Enduring the Heat
By: Jim Virkler
Our somewhat warmer 2016 Northern Illinois winter and spring may call attention to the issue of climate change in a few residents’ minds. But as I write, the southwestern United States bakes in oppressive, record-breaking heat. As usual, the anthropogenic climate change subject receives much attention at such times. Imagine daytime temperatures of 115º to 120ºF. Triple digits are common across several states, accompanied by the scourge of fire. This heat wave is caused by a “heat dome.” Air is trapped by the upper atmosphere in one location and circulates within the dome like a convection current in an oven.
Many fascinating short and long term events enrich our climate. These events are minimally related to the popular current obsession with anthropogenic climate change. A few years ago our severely frigid winter was attributed to a cycle called the arctic oscillation (AO). Some poked fun at global warming enthusiasm after living through the effects of that year’s AO, but their enthusiasm may have waned when the next heat wave occurred. Heat domes and arctic oscillations are but two examples of numerous local and global weather phenomena. Weather researchers have identified the features of our complex, dynamic planetary weather and climate systems in great detail. Our current post’s purpose is to remind readers that unusual weather trends and cycles have been noted for thousands of years. The cycles have contributed more to human enrichment than to human detriment. Our wondrous planet is a place for humans to thrive.
The current southwestern heat wave will wind down in a few days. A relatively recent heat/drought event occurred in the US during the decade of the 1930s. It is remembered as historically momentous. The 1930s ushered in a decade of unprecedented heat and drought over much of the country. It persisted for years and was known as the “Dust Bowl” event. 1930, 1934, and 1936 were particularly hot and dry. Wikipedia states “The 1930s are remembered as the driest and warmest decade for the US and the summer of 1936 was the most widespread and destructive heat wave to occur in the Americas in centuries.” The current obsession with climate change pales in significance.
Cutting through the concern about anthropocentric climate change, aka global warming, is a distressing fact. Far more people on this planet die of cold weather than of warm weather. In 2015 the British journal The Lancet “analyzed data on more than 75 million deaths between 1985 and 2012. Of those, 5.4 million deaths were related to cold, while 311,000 were related to heat.”
The current discussion about anthropogenic climate change owing to increased CO2 release from consumption of fossil fuels provides more stress for contemporary earth residents than many other causes for concern. Opinion and emotion generated from this issue ranges across an exceedingly broad spectrum. The solutions offered extend from indifference to militant activism and from offering no remedial funding to truly budget busting remedial funding. This response occurs in the face of considerable uncertainty concerning our complex natural climate system. The prediction of human disaster based upon the CO2 factor alone in light of thousands of interacting climate subsystems, is an example of the fallacy of oversimplified cause, also known as the fallacy of the single cause. The issue is far from settled science, notwithstanding the strident claim that the science is settled.
We have offered several dozen blog posts on this issue, especially in 2012. It is a politically charged subject, generating more heat than light. Linked below are three previous posts which address some of the complex issues.
Our secular and religious cultures have produced diverse analyses of civilization’s most significant problems. Many of these relate to dire warnings of environmental disasters, past, present, and future. We do not minimize such warnings; neither do we overstress their importance. Either approach locates reality in an out-of-balance fashion. Our interpretation of Romans 8:22-25 leans away from characterizing our creation as primarily “broken.” Verse 22 states “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Some interpreters see a fallen physical creation in this verse. We envision the entire epistle of Romans including verse 22 in relation to man’s spiritual redemption—God’s provision of salvation through Jesus Christ and his plan of righteousness for humanity. In terms of God’s plan for spiritual wholeness, we have presented our planet’s physical venue as a beautiful divine setting for achievement of God’s ultimate goals for mankind. In this light we submitted this post:
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Jim Virkler, a retired New Jersey public school science educator, now devotes his time investigating the harmony of scientific discoveries and Christian faith. He and his wife, Eleanor, now reside in the mid-west near their children and grandchildren.