Evangelical Climate Change Alarmists Urge Cruz to Follow Them. Not So Fast.

By Neil Frank Published on March 11, 2016

Recently some evangelical “creation care” advocates urged Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to “listen more closely to those evangelicals who supported him,” and in particular to those evangelicals convinced that manmade global warming is a dire problem. They offer Dr. Katharine Hayhoe as their model. Hayhoe, an evangelical pastor’s wife, is a climate scientist and associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University. She’s also the darling of evangelical environmentalists because of her strong support for climate alarmism. Time named her one of the 100 most influential people of 2014.

That same year she led a group calling itself “Evangelical Scientists and Academics” in sending an open letter to the President and Congress supporting climate change alarmism. Their press release makes it sound like most of the signers are climate scientists. In reality, only 5 (2.6%) were climate scientists. More evangelical climate scientists were among the authors and reviewers of the Cornwall Alliance’s A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: The Case against Harmful Climate Policies Gets Strongera document that cautions against chasing ruinously expensive solutions to global warming alarmism.

In reality, numerous evangelicals with Ph.D.’s in meteorology are greatly relieved that at least some elected officials like Cruz are making their decisions based on data and facts rather than political pressure. As former Director of the National Hurricane Center and long-time chief meteorologist of KHOU-TV Houston, I’m one of them.

Cruz knows that satellite data show no warming for the last 19 years. Yet CO2 levels continue to rise. Might CO2 not be such a major driver of climate change as alarmists assume?

This is the opinion of Dr. John Christy, another evangelical, a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and a more accomplished climate scientist than Hayhoe. On February 2, he testified before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology that “the models overwarm the atmosphere by a factor of about 2.5″ and that “if one focuses on the tropics, … the models over-warm the tropical atmosphere by a factor of approximately 3 … again indicating the current theory is at odds with the facts.”

Numerous media reports state that 2015 was the hottest year on record, sometimes even stating “in human history.” But in this case the records, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), go back only to 1880.

Further, 2015 was the hottest in that record only according to NOAA data that are spatially unrepresentative and seriously contaminated. The much more reliable (because global and uncontaminated) satellite and weather balloon data make 2015 only the third warmest since 1979. And the range separating the ten warmest years in that period is mostly within the margin of error, meaning any might have been warmest.

Earth’s temperature rises and falls in cycles. Ice core samples from Greenland for the last 10,000 years show a very strong 1,000-year cycle. The earth was as warm if not warmer than today 3,000 years ago during the Minoan Warm Period, 2,000 years ago during the Roman Warm Period and 1,000 years ago during the Medieval Warm Period, when Scandinavians farmed in Greenland for over 300 years. Right on schedule, we are warm today as we recover from the Little Ice Age (1600–early 1800s). Stable CO2 levels through all that time show that CO2 was not responsible for any of the above warm periods, or for the recovery from the Little Ice Age.

Though the earth has been warming for almost 175 years, CO2 levels did not start rising significantly until after World War I. This strongly suggests that the current warming is, like the earlier ones, the result of a natural cycle, CO2’s contribution being minor.

Many other evangelical climate scientists challenge belief in dangerous, manmade global warming (while acknowledging climate change and some human contribution to it), such as Dr. Christy’s research partner Dr. Roy Spencer of U. Alabama, or Dr. David Legates of U. Delaware, or seven additional evangelical climate scientists “An Open Letter on Climate Change.” The letter encourages the American people and their leaders to be claims of dangerous, manmade global warming with a healthy skepticism, and to avoid spending trillions of dollars to reduce CO2 emissions when the money could better be spent curing disease, fighting hunger and ending poverty in the developing world.

If protecting human life is the aim, we could spend a small portion of the billions committed to global warming on electric power plants for 1.5 billion who have no power (20% of the world population) or drilling wells for another 2–3 billion who lack clean water. These two factors kill between 2 and 4 million people die each year.

Our priority should be to save millions of people each year now, not reduce a speculative risk centuries from now based on faulty models.


Neil L. Frank, Ph.D. (Meteorology), the longest-serving Director of the National Hurricane Center (1974–1987) and retired Chief Meteorologist of KHOU-TV, Houston (1987–2008), is a Fellow of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

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