Posted by: Honest ABE | February 10, 2010

An Atheist’s View of Global Warming

Over the last few years I’ve noticed quite a few similarities between the arguments and logical errors used by global warming advocates and those used by believers in religious debates. I’d like to discuss some of these similarities, and, despite the title, I don’t intend to discuss religion to any excessive detail nor offend any people of faith who may be reading (except perhaps of the green variety). My main goal is simply to highlight some of the fundamental errors in the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) belief system as seen through the lens of my atheism.

The most basic tenet of AGW is that correlation must equal causation – because carbon dioxide has increased at the same time temperature has increased then one must be causing the other. Unfortunately, correlation has never and can never prove causation – the only way to establish causation with regards to global warming would be to take a few identical planets, alter their CO² levels and then measure the effects. This is clearly beyond our current means and since such a scientific experiment is not possible, the AGW hypothesis cannot be disproved which makes it completely at odds with the scientific method.

Since this belief is obviously unscientific in nature then what arguments are used to promote it? Of course, there is the aforementioned assumption that correlation equals causation, that because CO² has increased on the same climatically insignificant timescale that temperature has risen that it must be due to our emissions – even though temperatures have fallen or remained steady for several periods during this past century. This is where I apply Occam’s razor, a favorite of atheists, which states that the simplest explanation is most likely to be true, and I ask myself if the numerous cases of measurement error, assorted human biases, oceanic and solar cycles are a better explanation for what we’ve seen or are our CO² emissions, which are only 3-4% of what nature emits each year, to a gas that makes up only 0.038% of our atmosphere, meaning 0.0000152% of the CO² is due to our activities, a more likely hypothesis?

Of course not.

That’s why they have go on wild hypothetical tangents like how CO² will increase water vapor, which will heat up the Earth, causing more CO² to be released and then the world turns into The Day After Tomorrow. I find this Death Star chain-reaction scenario to be quite interesting since CO² levels have been much higher, 10 times or more in the past, and they didn’t trigger any great apocalypse.

Perhaps they forgot to adequately factor in that increasing water vapor might have a cooling effect with all those extra clouds reflecting the sunlight back into space.

This all naturally leads us to Pascal’s Wager, often used in religious debates, which basically states, that you have nothing to lose by believing in God, but everything to lose if you don’t. AGW advocates, and environmentalists in general, often promote this view, but without fail they don’t take into account the real risk of AGW, which is quite low in my opinion, and the real costs of implementing the proposed solutions to that imaginary problem, which are quite high.

Perhaps DDT is the one of the best examples, while the WHO finally lifted the ban, the rush to ban the chemical caused the genocide of over 100 million people. The eco-genocide, “eco” for both economy and ecology, that AGW policies will inflict on us will certainly be worse than anything a degree of warming will do to us.

Finally, after all those arguments are exhausted, AGW advocates will inevitably rely on appeals to authority (scientists) and popularity (“consensus”) – these are both logical fallacies. In religious terms, people will often rely on the Bible, Koran, or other religious texts, and the fact that more people are religious than not. Fine, people are welcome to their faith and it does no good to argue over it – the problems occur when one group decides that their faith is absolute in its authority and everyone else must bend and lose their lives in service to that religion.

Regarding the religion of global warming; this must stop.

Unfortunately, due to confirmation bias, it is quite difficult for people to change their mind, which is why some scientists hold onto flimsy theories and why propaganda, the initial blitz on the public mind, is so very effective. It took me many years to go from a believer, to an agnostic, and finally to an atheist. The first step, agnosticism (without knowledge), is to admit we don’t really know whether we are warming the globe or not, and we are slowly but surely taking this step right now. The real challenge, and the next step, is one of courage, where we admit that while we don’t know for sure, the evidence simply isn’t there and we won’t be scared into believing something by those who want to exercise power over our lives and minds.

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Responses

  1. I can’t say that we are or are not causing global warming. I am not a scientist. But I will say that green energy is a good way for us to get out from under the oil giants, and to be energy independent. Global Warming set aside, you have to see that we are raping the planet. Taking and taking but never giving back. How long can this go on before we run out of places to pillage?
    A person can be eco friendly with out being religious about it… Or do you think we have the right to do as we please, with no regard to our fellow earthling or the future of mankind?

  2. I fully agree that we need to get off foreign oil and we will definitely have to do that eventually. The problem is that AGW is simply being used as an excuse for mindless taxation and regulation. We actually have enough coal to last us for hundreds of years – solar and wind just don’t have the capacity to compete with coal. Nuclear is actually our best option in a lot of ways, especially when we switch over to using thorium as a fuel source (cleaner, safer, and better in every way).

    We need realistic energy solutions – and demonizing coal and nuclear power will not get us there.

  3. Have you read about helium 3? I think that might be the ticket.

  4. No, I hadn’t heard of it, I looked it up briefly and it seems to be fairly rare? The nice thing about thorium is that it is very common, enough for everybody, nuclear reactors made with the stuff can’t meltdown and the byproducts can’t be used to create nuclear weapons.

  5. Helium 3 is abundant on the moon. There are talking about going there to get it.

  6. Well, it seems that we’d have to process hundreds of millions of tons of ore to do it. I suppose that may be possible in the future with robots and AI, but even the logistics of transport would be both dangerous and expensive.

    It sounds like it might be a good source of power for our space-based operations, but from what I’ve read it looks like thorium is more practical due to its abundance here on Earth.

  7. I apologize for this being off-topic, but I didn’t want to post this on your WP talk page, for obvious reasons. While I don’t work at Wikipedia, I do often lurk, and I recently noticed this (collapsed text, “Proposal” section) a few weeks ago:

    There’s only good solution here. Give the tools back to WMC and bar all the harassers per Verbal. We’ve already lost Kenosis, we cannot let the climate change articles fall to the “skeptics”. — 32.173.35.150 (talk) 23:09, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

    Give tools back to a guy who edit warred with people and then banned them? Including in climate change articles? Who are you exactly and were you being sarcastic? TheGoodLocust (talk) 23:15, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

    WMC notified us off-wiki that he was in trouble. Our forums have been watching and we are going to stop people like you from bothering him. Kenosis is already gone, we cannot lose another. — 32.173.243.1 (talk) 23:21, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

    Oddly prophetic, in my opinion, considering that you were banned two weeks later at the behest of exceedingly well-prepared accusers. Would you happen to know the URL of this “forum”? I’d be interested in knowing who else they plan on targeting.

    I know you’re not supposed to be reading anything like this, and I don’t want to get you in trouble, so please, for your own safety, print out the source for this page, burn it, bury the ashes, and then destroy your monitor before 2/0 sees this. – Rich (talk|contribs) 14:15, 19 February 2010

  8. Yes well it is pretty clear that 2/0 has an agenda. As far as I can tell my case is the only time where he slogged through my contribs for diffs to misrepresent and then unilaterally banned without going through the proper channels.

    It is too bad his real name isn’t on his profile because when they are I nearly inevitably find those names on their little facebook group.

    Sorry for the late reply though, I didn’t notice the comment and don’t get email notifications (I’m rather new to wordpress).

  9. I like this satire.

  10. Satire? I don’t recall writing any satire in this piece.


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