Guest essay by H. Sterling Burnett
Pope Francis evidently has decided to make fighting global warming an important papal cause in 2015. He praised the United Nations’ climate treaty efforts in Lima, Peru; the Vatican has indicated he will issue an encyclical letter to the world’s bishops; he is encouraging the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to take up the battle against climate change; and he’s planning to address the next UN climate conference in Paris to pressure world leaders to adopt a strong climate agreement.
The Vatican Pontifical Academy of Sciences may be behind the pope’s rising interest in global warming as a moral and political cause. Its chancellor, Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, said, “Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions. The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”
Many Catholics undoubtedly support the pope’s efforts and, unlike many of his critics, I would argue the views of the pope, a significant moral leader, should be considered as climate policies are shaped. As the leader of the largest Christian denomination in the world, he is charged not just with saving souls but also with alleviating the suffering of the world’s least fortunate, and with leading the Catholic Church in efforts to make the world a better place.
Having said this, I also know moral imperatives and public policies should be grounded in the best-available science, in the reality of the human condition, and in the state of both the planet and the people. Concerning global warming, the pope evidently has been badly misinformed and led astray.
None of the disasters asserted by climate alarmists to result from global warming has come to pass. Hurricane numbers are down, deaths from natural disasters have declined, sea ice is on the rise, and crop production is increasing. Climate models have yet to be validated, missing the lull in temperature rise for the past 18 years and the declining rates of sea-level rise for the past decade. Instead, the gap between temperatures projected by climate models and temperature observed in reality grows yearly.
Investor’s Business Daily has speculated the Vatican is itching to tackle climate change, despite the above-stated facts, because,
[The] Vatican … has been infiltrated by followers of a radical green movement that is, at its core, anti-Christian, anti-people, anti-poor and anti-development. The basic tenets of Catholicism – the sanctity of human life and the value of all souls – are detested by the modern pagan environmentalists who worship the created, but not the creator. … Big Green believes that too many human beings are the basic global problem. People, according to this view, are resource destroyers. Climate change, they say, is due to the overpopulation of Mother Earth.
The pope would do well to question the sources of his information and to recognize his efforts should be focused on alleviating the poverty and suffering of billions of people in the world today. The best policy to accomplish that goal would be alleviating energy poverty worldwide.
As a CNS editorial stated,
Alex Epstein argues, rather than taking a safe climate and making it dangerous through the use of fossil fuels, we have been transforming a dangerous climate into a safer, more manageable one for human flourishing.
Humans have long fought a war with climate, and to the extent we’ve won it has been through the use of technology, most recently including, fossil fuels.
Note from Anthony:
As a Catholic myself, I’m disappointed in this stance, especially since it seems out of place with doctrines of the past where there Church denounced many issues of science through its history, only to later admit they erred, jumped to conclusions, and admitted such errors in judgment decades or centuries later.
For example, it only took the Catholic church 359 years to decide that Galileo was right after all, and that the Earth DOES in fact revolve around the Sun.
I plan to ignore the Pope and its science panel, as many are likely to do given their track record on getting science wrong in almost every case where science and religion have collided through history,