Among members of the general public, and also in many corners of Christianity (including both evangelicalism broadly as well as the Canadian Reformed churches) there is much skepticism about global warming. This might be due to the democratization of knowledge, in which everyone has (or thinks they have) access to all the same information, and in which one can find apparently eminent proponents of every possible point of view. Scientists, specifically, are viewed by the public in a curiously bipolar way: awe and amazement on the one hand and disdain and dismissal on the other. Medical science, with its knowledge and techniques, is held in high esteem especially by those in need of diagnosis or treatment for themselves or their loved ones. Simultaneously, public immunization programmes (or sunscreen) are vilified by many as being conspiratorial, socialistic, and dangerous, especially if one can find a website authored by a “PhD” or “MD” highlighting the risks.
On global warming, everyone is an expert. One says, “Al Gore sure is smart; we’re doomed!” The other counters, “It was cold this summer; global warming is a hoax.” Instead of joining either bandwagon, the reformed academic ought to weigh evidence carefully. Even within our community there are scientists whose expertise we can tap, brothers and sisters whom we can trust, who are familiar with the scientific literature and who do not rely on the popular press. We are not all experts on every topic, but just as we expect ministers to know the most about Scripture, and farmers about agriculture, electricians about household wiring, practicing scientists can give leadership in interpreting scientific discoveries.
Since global warming is a culturally important topic, touching on issues from personal lifestyle to global politics, we present an article written for Reformed Academic by Rick Baartman, a physicist working at TRIUMF in Vancouver and a member of Maranatha Canadian Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. Rick served on the Brazil Mission Board (1992-1998), is a board member of the prison ministry M2W2, and also board member of the Geneva Society for Reformational Worldview Studies. He and his wife Sara have five adult children and three grandchildren. Rick has reviewed the primary scientific literature on global warming, and has put together a valuable popular piece which we invite our readers to engage fruitfully. It is available in our “collected articles” in the sidebar, entitled “A Global Warming Primer”. A direct link is here.