The Lord told the first man to take care of the earth he made for him (Moses 3:15). Therefore, it seems important that Latter-day Saints be mindful of the planet they are given to dwell on. But what of all this discussion about Global Warming? Much in the way of doom and gloom is presented to the public for the future of our planet, and Global Warming has become a hot topic (pardon the pun). There’s no question that it is happening, but exactly what is causing it and whether it is something to fret over is debatable. To ask, “Is Global Warming real?” is not the proper question, but rather, “Is Global Warming caused by mankind?”

The popular notion is that Global Warming is caused by greenhouse gases which trap heat in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases form approximately 3% of the atmosphere, 95% of which is water vapor from clouds.[1] Water vapor is “by far the most important [i.e. atmospherically influential] greenhouse gas.”[2] The remainder of the greenhouse gases are CO2, CH4, Ozone, and N2O, but the most common of these is CO2.[3] CO2 is made out to be the big villain, yet it absolutely pales in comparison to the greenhouse contribution of water vapor (clouds). CO2 is not as major of a contributor to the greenhouse effect as probably most people think.

The truth is, CO2 accounts for 0.037 % of the atmosphere of the earth,[5] and only a small fraction of that is caused by human activity. CO2 from human activity is “a small fraction in the single digits percentage-wise” of the total planetary output of CO2.[6] The vast majority of the CO2 put into the atmosphere is actually from natural sources (so is the earth killing itself?). This is an important point because it suggests that even if all human activity were to completely cease, it would still have a very negligible affect on the overall amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. I remember hearing on the radio some time ago an environmentalist saying that the death of trees from the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation in British Columbia released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the entire transportation industry of Canada that year. Surprisingly, he did not see the futility in trying to fix this situation, but instead proposed a very expensive idea in which the dead trees would be quickly removed and replaced with new trees in order to help “fight climate change.”

It should be very plainly stated that CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a naturally occurring molecule. In fact, plants require CO2 for photosynthesis. Anti-CO2 environmentalists talk about “being green,” but if you want to see green, then we need CO2! CO2 is necessary for plant life, which is the staff of life for the rest of the planet, so its presence has an indirect beneficial effect for the entire earth. Warmer temperatures are helpful, too, and an increase in temperature is projected to be “beneficial to human health.”[4]

What if Global Warming is bad, though? And what if it is caused by the CO2? If you stop to think about it a moment, if greenhouse gases are really the problem when it comes to Global Warming, then really your very existence is a threat to the planet, since every time you exhale you expel CO2 and water vapor, two key greenhouse gases! While this would only be a miniscule contribution, it would nonetheless be true. But it should be noted that the Lord is seemingly not concerned about that, since his command to multiply and replenish the earth “remains in force” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

There is more data that shows the inconsistency of carbon dioxide as a cause for climate change. Scientific analysis shows that CO2 levels increase or decrease after an increase or decrease in temperature, not the other way around. This indicates that CO2 does not drive climate change, but it is actually the product of climate change.[7] Based on this data, it appears the anti-CO2 environmentalists have it backwards.

The temperature of our planet has been in fluctuation throughout its history. This is normal. In the middle ages, the earth experienced a warming period in which Vikings farmed Greenland.[8] This warm era in the earth’s history is associated with prosperity, wealth, and progress for mankind, not devastation.[9] Following this medieval warming period, a global cooling set in which lasted for hundreds of years. We are currently coming out of a long cooling phase in the earth’s temperature cycles.

Consider the above graph, which compares temperature, CO2 levels, and the Sun’s radiation. You will notice that during the post WWII era, when industrialization - and therefore CO2 levels - were likely at an all-time high, temperatures dropped. Between about 1945 and 1975, temperature and CO2 moved in opposite directions (on the graph)! That’s the opposite of what was supposed to happen if you think CO2 is the culprit. Temperatures dropped so much during this time of unprecedented industrialization, in fact, that there was fear that the earth was heading into another ice age. Some of the readers of this blog may themselves be old enough to remember the ice age scare of the 60’s and 70’s. Does any of this scare frenzy seem familiar to our own time?

The true source of Global Warming, that is, the thing that is making the earth warmer, appears to be – brace yourself – the Sun! The Sun is the proverbial “elephant in the room,” being unduly ignored in this issue. Fluctuation in the Sun’s radiation matches extremely well with the data compiled of temperature highs and lows in the past.

Perhaps the biggest problem with information about Global Warming is that it has become highly politicized (after all, scare tactics regarding it were popularized by a certain ex-vice president). The media has chosen the side of the apocalyptic, doom-filled view, and made it appear as though all credible scientists feel that way. But “Literally tens of thousands of scientists have signed the Leipzig, Heidelberg and Oregon declarations/statements/petitions protesting the abuse of the science and the politicised goings-on” surrounding this issue and the UN’s stance on it.[10]

In truth, the warming phenomenon that the earth is experiencing is a natural cyclical occurrence that people should not be alarmed about, least of all Latter-day Saints who enjoy a unique perspective on the future of the earth. We might as well enjoy the warm weather while it lasts, because it won’t last forever.

(Editor's Note: Can we retract the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize from the spin doctor of manmade global warming, Al Gore?)

[1] on Dec. 20, 2008.
[2] Prof. John Christy, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama, on The Great Global Warming Swindle documentary.
[3] on Dec. 18, 2008.
[4] on Dec. 18, 2008.
[5] on Dec. 18, 2008.
[6] Prof. John Christy, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama, on The Great Global Warming Swindle documentary.
[7] on Dec. 18, 2008.
[8] on Dec. 20, 2008.
[9] The Great Global Warming Swindle documentary.
[10] on Dec. 20, 2008.

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