Matthew Henry John Bartlett

+64 27 211 3455
email me

Thursday 06 October, 02005

by Matthew Bartlett @ 7:35 am

In The Idea of a Local Economy, Wendell Berry said:

A change of heart or of values without a practice is only another pointless luxury of a passively consumptive way of life.

George Monbiot on climate change [via w-berry list]

29 Responses to “”

  1. Ben Hoyt says:

    Your link to the Berry article is missing a quote (“) at the start of its href. BTW, I tried to send you an email just before, and it bounced—just down temporarily?

  2. Deborah says:

    This makes me think of $50 Che Guevara t-shirts.

  3. jono says:

    Hey matt sorry couldn’t make it for coffee left my phaoney at homey. Interesting read regarding #2.

  4. Thanks Ben – & yep it was down for a bit.

    No wozzies Jono sumothertime.

  5. the richdawg says:

    Some have said that climate change maketh the world go ’round. I would be loth to disagree.

  6. Matthew Baird says:

    What I find is strange, is that there is a significant number of Reformed people who will steadfastly ignore climate change. They even get offended, touting it as Humanist pseudo-science bent on inflating our own sence of what we can do. I have had the ‘exchanging the truth for a lie…” Paul passage quoted at me -ie- nonChristian scientists are never right about anything on purpose, only occasionally and only then by accident, and also the post flood ‘summer winter day and night shall not cease…’ text also. Thus summarises the arguement – man is too insignificant to ruin the earth, and even if something bad happens we will let God keep things going ok, because global climates have been changing for centuries and things are still going OK.

    Boy I got pretty angry at that sort of arguing. Personally I see it as the height of arrogance to NOT realise just how truely destructive we are.

    Heck. Later on in a discussion I brought up CFC’s and how if emissions hadn’t been cut way back when, we would have an unlivably small ozone hole by this very day. I mentioned photographs taken from space monitoring the growth (and now the slow shrinking) of this hole, and how its chemistry is well studied and understood. So I said, these chemicals arent natural, we made them. Look what they did. And the reply: They are wrong, ethier the ozone hole is natural and has nothing to do with CFC’s or they made that up too. I pity that person’s children at the beach.

    Anyhoo, with attitudes like that that I have seen, no wonder we are in a bad ways. If even those who REALISE that we are here (atleast in part) to preserve and maintain creation won’t see the woods for the trees, its a sad sad day. I think this issue and others like it should crop up more in Reformed cricles. I’d like to see sermons on recylcing, global warming, activity in the community, etc. Proactive ones. I just don’t see them, and I am sad.

  7. richface says:

    Richdawg: you are the mantis.

    Matt Baird: enjoyed your comment. You are so right about typical Reformed attitudes to the environment. There are a number of reasons for this. One is probably that we don’t share the evolutionists’ fear that the world could self-destruct or purge itself from humanity at any moment. This can tempt one into apathy but Reformed people, being so familiar with the doctrines of election and free will, should realise that just because the world isn’t going to self-destruct, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t apply all possible energies to effect God’s purpose for the world (ie: non-destruction).

    Another reason is probably the strong association environmentalism has with the political left. The environmental movement has been captured (to an extent) by people who strongly believe that resources should be centrally allocated. Resource management becomes a vehicle for intensely interventionist policies which are in stark contrast with traditional Reformed conceptions of a minimalist government. Reformies tend to throw the environmentalist baby out with the left-wing bathwater.

  8. Matthew Baird says:

    I think you are bang on there. It is sad that almost all the left wing types have very poor environmental plans. It does seem to be a prevading left-wing philosophy that the world is going to keep on regardless. I am worried that soon it will be the conservative Christianity teamed up with Economics Worshippers (TM) against the rest-of-the-world in a Destroy/Save the world matchup. I was just amazed that people can possibly claim that modern secular science is universally wrong (except occasionally accidentally). Being of the science disposition, I mearly goggled, took me a while to think of anything to say actually.

  9. Matthew Baird says:

    Here is an interesting paper shown to me by an associate, of flatmattery propensity:

  10. D says:

    Global warming seems to be reality, but why it has occurred, what mechanisms cause it and whether it brings good or evil seem to much more difficult to establish.

    I’d recommend some of the work on

    I’m enjoying the following article (1.1 Mb, PDF) at present:

  11. D says:

    I should reccommend the article:

    Are observed changes in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere really dangerous?
    CR De Freitas, a New Zealand scientist, questions the extent to which observed concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are dangerous. [1.1Mb PDF doc]

    Mebbe all the frenetic energy put into decreasing CO2 emissions is just the activity of fools worshipping (yet) another god who will place (yet more) burdens on us that we are unable to bear… :-)

    C’est la vie.

  12. I hope to have the papers from our recent (this Wednesday) global warming seminar from Peter Barrett & Murray Ward up on the VUW/chaplains’ website in the next few days.

    O and MBaird I think distributivism might be an answer.

  13. kathy says:

    matt baird am a bit confused by #8. what are these left wing bad plans for the envioronment you speak of? and what do you mean that the left-wing thinks the world is going to keep on regardless? perhaps you mis-typed and you mean right wing? hmmm?
    also word on the street is CR De Freitas is a bit of a loony and no other scientists in NZ appear to agree…

  14. Matthew Baird says:

    These things maybe so. This leftwing rightwing stuff has me cornered in a freshly painted room. I can’t tell the difference. There are scientists on both sides of the story however (funded by whom would be interesting). I really hate it when politics and science get all melded together (when does it not?), so you cannot tell the facts from the ellaborately spun fiction scrounged together to support the arguments of the principle funders.

    It really galls me that statistics can be so easily misused. I mean, both sides cannot be right can they?

  15. D says:

    CR De Freitas a loony?

    Quite likely… I seem to be attracted to slightly loony positions on just about everything, but the article didn’t seem particularly unbalanced (apart from the rhetoric of fallacy 1,2,3,4) on my reading, and if it were factually wrong, it should be easy to show yet I couldn’t find (quick search) any online refutations.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Re. Comment 6, ‘ad hominem’ is not an effective argument against a position held by another. All you’ve effectively done is to call people who hold the views you described as arrogant and ignorant. Please attack the view not the person.

    The ozone layer hole also seems to me to be a fairly separate issue to mean earth temperature rise, other than that both issues are associated with anthropogenic gas emissions.

    Also I haven’t been able to find any references to CR De Freitas being a looney. Whose word is that? His article also appears in more than a few places requiring peer review.

  17. Matthew Baird says:

    Hehe. Never would I advocate the “You are dumb so your argument sux” argument style as anything productive. I still can’t see the ad hominemity in my comment (probably because I read in my intended statement as well as what I actually said). I was mearly relating my experiences from a discussion or two. I was told that to say that humanity could destroy/ruin the earth was the height of arrogance, and I countered with that to say that we cannot, and therefore shouldn’t worry about it is the height of arrogance. We agreed to disagree. My whole point was (eg – With CFC’s) that humanity has the potential to seriously screw up our earth, in a realatively short time. I’m not saying we will, because I believe that God will ensure that this doesn’t happen, but using HUMAN agents to do so (ie- ourselves). I’m not expecting God, as it were to step in and make the nukes dissappear once we send them flying.

    I just find it horrifying to brush aside our awesome destructive potential (now more than ever), especially as Christians who realised there roles as cultivators and tenders of this created world ( a role given to us by God at Creation).

  18. Matthew Baird says:

    Oops, forgot a point. Additionally, the idea that secular scientists are completely misguided and therefore can never see any ‘truth’ to be baffling. I had never heard the idea before, and am incapable of seeing how one could come to such a conclusion. I would say, however, that many of the conclusions they draw from the evidence they obtain are suitably whacked.

  19. MBaird I think D was talking about Kathy’s point.

  20. dan says:

    “Imagine if in every supermaket in the country, the shelves were totally filled only with cans of flyspray. Imagine further, that they could be triggered magically all at once. Picture how much CFC would be involved, to be released into the atmosphere, supposedly to destroy ozone. Now cast your mind to a jumbo jet streaking across the city sky. The unfortunate truth is that every time one jet takes off and flies somewhere, it destroys more ozone than you could ever destroy by squirting all those spray-cans”


    “The Sun shines, in NZ, from the north. That’s why all the houses mainly face north; to catch the day’s warm sunshine. NZ is therefore south of the Sun, at all times. The South Pole is south of NZ, at all times. For the Sun to shine through the ozone hole in the south-polar skies and onto NZ to cause skin cancer, is utterly impossible unless the Sun scoots around under the south pole or Antarctica races up to sit next to Fiji. Never mind the ozone thing; what great headlines that would make. Hard as it may be to believe, no-one’s ever noticed that occurring.”


    There are some other articles there worth reading.

  21. jono says:

    Ha that predict weather dot com site is quite interesting. I view it in the same way as I view the Answers in Genesis stuff – like `this seems so right, but if it IS so right, why isn’t this kind of information found anywhere else?’. Mind you, I have always been a pan-opnionist, being blown around by this wind and that

  22. Matthew Baird says:

    I was cranking out a defence Re:Anonymous. Now I am confused. Defended, but alas, confused. (heh)

  23. Matthew Baird says:

    Just read them quotes by Dan. They seem a trifle wrong to me (having done a short course in atmospheric chemistry). The problem with the Ozone hole in New Zealand/Aussie is not when it sits over Antarctica. Over the.. er winter I presume, the whole atmosphere around the south pole is very stable, with very little mixing going on due to an absence of strong sunlight (Rosby waves and such, but that is a side topic). So over the winter, things like CFC’s and other activated halogens have their merry little way (catalytically) with the ozone, and there is no sun around to make them go away. Thus a zone of high ozone depletion builds up. When spring rolls around, this circular zone (aka – the Ozone Hole) collapses in on itself, due to the reoccurance of sun-originating atmospheric mixing. The hole implodes, and spreads out in a blast radius type effect, with ozone depleted atmosphere cascading across New Zealand skies over late spring/summer (about November it really kicks in I think). Thus we get very low burn times. So its nothing to do with some funky sun maneuvering to somehow shine through the hole at NZ, the ozone hole comes to US.

    I can’t say anything about the effect of the volcano in Antarctica on all of this, as I don’t know the specifics.

    I’ll get to the aeroplane thingie when I have my next study break. Ciao.

  24. Matthew Baird says:

    Right, back to taking apart that website.

    “Let’s look at one last factor, so often reported; that the Antarctic hole is larger than the Arctic one. One would think that even if inert heavier-than-air substances could make it up into space, that they would do it more around the densely populated regions of earth – the northern hemisphere; and affect the Arctic Hole more than the Antarctic.”

    This is true, IF you completely ignore all atmospheric dynamics. Due to the larger proportion of landmass in the northern hemisphere, the varying amounts of heating of the sun causes greater temperature fluction over the year as land is one heck of a lot easier to heat than ocean. Because of this greater temperature differential, the atmosphere in the north is much better mixed, thus creating a smaller ozone hole.

    “There is not a ‘layer’ of ozone at all, any more than there is single layer of air; and ozone doesn’t protect us from anything. The Sun’s rays hit us at exactly the same time as they hit the ozone. Therefore, protection is impossible. In the same way, ‘hard’ water molecules, H3O, doesn’t prevent anyone from getting wet. If we could snap our fingers and make every single last molecule of ozone disappear, it would have absolutely no bearing on the amount of UV light reaching the Earth.”

    OK, this paragraph was written by someone with no knowledge of chemistry. It states by implication that nothing in the atmosphere stops radiation from the sun, as it strikes us ‘at the same time’. Er… It is indeed a pity, that that contradicts their other statements about ozone being formed and destroyed by UV light (from the sun in the atmosphere before it hits us). It is also plain wrong. Almost all of the harmful radiation that would cause, say, your DNA to fall apart, is soaked up by things in the atmosphere. It is remarkably useful that the ‘visible region’ of radiation is about the only part of the stuff released from the sun that isn’t significantly removed by the atmosphere. Of course some still gets through.

    “Bricks Don’t Float Up
    Despite all the information you may have read, there is not one shred of supportable evidence that CFCs have found their way 40 miles up above the Earth. No one has ever found any up there because they are roughly five times heavier than air. They are like a brick in a swimming pool. It is not often that you will see a brick floating to the surface of your pool. CFCs are so dense that even as a gas you could fill a bucket with it and pour the contents of one bucket into another. Secondly there is no evidence that they can destroy anything because they are very stable and unreactive substances. Most dictionaries and chemistry books describe them as inert gases.

    Faced with this rather unfortunate logic, some researchers extend the plot, claiming that in the upper atmosphere the intense UV light is sufficient to break down the CFCs, releasing chlorine which then does the damage. If that actually could happen though, then the “ozone layer” would just get replaced by the CFC layer, which would then further “protect” us from UV radiation.

    There is, too, another difficulty with the theory: the fact that all the CFCs in the world are insufficient to even dent the known amount of ozone. The factor is 1 in 100,000. So we get told of yet another scenario – that in some imagined chain reaction, chlorine would keep on getting released by the UV until all the ozone was destroyed. But even if we supposed that this could happen, then all of these reactions going on would only further absorb UV, protecting us even more. We would right now be dying from lack of UV light and vitamin D deficiency.”

    Hehe. I like this one. Thanks to the atmosphere being stirred part of the year, there is good, strong evidence for the presnce of (very very low levels) CFC’s at the apropriate altitude. It is ONLY here that CFC’s can fall apart, as they require high energy light to break up (other than that, yes they are bricks and they won’t go away). Here, radicals form and react with ozone. Once you have a radical, you don’t need light anymore. The chlorine chemistry is such that it gets regenerated for each 2 ozone molecules it destroys (they can follow this reaction in laboratories). Thus even in the absence of light, this reaction can occur over and over and over, destroying the ozone till the chlorine reacts with something else and is eliminated from the cycle. The levels are very low, so formation of a CFC layer is rubbish (they don’t actually absorb much of the sunlight).

    Just because there is heaps of oxygen around to absorb sunlight doesn’t mean that the ozone will be sponaneously and instantly replenished as it is used, the formation reaction is very slow, so replenishment takes a long time, and its only the ozone cycle that really keeps the ozone levels up. This cycle is destroyed by chlorine, so the levels DO drop.

    “Imagine if in every supermaket in the country, the shelves were totally filled only with cans of flyspray. Imagine further, that they could be triggered magically all at once. Picture how much CFC would be involved, to be released into the atmosphere, supposedly to destroy ozone. Now cast your mind to a jumbo jet streaking across the city sky. The unfortunate truth is that every time one jet takes off and flies somewhere, it destroys more ozone than you could ever destroy by squirting all those spray-cans”

    A while ago, this WAS thought to be the case and a big push was made to cut down jet-traffic. Only then people realised that the effects of ALL of the jet-traffic in the world is really quite minimal (compared to CFC’s). The reason for this, is jet fuel burning produces nitrogen oxides(NOx) these react with ozone in a similar way to CFC’s to produce oxygen again, and are produced on a MUCH grander scale than CFC’s. In this respect the quoted analogy is correct.

    (to be continued)

  25. Matthew Baird says:

    However, for NOx, the reaction rate with ozone is very very slow, and other more favorable reactions occur in preference. However, at night, the reaction with ozone DOES occur (though still very slowly), causing ozone depletion at night. Cue the day, and this stops again, ozone bounces back from the slight depletion before the sun is at full strength. Not really a big danger. Additionally, much of the NOx reacts with water to form nitric acid way up in the atmosphere. This does not react with ozone, and can be lost in a variety of ways. Thus the NOx effects are greatly reduced. So it is indeed extremely false to compare the effects of those spray cans with jet plane emissions.

    Whew. Talk about getting carried away. That was just one really, really shitty website, and it was bugging me and not letting me study.

    I have a number of review articles (and my lecture notes) dedicated to this topic if anyone is interested (which they arent).

  26. jono says:

    Im kind of interested but unfortunately I don’t read. Cheers for the offer though

  27. Matthew Baird says:

    You are a wiser man than I. To be of any use, one needs to read much or little. I find myself squatting unhappily in the center.

  28. D says:

    Go Matt!

    I propose Matt Bartlett find the most staunch anti-global warming proponent and have that person debate Matthew Baird on this website… twould be fantastic!

    Incidentally, ad hominem arguments are used by most of my favourite characters in the Judaeo-Christian tradition including Jesus and seem to me be an essential part of a well-rounded argument…

  29. Lynton says:

    Hurrah for chemistry. I knew it would come in handy! Keep up the study!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.