Baptist Leader Misstates Environmental Data


Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, recently made inaccurate claims that the earth is cooling instead of warming. As he made his claims during the Nov. 22 broadcast of his radio program "Richard Land Live!," Land mocked Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore and others who warn of the dangers of climate change.

However, the data that Land used to support his claims was about cooling in the United States—not across the entire planet. To measure global warming, scientists focus on the temperatures of the entire globe and not just the temperatures of one region.

During the first hour of the broadcast, Land contended that the earth was getting cooler and relied on claims made in a Washington Times column. Land read the column and offered his own commentary on the claims.

Land argued that "the case for global warming is getting thinner and thinner and thinner." He also criticized the "silliness of the Al Gores of the world" and dismissed those who claim the earth is getting warmer as "environmental loons" and "environmental pinheads."

Land returned to his critique of global warming research in the third hour of his program, when he once again read the Washington Times column and added additional commentary.

"It's been 13 years since the globe got any warmer," Land claimed. "The facts are that the globe stopped getting warmer in 1995."

"The climate is getting cooler," Land added.

Land also attacked global warming research as "pseudo-science" that should be taken with "not a grain of salt, but a peck of salt."

The problem with Land's arguments, however, is that the data used in the Washington Times column was only about U.S. temperatures, not global ones. Although the United States saw a cooler October than normal, the global averages demonstrated that global warming remains a measurable phenomenon.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center, October was the second hottest October on record globally. Additionally, 2008 through October is currently the ninth hottest year on record globally. The NOAA's NCDC claims to be the world's largest archive of climate data and is the same source that provided the U.S. data used in the Washington Times piece and by Land.

Additionally, Land inaccurately claimed that the earth has not warmed any since 1995. According to the NOAA's NCDC, 1995 was the tenth hottest year on record globally, with all nine hotter years occurring since then. Thus, nine of the twelve years since 1995 have actually been hotter than 1995. The hottest year was 2005, with 2007 coming in as the fifth hottest year. Seven of the eight hottest years on record have occurred since 2000.

The Washington Times piece, which Land read twice during his program, includes numerous insults to Gore and others who warn about the dangers of global warming. Global warming research is called "voodoo" and "ghost stories," and scientists are accused of "[s]aying silly things and asserting goofy claims" and letting out a "howl at the moon."

During the program, Land also referred his listeners to an article by David Ridenour that attacked environmental policy proposals. Ridenour is a vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, which has received more than $300,000 in funding from ExxonMobil.

This is not the first time Land has offered inaccurate environmental claims and mocked those who warn about the dangers of global warming. Earlier this year, Land falsely claimed that the earth was cooling and made animal noises as he attacked Gore. Land also inaccurately claimed recently that there were no oil leaks as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Earlier this year, the Baptist Center for Ethics launched TheGreenBible.org, which is a warehouse of information on the biblical mandate to care for the environment—and what people of faith can and should do. The site includes numerous articles, columns and videos.

Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor to EthicsDaily.com.

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Tags: Brian Kaylor, Climate Change, Environment, SBC