200+ US evangelical scientists call on Congress to act on climate change.  This is what they say in the opening paragraph

As evangelical scientists and academics, we understand climate change is real and action is urgently needed. All of God’s Creation – humans and our environment – is groaning under the weight of our uncontrolled use of fossil fuels, bringing on a warming planet, melting ice, and rising seas. The negative consequences and burdens of a changing climate will fall disproportionately on those whom Jesus called “the least of these”: the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed. Our nation has entrusted you with political power; we plead with you to lead on this issue and enact policies this year that will protect our climate and help us all to be better stewards of Creation.

Here is a copy of the full letter together with the list of signatories, which includes very prominent climate scientists, such as Tom Ackerman and Katherine Hayhoe.

Hayhoe’s work has been shared here before (see blog post An Evangelical Climate Scientist), but Ackerman has also written and spoken on his perspective as a climate scientist and an evangelical Christian (see webpage).  His views are outlined in the paper

T. Ackerman. Global Warming: Scientific Basis and Christian Responses. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 59, 250-264, 2007.

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sacks

In the previous post we looked at Rowan Williams’ contributions to the Science Faith discussion as Archbishop of Canterbury.  In this post we draw attention to the contributions of another major faith leader in the UK, that of Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.  He also happens to be stepping down from his role this year and so it seems appropriate to draw attention to some of his interactions on these issues.

Here is a nice little video of Sacks interviewing three prominent non-believing scientists (including Richard Dawkins) to see if they would agree that Science and Faith can have some kind of partnership.

He has recently published a book on the subject  (paperback came out in 2012): The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning.  This looks like an interesting and worthwhile read that I hope to get around to at some point.

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In relation to the book here are also a link to an audio of a lecture given at Princeton, a recording of a conversation with Norman Swan, and a video recording of a conversation with Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.

Rowan_WilliamsPhoto credit: Marcin Mazur

As Dr. Rowan Williams steps down as Archbishop of Canterbury it worth drawing attention to his reflections and contributions to Science and Faith interactions/issues during his time as Archbishop.  The Archbishop of Canterbury website is very good and contains a database of all Rowan Williams’ sermons, talks, interviews, publications etc during his time in the job.  There really is a wealth of useful material here.  Helpfully the contributions have been tagged according to category and so we can pull up all those that relate to Science, see link below:

http://rowanwilliams.archbishopofcanterbury.org/tags.php?action=view&id=209

Rowan Williams’ dialogue with Richard Dawkins can be found here, but for me the highlight is this excellent lecture and the question and answer session that followed.  Much to ponder, here are some quotes:

“Scientific research seeks to identify the causes of particular phenomena and clusters of phenomena, including of course that remarkable cluster of phenomena which is the observable universe as we now know it. Faith states, not as a matter of explanation but as matter of trust, that any form of energy whatsoever, at any stage of the history of the universe, depends upon the free initiative of God.

“religious faith can and ought to support and encourage science: science as a practice, with an impressive morality and spirituality, a commendation of attention and humility, the setting aside of self very frequently in the context of addressing the most painful vulnerabilities of the human world; a practice that trains selfless, even contemplative approaches to the world.”

Note that materials related to Rowan Williams are now stored on an archive site as Justin Webly takes over as Archbishop.

Dr. Rowan Williams (104th Archbishop of Canterbury)

Justin Welby (soon to be (current!) Archbishop of Canterbury)

The sinking bubbles in Guinness and stouts in general have intrigued drinkers and scientists alike.  Research into this phenomena has been highlighted before on this blog (post linked here).  The latest research published in arxiv (academic paper linked here) demonstrates the importance of the shape of the glass in generating the fluid circulation necessary for the creation of the sinking bubbles.  Numerical simulations and experimentation show that the standard pint glass which has a narrower base cause the falling bubble effect whereas a glass that has a larger base does not i.e. results in rising bubbles.  Essentially the small (nitrogen, as opposed to carbon dioxide used in most beers) bubbles are being carried along by the local fluid motion in the glass and the shape of the glass influences the circulation of the beer as it is poured determining a sinking or rising bubble effect.  More explanation is provided in a BBC news article here.

Well today sees Rick Santorum finally calling an end to his bid to become the Republican nomination for US president. I’ve been meaning to blog about his views on climate change for a while so hear goes.  Santorum went further than all the Republican candidates who ran for the presidental nomination, the vast majority have stated that the science on climate change is unsettled.  However, Satorum goes further and says climate change is “an absolute travesty of scientific research …”.  Indeed he has called Obama’s theology phony and not based on the bible because he sides with radical environmentalists!  For reporting on this Bible-tinged climate change denial see this article.

Unfortunately the Christian theology of “dominion” has and still is contributing to environmental degradation.  You can read my own views on the use of dominion in Genesis 1 here.  The Bible actually says is that the Earth is not ours to use and misuse as we please, but

“The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1)

According to recent polls evangelical Christians are the least likely to agree that humans play a role in climate change and also the most likely to indicate that there is no scientific proof that climate change exists.  Yet, some scientists and Christians are suggesting that this has nothing to do with theology, and more to do with political science.  Environmental issues are often seen as liberal agenda items and many conservative information sources present climate change as a theory rather than scientific fact.  A recent study stated that views were strongly partisan, with 78% of Democrats believing in climate change and only 47% of Republicans.  Although, I have heard of a study that shows that the carbon footprints of Democrats and Republicans are no different, in other words whatever you believe people are not doing anything about it! Incidentally I also heard that this is true of climate scientist themselves who have the highest carbon footprints of any discipline.

A major international conference (Planet Under Pressure) is currently underway in London.  The conference has commissioned this 3 minute film, a journey through the last 250 years of history charting the growth of humanity and how we are transforming the planet.

An accompanying website www.anthropocene.info seems to have a very good collection of resources on this topic.

Here is a really neat film illustrating the amazing surface flow patterns of the oceans.  The footage is generated from simulations of a NASA ocean circulation model.  Eddy swirls and current flow lines are beautifully visualized (some have noted a similarity to van Gogh’s Starry Night).  The most striking patterns of the global ocean circulation include the Gulf Stream, Agulhas rings, and the Kuroshio Current.