Survival Requires Change

Survival Requires Change - Giant Panda

We are entering an interesting time of change for living plants and animals on planet Earth. We are in a period of rapid climate change, and for many living things, survival requires change. However, for some life forms, this is not an issue. For example, omnivores, animals that eat a wide variety of foods, can change their diet to whatever is available. For example, bears in Alaska eat salmon, but if that is not available, they eat insects, nuts, plants, rodents, and marine shore life such as clams.

For other animals, the situation is much more complicated. For example, giant pandas rely on bamboo for food. Not only is their digestive system designed to eat only bamboo, but even their hands and fingers are designed to modify the bamboo so they can eat it. Polar bears rely on ice flows to get the seals that make up most of their diet. With much of the ice in polar areas melting, the bears cannot secure food, and starvation threatens many of them.

Survival requires change, and for some animals, that means migrating to a different place where they can find their dietary needs. As the oceans warm, cold-water fish migrate to northern areas. Some corals are establishing new colonies in different places as conditions where they have lived for centuries no longer meet their needs. On the other hand, animals with specialized equipment, such as pandas, will face extinction. Humans can step in with temporary solutions, but eventually, some forms of life will cease to exist. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

The fossil record shows us that survival requires change. A significant change in the climate caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. However, that eventually provided a climate and atmosphere where humans and the animals we depend on could thrive. Asteroid material did not directly destroy the dinosaurs, but the asteroid collision changed the climate. That change produced an environment in which dinosaurs could not survive, but it led to the formation of a climate ideal for humans.

Genesis 1:2 is an interesting passage. A possible translation of the verse is, “And the earth became wasted and emptied, and darkness was upon the face of the deep place.” That would indicate a change in Earth’s condition. God has used such changes to accomplish His will. The flood of Noah was not primarily an environmental act but a response by God to the sinfulness of humans at that time. Climatic change is another tool God has used in the past. In geologic time, there have been periods of hot and cold, and survival requires change. The current change in Earth’s climate is not solely caused by humans. We may contribute to the process, but humans are not the sole cause.

God’s creative processes don’t involve “magic tricks.” Instead, God uses natural methods to shape and mold planet Earth. Some animals, such as dinosaurs, have played essential roles in contributing to the resources that humans would need. When they had completed their mission, a change brought about their extinction. The Bible doesn’t tell us how God did what He did, but the more we study the creation, the more we understand some of His processes. Climate change has been one of them and may be so again.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Beavers Can Help Reduce a Climate Change Problem

Beavers Can Help Reduce a Climate Change Problem - Beaver Dam
Beaver Dam

People here in Michigan consider beavers a nuisance because they cut down trees and flood farmlands. Unfortunately, beavers cut down some beautiful shade trees on our property. However, beavers can help reduce a climate change problem.

A significant problem associated with the changing climate is the loss of water. Many reservoirs in the western United States are at extremely low levels, and some have completely dried up. Precipitation amounts have dropped while humans mismanage natural water storage.

Meanwhile, people have hunted and trapped beavers due to high prices for pelts and the flooding of farmland and private homes by the dams they built. The result is that water now floods downstream areas. Beavers reduce that problem by creating ponds that hold the water, so it runs off much more slowly. Besides reducing flooding, this also helps to minimize droughts. Studies funded by the National Science Foundation show that by live trapping and moving them upstream, beavers can help reduce a climate change problem.

God has provided ways to make climate change less damaging. For example, storing water in snow and glaciers helps mitigate the problem of water distribution. Additionally, beavers can reduce the problem by building dams that hold water back, providing relief from weather extremes.

God has given us the responsibility of managing what He has created. However, by creating pollution and mismanaging natural resources such as beavers, we have created problems we can no longer ignore. We can all participate in caring for the creation, and pleading ignorance won’t stop the damage.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

The Atlantic Puffin and Life’s Adaptability

The Atlantic Puffin and Life’s Adaptability
Atlantic Puffins

Environmentalists express concern that many species will become extinct because of the warming climate. For example, polar bears are having trouble finding food because of the disappearance of the ice islands they use for hunting. A bird species that many are concerned about is the Atlantic puffin. These birds had been hunted to the verge of extinction in the 1800s and are still endangered today.

The main diet of Atlantic puffins consists of hake and herring, which are cold-water fish. However, the change in temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean has caused these fish to no longer inhabit some waters where Atlantic puffins get their food. Because of that, there was concern that Atlantic puffins could become extinct.

The Audubon Society Magazine published an interesting report on a study of the Atlantic puffin’s diet by Will Kennerley. Kennerley discovered that the puffins had shifted the foods they eat and feed their chicks. The study showed that they are now eating 21 different fish species that researchers had never observed them eating before. This nutritional flexibility will help preserve Atlantic puffins, demonstrating that these birds are designed to adapt to a changing environment.

The question of how this principle will apply to other forms of life remains to be seen. A big question is whether this adaptability also applies to animals that eat plants since there are cases where plants are dying out in areas experiencing significant climate changes. However, there is less doom and gloom among people who see examples such as the adaptability of the Atlantic puffin. God’s design for living things makes it possible for life to endure even as the environment changes.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

You can read more in the summer 2022 issue of Audubon Society Magazine (page 21) and online at THIS LINK.

Climate Change Is Not New

Evidence in Zion National Park that  Climate Change Is Not New
Petrified Sand Dunes in Zion National Park

The author of Ecclesiastes wrote a great deal about the futility of life and the failing of human knowledge. In the first chapter, Solomon writes, “What has been will be again, … is there anything of which one can say ‘look this is something new’? It was here already long ago. It was here before our time.” With that in mind, climate change is not new and should not be a cause for religious fervor.

Many historical passages in the Bible tell about drought, famine, and changes in the weather. Why did the brothers of Joseph go to Egypt? (See Genesis 41:56-57.) Why did the ancient prophet pray for rain? (See 1 Kings 18:41-44 and James 5:17-18.)

Those of us trained in geology who know how to read the rock layers and understand what environment produced them can clearly see that Earth’s climate has changed throughout time. For example, in Zion National Park, petrified sand dunes tell us that area at one time experienced warming far greater than what we see today. Where we live in Michigan, glacial moraines, eskers, and lakes abound, giving solid evidence that the climate was very cold at one time in the past.

Earth’s design is amazing. Because our area experienced glaciers, we have no shortage of water. There is no bedrock visible because sand and gravel make up the terrain, and water seeps into the ground rather than running off. Climate change melted the glaciers, leaving an ideal environment for human habitation. Thus climate change is not new, and God’s design of Earth is alive and active, allowing a constantly changing environment to support life.

In 2022, we find climate modifying Earth again. The polar caps are melting, and the sea level is rising, resulting in wind and ocean current changes. As in the past, God’s design is bringing water to places that have previously been desserts, allowing crops to grow in areas that could not support them. Climate change is not new but has always been part of our planet’s design.

Will we need to make adjustments to these climate changes? Yes, of course, but God has given humans the ability to do that. We can change crops, adjust waterways, control wildfires, and even move populations when necessary. Let us not wring our hands and treat God’s design for replenishing the planet as if it were something evil. Today, our major problems are human problems of immorality and a refusal to live as God has called us to. By our actions, we can reduce the severity of global warming and use its change to our benefit.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Changing Climate and the Human Response

Changing Climate and the Human Response

There is no question that we are experiencing a rapidly changing climate. The data is massive and comes from many places on Earth. There hasn’t been much of a change here in Michigan so far. We have had a very typical winter at the time of this writing. However, in places like Alaska, the changes have been very pronounced. Many areas around the globe have witnessed changes not seen before in modern times.

We must understand that there have been many periods of changing climate throughout Earth’s history. At one time, glaciers covered a significant part of North America, giving undeniable evidence of a frigid climate. Around 12,000 years ago, there was a cold period scientists call the “Younger Dryas.” Many large animals went extinct during that climate change. When dinosaurs roamed the Earth, the climate was very different from today. Not only was it warmer, but the oxygen level was higher.

The point is that changing climate is not new. Our planet is a dynamic place, and climate change is part of its history. The issue is how much humans contribute to climate change and whether it will have disastrous consequences for us. As the planet warms, the thawing of glaciers and polar ice releases water into the ocean. This means we have to prepare for weather changes and a rise in sea level.

Some people will use the changes to deny God’s existence. Others will blame God or claim that He is using climate change as a weapon to afflict us for rejecting HIm. Instead, we suggest that God has allowed us to understand how the creation works and expects us to use that knowledge to prepare for the future.

Perhaps as humans battle with the changing climate, it will prevent the nonsense of humans battling other humans. God won’t force solutions on us, but He has given us the tools we need to live successfully on this planet.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Evidence of Climate Change

Evidence of Climate Change

My son-in-law and his family moved to Vancouver, Washington, in 2020. His wife grew up in Thailand, where the weather was hot and humid. I told her that when she got to Vancouver, she would have a completely different climate experience. I explained that the Pacific Current along the coast brings cold water from Alaska while the wind brings cool air and lots of rain to the Portland/Vancouver area. How could I have guessed that the summer of 2021 would prove me wrong and give more evidence of climate change?

June 27, 2021, was the hottest day ever recorded in Oregon, with temperatures reaching 112 degrees in the Portland area. Air conditioners are usually rare commodities in that part of the country, and even fans are not very common. Because the weather was so unusual, people were ill-equipped to deal with that kind of heat, and many people died. My son-in-law had brought an Indiana exhaust fan, so they were not comfortable but able to survive.

This was not just a freak heatwave. Climate change in the western third of this country is causing all kinds of problems. Lake Powell, on which we have spent many happy hours, is at 20% of its maximum capacity. Lake Mead near Las Vegas is 160 feet below its full level. People living in areas like the U.S. midwest don’t understand that this is a real crisis for people who live in the desert southwest. Many cities get their water from these lakes, Likewise, farms. Farmers irrigate their vineyards and orchards with water from those lakes.

The drought is evidence of climate change producing tinderbox conditions in the forests of the western region. From July 24 through December 31 of 2020, more than 100 fires burned over 10 million acres causing 20 billion dollars in damage to man-made structures. The heat even caused highways to buckle.

Those who try to deny the evidence of climate change are setting the world up for a catastrophic future. This is not something that God has done to punish us. However, it is the result of careless use of the resources God has given us. It is time to stop arguing and start fixing the problem. Moving water from places where there is too much to areas that are in drought is an expensive option. Planting massive numbers of trees is an option worth trying. Standing around in 115-degree heat and trying to deny the climate is changing is not an option.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: The Herald Bulletin, July 3, 2021.

God’s Solution for Climate Change

God’s Solution for Climate Change -Forests

It is becoming more and more difficult for the naysayers to deny that we are facing climate change. Some areas are experiencing too much rain, while others are facing catastrophic drought. It is hard to miss the changes in ocean temperatures and how that is affecting ocean life. People have offered all kinds of solutions to stop or reverse what is going on in the world’s climate, but the solutions are expensive and unproven. Perhaps we need to turn to God’s solution for climate change.

Science News published an extensive series of reports under the title “Can Trees Save the World.” The subject matter is broken into three major topics: (1) The Promise and Pitfall of Trees (2) First, Protect Today’s Forests (3) The Forested Farms of the Future. The articles point out the many things trees do to provide climates in which humans can survive.

For example, trees capture and sequester carbon, break up the soil, and inject nutrients into all kinds of soils. Trees provide food for a wide variety of life forms, including humans. Those food sources include fruit, fungus, and plant materials. The report gives an encouraging message of how trees can change the climate situation that threatens humans today,

It is worth noting that according to the Genesis account, the first form of life God created was plants (Genesis 1:11). This was before He established the Sun and Moon as controllers of “signs and for seasons and for days and for years.” The sequence of plants in these verses is “deshe” (grasses), “eseb” (herbs – gymnosperms), and finally “ets peri zera” (tree yielding fruit whose seed is in itself).

Scientific evidence shows that plants were major factors in producing a climate that would allow humans to exist. It seems that correcting our climate problems should involve repeating what God used initially to prepare the planet for human life. We need to turn to God’s solution for climate change.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News for July 3/July 17, 2021, pages 19 -35.

Trees Can Slow Global Warming

Trees Can Slow Global Warming

Anyone who has read valid scientific studies must be aware that there is massive evidence that the planet is facing climate change. Politicians are proposing all kinds of elaborate and expensive solutions. The fact is that God has given us a solution that goes back to Genesis 1:11-12. “And God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees…and God saw that it was good.’” Trees can slow global warming.

In Liuzhou, China, Italian architect and urban planner Stefano Boeri is helping to develop the world’s first “forest city.” Nearly a million plants are being used to cover parks, schools, offices, and apartments. People in Louisville, Kentucky, are working on a similar plan called The Green Heart Project, with 14.5 million dollars to plant 10,000 trees. Louisville has had some health issues with high pollution levels and high rates of cardiovascular disease. The Green Heart Project began in 2018 directed by Eruni Bhatnagar of the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute at the University of Louisville. Similar studies and projects are underway at Murray State University, Arizona State University, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Lawrence University, Yale, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins.

Most of us are aware that trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but the idea of planting trees and other forms of vegetation in urban areas is relatively new. In 2014, Italian developers completed the Bosco Verticale, which is Italian for vertical forest. They built a double skyscraper to hold 800 trees, 15,000 perennials, and 5,000 shrubs that spill over terraces. Dozens of studies have shown that people living near green spaces have lower stress levels, lower asthma rates, and fewer cardiovascular and respiratory tract illnesses.

When the Genesis account was written, there were no problems with carbon emissions and pollution, but even then, God was giving us a key to health. Rather than causing enormous energy costs and damaging our economy, trees can slow global warming, so let’s plant massive numbers of trees.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Ocean Currents Affect the Climate

Ocean Currents Affect the Climate

There is much concern today about global warming, but many factors determine the climate in any particular location on Earth. Of course, we know that the closer we get to the equator, the warmer the temperatures are. Conversely, as we get closer to the poles, we find colder temperatures. But that isn’t always true, and one factor is what some people call “the global conveyor belt.” We are talking about how ocean currents affect the climate.

Ocean currents temper some areas which would be excessively hot to make the climate much more comfortable. Ocean currents affect the climate in some regions by stabilizing it to prevent extreme temperature swings. Many areas benefit from ocean currents which bring warmer temperatures.

An extreme example of an area warmed by ocean currents is Lofoten, an archipelago of islands in Norway. Lofoten is located north of the Arctic Circle at more than 68 degrees north latitude. The Sun remains below the horizon for more than a month in the winter and above the horizon for more than a month in the summer. The rest of the year, it never rises high in the sky. However, Lofoten is the most northern place on Earth where the daily mean temperature remains above freezing all year. The reason for that is the effect of ocean currents. The Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current carry warmer water from areas farther south to temper the climate of Lofoten. In fact, Lofoten has the largest upward temperature anomaly in relation to its latitude of any location in the world.

The causes of the ocean currents are numerous, including waves, wind, Coriolis effect, water density differences due to temperature and salinity, shoreline configurations, melting polar ice, and the ocean floor’s contours. This global conveyor belt of ocean currents affects the climate making Earth more hospitable. It is only one of many engineering marvels that have created this amazing, beautiful, habitable world. Some say that the world is all an accidental product of natural forces. We say that those forces are evidence of a Master Designer.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

North Pole Ice Melting

North Pole Ice Melting

Scientists have recently conducted a fascinating study of the North Pole region. The Arctic is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet. With North Pole ice melting, the question is, “What effect will this warming have on Earth’s climate?”

To investigate that question, The Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) involved 600 scientists and experts from around the world. They equipped the icebreaker RV Polarstern with a large number of scientific tools and accommodations. The plan was to freeze the ship into an ice floe and let it drift for a year to study the North Pole’s climate as never before.

The scientists did much of the work on the ice floe itself, even setting up camp there. Sometimes they fell through but were saved by their protective flotation clothing. They gathered large amounts of data, which will take years to analyze thoroughly. It will give a wealth of scientific information about the changes that are taking place on our planet.

The team started the project in October of 2019, but by July 30, the floe had broken up, and the Polarstern was in open water. They decided to head directly to the North Pole. On August 19, still in open water, the ship arrived at the pole and found very little ice.

Summer of 2020 ranks as the hottest ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere. It may seem that the North Pole ice melting is too far away to cause concern for us, but changes of this magnitude at the pole will bring changes in weather all over the globe.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Discover magazine, January/February, 2021.