Pope’s Confused Climate Communique

Published May 1, 2015

Climate Change Weekly #170

On April 28, Pope Francis hosted a one-day conference, “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.” Unfortunately, the conference was less a discussion and more a lecture to the world on the evils of capitalism and the “fact” fossil fuel use causes increasing poverty and inequality and is destroying the planet.

Skeptics, led by representatives of The Heartland Institute, traveled to Rome to educate the pope concerning the virtues of fossil fuels as necessary to improve the lot of humankind and the weaknesses in the evidence humans are causing climate catastrophe. Though they received a great deal of media coverage, they were shut out of the pontifical conclave.

The game was rigged from the outset. Only climate alarmists were on the pope’s guest list. For the pope and his invitees, the debate was over. The conclusion was as pre-determined as the language in the pope’s official concluding statement, “Climate Change and the Common Good: A Statement of the Problem and the Demand for Transformative Solutions.” For the pope and his invitees, the problem is fossil fuel use causing dangerous climate change. Their solution? Enforce political control of the use of resources and the global economy, restrict fossil fuel use, and redistribute wealth.

The pope’s document points to climate models as evidence humans are causing potentially irreversible climate change. But models are not evidence, and their predictions of increasingly dangerous weather events and crop losses have not been borne out. The pope and his co-authors assert current paths of development are unsustainable. Unsustainable by what standard? Malthusian claims to the contrary, humankind continues to produce more food and discover more fuel, every year. Human lifespans and the number of people receiving adequate food and basic education also have expanded over the past century. Yet the pope seems to think these gains have been disastrous for the planet and its people. Yes, too many people still live in poverty and need, but this cannot be blamed on capitalism. The poorest among us remain in that condition largely due to governments’ suppressing the development and free exercise of property rights, combined with centralized control of resources, warfare, and corruption in developing countries.

The pope’s condemnation of fossil fuels is untenable and immoral. It is precisely thanks to fossil fuel use billions of people have been brought out of the abject poverty their ancestors toiled in for previous millennia. Richard Epstein says it best in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels:

Climate is no longer a major cause of deaths, thanks in large part to fossil fuels. … Not only are we ignoring the big picture by making the fight against climate danger the fixation of our culture, we are “fighting” climate change by opposing the weapon that has made it dozens of times less dangerous. The popular climate discussion has the issue backward. It looks at man as a destructive force for climate livability, one who makes the climate dangerous because we use fossil fuels. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite; we don’t take a safe climate and make it dangerous; we take a dangerous climate and make it safe. High-energy civilization, not climate, is the driver of climate livability.

The Global Warming Policy Forum links the pope’s aversion to markets and his embrace of collectivism to his immersion in Marxist-inspired liberation theology so popular in South America, whence the pope hails, in the 1970 and 1980s.

The 2.0 version of liberation theology has a green tinge. As GWPF writes,

The statement peddles eco-liberation theology based on the tedious demonization of markets and capitalism. It claims that “Market forces alone, bereft of ethical values, cannot solve the intertwined crises of poverty, exclusion, and the environment.” But market forces are never “left alone.” Moreover, history tells us that those countries where market forces are allowed to work under secure rights of property are the ones which tend to be most ethical and charitable.

It calls, again, not for a New Socialist Man but a New Vatican Man whose attitude towards Nature has been “reoriented” in a more collectivist direction. Faith, hope and charity are transformed into ideology, sustainability and forced redistribution. Godliness is now to be replaced by “deep de-carbonization.”

In the end, I find the pope’s recent statement either uninformed or immoral. His seeming embrace of population control, and lowering the standards of living for those in industrialized countries rather than raising standards of living for the impoverished in developing counties, is anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, and anti-human. He has joined radical environmentalist misanthropes who have long believed humans are a disease on the planet, with radical population control being the only cure.

With all due respect to the Holy Father, the pope is just plain wrong on this matter: Restricting or ending fossil fuel use, not climate change, is the real recipe for disaster. It would set human civilization back centuries, ringing a true death knell for present and future generations.

— H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: Global Warming Policy Forum; Somewhat Reasonable; and Vatican Radio


Models miss nature’s role in climate … Alarmist angst over government funding of skeptic … Congressman warns of climate religion … Scientists advise museums to reject Hansen’s fossil fuel ban … Environmentalists at war – amongst themselves! … House rolls out new research policy, funding

Notable & Quotable: Global Cooling
From Time magazine, June 24, 1974
Updated April 29, 2015 8:13 p.m. ET

As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

Telltale signs are everywhere-from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data.


A new study based on 1,000 years of temperature records shows natural climate variability – resulting from interactions between the ocean, the atmosphere, volcanic eruptions, and other natural factors – better accounts for observed decadal changes in temperature than climate models stressing temperature forcing from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the research used observed data rather than climate model assumptions to track rates of temperature change.

SOURCES: Scientific Reports; Daily Mail; and Duke Environment


The Australian government is awarding $4 million to the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) business school for the creation of the Australia Consensus Centre, in partnership with “skeptical environmentalist” Björn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre. Climate alarmists are not happy about it. UWA says the point of the new center is to “identify the key challenges facing Australia and the world, and advise the government on potential policy reforms and other interventions that will deliver the most cost-effective solutions.” Who could be against this? Apparently climate alarmists.

Lomborg has consistently taken a practical, middle-of-the-road attitude towards climate change. He argues it’s real, just not a crisis. This viewpoint earned him the ‘denier’ label. Radical environmentalists reacted with anger and angst to the government’s announcement it was working with Lomborg as evidenced in rants on Twitter. Brietbart offered a selection of those tweets.

SOURCE: Breitbart


In a Wall Street Journal column, Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, noted President Barack Obama used his Earth Day address to gin up support for his restrictive climate change agenda. Obama proclaimed, “Today, our planet faces new challenges, but none pose a greater threat to future generations than climate change. As a Nation, we must act before it is too late.” Smith argues Obama’s claim of impending climate disaster is bunk, a scare story spread in the face of mounting countervailing evidence with the underlying goal of redistributing wealth from developed countries to developing countries.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal


More than 80 scientists and scholars working through CO2 Science.org sent an open letter to museums around the country requesting they reject a suggestion made in a March 24 letter by James Hansen, former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and other scientists. Hansen and his co-signers had requested museums cut all ties and refuse all funding from companies in the fossil fuel industry.

The CO2 Science letter states:

The idea that the world can or should abandon fossil fuels is deeply wrong-headed, not just from a scientific perspective, but also from a humanitarian perspective.

For thousands of years only a small fraction of mankind lived well while the rest faced poverty, filth, hunger and disease. That has all changed over the past century and a half, thanks to the use of fossil fuels. The benefits of low-cost and abundant energy from fossil fuels have permitted a standard of living for most of society that exceeds the wildest dreams of past elites. Today China, India and other developing countries are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of deprivation by the greater use of fossil fuels. Despite these clear benefits, a movement has emerged that demonizes fossil fuels and anyone who questions the dogma that a near-term climate catastrophe is upon us. The [Hansen] letter is a good example of the movement’s tactics.

The CO2 Science letter describes Hansen, et al.‘s letter as part of a movement to treat carbon dioxide as a pollutant and to demonize anyone who disagrees with the theory humans are causing catastrophic climate change. CO2 Science points out carbon dioxide in fact is a naturally occurring gas necessary to life on Earth.

CO2 Science quotes physics Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman concerning the validity of a theory: “If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make a difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t make a difference how smart you are, who made the guess or what his name is, if it disagrees with experiment it’s wrong.” As CO2 Science points out, experiments and observations do not support the climate movement’s alarming scenarios.

SOURCES: The Natural History Museum and CO2 Science


There is a growing schism within the green environmental left. On one side are anti-humanist misanthropes, whom author and energy expert Robert Bryce labels “absolutists,” who would ask the poor in developing countries to forego the benefits flowing from fossil fuel use in order to prevent climate change. On the other side are environmentalists and human welfare advocates, self-labeled ecomodernists, who argue preventing development in poor countries by restricting fossil fuel use is immoral, untenable and ultimately counterproductive.

Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, concludes his fascinating if lengthy article for National Review:

The ecomodernists have laid out a thoughtful position paper that dares the absolutists to go beyond sloganeering and stigmatizing. I will be pleasantly surprised if Divest Harvard, 350.org, Sierra Club, and their allies respond to that dare. But I’m not holding my breath.

SOURCES: National Review and New York Times


The U.S. House of Representatives science committee has offered a bill to reauthorize, shape, and fund research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Department of Energy (DOE), and federal science education policy.

  • The bill would authorize NSF spending for two years, each year at $7.6 billion. That is $126 million less than President Barack Obama requested but $253 million more than NSF’s current budget.
  • Most, but not all, DOE Office of Science programs would be funded in 2016 at levels proposed by the Obama administration, with no increase for 2017. In a major funding disagreement with the White House, DOE’s Office of Science’s Biological and Environmental Research program would have its funding cut to $550 million, 7 percent below its current level of $592 million and 10% below the White House’s 2016 request. The bill also directs program managers to prioritize basic biological and genomics research and de-emphasize climate research.
  • DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would get about $1.2 billion in 2016 and 2017, one-third less in than it did in 2015.

SOURCE: Science Mag

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