Page 5 - Fall_2016
P. 5

PAGE 5  50 YEAR CLUB NEWSLETTER                                                           VOLUME 7 ISSUE 3

Scientific/Technical and Moral Aspects of Climate Change

Every year at the time of the reunion the 50 Year Club sponsors a
lecture discussion of a timely topic. This year John Glaser ‘66, an
environmental research scientist was the speaker.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis has called fellow Christians to be-
come “Custodians of Creation” and offered the religious case for
undertaking a strong focus on climate change. His dire warning
relating the catastrophic consequences of global climate change
argued that respect for the “beauty of nature and the grandeur of
the cosmos” is a basic Christian value. Failure to care for the plan-
et leads to apocalyptic consequences. The pope also said that we
must “Safeguard Creation because if we destroy Creation, Creation
will destroy us! Never forget this!”

Basing his environmental theory on the creation story in Genesis,        John Glaser ‘66
the pope noted that God created the world, declared it “good,” and
charged humanity with its care. The pope declared “Creation is not
a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the
property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that
God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the bene-
fit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.” He reflected
that humanity’s destruction of the planet is a sinful act, a form of
self-idolatry.

Climate is the aver age weather exper ienced at a given point on the globe at a specific time of the year and has
shown a long periodicity typically 30 years. Weather can change significantly from day to day but generally the climate
is expected to remain relatively constant. If climate doesn’t remain constant then we call it climate change. The key ques-
tion driving this consideration is what is significant change? The answer depends on an understanding of the underlying
level of climate variability. It is critical to understand the difference between climate change and climate variability.

Climate change is an alter ation of global or r egional climate patter ns. In par ticular , a change appar ent fr om the
mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced
by the use of fossil fuels.

Climate change is a “change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended pe-
riod of time.” The change in climate refers to a variability, found in average weather conditions or average change across
a longer time period. Factors such as greenhouse gases, biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by
Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions contribute to climate change. Global warming refers to human activities
that have been attributed as significant contributors to recent climate change. A greenhouse effect is found where energy
enters often as light and absorbed as heat thereby increasing the heat within the system. The causative agent(s) involved
in this process are referred to as greenhouse gases (GHGs). Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons
and tropospheric ozone are recognized as GHGs for their roles as absorbers of infrared radiation which is part of sun-
light.

Temperature is a measure of the average energy of molecular motion in a sample of matter. The sum of molecular mo-
tions’ energies is referred to as the “thermal energy” of the sample. The increased concentration of GHGs in the atmos-
phere leads to a greater absorption of energy in the infrared portion of the solar spectrum. The absorbed energy manifests
itself through the greater amount of heat contained in the atmosphere which affects the weather systems.

The effects of climate change are far reaching ranging from significant changes to the weather patterns, leading to
drought in some areas whereas others must contend with floods and the effects of sea rise. It has been established
through medical studies that climate change will strongly affect human health and disease. These effects are expected to
be accentuated in high population centers and areas where health care is not sufficient for the need.

Thus, it is important for each Christian to prayerfully consider the information concerning climate change and develop an
understanding of its consequences. Each of us must come to terms about our contribution to society’s understanding and
reaction to the risks and threats accompanying this global phenomenon. We can begin to develop a knowledge base from
a 2014 publication: Climate Change: Evidence and Choices of the US National Academy of Science and the Royal Soci-
ety of London to direct our inquiry.
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10