Chuck Colson, the former Watergate felon who is now a Baptist author and speaker, recently misrepresented evidence about global warming and even suggested that global cooling was occurring. Colson’s BreakPoint commentary on the topic last month was picked up by various other Christian media like the Christian Post.
Colson argued that “the Earth has been cooling since at least 2003 and arguably since 1998.” However, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, the year 2008 tied as the eighth-hottest year on record. The hottest year was actually 2005, and eight of the hottest 10 years have been since 2000. The current year is already shaping up to continue this warming trend.
Colson claimed that “[t]hose of us shivering this winter have been asking” when people will realize the earth is cooling. Although one region of the globe might be experiencing cooler temperatures, the only way to measure global warming or cooling is to consider the temperatures of the entire globe over time.
Colson quoted the chairman of the International Geological Congress to support his contention that the earth has stopped warming, even though the individual is a geologist and not a climatologist. Additionally, the organization Colson mentioned is sponsored by oil companies like Shell, Petro-Canada, Maersk Oil, StatoilHydro and Saudi Aramco.
Colson ended his piece by encouraging individuals to consider a booklet produced by the Acton Institute, which has received funding from ExxonMobil. The document makes inaccurate claims and relies on poor sources like the discredited Global Warming Petition Project.
Ironically, Colson argues in his piece that the problem is that the media is not giving all of the facts and is providing misinformation. It is because of such flaws he sees in the reporting on global warming that he encourages Christians to read the Acton Institute’s report and consider the claims he made in the commentary.
“What is certain is that we are not getting anything resembling a complete presentation of the facts,” Colson argued. “The media reports the dire claims, and by the time the claims have been debunked, they have already moved onto the next one.”
Colson is not the only Baptist leader claiming that global cooling is occurring. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has repeatedly claimed that the earth is cooling.
“It’s my obligation to let you know that the world is getting colder, despite of all the hot air that’s being poured forth by Al Gore,” Land declared during a recent broadcast of his program.
Quoting from a Washington Times column co-authored by a botanist and a retired businessman, Land claimed that global temperatures “peaked in 1998” and the earth “entered a cooling phase” in 2007. Yet, the NOAA’s NCDC found that 2005 was actually hotter than 1998, and that 2007 and 2008 were among the top 10 hottest years. The column Land read warned about an ice age the two authors believe is coming. The opinion piece by the non-climatologists was Land’s only source for his claim that the earth is cooling that he used during the show.
In previous broadcasts of his radio program, Land made other mistakes when discussing environmental issues. He misrepresented scientific information by using data for the United States to make incorrect claims about the temperatures of the entire globe. Land has also used unreliable and discredited sources to support his claims of global cooling, and inaccurately claimed that there were no oil leaks as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
Last year, the Baptist Center for Ethics launched TheGreenBible.org, which is a warehouse of information on the biblical mandate to care for the environment—and what people of faith can and should do. The site includes numerous articles, columns and videos. Additionally, BCE executive director Robert Parham introduced Gore at a luncheon during the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant in Atlanta in January 2008 and gave Gore a plaque honoring him as the 2007 Baptist of the Year.
Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor for EthicsDaily.com.