Address to the Alumni of Warrane College, University of New South Wales
Academic Dinner, September 2017
Dr Howard Thomas Brady
No matter our age we are all adapting to circumstance. I would never have thought, after I went away to be a Catholic priest at the age of 16, that 20 years later I would be standing at the geographic South Pole as Lieutenant Commander Brady, US Navy Chaplain, or 60 years later, I would be reflecting on the joy of being married with a wonderful wife, 4 very different children and having written a book on the climate debate.
So today I am talking about the climate, confronting young academics when probably the climate debate is furthest from your minds. And even if it weren’t, why be interested? Well, for one thing, in Australia, and in many other nations, everyone encounters the climate debate when they pay their electricity bill; a bill that in some countries has more than doubled in the last few years. And as the price of electricity continues to rise, many local industries will continue to close at a frightening pace, unable to survive rising electricity prices; others will locate to other countries with cheaper costs of power.
The economic health of many countries is at stake if politicians do not do something about the price of power. Unfortunately in some countries it is unlikely they will do anything significant because they are trapped in simplistic arguments that link the continuing rise of carbon dioxide with a global warming trend that began 300 years ago and will probably continue for another 200 years. This trend is similar in its timing and effect to past climatic cycles in the last 5000 years. Linking and blaming rising carbon dioxide levels with modern climate change has led to panic and to over-subsidising the installation of infant alternative solar and wind energy technologies on an industrial scale in the mistaken belief that we can change this global warming trend.
Rather than panic, we should heed the words of the great environmentalist, James Lovelock:
So let us keep our cool as the Earth gently warms, and even enjoy it when we can
There are very sound reasons to continue to lessen our global dependence on oil, coal and gas by developing alternative energy technologies, but this development has to be sensible, based on sound economics, not spurred by panic. By over-subsidising infant alternative energy technologies, Spain nearly bankrupted itself. Indeed, any nation that legislates in panic expensive subsidies for alternative energy technologies will become the sacrificial lamb of world-wide movements that have seized incredible social power through simplistic and false argument predicting catastrophic climate change. And in that process its economy will suffer, youth unemployment will worsen and the enthusiasm and drive of its youth will give way to frustration and despair.
Forecasts of global climate disaster have dominated the climate debate for the last 40 years. The father of the modern climate nihilism in the United States was James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Space Centre. Thirty years ago he predicted that Manhattan would be flooded by 2010. He is still predicting metres of sea level rise this century. Only ten years ago, a Professor in England predicted that the next generation of children in Scotland would never know snow. Australia wasted over 10 billion dollars building desalination plants due to advice from the Australian Climate Council that Australia would be trapped in never-ending drought due to climate change. Australians were told that their dams would never fill again, that Adelaide would endure eternal drought and that Perth would be the world’s first wasteland metropolis. The United Nations in 2005 predicted there would be 20 million climate refugees by 2010; there were none.
Any sensible person would think these failed prophets should be sacked, but no: the environmental movement canonises its prophets. They continually reinvent themselves and remain supported and defended by university intelligentsia and by a media that loves headlines predicting disaster.
In contrast, those who call these prophets charlatans are not treated with the same kindness, but with systematic persecution. Did you know, within the hallowed halls of many universities throughout the world, there are teams linked to the Rapid Climate Response Team, which man the trenches to debunk scientists like me, who do not deny climate change, but think it is not catastrophic and not a cause to panic! The late Australian Professor Bob Carter, Head of the Geology Department at James Cook University for over a decade, had his position of Emeritus Professor terminated in 2013 because of his outspoken views on these climate prophets. Even now there are calls for the position of Professor Peter Ridd at that same University to be terminated as he has questioned those who say that the Australian Barrier Reef is in decline due to bleaching. Ridd’s scientific opinion is that bleaching events spur the coral to further adapt to warming by choosing better algae symbionts that make them more resilient when the next warming event occurs.
So where are our ideals of academic freedom allowing opposing views to be aired? How can science go forward without significant review? Consensus is never scientific proof. It always needs to be challenged. It is often proved wrong. When I wrote, ‘Mirrors and Mazes: a guide through the climate debate’, I wrote this:
There is now a New Inquisition presided over by a clique of scientists who have given themselves the right of trial to put scientific heretics to the stake. The new torture methods are not the stake or the rack but the denial of promotion, the manipulation of the media to denigrate, and the refusal to employ. Indeed, efforts to stop such scientists publishing in scientific periodicals have extended to controlling the editorial committees of many well-known periodicals. This is the modern equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition’s Burning of the Books. (Brady, 2017)
But is this university-world the only one exercising such thought-control? We may well adopt a superior air and criticise the Medieval Church for misunderstanding science and condemning Galileo, but have things really changed? At this very time in the 21st Century, advisors to Pope Francis in Rome are too closely aligned with a bevy of left-wing socialist thinkers believing theories of catastrophic climate change.
In 1936 Pope Pius XI established the Pontifical Academy of Science to provide the Catholic Church with sound scientific advice. In doing this he was reviving traditions extending back to the famous Academy of the Lynxes in 1603, a society with Galileo as a member that stressed the objective nature of science. The lynx was thought to have the best eyesight, so the role of the scientist was to be like one, to fearlessly describe what was seen, not what others thought one should see. Since its inception, the Pontifical Academy of Science irrespective of religion has offered membership to the world’s leading scientists. Famous members include Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Schrodinger, Stephen Hawking, the Australian neurologist Sir John Eccles.
Contrary to this tradition of scientific excellence, when the Church rightly looked to comment on the moral and spiritual challenges arising from our treatment of the environment, from the pollution and population stress endured by millions in the many cities, such as Lagos, Beijing or Bangkok, unfortunately it turned to Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Climate Impacts Institute in Germany. Here was a radical, a social activist, a catastrophist with whom many scientists on both sides of the climate debate disagree. This physicist sees climate change due to increasing greenhouse gases as the greatest challenge of the 21st Century. He sees 7 climate tipping points threatening the Earth. He claims the carrying capacity of the Earth should be no more than one billion people, and he proposed the idea that a 2°C rise in global temperatures would be catastrophic; a rather bizarre target when for most of Earth’s history temperatures have been 3°C to 5°C above that of today.
Schellnhuber is also in the vanguard of leftist movements who are manipulating climate science as a tool to restructure society globally and limit nationalism. To fight this climate threat, these movements want to replace nationalism with an international world government; in Schellnhuber’s case, with a Council of wise men. He is also of the view that climate science is so settled, and the climate situation so desperate, that scientists with different views should not be allowed to speak at the Pontifical Academy as they are flat-earthers, a distraction and waste of time.
And then there is Cardinal Turkson, who links both human slavery and climate as both evil and sinful. He was influential in drafting the encyclical Laudato Si’ and has welcomed Naomi Klein as an advisor. Klein is a Canadian communist who does not think that climate change can be solved without the destruction of capitalism. For her and Cardinal Turkson, the West punished the Third World through an industrialisation that increased greenhouse gases causing destructive climate change. So now the West, in reparation for its climate sins, must distribute trillions of dollars to the Third World as penance. And there is also adviser Naomi Oreskes. She rails against anyone who thinks climate change is mainly natural or the contributions of humans – minor. In her view such scientists should be treated as criminal mafia mobsters or like evil capitalists who promote cigarette smoking.
I am deeply concerned about the Vatican’s amateurish attempts to become too relevant in the modern climate debate. The way complex issues such as climate change, population stress, heat stress, famine, pollution, ocean acidification, loss of species diversity and disease control are being mixed together is equivalent to throwing 1000 cats into a room to play with a thousand balls of wool.
I was dismayed when recently Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo invited Paul Erhlich to talk to the Academy. Erhlich in 1968 wrote the Population Bomb in which he wrongly predicted millions would starve in the 20th century because agriculture could not keep up with the rising world population; he was wrong, it did. Erhlich has put forward ideas on male sterilisation, on the use of mass sterilisation agents in food and on the limitation of food to punish countries with high birth-rates.
And the situation worsens, when to forbid dissent and to isolate scientists who dispute catastrophic climate change, Bishop Sorondo places the Pope’s statements on climate science, not at the level of infallible religious doctrine, but still within a level of certainty in Catholic theology, that is, the Pope’s ordinary Magisterium. Sorondo says the Pope’s statement regarding global warming “must be considered magisterium – it is not an opinion”. What a bizarre theological corruption of science!
Hearing Bishop Sorondo or Schellnhuber speak or reading statements by Klein or Oreskes, and looking at the manipulations of climate science by the catastrophists and left-wing environmentalists, I wonder along with Vaclav Klaus, the former President of the Czech Republic, “Is our climate really endangered or our freedom?” (Klaus 2007).
I do not deny that individually and collectively we have a deep spiritual responsibility to Mother Earth. But when devising that care, science must stay within the logic of scientific methods; otherwise it can be manipulated. A famous example of such manipulation was the control of Soviet science by Trofim Lysenko, who condemned the modern genetics developed by the Augustinian monk, Gustav Mendel, and theories of natural selection proposed by Charles Darwin.
The independence of modern science from theology and philosophy was clearly spelt out by Cardinal John Henry Newman in his famous book, ‘The Idea of a University’, published in 1858:Unless at liberty to investigate on the basis and according to the peculiarities of his science, the scientist cannot investigate at all.
There is now a growing observational database that does not support the idea that increasing carbon dioxide levels coming from human industrialization are controlling the direction and extent of modern climate change. The present Vatican has backed the wrong horse, just like it did when it condemned Galileo. The words of James Lovelock, a world famous scientist who wrote books on catastrophic climate change, should be nailed to the doors of St Peter’s Basilica. Lovelock had the courage and objectivity to change his mind:
The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened. The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world by now… (Lovelock, 2015).
When the Church condemned Galileo it took centuries to disentangle itself from that contemporary mixture of science, philosophy and theology. Today’s situation within the Church is not different; there is a similar mess, and only the players and the scientific parameters involved are different. As Vaclav Klaus (2008), the previous President of Czechoslovakia, has said:
Our beautiful blue planet has been placed in green shackles by leftist environmentalists and prophetic catastrophists (Klaus, 2008).
The fairy tale called the Emperor’s New Clothes is very relevant. The defense of the role of greenhouse gases as the primary drivers of the present global warming may become more strident, but one day, someone or some event, will make it so blatantly obvious that the emperor and all his rabid followers are stark naked. Then the science community, and hopefully also the Church leadership, will nod in agreement so that the simplistic climate theories, built up over the past 40 years, will collapse. And finally, the charade of catastrophism and left-wing environmentalism that are threatening our freedom and our economic development will be over.
‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ (illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen 1849)
Thank you for listening to me. I hope I’ve challenged you.
Dr Howard Brady
Books referred to:
Brady, H. 2017 (2nd Ed). Mirrors and Mazes: a guide through the climate debate. Mirrors and Mazes, Canberra (http://www.mirrorsandmazes.com.au).
Klaus, V. 2008. Blue Planet in Green Shackles: what is endangered – Climate or Freedom? Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington.
Klein, N. Conway, E. 2017. This changes everything: Capitalism versus the Climate. Simon & Schuster. Penguin Books.
Lovelock, J. 2015. A rough ride to the future. Allen Lane – Penguin Books.
Oreskes, N. 2014. 2011. Merchants of Death. How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Bloomsbury Press.
Newman, J.H. 1858. Idea of a University. Yale University Press, 1996.