Global Warming

Donald A.G. Burling The Universe

by Donald A.G. Burling

What’s all this about global warming? Might a couple of degrees Celsius not make life a bit more comfortable for us, particularly in winter?

The reality of climate change cannot be denied, as we see spring flowers blooming earlier each year. When did we last see a white Christmas?

Whether this is a long term trend or part of a cycle is hard to tell.

We know from geology that the earth has been through different climate phases in the past, which cannot be attributed to the burning of fossil fuels. Many years ago – probably in the 1970’s – I remember reading a Readers’ Digest article which claimed that if the Arctic became ice free a large part of the northern continents would be in the grip of a new ice age. The author may have been right, though I do not understand his logic. Even then the temperature of the Arctic Ocean was known to be rising. If the ice packs melt, will it cause sea levels to rise and flood many inhabited areas? Our own climate depends very much on the Gulf Stream, which brings warm water from the Tropics into the north Atlantic; any change to its flow or direction will make a lot of difference to us.

Already people in Madagascar are dying of starvation, owing to a drought attributed to global warming. Certainly the rich nations, including Britain, should be ready to come to the aid of those seriously affected. Like all international aid this will need to be carefully managed to make sure it gets to the people who need it.

How effective this recent COP conference in Glasgow will prove to be depends in part on how well its resolutions are followed up. But even if all nations do their best to co-operate, there is so much that is outside our control. We cannot possibly have any influence on the sun, the surface of which is known to be subject to disturbances. The removal of pollution from air and sea is a good objective in itself, but whether it will make much difference to the climate is a question.

As Christians we know that the world was made by God and is under His control. He has promised that while earth remains, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest, day and night will not cease (Genesis 8 v 22). He has not promised that there will be no local floods and other disasters.

But the greatest danger that human beings face is not physical death, to which we must all succumb in the end, but of dying in our sins. This is something which in our culture we refuse to take seriously.

God has provided a way of escape through repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Should we not be concerned that as many as possible of our neighbours may find it?

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