Readers write: June 23, 2014 issue

June 18, 2014 | Viewpoints

Informed scientists agree global warming is man-made

Stephen Kennel’s letter in the May 26 issue of Canadian Mennonite unwisely attacks editor Benner for suggesting Mennonites divest in fossil fuel industries. Benner is certainly correct in pronouncing the climate change problem urgent enough for us to try to reduce our carbon emissions.

Kennel points to the U.S. Senate Minority report on Climate Change of 2008, available on the internet, as a worthwhile source of information. That report is a collection of statements by scientists of all sorts who wish to voice objections to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conclusion that global warming is a significant threat and that it is generated by our industrial society. These statements are merely opinions by scientists whose expertise is not climate science and who have not submitted their conclusions to the rigors of peer-reviewed publication.

The American Geophysical Union in their 20 January 2009 issue of EOS, our professional newsletter, published results of a study designed to measure the strength of the consensus that global warming is significantly affected by human activity. Their invitation went to institutions that employ geoscientists of any stripe, and they received over 3000 responses. To the question of whether  global warming is man-made, 82% said “Yes.” The general public’s response to the same question according to a Gallup poll had only 58% agreement. The study found that the closer a scientist’s expertise is to climate change the more likely he/she is to agree, so that among scientists whose recent peer-reviewed publications were on climate change, 97% agreed that global warming is man-made. Thus the informed scientific consensus is almost complete.

So what about the 16 years without global warming that Kennel mentions? And what about this cold winter we just had? The vast U.S. network of  the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claims on its public internet offering that this past April was the 46th warmest April on record in the contiguous U.S., and that Canada may have been colder. No warming there. Nevertheless, this same April ties with that of 2010 for the warmest on record globally. The reason is that Siberia, for example , was unusually warm. We have to keep a global perspective in this debate.

I sympathize with Kennel that the only prominent  Americans interested in evidence-based decisions are Democrats, but that doesn’t  mean they’re wrong. I’m glad that Benner, independent of party, has also chosen to follow the hard science.

Rudy Wiens, Toronto
Rudy Wiens has a PhD in space physics and a 19-year career with a NASA satellite.

Reader’s commitment to BFC process ‘waning’

Being a Faith Church (BFC) 5 was a process to obtain specific responses from congregations on human sexuality. On the basis of this consultation at the local level, we were promised the Mennonite Church Canada Board would formulate a question that would inform assembly deliberations in July. Instead, we received BFC 5.1 (“Between horizons,” May 12, page 26). And in the “All ‘church’ is local” editorial on page 2 of the same issue, Dick Benner seeks to find a hopeful sign—the Board is drawing in local congregations—in BFC 5.1.

For this initiative to be truly local, the Board would need to permit diversity among congregations. Currently, this is not the case on issues related to human sexuality. The Board continues to bow to a subset of congregations that requires disciplinary action against other congregations that do not agree with it. To be local, a commitment to continued dialogue needs to replace calls for disciplinary action.

I had a strong commitment to the BFC process, but was disappointed in the decision in Vancouver to place the process in neutral for two years. With BFC 5.1, my enthusiasm has waned. I now see the BFC process as a nice, comfortable rocking chair. It gives me something to do, but it gets me nowhere.

Henry Rempel, Winnipeg

‘Pretty girl’ an inappropriate term for biblical reflection

Re: “Getting back on track,” May 12, page 37.

Although Young Voices co-editor Aaron Epp does say he went on a date with a woman, he uses the term “pretty girl” three times in his reflection.

This is problematic for two reasons. One, if an adult is trying to impress women because he/she is interested in dating them, the person should refer to them as women, as they are adults, not girls. Two, why the qualifier “pretty”? Why not intelligent, knowledgeable, well-read or interesting? These adjectives seem more pertinent to the issue of knowing the Bible well, more respectful and more important for building relationships.

Zoe Cressman, Winnipeg

Reader supports magazine’s ‘open policy’

After reading the May 12 issue of Canadian Mennonite, I want to write to say I disagree with several of the letters. I especially want you to know that there are many of us who appreciate what you are doing, your frankness, your willingness to show every side of an issue, your challenges to us all to think deeply and to risk thinking in new ways.

I do not agree that the magazine is going down the wrong path, nor do I feel irritated and alienated after reading it. I support your open policy. We do need to learn to listen to each other!

I really enjoy and always appreciate Young Voices.

We continue to pray for you and wish you well as you try to help us to be a faithful and caring church with an open mind.

Renata Klassen, Saskatoon

Arguments against same-sex relationships are ‘flimsy’ proof texts

Re: “Christians must continue to call all sins ‘sin,’” May 12, page 9.

Pastor Arthur Esau argues passionately that as a church we must have the courage of our convictions when it comes to naming lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered/queer (LGBTQ) relationships as sin. I want to challenge his thinking on several fronts:

• First, he argues that support for LGBTQ relationships is an act of politically correct acquiescence that puts us at risk of becoming friends with the world and enemies with God. I strongly disagree with this analysis. My support for LGBTQ relationships has nothing to do with winning points with “the world” and much to do with Christ’s vision of equality and respect. I fail to see how loving, same-sex relationships are anything other than a boon to our church and the world.

I’ve carefully considered the arguments of fellow Christians against same-sex relationships and I consider them flimsy. I view them as a series of proof-texted admonishments plucked from across many contexts and centuries, and tacked together to serve an agenda that is ultimately rooted in a fear.

• Second, I see these arguments over sexual dogma putting our faith community in much greater peril than any gay wedding or Pride parade. Just like the Pharisees two millennia ago, our dogmatic arguments drown out Christ’s clear call to a much larger mission: the pursuit of social and economic justice.

Until we make sure that everyone has adequate food, housing and water, why are we arguing about a handful of passages that some interpret as the definition of sexual morality? Until we’ve done everything in our power to end the wars that maim children and displace millions of refugees, why are we still debating over a few lines of Levitical Code?

If satanic powers truly are at work in the world, they couldn’t design a better diversion of the church’s energy than an interminable debate on sexual morals. We need to refocus on the heart of the gospels where Jesus clearly defines our mission as a church. Love one another, love your enemies, feed the hungry, pursue peace. These are our clear, unequivocal instructions.

The greatest sins of our time are our greed and lust for power that fuel war and poverty. Those are sins that we must name and uproot from everyone’s hearts—and it certainly will not make us many friends in this world. This is the mission we must carry out together.

Scott Morton Ninomiya,
St. John’s, N.L.

Nostalgia and ‘cutting edge’ both miss the musical point

Re: “The great music debate,” May 12, page 34.

I was raised in the Mennonite church until I left at the age of 17. I became a Christian at age 19 and joined a non-denominational church.

While I hear the opinions expressed in this Young Voices article, I would point out that some of the friends of my childhood who continue to embrace hymns sung in traditional ways are also those who embrace and enjoy the culture of the Mennonite church, but do not necessarily profess a faith or devotion to Jesus.

This may seem like a harsh critique, but when nostalgia or culture is just as much of a motivator as being “cutting edge,” we’re still missing the point that musical worship is supposed to be about Jesus.

Corrie Vander Ploeg
(online comment)

Altruistic young person ‘taken in by propaganda’

Re: “A constant, terrifying threat,” May 26, page 36.

While I do not dispute Chloe Bergen’s description of the injustice done to Palestinian families, I must challenge her view of the history of the region. Israel is a the result of the Holocaust in Europe. The world chose to ignore the plight of the Jews of Europe from the rise of Nazism onward. Second World War death-camp survivors came home to find their families and their communities annihilated.

When the infant State of Israel was attacked by 13 Arab nations in 1948, there was no wailing about the unfairness of it. The Palestinians who became refugees were victims of propaganda, and were told they would be killed if they stayed. In fact, the Arabs who stayed  are citizens of Israel with full rights.

While Bergen is not the first altruistic young person to be taken in by propaganda, finding a long-term solution to the problems there requires a balanced and truthful accounting of what happened in the past.

George Satory, Cambridge, Ont. George Satory is a member of Wanner Mennonite Church, Cambridge.

--Posted June 18, 2014

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Regarding Rudy Wiens response to my letter Re: “It’s time to divest” editorial, April 28.

To begin with, there is an erroneous statement in the second paragraph of Dr. Wiens’ letter, which states (regarding the 650 other scientists in the American Senate Minority Report ), “These statements are merely opinions by scientists whose expertise is not climate science and who have not submitted their conclusions to the rigors of peer-reviewed publication”. Hundreds of the scientists named in the Senate Minority Report are active in climate science and have published peer reviewed papers in climate related fields. Foremost of these scientists is NASA’s Dr. Roy Spencer who maintains the RSS (remote sensing system) satellite Global temperature data set for NASA at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (along with Dr John R. Christy).

I find it unfortunate that Dr. Weins did not examine this senate report, or research the scientist’s names that I mentioned in my letter. One of the world’s foremost climate experts I mentioned was M.I.T.’s Dr Richard Lindzen. In Dr. Lindzens Mannheim lecture on the 10th of April 2014 he outlines the most recent Climate Science and clearly addresses the fallacies in the IPCC’s statements on global warming. You can watch this lecture on youtube (link).

The last line of paragraph three speaks of consensus; however consensus has no standing in science. When Albert Einstein was confronted with “100 Authors Against Einstein” regarding his theory of relativity, he responded “Why 100 authors? If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!”

Paragraph three also states that “97% agreed that global warming is man-made”, this 97% number has no basis in science and is a media creation that has acquired a life of its own. When Psychologist Stephan Lewandosky et. al. (including John Cook and Mike Marriott) attempted to confirm this 97% number they published a biased paper full of statistical errors and the paper was retracted.

Regarding Dr. Weins’ fourth paragraph comment “16 years without global warming” etc. As of this date there is no published peer-reviewed science or experimental data that has determined what percentage of the recent warming is man made, and what percentage is natural variability. I would like to emphasize that the only place catastrophic human-made global warming exists is in the speculative world of global climate models. This is important: the only place catastrophic man made global warming exists is in global climate models. Climate models do not do science, they only express a hypothesis. The current 16 year stop in global warming invalidates climate models and puts into question the models assumptions regarding CO2’s role as a green house gas, and climate sensitivity! This is essentially the message of Dr. Spencer, Dr. Lindzen, Dr. Judithy Curry and many more scientists actively engaged in climate research science.

Regarding the last paragraph. The human made global warming narrative is a political narrative of fear, fear of droughts, fear of flooding, fear of hurricanes, fear of tornado’s, fear of rising seas, fear of acidic oceans, fear of melting ice caps etc. etc., this narrative of fear is being used for political or monetary gain to direct us to some one or some solution that will save us and make us feel safe. Jesus of Nazareth never used fear as a tool of teaching or a method for disseminating his message.

I would invite Dr. Weins to engage the aforementioned scientists like Dr. Roy Spencer or Dr. Judith Curry directly regarding the current state of climate science. These scientists and their science can be directly questioned as they are accessible via their science blogs.

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