviting a pushback called Trump.)

      And the Here-Ahuramazda-There-Ahriman polarization you get between Idealist factions doesn’t help. Back when Nuclear Winter and SDI/Star Wars were in the news, my old DM said “It’s the first time you can tell which side they’re on on the issue (Gospel Truth or Fake News Propaganda) by whether they have a (D) or an (R) after their name.” It broke down by Party that clean, and that trend’s held ever since. Use or Them.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It’s the new religion. Everything is there: guilt, wrath of nature, impending disaster, a priestly caste, penance and sacrifice.

      “Penance and sacrifice” and Mortification for the laity only, NOT the Enlightened Righteous Priestly Caste.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Interesting post, Mike. Christian credulity on climate change is annoying. And it is that ignorance that pays for ark museums. But a lot of money goes to what could be climate hoax as well. You admitted that we just don’t know if climate change caused Harvey. I have doubts, but like you, I don’t know.

      Speaking of “ark museums”…
      You might have doubts, but Hambone sure doesn’t:
      http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article171539502.html

  3. The Ford plants up north for years had dumped wastes down mine shafts in Ringwood NJ. Now the people (known as the ‘mine people’) who live around the dump sites are dying. Horribly. So there has been this movement to get the poisoned earth out of the area or to ‘cap’ it (cover it). More trouble: the poisons have leached into the waters south of the mine area and into the reservoir and all served by that system are at risk of being poisoned with carcinogens big time.

    So Ford saved time and money and solved its wastes problem. And I can look up our old acquaintances in Ringwood where we lived for twelve years and I find too many deaths at ages in the fifties and early sixties of vibrant healthy people so full of life when I knew them and yes, the diagnoses were dreadful. . . .

    If the Christian community is not at least somewhat focused on ‘the common good’, and is totally devoted to the making of a buck by industry,
    maybe it SHOULD feel guilty . . . . . for years, it was just the poor ‘mine people’ who died, but then the people with money who lived around the lakes began to perish of cancer, of metabolic diseases, etc. prematurely. And now their children await their future also.

    We women who worked to get the mine areas cleaned up all those years ago (League of Women Voters) were thought to be the ‘liberals’ of our day by complacent residents who doubted what we were doing. Yep. We were the ‘crazies’. How were the town’s people to know that the very soil of the town had become contaminated ?

    Sometimes a little guilt can save a lot of grief, if people will use common sense instead of listening to pundits paid by industries to ‘quell’ fears.

    some thoughts . . . . . and a litany of the lake people I knew: Froggy B., in her forties, Kathy B. and Bunny W. in their sixties, Tom S. in his late fifties, Deenie R. throat cancer in her fifties, Paulie G. early sixties, Joan K. too soon gone . . . . too many more to name . . . . the mine area was in the north and the reservoir and lake communities were just south of where the toxic dumping occurred . . . the lake people felt sorry for the sick mine people, but had no worries then for their own vulnerability and so, at the time, we League of Women Voters were a few voices among complacent communities of club houses, lakes, lake beaches, and spectacular scenery before the early deaths began

    • If people think that the health problems resulting from pollution don’t effect the poor more than the affluent, they should think again.

  4. Ben Carmack says:

    Changed the last 2 paragraphs to read the following:

    “Finally, it aggravates me to no end that *progressive Christians* regard the fixed biological nature of sex as a hoax.  It’s the same anti-science incredulity that causes them not to accept that there are *only 2 genders*.  At the same time they pay big money to go see a display of *Bruce Jenner*  where the proposition *that a guy born male can “transition”, as if by magic, to female through mutilating his body parts. The fact that he wasn’t born with breasts but had to have them surgically implanted apparently makes no difference.  Where did Bruce Jenner’s breasts even come from?  Or how about abortion? You know how science tells us that a new human being, with unique genetic material, is created at the moment of conception, but it’s somehow fine to kill a human being based on his or her size. Why do Christian progressives show no interest in the politics of abortion, relegating it as some doomed “culture war” enterprise?

    “This is why I blog on science and faith.  If we are going to present the reality of Jesus Christ to the world then we darn-well better be able to grasp reality—period.”

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Respect the author.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Bruce Jenner! Abortion! What about that other issue that will detract from the point!

      This is so cliche’d it is nauseating.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        If you can’t defend deflect.

        • Ben Carmack says:

          Not deflection. Pointing out that progressives have their own anti-science blindspots. And those blindsposts have to do with reality as it is now, not as it may have been thousands or millions of years ago.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            That is the definition of a deflection.

            • Ben Carmack says:

              No. You are wrong and I am right because SCIENCE.

              I just mastered the rhetoric Mike the Geologist uses. Are you impressed?

              • Klasie Kraalogies says:

                Sigh.

              • Um … do you know that science does not really agree with you on the fixed biological nature of sex? There is research showing that transgender people have outward characteristics of one gender, but area’s in their brains correspond in size to the other sex. It seems that our brain and areas of our brain are involved in the way we experience ourselves, e.g. if we experience ourselvelves as ‘man’ or as ‘woman’. Thus in a small percentage of the population the way they experience themselves, as determined by their brain, differs (probably due to very early developmental changes) from the gender they show on the outside. This causes a lot of stress and cannot be reversed – we cannot change the areas in the brain, and it would be very damageing for someones personality to suddenly change his or her self-experience. If surgery exists to aleviate the stress of constantly believing you’re one gender and being treated as the other genre, why not take it? We take anti-depressants, or anti-cancermedication.
                Just like with climate science, the area you chose for your argument, seems to suggest progressive christians are more in touch with reality.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                  Don’t know if there’s anything to this, but I remember hearing an explanation (in the hotel room last BabsCon) about a possible cause of gender dysphoria. Went like this:

                  The fetal brain develops “male” or “female” (whatever the actual neurological dichotomy) through androgen and estrogen receptors in the forming nervous system. Androgens trigger “male” development, estrogens “female”. What if one of these genetic “switches” controlling these receptors “hiccups” and gets flipped from Boolean True to Boolean False? As in responding to androgens as though they were estrogens and estrogens as if they were androgens? You’d get a brain that developed as if the opposite gender from the body (which generates the hormones used by these receptors).

              • Of course, you would be able to back up these claims with work since by actual scientists, wouldn’t you?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Bruce Jenner! Abortion! What about that other issue that will detract from the point!

        Like HOMOSEXUALITY(TM)?

    • Christiane says:

      But men ARE born ‘with breasts’ and the breasts do have nipples, and men can also get breast cancer and it can be terminal.

      It is strange that we cannot begin to understand that much earlier creatures in evolution were ‘bi-sexual’ having both sex organs until the time that the evolution proceeded beyond that point. There are still creatures who possess both male and female sex organs. For example, earthworms are simultaneous hermaphrodites, meaning these worms have both male and female reproductive organs.

      Maybe the Catholic concept of ‘disordered’ when speaking about sexual identity issues and same-sex attraction is also a reference to nature occasionally throwing humans back into their evolutionary past and kicking out an example of something that WAS one time considered ‘natural’ at some very remote stage of ‘human’ evolution from a much lower-order being. ? We still do have the occasional hermaphrodite born today. Poor lambs, what a terribly judgemental world awaits them.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        But men ARE born ‘with breasts’ and the breasts do have nipples, and men can also get breast cancer and it can be terminal.

        There’s a Steven Jay Gould essay on that subject; I remember the title as “Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples”, but that can’t be right.

        And a few years ago, we had a high-profile death from male breast cancer in SoCal SF/Comics/Furry fandom. Not the fan himself, but his older brother.

        It is strange that we cannot begin to understand that much earlier creatures in evolution were ‘bi-sexual’ having both sex organs until the time that the evolution proceeded beyond that point.

        Though I suspect “bi-sexual” means something different in the bio-technical context.

        I wonder if Heinlien ever thought of that application of his line “specialization is for insects”?

        We still do have the occasional hermaphrodite born today.

        And RL intersex hermaphrodites bear NO resemblance whatsoever to the Sexual Fantasy “Herms” you find in the fetish fringe of Furry art…

  5. Relevant.

    https://electrek.co/2017/09/06/tesla-semi-all-electric-truck-biggest-catalys/

    But will companies switch to them? Or just keep using what’s already bought and paid for? They gotta make more money for their boards and CEOs after all. Or should the government reach into their pockets and steal from them and tell them what to do with their own company? How dare they.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > But will companies switch to them?

      We should remember that the purpose of companies is to make money; and they should not be expected to apologize for that.

      In terms of new technology the sin of Techno-Optimism needs to be avoided. Corporations often avoid this more easily than advocates – since they have to put money on the line. That is to their credit; it is not a lack of vision or concern.

      These technologies ALWAYS (a) cost more than their proponents claim they will, (b) address fewer of the central problems then their proponents claim they will, (c) require more auxiliary support infrastructure than their proponents bother to mention, and (d) create new unforeseen issues.

      These technologies are promising. But – much like the much lauded self-driving car – are going to take longer to reach cost-effective then their proponents claim. And they won’t be a panacea. They may cost less in the long run, but HOW they cost matters to. A fixed car payment vs. paying for time+distance, for example; how people/corporations finance and budget also needs to evolve. They will be cheaper in some cases – and cost MORE in others. That can’t be waved away.

      How do I know this? Because it is how it always happens. Every new transportation technology is a “silver bullet” . . . and yet somehow nearly every previous technology lives on way way way past when the ideologues are certain it would be swept from the earth. [aside: Last I knew there was at least one Shay steam locomotive still in revenue service at a remote mining site. Why? Because it works in that specific context.]

      How to accelerate a transition is important. But, IMNSHO, even more important than new technology is to make the best use of the established technologies; it is an easier case to make and can happen today. It just isn’t as sexy. Three or four smartly placed container transfer yards will reduce CO2 emissions more than 1,000 electric semis – and cost less.

      Always remember the boring unsexy solutions. They are where the big wins are.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      But will companies switch to them? Or just keep using what’s already bought and paid for?

      Most likely keep using what they’ve got, and switch over when they wear out and need to be replaced.

      And regarding Tesla, one thing about Elon Musk:
      THE GUY DOES NOT THINK SMALL.

      • Maybe he needs to start thinking a little smaller. Hubris, you know…

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          A couple years ago, TIME had an article on aerospace, about how the emphasis on aerospace has changed in a way that makes it harder to interest new talent. Through the 1970s, aerospace was HOT with visions of the future — SSTs, space stations, moonshots, moonbases, Mars, Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before. (And unlike a tap-and-swipe smartphone app, something physical.) And how nowadays a future of “reducing carbon emissions/fuel consumption by X percent” just doesn’t have the same draw.

          Musk is restoring some of that HOT future.

          Also, if you can scare up a copy of 1939: Lost World of the Fair by David Gelertner, check it out. Professor Gelertner (who wrote it while recuperating from one of the Unabomber’s little packages) compares and contrasts the America of 1939 with that of 1999 (or time of writing) through the device of a history and tour of the 1939 World’s Fair.

          I thought Gelertner was a professor of History; he isn’t. He’s a Professor of some highly advanced Computer Science at Yale, the type of academic who’d be worshipped by our Cybernetic Betters in Silicon Valley. (And his academic pubs show it; 1939 was written for a wide audience of non-academics.)

  6. My favorite disconnect on this issue is, while publically their spokesmen take every opportunity to deny the settled science on Global Climate change, the Oil companies have stepped oil exploration in the Arctic which is of course predicated on the reality of global warming.

    What did Deep Throat say to Woodward and Bernstein? Follow the money.

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    This is why I blog on science and faith.  If we are going to present the reality of Jesus Christ to the world then we darn-well better be able to grasp reality—period.

    Considering we’ve got a Category 5 hurricane lining up for a run up the entire length of Florida (entire state effectively AT high-tide Sea Level), there’s a story from a cou;le years ago about how the Florida State Government literally banned any mention of “climate change” or “global warming” in their department documents (even internal memos).

    The reason given (when employees balked)?
    Genesis 9:11-15.