This is a guest contribution by Dan Phelps, a geologist who works in Kentucky and is a persistent critic of the Creation “Museum.”
I haven’t seen much about Dr. White on the AiG site in the past. He is nicer, more likeable, and a better speaker than many in Answers in Genesis’s motley collection of creation “scientists” and Ken Ham relatives. However, his talk was the typical creation pseudoscience we are used to. Imagine global warming denial from a young earth perspective. According to White’s AiG bio, his degrees are in chemistry and biochemistry, not in relevant geosciences. This wouldn’t be a problem if his information were correct. More importantly, he ignores easily obtainable scientific research information in his talk, which is outlined below.
Amusingly, the MC introduced him as having 18 “referred” articles in scientific journals. Answers in Genesis isn’t known for their knowledge of research and peer review.
Early on he repeats the lie that in the late 1970’s most climate scientists predicted global cooling based on quotes from a 1979 Newsweek article. In fact, most climate scientists were predicting warming in this time period (although there was not the consensus that exists now).
Then he blames the discrepancy between his claims about global warming and the scientific consensus by the standard AiG dodge of blaming the difference on “worldviews” rather than evidence. He thus claims his “Biblical worldview” is equally matched against a “secular worldview.” He continues by making it seem that if you believe God exists, then you can’t accept the “secular worldview,” as if these are the only alternatives. Since he is giving a talk at the Creation “Museum,” it is likely that he has signed the AiG “statement of faith.”
White then tries to discount the changes in climate change in recent years as being merely minor increases in CO 2 levels and sea level.
He then presents his view that the earth is 6000 years old based on the genealogies in Genesis and elsewhere in the Bible. Thus, he claims there is no need to be concerned because God is in control and that climatology is a young science. Further, he claims our dominion over nature is God given and supported by Bible quotes. He then brings in Noah’s Flood and the Ark as part of the “Seven Cs” of Earth history. See Figure 1.
According to White, other Bible verses show us that God will always provide us with a reasonable environment in which to live, and he displayed Figure 2.
He then moves on to dismissing how much we know about global temperature through time, presenting the last 40 years as showing slight warming. White then shows data back to 1880 and disparages its quality. He then points out short-term trends in Figure 3.
White then claims that climate change in the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age are evidence for natural cycles, as shown in Figure 4, taken from infamous climate change denier Roy Spencer’s website.
A much clearer description of natural cycles can be found here.
Amazingly, White ignores all evidence for climate change from Arctic and Antarctic ice cores and analysis of deep sea sediments. Most of this evidence contradicts his belief that the Earth formed about 4000 BCE and that Noah’s Flood began in 2348 BCE with a single, 200-year-long Ice Age afterwards. The EPICA ice cores of Antarctica go back 740,000 years and record as many as 8 glacial cycles.
White continued by claiming that, although the greenhouse effect is real, that CO2 is only a minor greenhouse gas. He emphasizes that water is a major greenhouse gas, which is true, but ignores, or at least greatly downplays, the problems with the addition of CO2 to the atmosphere. Although the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is small, it still significantly raises atmospheric temperature. Ultimately, the heat added because of CO2 results in even more water vapor being present as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. This is a feedback loop.
Also important towards any long-term solution to climate change is that a carbon dioxide molecule actually stays in the atmosphere for anywhere from 100 to 1000 years, while a typical water vapor molecule stays for about 9 days. Any CO2 added to the atmosphere creates a long-term problem.
White then disdains climatological models as inaccurate and showing too much warming, whereas most mainstream models, at least recent ones, have described both present and past changes very well. Remember, the models produced by climate scientists are run to see that they not only predict future clime change, but also use existing data to retrodict past climates. This retrodiction is often called “hindcasting.”
White further claims we shouldn’t be too concerned about the issue for the reasons given in Figure 5, which needs no further explanation.
Apparently, the lecture was shortened and most of these points were not discussed, although they were read off quickly. After a brief, somewhat innocuous discussion of the water cycle and theology, White claims that CO2 increases might be good for plant growth. While this could be true for gardeners using a small greenhouse, it would be catastrophic on a planetary scale. The complexities are immense. Simply put, plant life is highly unlikely to adapt to increased CO2 on the rapid time scale of climate change in a way likely to be beneficial to human agriculture. The complexities of ecosystems involving plants are just one of many reasons White’s remarkably simplistic claims are nonsense.
White’s last points are a bizarre misrepresentation of how geoscientists think the Pleistocene ice ages occurred. He gives a bizarre description of Noah’s Flood. His belief apparently is that the mid-ocean ridges heated ocean water to make steam and volcanic eruptions put dust in the atmosphere to suddenly cool the continents during/after Noah’s Flood. This led to a single 200-year-long Ice Age about 4350 years ago (the ancient Egyptians somehow failed to notice it). If you watch any of his talk, look at the last 10 minutes where this insanity is discussed.
White ends his talk, as many AiG YouTube videos do, hawking various AIG books and videos.
Although most people with a scientific background would recognize how truly abysmal the content of this talk was, most of the audience at the “Museum” probably didn’t. This, combined with the likability of the speaker, unfortunately made climate change skeptics out of the creationists present. It is shameful that Answers In Genesis has received so many benefits from state and local governments to build the Ark Encounter, which promulgates similar crank pseudoscience. Climate change is the most significant problem the modern world is facing. Any support, especially governmental, given to people who would teach denialism is harmful and should be opposed.