Scott Church Direct

Welcome to Scott Church Direct, the information and commentary site of Seattle-based landscape photographer Scott Church. This site was created to raise awareness of environmental and social issues from a Christian perspective and provide a scientific, theological, and ethical alternative to fundamentalism. Here you will find commentary and information on a wide range of issues that weigh on my heart. While my views, and frustrations, are presented throughout this site, it is my hope that it will act as a knowledge base that will contribute to solutions rather than conflict, and be a source of hope. Please feel free to contact me with any comments or suggestions you might have for how I might improve it. Thank you, and enjoy.

What's Going On

Science     March 5, 2009
It now appears that not even rainforests can be considered fail-safe when it comes to sequestering greenhouse gases. When the world's tropical rainforests are growing, they can absorb a huge amount of CO2 from the atmosphere--on the order of 1.8 billion metric tons annually, or nearly one-fifth of global emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. But when trees are not healthy, they don't use nearly as much CO2, and in some cases they can even be a net emitter. RAINFOR, a team of scientists from 13 nations, has been tracking the health of 136 plots of rainforest scattered across 44 sites in the Amazon for the past 25 years. This week's edition of Science publishes their results so far, which suggest that the region is "surprisingly sensitive to drought" and during a year 2005 drought became a net carbon emitter rather than a sink. We may need to rethink whether we can count on the world's rainforests to offset our emissions, regardless of how we treat them. The paper is available at the links below (full text content requires a subscription).
Science 323 (5919), 1344. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1164033]:    Abstract    Full text    Full text PDF

RealClimate     'February 28, 2009
RealClimate offers their own commentary about George Will's contrarian nonsense regarding Arctic sea-ice loss.

Carl Zimmer     'February 27, 2009
As climate science progresses, Far-Right ideologues and other global warming skeptics have been forced to retreat, adopting new arguments as previously cherished ones are forcibly taken from them. One of the current targets du jour has been Arctic sea-ice loss. In a recent column titled Dark Green Doomsayers (Washington Post, Feb. 15, 2009) George Will takes aim at the growing body of data in this area, expanding his catalog of careless research, scientific illiteracy, and cheap shots at scientists in the process. In this post at The Loom (Discover Magazine) science writer Call Zimmer critically reviews some of his more entertaining blunders.

RealClimate     January 27, 2009
And of course, as the evidence for human-caused climate change grows, the Far-Right grows more deperate and shrill. The recent work by Steig et al. on Antarctic warming (Nature, Jan. 21, 2009) is receiving all of the vitriol we've grown to expect from the skeptic community. This article from RealClimate discusses some of the skeptic failures, including the usual cherry-picking and misquotes, and a rehash of the same scientifically illiterate arguments they've used for years regarding the Antarctic. The article does note however, that the evidence has grown to the point where even skeptics are now being forced to relinquish some of their own misrepresentations, one of the more notable being Doran et al., Nature, Jan. 2002. For years Ann Coulter, Jason Lee Steorts, and other Far-Right talking heads have cited the Doran study as "proof" that the Antarctic continent is cooling (apparently without having read it) even though Doran and his co-authors have repeatedly attempted to correct these abuses of their work.

RealClimate     January 26, 2009
There is an ever growing body of research showing that the Antarctic continent is warming in precisely the way we expect from global warming due to human activities. Four days ago Nature published a broadly based and well characterized study of Antarctic surface temperature trends by Eric Steig of the University of Washington and colleagues. Steig et al. analyzed a mix of data from surface weather stations and satellites from 1957 to the present. They found that while the Eastern Antarctic Plateau has cooled in the last 60 years, the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet has warming more giving a net warming of the continent as a whole. They also found that the trend difference between the east and west is due mainly to increased strength of Antarctic circumpolar westerlies (largely in response to changes in stratospheric ozone), in agreement with earlier studies. The paper is available online at

Seattle Times     January 25, 2009
Scientists have long known that forests are ecosystems. That is, the terrain they exist in and the species they support (including us) are all interrelated, and the survival of the whole is dependent on each part. A century ago wolved were abundant in Washington's Olympic Peninsula and it's watersheds and rainforests. By the early 20th century they were gone... another casualty of thoughtless human habitat destruction, hunting, and ignorance. Now, a study by researchers at Oregon State University has shown that the loss of these stealthy predators in has left a hole in the landscape, and its ripples extend throughout all of Olympic National Park, leading to a boom in elk populations, overbrowsing of shrubs and trees, and erosion so severe it has altered the very nature of the rivers. The result, they argue, is an environment that is less rich, less resilient, and — perhaps — in peril.

Seattle Times     January 20, 2009
For 8 years the United States of America has been under the leadership of the Bush administration and America's Far-Right community. It has been a Dark Age--a time in our history when science and literacy were shunned, rage trumped reason, violence and bloodshed trumped compassion, and Religious Right ideology was equated with Christianity. A time of all-out war against the environment when America's wealthy upper classes were enriched at the expense of its poor and middle classes. No more! This morning Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. Unlike his predeccesor, he is literate, respectful of science and education, and most importantly, humble--a man who is wise enough to choose educated, responsible advisors, listen to them, and learn from his mistakes. Today the world is joining hands with the American public in celebrating the end of the Dark Age, and a new age of Enlightenment. There is of course, a lesson to be remembered here. No matter how dark things may seem, sooner or later reason always triumphs over ignorance. Darkness wins many battles, and can destroy much very quickly. But God is bigger than the darkness... sooner or later the light will drive the darkness back. Let us rejoice in this, and never forget it again!

Seattle Times     January 14, 2009
Why doesn't this surprise me?... According to a Jan. 13th internal report released by the Justice Department, a former senior official there routinely hired Republicans, Federalist Society members and "RTAs" — "Right-Thinking Americans" — for what were supposed to be nonpolitical posts and gave them plum assignments on civil-rights cases. The former official, Bradley Schlozman, who helped lead the Civil Rights Division for about three years beginning in 2003, also gave false statements to Congress when he denied factoring politics into hiring decisions. Thankfully, this era is soon coming to an end.

Sierra Club     December 22, 2008
Slowly but surely, the greed and ignorance of the Bush Administration are losing ground. In 2008, plans for 24 coal-fired power plants were defeated or abandoned, laying the groundwork for fundamental change in the way the U.S. rebuilds and repowers itself.  If built, these 24 proposed coal plants would have emitted more than 76 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. Add that to the eight million tons of carbon dioxide kept in the ground in 2008 by preventing destructive mining and the progress made in the fight against global warming becomes clear. In 2001 the Bush-Cheney Energy Plan included building over 150 new, dirty coal-fired power plants. Since then 82 of these proposals have been defeated or abandoned, and dozens more have been delayed or sent back to the drawing board for failing to meet minimum pollution standards.

National Resources Defense Council     December 19, 2008
Finally… after 8 years of all-out warfare against the environment, sanity and literacy are returning to government. President-elect Obama’s has selected Hilda Solis to head the Department of Labor signaling his commitment to restoring America’s economy with green policies. The Dark Age that has gripped America for the last 8 years may be ending soon!

Seattle PI     December 18, 2008
According to Deroy Murdock of the Far-Right Hoover Institute, "global cooling" is here. And of course, in this editorial we're subjected to all of the usual arguments that anyone who passed high school chemistry and physics would see through immediately: snowfall is on the rise! (exactly as global warming predicts)... look at all these people who think global warming isn't happening! (none of whom are climate scientists, and as though evidence aside, if lots of people with important sounding titles are saying so it must be true... whether those people are climate science literate or not). Even in the most hopeful of times, some things never change.

Seattle Times     December 9, 2008
Cooperation works! The conflict between salmon and farms around the Skagit River took a more cooperative turn today, when farmers and an Indian tribe announced they both would lobby for nearly 200 acres of state land to be converted back to tidal estuary. The proposed deal is meant to end a lawsuit between the Swinomish Tribe and a Skagit County district that maintains dikes and tidegates that keep Puget Sound and the Skagit River from flooding farmland.     November 4, 2008
Antony Flew, one of the most influential of 20th century philosophers and one of atheism's greatest champions, has backed down. In this book, Flew acknowledges concedes that atheism has little or no rational merit. He does not side with any particular religion, or even with a personal God. But for someone of his caliber to admit that reason and evidence support the existence of God is a significant blow to the atheist mantra that faith is somehow "irrational."


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