Earth Day and the Signing of the Paris Agreement

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Date:   April 21, 2016

Host:   Jim Schneider

Guest: Dr. E. Calvin Beisner

Listen:   MP3 ​​| Order

Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day. On that day, the U.S. and other nations are set to sign the Paris Climate Agreement in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations. The agreement is open to signatures until April 21, 2017.

Joining Jim to discuss this and other related issues was Dr. E. Calvin Beisner. Dr. Beisner is the founder and national spokesman for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He has taught theology, apologetics, ethics, church history, economics and other disciplines. He has written four books on population, resources, economics, and the environment; eight other books, contributions to over 30 books and hundreds of articles. He has testified as an expert witness on the ethics and economics of climate policy before congressional committees and lectured for churches, schools, colleges, seminaries and conferences around North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

The Paris Agreement (Treaty) is a collection of nationally determined contributions that have been made by about 180 nations. These are their commitments (with no legal enforcement mechanism) to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions or slow their increase over the next several decades in order to slow or stop global warming. That, however, assumes that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the primary cause of recent global warming. That notion, however, is not well supported by the empirical evidence.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s signature to the agreement is merely symbolic. It’s unofficial because only the president can commit America to a treaty and only after Senate ratification. However, that doesn’t mean that our government won’t do all it can to get our nation to comply.

The agreement needs at least 55 parties for ratification. Dr. Beisner believes the U.N. will easily get that number because most of the nations that will be signing the agreement are developing countries that are not already heavily industrialized. This means they need to make very little commitment in terms of either cutting down or slowing the growth of carbon dioxide emissions.

According to Dr. Beisner, if we did meet our commitment to the agreement, the result in terms of change in global average temperature would be less than three-hundredths of a degree Celsius at the end of this century. In addition, we could eliminate all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and all carbon dioxide emissions from all other industrialized nations (in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and the total impact on global average temperature by the end of this century would only be about .17 of a degree Celsius.

That’s important because in this accord among these nations, the goal is to keep the average temperature of the earth from rising 2 degrees Celsius over the next two decades.

Dr. Beisner noted that we’ve seen an increase of about a .8-.9 of a degree Celsius increase in global average temperature since about 1880. The U.N. is basically saying that we need to keep an additional 1.1-1.2 degrees Celsius increase from happening. We’ve never seen that rapid an increase in global average temperature and he feels we won’t because the U.N. is going on computer models that on average, predict 2 to 3 times as much warming as is actually observed.

Jim also has Dr. Beisner comment on an interfaith climate change statement signed by about 270 religious leaders, the Bible’s view regarding the environment, how such agreements would trap people into poverty, the possibility of civil action to be taken against so-called ‘climate change deniers’ and more.

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