Crank of the Week – June 19, 2015 – Pope Francis
Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio and current leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, announced this week an encyclical about climate change. While its content was known through numerous leaks and statements from Vatican spokesmen, the actual document is stunning for its sketchy science and anti-capitalist moralizing. Climate change alarmists have hailed the Pope's “coming out” against climate change as a great victory for eco-activists everywhere. This ignores the fact that Francis has no scientific qualifications to make such a statement and that the Pope's stand on other issues—abortion, women priests, gay marriage, etc—are anathema to the majority of green leftists. If anything, the Catholic Church's meddling in science brings back memories of Galileo and persecution of other early scientific thinkers. The scientific revolution began when church and state were separated; this is a grand step backward for human progress.
Pope Francis has been a fairly popular Pope as such things go. He is the first South American Pope and is billed as a man of the people, giving lip service to various socialist ideas and strongly criticizing rich capitalists. Now the Red Pope has waded into the turgid pool of confusion that is the climate change debate and the debate has been transformed into the openly religious schism it has always secretly been. Few papal proclamations have received the level of interest and partisan debate as this one. On prominent global warming skeptic called it Rome’s greatest scientific blunder since Galileo was tried in 1633 “for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the sun is the center of the world.”
On the eve of the encyclical's release, a new Pew Research Center survey found that US Catholics’ views on global warming are similar to that of other Americans. A solid majority believe that Earth is warming, but there is much more division over the cause and seriousness of climate change. The poll results are summarized below.
Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, his concern for the poor and his commitment to interfaith dialogue, but not for his grasp of scientific subjects. Officially title “Encyclical Letter Laudato Si' Of The Holly Father Francis On Care For Our Common Home,” the text runs to over a hundred printed pages. Filled with selective detail, it is perhaps the most scientific document to come out of the Vatican since John Paul II put forth his views on evolution in 1996. Many in the environmental community have praised the encyclical, which affirms that human activity causes climate change and repeats many of the typical impacts repeated ad nauseum by climate activists. As lukewarmist Roger Pielke Jr. put it: “Self-proclaimed anti-growth, anti-democracy neo-Malthusian joins with religious leader to issue an empty exhortation. Enviro journos giddy.”
But all is not sweetness and light. Even such green lefty sources as Scientific American find that the encyclical isn't all it's being touted as. In an article on the SA editorial blog, titled “Ideology Subsumes Empiricism in Pope's Climate Encyclical,” Lawrence M. Krauss had this to day about the Pope's message:
An encyclical wouldn’t be an encyclical without theology however, and that is where problems arise. In a chapter entitled “Gospel of Creation” Francis ruminates poetically on the nature of man, the mystery of the cosmos (my own area of study) and the special duty Christians have to respect nature, humanity and the environment. It’s beautifully presented and sounds good in principle. However, his biblical analysis leads to the false conclusion that contraception and population control are not appropriate strategies to help a planet with limited resources.
There are problems lurking beneath the surface for most liberals—the Pope does not back away from long held Catholic dogma on many subjects. Make no mistake, this Pope blames the threat to nature and the suffering of the poor on the excesses of capitalism and the rich nations of the world. Socialists love that, but they hate the other positions on social issues. But the Pontiff links fighting global warming to opposing abortion in his encyclical. How many leftist eco-fanatics will buy into that? Even so, climate alarmists are welcoming the Pope's support, with caveats.
“I think it is difficult to underestimate the moral authority that the Pope brings to acting on climate with this encyclical,” Michael Mann, a Penn State climate scientist and notorious climate alarmist, said in an email. “I suspect we will look back at this moment as a turning point, and we will view Pope Francis as one of the great heroes in modern history.” As Steve Milloy put it: “Pope converts from Catholicism to Climatism.”
The Pope warns of “grave consequences” if we fail to act, primarily for the poor. But at the same time he rejects the most effective steps that could be taken to help the poor, first among them being providing abundant, inexpensive energy. Warmist environmental policy expert, Bjorn Lomborg, wrote in USA Today “What Pope Francis should do to really help the poor.” Most of Lomborg's well reasoned proposals are in direct contradiction of the Pope's heart felt but nonsensical ideas. How can you oppose birth control while denying the burgeoning poor access to fossil fuels? That sounds like a recipe for genocide, not compassion.
Sorry Francis, you should stick to saving souls and leave science to scientists. Remember the other times the Catholic Church intervened in scientific progress? The Church knew Galileo was right, but persecuted him for political reasons. Books by Galileo and Copernicus were banned by the Church. Michael Servetus, a Spanish physician in the 16th century who discovered pulmonary circulation, fled the Spanish Inquisition only to be arrested and burned alive by the Protestant Inquisition in Switzerland (can't let the Catholics have all the fun). So it is with climate change and the socialist agenda opposing it. Out of a misplaced sense of compassion the Pope is wading into a socialist cesspool of half truths and lies. A theologian snookered by bad science that he is ill-equipped to understand.
Desperation certainly makes for strange bedfellows. As the climate alarmist cause slips in importance, overwhelmed by spreading international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, expansionist tendencies in both Russia and China, deadly disease outbreaks, and all around crappy economic conditions, the people of the world don't much give a fig about climate change. It consistently finishes last on polls of public concerns.
So does this papal treatise really matter? Here is how Nigel Lawson explained it in the Financial Post:
It matters, and matters a great deal, on two quite separate grounds. The first is that it has gone a long way towards ushering in a new age of unreason. It is a cruel irony that, while it was science which, more than anything else, was able by its great achievements to establish the age of reason, it is all too many climate scientists and their hangers-on who have become the high priests of a new age of unreason.
The truth is that the Age of Reason and the Scientific Revolution didn't take off until the advanced nations got religion out of government and divorced the church from civil policy making. The Pope thinks the advanced nations suck. We can see how terrible life is in rich nations by the flow of illegal immigrants into the US and the EU. So the Pope's words don't make sense to the poor, they don't make sense to the rich; they are only welcomed by socialist green fanatics who despise most of the Catholic Church’s core beliefs. So, for playing the dupe for people you should be denouncing, this Crank of the Week is all yours: Pope Francis.