Two years ago, when the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing many of the workers who were aboard and unleashing an unprecedented tide of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Representative Joe Barton, a Republican from oil-soaked Texas, urged his colleagues in Congress not to make a big deal out of the disaster. The problem was just a little, human-caused event, he said. “This was an accident,” Barton blustered, “not an act of God!”
Yesterday, Congressman Barton repeated his mixture of religion and opposition to environmental responsibility. This time, however, Barton is arguing that people should ignore an environmental disaster because it’s the fault of the god of ancient Israel, and not of human beings.
Representative Barton admitted that climate change is happening, but insisted that it could not possibly be caused by human activity. Barton’s primary piece of evidence for this assertion was the Christian holy book, which includes an ancient reference to a big flood. Barton explained, “I would point out that if you are a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the great flood was an example of climate change. That certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”
Do you follow Joe Barton’s logic? 1) There’s an old story about a flood from thousands of years ago. 2) The people who wrote that old story claimed that it was caused by a supernatural being. 3) That flood was an example of climate change. 4) Therefore, supernatural beings, and not people, cause climate change.
The most pathetic thing about Joe Barton’s citation of a Bible story as if it’s reliable climate science is that he doesn’t even get the story right. The old story about Noah and the flood describes the flood as lasting for 40 days. That makes it an extreme weather event, not climate change. Furthermore, the story blames people, not the ancient god, for the flood, saying that the god had to create the flood because the people were not behaving properly.
The moral of this story, Congressman Barton, is that if you’re going to mix religion with politics and confuse it with science, you need to at least get your religious stories straight.