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There's a mouthful of a word.

Perhaps we're aware of the term 'anthropogenic' to describe climate change?  The climate is changing - climate always does - the question remains, is man (anthropos) the cause (genesis)?

A lot of people say yes.  Some say no.

This guy says "maybe... some... but that's not really the issue."


h/t The Old Adam

I'm entirely unqualified to make any scientific adjudication, but I make two observations.  One is that the Kiwi presenter seems a really lovely guy.  Just lovely.  The other is that something like Professor Carter's position sounds psychologically and theologically very plausible.  It sounds like the kind of explanation in which fear and pride play the kind of role we know they do in people and in societies.

Well how might fear and pride lead to a view on anthropogenic climate change?

On the fear point - we love to conceive of our problems as anthropogenic because we find it intolerable that things just happen. If the economy goes down, show me the banker and let's make him pay.  If we get sick, show me the diet, exercise, medicine regime and I'll take back control.  Don't whatever you do tell me that economies just fail, or illness just happens, or volcanoes just erupt or climate just changes - that's way too frightening.  We'd even rather that the blame fell on us if it meant taking back some measure of control over this scary world.

And as technologies and affluence advance in certain parts of the world we become increasingly used to comfort and control.  And, ironically but demonstrably, we become increasingly fearful and so demanding of such comfort and control.  Fearful hearts need control - we need to be in charge of things, even things as impossible as the future!

On the pride point - we'd love our problems to be anthropogenic because then our solutions must, almost by definition, be similarly man focused.  We take back control of our destiny when we cast the problems of the world as lying in man's power.  And with renewed vigour we set off on our own salvation project.  The is the 'feel good factor' that Professor Carter speaks of.   There's the feel good factor of a works righteousness based on reducing my carbon footprint.  There's the solidarity of a global movement mobilising for change.  There's the sense of significance that comes from saving the planet - taking charge of our destiny.  These can legitimately be described as religious affections and they have a massive effect.

Now you may ask: Would fear and pride play so significant a role that the assured findings of the scientific community would be affected?  Well, again such mis-perception and mis-interpretation sounds theologically plausible to me.  If you've hung around this blog for long enough you'll know something of my deep suspicion of the fallen mind!

I raise this as a little thought on our human nature in the context of a debate that is, admittedly, way above my pay grade.  I'm sure you can shoot me down as a red-necked, anti-science, conspiracy theorist.  I'm just saying that I see Professor Carter's position as theologically very credible.  And I hope that counts for a lot among my reader here.

The desire to see our problems as anthropogenic is as old as Adam.  He thought nakedness and shame were the problem.  So he thought sewing fig leaves was the solution - simple human problem with an attainable human solution.  All the while his Real Problem was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.  But he didn't want to face his Real Problem (who was also his Only Solution).  So he hid.

And ever since, the race of Adam has continued to put ourselves at the centre.  We would love to be this world's problem, we really would.  But this world's problem is not us - it's Jesus who is coming on a day set by the Father and subject to nothing but His own gospel patience.  Be advised, our problem (and solution!) is in the highest heaven.


0 thoughts on “Anthropogenic?

  1. Otepoti

    "I hope that counts for a lot among my reader here."

    Modest you are, boyo!

    Otherwise, you nailed it, I think.

    (And we're all nice, here...)

  2. David

    When I read your piece 'What's our Problem' I immediately thought of the environmental movement - a kind of secular attempt to place humanity at the centre (albeit in a guilty way) of the universe again.

  3. Glen

    Hi Otepoti - too nice judging by what the Prof says!

    Hi David - Yes indeed, I dusted off 'What's the problem' because I had this video up my sleeve. Funny how it's usually the naturalistic scientist who accuses the Christian of being man-centred - Adam given dominion etc... The shoe's definitely on the other foot.

  4. Si

    Creation is subjected to futility, in bondage to decay because God said "cursed is the ground because of you [Adam]". However, despite it being because of the Man, it's still God's wrath and not anthropogenic.

    Why was it subject to frustration was in hope that it will be set free. Earthquakes, famines are the beginnings of birthpains and climate change is too. The solution to climate change is Man-made, by the other Man, the one that bore God's wrath for us. The one the rainbow (which tells us that the earth won't be flooded again) is aimed at.

    Climate change is general revelation proclaiming the gospel. To the perishing, it's the stench of death, whereas to those who are being saved, it should be the power of God, the promise of a new creation, a sign that the day-when-all-becomes-new is coming soon.

    Climate change/green things seems to me to be the new opiate of the masses - there's the hair shirt wearing, the asceticism, the idea that if we suffer, it'll be OK, Gaia would be happy. The Independent (which sits at the most alarmist end of the MSM) took it to a new level when it blamed Katrina (while rightly, yet ironically, condemning those who said it was only because the city was the new Sodom) on all the oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico nearby. Gaia has become god and she is wrathful and needs to be appeased by our efforts. Works-righteousness doesn't save!

    Cutting emissions, trying to reduce population (sadly through abortion, rather than stopping our attempts to grasp immortality by living longer - in the West, even with the recent upsurge in birth rates, we're only just replacing population, because people are living longer - economically, Japan is scuppered in about 5 years as there is too big a pension bill for the workforce to provide and Western Europe and the US are heading there soon), etc is like King Cnut trying to hold back the tide (he did it to show that his kingly powers were limited, whereas we are too naive to that as a culture - we can do anything!). We can do nothing to stop what's already set in motion. We can relieve suffering caused because of it, help out those most affected by the change, but our hair shirts won't do owt. That's what the video said, which was why I liked it so much.

  5. Si

    I 'stole' it off a Max McClean audio Bible sample, where he recites Genesis 1-9 dramatically (there's lights and stuff that you can't here, plus wind, rain, thunder sound effects) and then discusses the passage. He explains that the prefix rain- isn't there. The Hebrew just says bow.

    Climate change is all predicted by computers, using the program that predicts the weather, tells meterologists that summers are going to be good for BBQs (though it's nice now, in autumn). We don't have a clue what will happen. Everything is pinned to climate change - hot, dry summers; cool, wet ones; average ones; floods; hurricanes (one season had the most since records began and 'experts' said that climate change would mean more hurricanes - next season had fewer than average and they said that climate change would mean more variation between hurricane seasons...); I even saw an article blaming the Asian Tsunami on climate change, because climate change would mean more techtonic activity (as someone with a fair amount of science, this looks like baloney).

    We get enough apocalyptic scaremongering from the more extreme end of American right-wing dispensationalism. We don't need the doom and gloom from the opposite end of the spectrum. Oddly the Independent has been silent recently on this - a few years ago, at least once a week, the front page was climate change doom-mongering.

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