Pope Francis, climate change, and morality

by Judith Curry

The Pontifical Academy of Science meeting on climate change is raising some interesting issues for Catholics and for humanity.

Pope Francis is emerging as one of the world’s foremost campaigners on global warming.  The Economist writes in an article A green wearing white?:

The challenge for Pope Francis will be to strike a note that sounds authentic to his own followers, including conservative sceptics, while also striking a chord with the remainder of humanity.

Chris Mooney writes:

Many in the environmental and scientific community think that if Pope Francis injects himself into international climate politics in an equally blunt fashion later this year, the ramifications on the climate debate could be dramatic.

Statistician and climate scientist Matt Briggs (a Catholic) writes in Crisis Magazine:

Used to be in the West when the Catholic Church spoke, people listened. They considered. Sure, they sometimes rejected, perhaps even more often than they heeded. 

Not so now. The press, politicians, and people no longer care what the clergy has to say on designer babies (i.e. eugenics), abortion, homosexual acts, same-sex “marriage”, you name it [JC comment: BIRTH CONTROL] . Not when a recalcitrant Church disallows female priests, divorce, and every other thing the secular salivate over.

Papal Summit on climate change

The rationale for the Summit is described in America: The National Catholic Review:

The one-day summit on April 28 will also include participants from major world religions and aims to “elevate the debate on the moral dimensions of protecting the environment in advance of the papal encyclical,” as the papal document is known.

Another goal, says a statement on a Vatican website, is to highlight “the intrinsic connection between respect for the environment and respect for people — especially the poor, the excluded, victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, children, and future generations.”

Also addressing the conference will be Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, a top Vatican official who is leading the drafting process of Francis’ encyclical on the environment, which is expected to come out in June or July.

The program for the Summit is [here].  Councillors of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences are found [here]; the names include Paul Crutzen, V. Ramanathan, Martin Rees.

The Summit issued a Final Declaration:

World leaders meeting at the Vatican for a conference on climate change have issued a final statement, declaring that “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality” and “its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity.”

The statement says that humans have the technological and financial means, and the know-how, to combat human-induced climate change, while at the same time eliminating global poverty.

The statement is a political one; about half of the statement is devoted to the forthcoming UNFCCC COP meeting in Paris.

Climate change statement by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences 

The following statement has been issued by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: Climate Change and the Common Good: A Statement of the Problem and Demand for Transformative Solutions.  The list of authors includes Ramanathan, Crutzen, Rees, Peter Raven, Jeffrey Sachs, Mario Molina, Schellenhuber.

From the Declaration:

The Catholic Church, working with the leadership of other religions, can now take a decisive role by mobilizing public opinion and public funds to meet the energy needs of the poorest 3 billion people, thus allowing them to prepare for the challenges of unavoidable climate and eco-system changes. 

The document contains the usual rhetoric, albeit with some surprising nods to uncertainty.  The most compelling parts of the documents relate to Ramanathan’s plea for cook stoves:

In addition to the issue of inter-generational equity, climate change from fossil-fuel burning poses a major problem of intra-generational equity. During the 20th Century the overwhelming bulk of carbon emissions was made by today’s rich countries. But there are still three billion people today who do not have access to modern energy sources. They are obliged to cook and heat their homes by burning solid fuels, thus producing indoor smoke to a degree that is dangerous to their health.

Peter Raven’s perspective on ecology and species loss comes across loud and clear:

Unsustainable consumption coupled with the already record size of the human population and the uses of inappropriate technologies are causally linked with the destruction of the world’s sustainability and resilience and the loss of millions of species of the organisms on which we depend directly for life, as well as the widening inequalities of wealth and income in many societies.

The most controversial statements in the document effectively say “ditch capitalism:”

“Market forces alone, bereft of ethical values, cannot solve the intertwined crises of poverty, exclusion, and the environment,” the document adds. “The move to a sustainable world will not be cost-free for all: the options we face are not ‘win-win.’”

“We should be prepared to accept a reallocation of the benefits and burdens that accompany humanity’s activities both within nations and between nations,”

A summary of the Recommended Measures:

RECOMMENDED MEASURES: CLIMATE MITIGATION

● Reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions without delay, using all means possible to meet ambitious international targets for reducing global warming and ensuring the long-term stability of the climate system. 

● Reduce the concentrations of short-lived climate warming air pollutants (dark soot, methane, lower atmosphere ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons) by as much as 50%, to slow down climate change during this century, and to prevent a hundred million premature deaths between now and 2050 as well as hundreds of millions of tons of crop loss during the same period.

● Prepare especially the most vulnerable 3 billion people to adapt to the climate changes, both chronic and abrupt, that society will be unable to mitigate. 

● The Catholic church, working with the leadership of other religions, can take a decisive role by mobilizing public opinion and public funds to meet the energy needs of the poorest 3 billion to better prepare them to cope with impending climate changes and more generally to raise the incomes, education, healthcare and quality of life of the world’s poorest under the aegis of the SDGs.

● Over and above institutional reforms, policy changes and technological innovations for affordable access to renewable energy sources, there is a fundamental need to reorient our attitude toward nature and, thereby, toward ourselves. 

RECOMMENDED MEASURES: BEYOND CLIMATE CHANGE

● We must find ways to protect and conserve as large as possible a fraction of the tens of millions of plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms that make up the living fabric of the world.

● In view of the persistence of poverty, the widening of economic and social inequalities, and the continued destruction of the environment, we support and endorse the call for the adoption by 2015 of new universal goals, to be called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to guide planetary-scale actions after 2015.

● Only through the empowerment and education of women and children throughout the world will we be able to attain a world that is both just and sustainable. 

Pushback

The Christian Science Monitor writes:

It’s the kind of organized effort that sets many conservative skeptics’ teeth on edge. And even though previous popes issued similar teachings on the environment, Francis has sparked a particularly vocal response. For Catholic conservatives, both in the US and overseas, Francis’s progressive views, combined with his overwhelming popularity with the laity, represents a challenge that some critics see as moving from the theological realm to the political. But there is no question that his voice reaches farther – on this and other social issues – than his predecessor.

The Heartland Institute organized a delegation to go to Rome to advise the Pope (I have no idea if they actually obtained an audience with the Pope). Breitbart has an article Vatican heavies silence climate heretics at UN Papal Summit. Telegraph also has an article Pope attacked by climate change skeptics.

I personally don’t think the Heartland sponsored efforts will be effective in influencing the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical.  Matt Briggs writes:

But I don’t think these uninvited emissaries will have much effect. I’m far from an expert on the politics of the Vatican, but from what I’ve gleaned, the best way to get things “done” in that glorious and ancient institution is to work behind the scenes. (Making contact with some skeptical bishops would have been my goal. It still is.)

Arguably the most effective ‘pushback’ comes from Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, who coordinated An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change, excerpts:

As world leaders contemplate a climate agreement, many look to you for guidance. We commend you for your care for the earth and God’s children, especially the poor. With this letter we raise some matters of concern that we ask you to consider as you convey that guidance.

Much of the debate over environmental stewardship is rooted in a clash of worldviews, with conflicting doctrines of God, creation, humanity, sin, and salvation. Unfortunately, that clash often works its way into the very conclusions of environmental science. Rather than a careful reporting of the best evidence, we get highly speculative and theory-laden conclusions presented as the assured results of science. In the process, science itself is diminished, and many well-meaning moral and religious leaders risk offering solutions based on misleading science. The effect, tragically, is that the very people we seek to help could be harmed instead.

And finally, I copied this tweet (I don’t know who wrote it):  It is now obvious that “Global Warming” is matter of religious belief and has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with Science.

Climate change as a moral dilemma

Pope Francis is tapping into the growing movement for climate justice.

David Roberts (now at Vox) has a relevant article, excerpt:

But as Heartland clearly recognizes, the Pope’s statement carries unique significance for the simple reason that he has unquestioned moral authority for millions of people. He threatens to situate the fight against climate change as a deeply moral issue, a matter of God’s work on earth. Once it is so situated, it will slowly and inexorably drag culture and politics along in its wake. The right, which is entirely comfortable deploying moral arguments, understands this better than the mainstream, center-left environmental establishment. 

Can climate action become a moral imperative? On that question, there is no fact of the matter, no answer knowable in advance. Moral imperatives are not things societies discover, but things they create, by believing in them. If enough people believe that climate action is a moral imperative, then it is. Belief makes it so.

Pat Michaels has a relevant article:  The Climate Courage of Pope Francis. . Excerpts:

The conference has a moral duty to the poor, namely to help them find ways to not be poor. There is no debate that depriving them of the technological means that are required to lift their societies is immoral.

Pope Francis has done the world a wonderful favor. It is now time to examine all the moral aspects of climate change, the way we power our society, and the need to protect and help the least among us. Anything less would be a waste of the pontiff’s calling.

Bjørn Lomborg has been making the case that getting energy and clean water to Africans is a higher moral priority than pursuing renewable energy. Matt Ridley has an excellent article Electricity for Africa.  Excerpts:

Without abundant fuel and power, prosperity is impossible: workers cannot amplify their productivity, doctors cannot preserve vaccines, students cannot learn after dark, goods cannot get to market. Nearly 700 million Africans rely mainly on wood or dung to cook and heat with, and 600 million have no access to electric light.

Africa is awash with fossil fuels — but not the capital to build plants to turn them into electricity.Yet the greens want Africans to hold back on the cheapest form of power: fossil fuels. In 2013 Ed Davey, the energy secretary, announced that British taxpayers will no longer fund coal-fired power stations in developing countries, and that he would put pressure on development banks to ensure that their funding policies rule out coal. 

Yvo de Boer, head of the Global Green Growth Institute, says: “You really have to be able to offer these countries an economically viable alternative, before you begin to rule out coal.” And Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank, says it is hypocritical for western governments, made rich by fossil fuels, “to say to African countries, ‘You cannot develop dams, you cannot develop coal, just rely on these very expensive renewables’.”

And finally, Climate Change Dispatch asks:  Will Pope Francis Stop Using Fossil Fuels to Set an Example? 

JC reflections

The debate on climate change has centered on the science and economic cost/benefit analyses – both of which are dominated by deep uncertainties.  The moral dimensions of the climate change problem have received short shrift.  The main moral debate is the conflict between intergenerational equity (e.g. our grandchildren) versus intra-generational equity (the poorest of the poor, on the edge of survival).  The certainty of the current desperation of the poorest of the poor, versus the huge uncertainty of what kind of climate change our great grandchildren might face (and whether we can influence that change in any event), to me points in the direction of working to support the poorest of the poor and support their needs for electric power and cook stoves.

I applaud Pope Francis for standing up and speaking for the world’s poor, and for highlighting creation care and care for the earth’s species.  But the elephant in the room is this: POPULATION INCREASE.  Anthropogenic climate change is largely a problem of global population increase, particularly as the extremely rapidly growing populations in the world’s poorest countries seek electric power and to develop economically.

Among the world’s religions, the Roman Catholic Church stands out in disallowing artificial contraception. While practicing Roman Catholics in the West largely pay no attention to this edict, it does influence international family planning efforts [link].  Contraception helps lower birth rates.  The other major factors are education of women and economic development.  The Pontifical Academy climate change statement calls out the need for education of women, but the issue of population increase and need for economic development are not addressed.

I hope that the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical on climate change will truly be a moral statement/quest, rather than a political one.  If Pope Francis truly cares about global climate change and the impact on the poorest of the poor and species, then he should address the population problem and join the rest of the world’s religions in dropping the edict against artificial contraception.

Update: interesting guest post on BishopHill about papal encyclicals

202 responses to “Pope Francis, climate change, and morality

  1. Dr. Curry,

    If Pope Francis truly cares about global climate change and the impact on the poorest of the poor and species, then he should address the population problem and join the rest of the world’s religions in dropping the edict against artificial contraception.

    I agree with you. I wonder if Pope Francis might privately agree with you too, but I suspect there are limits to his power. He’s just the Pope after all, not God Almighty Himself. :)

    • I’m suspect the pope has the authority to drop the edict against contraception

      • You think the cardinals would just say, sure Jorge. Sounds like a good idea?

        I dunno. I think there’d be white smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel two weeks later.

      • I sincerely doubt it. That would involve a major change to the doctrines of the church, and no pope could do that by himself – he does not have that authority.

      • I am surprised the Church learned so little from its attempt to prevent Galileo from telling the world that Earth revolves around the Sun, the center of the solar system.

        I am intrigued that the Church and postmodern consensus science are still trying to ignore the Sun’s dominant influence on mankind.

      • The Catholic church wants more Catholics. Banning contraception is a cheap way to get it done.

      • Of course, I could be wrong. I read here that Pope Francis is altering the balance of power inside the Vatican.
        Maybe he could get away with it, what do I know.

      • He’s also significantly restructuring the Vatican’s finances.

        fortune.com/2014/08/14/this-pope-means-business/

      • The Pope does not have the authority to change core Church doctrine. He cannot make moral that which core dogma makes immoral.

        Not to mention, those of you so eager to urge such a change ought to at least find out what the Church actually teaches, and why, before doing so. Some around here were true believes in the church of global warming, before they began to actually think about the actual arguments against much of the politicized ‘science’.

        (Here’s a couple tiny hints. It is physically impossible to get pregnant from not taking a birth control pill. It may be impossible to maintain the family as a core societal institution when sex is transformed into a recreational activity. The issue is tad bit more complicated than ‘what a stupid idea’.)

        Also, before blaming the Church for over population, take a look at where that has occurred, and what the faiths are in those countries. There are some Catholics in China and India, but they are extremely small minorities.

        Poverty is the primary cause of ‘over population’ in poor families. You need to have lots of kids to make sure some of them survive to support you in your old age in impoverished countries. Poverty, not climate change, is also the cause of most deaths from ‘air pollution’ – the burning of dung to heat food.

      • Perhaps Pope Pious XII joined forces with frightened world leaders in 1945 to

        1. Save the world from possible nuclear annihilation, and
        2. End the scientific revolution Copernicus started 400 years earlier by

        Inserting faith-based creation (Big Bang Cosmology) into science. Here is Pope Pious XII 1951 lecture to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:

        http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12EXIST.HTM

    • but I suspect there are limits to his power.

      Well, not really, He could drop opposition to abortion anytime he likes and just say, “God told me to do it.”

    • Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical in 1968 banning birth control. According to that Fount of Truth Wikipedia (which is actually pretty good when the subject of the article is not climate change or a few others on which a strong political faction has taken over) Pope Paul’s predecessor, Pope John XXIII had set up a Pontifical Commission on Birth Control to consider the question.

      The commission produced a report in 1966, proposing that artificial birth control was not intrinsically evil and that Catholic couples should be allowed to decide for themselves about the methods to be employed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontifical_Commission_on_Birth_Control

      Pope Paul rejected their conclusion, but this shows that there was not universal accord within the church supporting Pope Paul’s reasoning.

  2. Religious science?

    I guess I’ll have to side with Sinead O’Connor on this one.

    • The problem is not the Pope’s religion, it is his politics.

      • Maybe not the Pope’s in particular. But it’s clear that religion has done more harm. than good. How many wars have been fought in the name of God?

        As Lincoln wrote “The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time.”

        Of course, God’s God, so perhaps he can. In any case, the attempt to divine the will of the divine has been the cause of great mischief.over the millennia…

        In al the world, is there anything more dangerous than a human being convinced he’s carrying out the will of God?

      • aneipris,

        Nonsense.

        Human history is a litany of wars, genocides and general savagery. Human use anything, including religion, to justify their depredations.

        It is religion, and the Judeo-Christian ethic in particular, that gave rise to the freest, most just, most powerful, most generous country in human history. Religion did not create the gulags and death camps. Atheist communism and fascism gave us those marvels of mechanized murder.

        The government in the US is in the process of shutting down all the Catholic and other religious hospitals, schools, soup kitchens and orphanages (to the extent there are any anymore), so they can be replaced by state run substitutes that can be run like the DMV and VA.

      • “Human use anything, including religion, to justify their depredations.”

        Gary,

        This is the standard response to the “religion is war-ogenic assertion. But religion, organized religion, by its very nature appeals to the very worst aspects of the still primitive human mind . Intolerance, the arrogance of blind certainty, tribalism, territorialism…I contend it would be a more peaceful world without organized religions. Of course there would still be wars, but on balance I think man would be much better off.

      • “But religion, organized religion, by its very nature appeals to the very worst aspects of the still primitive human mind ”

        Well, you said it so it must be so. Hard to argue with such a detailed analysis.

        The very nature of Christianity is the central command to love your neighbor as yourself. Even the Catholic Church’s just war theology embraces this. Another central tenet of Christianity is the equality of man – all men. “Whatsoever you do to the least of your brethren….”

        Not to mention, the western concept of separation of church and state was pronounced over 2000 years ago, in the Bible. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s.” It just took us a very long time to begin to follow that dictate. (And Pope Francis and the USCCB are doing their level best to help undo that progress.)

      • “Intolerance, the arrogance of blind certainty, tribalism, territorialism…”

        The primitive human mind had thought up all those things, long before religion got organized. The atheist states don’t seem to ever have behaved better or treated their citizenry with more respect and kindness, due to their repression of organized religion.

      • “The primitive human mind had thought up all those things, long before religion got organized. ”

        Don,
        Yes, you’re right. These traits have been selected for in evolutionary terms, so in fact they’ve been advantageous on balance. I can observe most of the same traits in my dogs. But now we have nuclear weapons… along with enlightenment aspirations.. A frightening thought…nuclear weapons in the hands of religious zealots…which is well founded given what’s going on in the mideast for one. Obama is out of his every lovin’ mind. More horrifying in his way than George W.

      • “‘Intolerance, the arrogance of blind certainty, tribalism, territorialism’

        ‘The primitive human mind had thought up all those things, long before religion got organized.’

        ‘Don,
        Yes, you’re right. These traits have been selected for in evolutionary terms, so in fact they’ve been advantageous on balance.'”

        I saw a contortionist at a circus once, was able to take positions that seemed impossible. She had nothing on you.

        If every aspect of human behavior is merely the product of evolution, and only positive evolutionary traits survive, why are so many of you so terrified of religion? It’s just another expression of our genes’ desire to reproduce, carried out without interference of any stupid free will by us mere sacks of fluid, whose sole purpose is to follow the dictates of those genes.

        Imagine there’s no heaven
        It’s easy if you try
        No hell below us
        Above us only sky
        Imagine all the people
        Living for today…

        Poor John, he didn’t realize that much of human history was just like that. And it wasn’t the utopia he thought.

        Why is a sack of fluid arguing so vehemently opposed to religion, which must “have been selected for in evolutionary terms, so in fact they’ve been advantageous on balance”? Why is it vehement about anything?

      • ==> “”Pope Francis is gaining a reputation among conservative/traditionalist Catholics for purging those who dissent, and having a progressive tribal reflex when it comes to political thought…Atheist communism and fascism gave us those marvels of mechanized murder….They turned away orthodox Catholic candidates for the priesthood, and recruited like minded secular progressives, with disastrous results…”

        http://www.npr.org/2015/04/24/401967360/pope-and-mussolini-tells-the-secret-history-of-fascism-and-the-church

        Interesting…from the comment thread linked (no idea about the veracity):

        –snip–

        Hitler was baptized in a catholic church and never excommunicated.
        On the orders of the Vatican, prayers were said for Hitler on his birthday every year.

        Goebbels was excommunicated, for … marrying a divorced protestant.

        50% of the SS were confessing catholics. None ever excommunicated.

        –snip–›

      • aneipris,

        Contemplating the chances of surviving a nuclear exchange can have a sobering effect, even on zealots. My guess is that if the Iranian Ayatollahs really wanted to engage in a suicidal war, they would have done so already. It’s more likely they want the bomb to protect themselves, intimidate their neighbors and to facilitate the increase of their influence and outright control of mainly Shiite regions in the Middle East.

        They can accomplish some of this by merely having the capability to produce a bomb in a few months or a few years. Obama is OK with that. He is even OK with them continuing the parallel development of long range missiles that at some point in time will be able to threaten the U.S. He’s willing to count on them not being suicidal. Live and let live. There’s probably another Nobel Peace Prize in it for him.

        The problem with this sanguine scenario is that there is already a nuclear power in the ME that is not planning to wait for the Ayatollahs to be in a position to drop the bomb on them. According to my friends in the military and intelligence communities of that nation, a preemptive strike using any means necessary would be the very likely course of action to avoid facing that existential threat. Obama knows this. He’s washing his hands.

      • I’m no fan of religion, but if you look where the secular Marxist ideologies are leading us you start to realize that tossing aside millennia of ‘lesson learned’ leads to some pretty dismal ‘solutions’, probably worse than those provided by religion.

      • “Interesting…from the comment thread linked (no idea about the veracity):”

        What’s interesting is that you put that up here, having no idea about the veracity. Why don’t you ask Judith to take this crap down?

  3. The church and science go together like and harlots and starlets.

  4. Social cross-coalitions are common for cultural entities. It’s a good way to gain leverage in adjacent domains and be stronger through the bond.

    Christianity and CAGW seem to have been performing a “shall we shan’t we dance” for years. Seems it’s going to be a ‘shall’ after all, at least for the Catholic branch.

    But this will change the flavor of support in both home camps, and likely lose adherents for both, as well as gain some. And if there’s more cultural fundamentals separating the entities than uniting them, the alliance could fail badly long before they have a chance to grow towards each other.

    Although the old church needs CAGW’s youth and vigor, and CAGW desires another strong lever upon a billion people and yet more moral authority, it doesn’t seem like a marriage made in heaven to me.

  5. stevefitzpatrick

    Judith,
    The Pope will never back away from the churches position on birth control. Even a “progressive” leftist like the Pope understands the limits of his moral authority. Every other Pope was completely mistaken? That’s a tough argument to make, even for a dedicated leftist. Why would he bother to address this issue when most any Catholic person with the financial means already avoids conception, in violation of the Churches teaching? He is surely smart enough to accept reality and leave birth control as it is.

    • John Carpenter

      Because it stands in stark contrast to a leading root cause for environmental stress…. Human overpopulation.

  6. Birth control is very significant because population is the core issue with human ‘footprint’ on the environment and the church appears on the wrong side of that one.

    And the pontiff decided to weigh in on capitalism but given that the environment is a luxury of the capitalist nations, it would appear that the pope got that wrong also.

    I have a lot of respect for Ramanathan, just from reading the papers in the literature, but there’s something disproportionate about seeking out his opinions simply because the issues are much broader than radiance and temperature.
    But it also occurs to me that religion is the ultimate appeal to authority.

    Since the pope has opened up scientific exploration, would he entertain inquiry into whether or not god exists?

  7. Judith,
    As a practicing Catholic, I take issue with your statement that “practicing Catholics largely pay not attention…” to the Church’s position on birth control.
    Best wishes,
    Mike

    • Mike Smith-ex catholic here and while some Catholics align strongly with the churches teachings in that area, Judith’s statement is accurate. http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2011/04/13/

      • Beta Blocker

        Planning Engineer, this is off-topic for this thread, but Governor Brown of California has now issued an Executive Order mandating that California will pursue a 40% reduction in its total carbon emissions by 2030, and an 80% reduction by 2050. A detailed plan of action as to how these two goals are to be accomplished in California is due by the end of September, 2015.

        Governor Brown’s Executive Order instructs all state agencies which have regulatory authority over California’s economic activities, state and local government services, public safety, occupational safety, and environmental compliance to use their existing authorities in ways that will significantly reduce California’s carbon footprint.

        In its scope and extent, the plan Governor Brown has adopted for reducing California’s carbon emissions goes far beyond the plan President Obama has adopted in his most recent climate action plan. When it comes right down to it, the only practical approach which can achieve a 40% reduction in California’s GHG emissions as soon as 2030 must place strong emphasis on energy conservation measures.

        Last fall, I asked you to think about how you would go about managing the transition of California’s electricity grid so as to achieve 50% renewable generation by 2030. In that request, I laid out a series of assumptions on which to base your approach, and you responded with a well-written conceptual outline of a plan for making the transition.

        Now that California is taking a bold step to greatly reduce its GHG emissions over the next fifteen years, you might want to think about updating your conceptual plan from last fall to see how well it might fit in with Governor Brown’s latest Executive Order.

    • Planning Engineer: Please read the survey in detail. It talks about Catholic women who attend Mass “once a month.” That, by definition, is not a “practicing” Catholic. Church law says you MUST attend Mass weekly barring a serious reason such as an illness.

      I am certainly not disputing that many Catholic women use birth control other than NFP, I believe my original statement that pertained to women who attend Mass weekly is correct.

    • Ok Mike, I’ll give you the definition of “practicing Catholic” and the survey I cited includes women who are as infrequent as once a month. I don’t know a good word for people who go to Church semi-regularly, observe sacraments, participate in the parish life, financially support the church, and call themselves Catholic but don’t go every week. I suspect that group is included in our thoughts when we say most Catholics don’t follow teachings on birth control. I don’t think anyone intended to focus on the much smaller group of people who go weekly.

      I don’t know what the evidence is that weekly Catholics use birth control significantly less often than the other 75% of Catholics. But maybe that’s true. That was never my experience.

      • Looking around, I don’t think there is the clarity around “practicing Catholic” that you are assuming Mike. This squares with my memory:

        I’ve understood ‘Practicing’ Catholic to be one who abides by the six precepts of The Church:

        ~Confession at least once a year, preferrebly at Easter
        ~ Communion at least once a year, at Easter
        ~ Mass assistance on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation
        ~ Marriage laws of the Church obeyed
        ~ Fasting and abstinence days appointed by the Church observed
        ~ Contribute to the support the Church, financially or otherwise.

      • The number of Catholics who always follow Catholic moral teaching is remarkably small. We have it on good authority that the number is zero.

      • No judgment intended here GaryM. I think the only point was that there is a considerable disconnect with Catholic teachings and the mass of people who self identify and who most of us identify as Catholic. No offense meant to Mike by implying that there was not a subgroup of “committed” Catholics who were more faithful in following the Church’s tenants. And no offense from me to any “cafeteria” Catholics who pick and choose the parts that work for them and avoid those that don’t. I admire the dedication of the one group and the practicality of the other. Kudos to all for using their reason and conscience for doing what they think is best.

        I think the implication is just that, a Papal endorsement on Climate will please those who are all ready inclined that way and may sway a few others, but western Catholics are likely to show their independence here as they do in many other areas. I ask the Catholics here – would a Papal pronouncement one way or the other on appropriate climate responses cause you to change your perspective? If you saw it differently than the church would you defer?

      • aplanningengineer,

        “…there is a considerable disconnect with Catholic teachings and the mass of people who self identify and who most of us identify as Catholic.”

        Twas ever thus. Popes with concubines, pedophile priests, a kleptocratic bank. But these are the failings of people. Catholic theology, like any other philosophy, should be judged on its own merits, and not dismissed because of the actions of some of its faux adherent.

        For example, the problem with progressivism is not that there have been evil progressives. But that progressivism is a system which caters to one of the central human frailties – the lust for power. It is a system whose very design empowers those for who power is the ultimate goal. It abjures “archaic” western values that had the effect of mitigating the impulse to greed that is the central potential flaw in capitalism.

        A democratic/republican free market society, on the other hand, has checks and balances that prevent the centralization of power and thus limit the potential for natural human vice to have a more systemic effect. One of those key checks has been the Judeo-Christian ethic. If the left succeeds in eradicating it from public life, the free market will become Ayn Rand’s dream, and the people’s nightmare. And they will turn to the left in response.

        This is the real problem with Pope Francis and other Catholic clergy embracing progressive politics on climate, wealth redistribution, socialized medicine and acceptance of moral relativism on social issues. They are helping plant the seeds of the destruction of their own faith, and don’t have a clue they are doing so.

  8. The biblical dictum of “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” seems to have been forgotten by the current pope. By the same token, it should also be remembered by all self-styled authorities who offer their moral instruction here.

    John S.

  9. Unmentioned in most of the discussion of the Church’s paper is the degree to which it agrees with the IPCC’s conclusions — once described as the “gold standard” of climate science.

    The Church document mentions it 3 times, in a general way — the wave of the hand citation typical of climate alarmists (implying that it closely supports their beliefs).

    How closely do the Church’s warnings match with the IPCC’s “projections”? The IPCC describes most extreme and even catastrophic outcomes as “exceptionally unlikely” or “low confidence” or both (as mentioned today at Bishop Hill).

    Given the Church’s long and rocky relationship with science, some fact-checking of their assertions seems warranted.

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2015/4/29/theres-the-science-and-theres-the-vatican-science.html

  10. Been wrestling with this. Am not Catholic, although significant other is, devoutly. Two observations.
    The Pope is not omniscient ( whether infallible is a different debate). He relies on the PAS, which just released the warmunist equivalent of the Nicene Creed (see BishopHill). He is advised by UN Sec. Gen. And US Pres. that this this isman existenial crisis. UNFCCC proposes a Green Climate fund of $100 billion per year, every year, from developed to undeveloped nations. Quite a tithe to the poor.
    He probably has not been told about the consequences of energy poverty, or that renewables are both expensive and incapable by themselves of supporting a stable grid. He probably does not know Germany’s Energiewende is failing.
    My predictions. COP21 in Paris fails to produce anything meaningful.. It already has, since China won’t play, and India and Russia have already gamed the system. So a supportive Vatican encyclical will just do more damage to an anachronistic Catholic Church that prohibits the sacrements to divorcees, prohibits birth control to populations already out of control, and hides horrid preistly child abuse.
    Pope Francis should have stuck with Curia and Vatican Bank reform, plus dealing with the priestly abuse aftermath.

    • ristvan,

      The Pope is not considered infallible except in rare instances. Which have occurred precisely twice in the Church’s history on matters of dogma.

      In this case, Pope Francis is following the more pedestrian example of Pope Urban VIII (of Galileo fame), in following the scientific ‘consensus’ of his day propounded by the majority of scientists, many of whom were Jesuits.

      Guess which order Pope Francis belongs to?

      Aside from your description of certain Church doctrines as “anachronistic”, I otherwise agree with much of your comment, particularly that Francis would better serve by focusing on the corrupt Vatican Bank and highly politicized Curia.

  11. Yep, the Church “helps the poor,” governments “help the poor,” the UN “helps the poor,” and companies “help the poor.” Yet, the poor continue to exist.

    Does the Church excuse the poor from tithing? Like Apple, they provide venues for the little people to donate to the poor and disasters, but they don’t spend some of their billions on Nepal, for example.

    I think the people in the upper echelons of these organizations are mainly just helping themselves. That’s what I think.

    • jim2,

      The Catholic Church has undeniably helped people and communities with its hospitals, schools and other charitable works. There is no comparison to the ‘charitable’ efforts of progressive government, which have never been so much focused on helping the poor, as ensuring their continued dependence on government.

    • I think the Catholic charge is to “serve” the poor. I’m struggling to remember across the years, but the basic idea is that Catholics are not called on to be successful, effective or to change the world – but rather to be of service and to sacrifice. The situation might be hopeless and the actions of little or no benefit – but the sacrifice for the poor in and of itself is a good thing.(You will always have the poor with you.)

      The Catholic church teaches the value of suffering as a holy and glorified sharing in an ultimate sacrifice. Their mission is not the same as someone who would seek to broadly improve happiness and minimize suffering. I don’t think it’s disrespectful to recognize that or to observe that the Church may in the end benefit from efforts that perpetuate poverty. Accusing the Church of deliberately doing that would be disrespectful. I would just suggest that increasing happiness and decreasing suffering seems like a nearly unqualified good to many of us and when someone comes to the table that does not share that goal, we should be wary.

      • Of course, the mission to suffer and sacrifice means that the faithful won’t mind giving up their gold and other resources to the church. I know I have a jaded view here, but that view extends to those in government, business, and others in power in general.

        WRT to the Church and poverty, there is this:

        Catholic Campaign for Human Development The US Catholic bishops’ domestic anti-poverty program. Started in 1970, it is funded through an annual collection in Catholic parishes.

        http://archstl.org/becomingcatholic/page/catholic-glossary

      • “I don’t think it’s disrespectful to recognize that or to observe that the Church may in the end benefit from efforts that perpetuate poverty.”

        More nonsense. It is amazing (not really) that so many who are skeptical of the consensus on ‘climate science’, accept without real thought the modern secular consensus on religion.

        The Catholic Church teaches the value of sacrifice. It does not, no matter what you see in the latest Dan Brown movie, tell people to seek out suffering. It does tell them that enduring suffering with dignity can bring grace. Nor does it in any way seek to prolong or profit from poverty.

      • GaryM – I think it is well established that there is a strong correlation between religiosity and poverty. People turn to the Church in times of trouble, disaster and hardship. Whether you considerate it good or bad the Catholic Church appears less relevant to many people as material wealth increases. Might a world where creature comforts are assured exhibit less religiosity? Again whether this is good or bad, it’s likely that many will see the Church as less relevant. This is the basis for the quote you chopped out of my posting and called nonsense.

        I’ll stand by my first sentence of the second paragraph as it reads. It does not conflict with your statement about the value of suffering or come from a Dan Brown movie. I did not post that the Church tells people to seek out suffering or that they are deliberately seeking to prolong or profit from poverty. I tried to say I was not doing that. I don’t mean to insult the church by saying it’s main purpose is not human happiness nor the amelioration of suffering – but rather doing God’s will. If you want to take issue with that, go I’m all ears.

      • “I think it is well established that there is a strong correlation between religiosity and poverty.”

        Well, if you are talking Budhhism, Hinduism and Mohammadism, you may have a point.

        If you are talking the Judeo-Christian ethic, the west has done more to lift people out of poverty, including in those lands where it is not practiced, than anything else. It is not a mistake that the religion that taught the equality of all men, treating others as you would be treated yourself, and the need for integrity gave rise to the richest, freest, most powerful and most just society inn history. The free market in its modern, egalitarian form, did not arise in China, India, Japan or the Middle East. It is the free market, leavened by the Judeo-Christian ethic, which has managed that.

        Without the free market in the west, just how much progress do you think the fascist/communist Chinese government would be improving the lives of their people? Why are they even trying? (Google Nicolea Ceausescu for your answer. It ain’t altruism.)

        The correlation here is 1:1.

  12. It all sounded very reasonable until I got to the second of the Recommended Measures: Climate Mitigation

    ● Reduce the concentrations of short-lived climate warming air pollutants (dark soot, methane, lower atmosphere ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons) by as much as 50%, to slow down climate change during this century, and to prevent a hundred million premature deaths between now and 2050 as well as hundreds of millions of tons of crop loss during the same period.

    A hundred million premature deaths. Hundreds of millions of tons of crop loss. Next thing they will be telling us that Jonah and the Whale is a historically accurate narrative supported by peer review.

  13. A decade or so ago, I read Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man:

    Perkins argues in his book that developing nations were effectively neutralized politically, had their wealth gaps driven wider and economies crippled in the long run. In this capacity Perkins recounts his meetings with some prominent individuals, including Graham Greene and Omar Torrijos. Perkins describes the role of an economic hit man as follows:

    Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.

    The epilogue to the 2006 edition provides a rebuttal to the current move by the G8 nations to forgive Third World debt. Perkins charges that the proposed conditions for this debt forgiveness require countries to privatise their health, education, electric, water and other public services. Those countries would also have to discontinue subsidies and trade restrictions that support local business, but accept the continued subsidization of certain G8 businesses by the US and other G8 countries, and the erection of trade barriers on imports that threaten G8 industries.

    The post-WWII “Economic Aid” program/scam that Perkins described seemed to me (IIRC in agreement with him in the book) like a 20th-century version of the old European Colonialism.

    Well, recently I’ve been wondering if the whole “global warming” thing isn’t supposed to set the stage for the 21st-century version. Quoting from Ridley

    Meanwhile, China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, is stepping in as the Americans and Europeans step back. Its willingness to fund coal projects is one of the reasons other Asian countries are rushing to join the project, to the irritation of Washington. The Australian government is joining forces with Japan to push for the construction of “clean coal” plants in the developing world — power stations that burn coal more efficiently.

    And this, perhaps, would be a competing colonialism from China. One that doesn’t worry about short-term fossil carbon targets.

    • With due respect, your comment is oversimplified many fold. Confessions borders between crank and nut to any developmental economist. Now, many of those have been wrongs (Sachs in Russia) yet others right (Gramercy microlending).
      China’s new bank does not have the stupid carvon restrictions imposed elsewhere, and is clearly designed to buy regional influence ( and resource access) where it can–Pakistan, Africa, … They are playing the same game TR did early last century. Pity we are unable to respond.

      • With due respect, […]

        Heh! Same to you bud.

        […] your comment is oversimplified many fold.

        True. How to avoid it with a few paragraphs on a subject that deserves a well-researched, and annotated, book?

        Confessions borders between crank and nut to any developmental economist.

        Well, that seems fair. Most “developmental economist[s]” seem to me to “border[…] between crank and nut”.

        Now, many of those have been wrongs (Sachs in Russia) […]

        Your mention of the Russian default reminds me of some pieces written then:

        Margin Call for Crony Capitalism

        Culture And Chaos

        …And…

        The Potemkin Economy

        Unlike your references, these are still freely available, although the site where they were originally published has long ago vanished into the ether. (And many links are broken.)

        As for China, I’m not sure I see the difference between what you said, and what I said.

      • I will just point out that the book and person in question aren’t speaking towards economics. They are speaking towards specific political and economic goals being pursued by organizations and individuals.
        The facts in said book – you can examine them as you please – but we all have present day clear examples: The World Bank today specifically points towards climate change as an organizational goal, and as a result refuses to finance coal fired electricity generation even in the poorest nations with populations lacking night-time lighting much less small household machinery like washing machines.
        The World Bank and IMF were formed by the US specifically to accomplish economic goals. Examination of testimony and early charter of these organizations showed that they were looking specifically to guide European and Japanese rebuilding into areas which did not compete with American economic focuses – I’ve yet to see anything which signifies that these types of organizational goals within said institutions have changed.

      • Examination of testimony and early charter of these organizations showed that they were looking specifically to guide European and Japanese rebuilding into areas which did not compete with American economic focuses – […]

        Let me blockquote from a recent article at Stratfor

        The more fundamental issue concerns neither the euro nor the consequences of a Greek default. The core issue is the future of the European free trade zone. The main assumption behind European integration was that a free trade zone would benefit all economies. If that assumption is not true, or at least not always true, then the entire foundation of the European Union is cast into doubt, with the drachma-versus-euro issue as a short footnote.

        The idea that free trade is beneficial to all sides derives from a theory of the classical economist David Ricardo, whose essay on comparative advantage was published in 1817. Comparative advantage asserts that free trade allows each nation to pursue the production and export of those products in which the nation has some advantage, expressed in profits, and that even if a nation has a wide range of advantages, focusing on the greatest advantages will benefit the country the most. Because countries benefit from their greatest advantages, they focus on those, leaving lesser advantages to other countries for which these are the greatest comparative advantage.

        I understate it when I say this is a superficial explanation of the theory of comparative advantage. I do not overstate it when I say that this theory drove the rise of free trade in general, and specifically drove it in the European Union. It is the ideology and the broad outlines of the concept that interest me here, not the important details, as I am trying to get a high-level sense of Europe’s state.

        It’s worth noting that (according to many sources) Ricardo’s ideas included a very strong focus on the “labor theory of value”, later adopted by Marx and many other socialist “philosophers”. Also, AFAIK, he wrote before the general concept of non-zero-sum games was fully recognized via the study of game theory. Finally, technology and its ability to improve worker productivity was still actually getting off to a start, at least relative to its influence today.

        If the impressions above are right, and “zero-sum” notions have actually been built into the foundations of the whole concept of “free trade” and the establishment of the World Bank, IMF, etc. then it’s no wonder people are fighting over fantasies, when it comes to “developmental economics”.

      • AK,
        You are also mistaking economics for what the World Bank/IMF were chartered to accomplish.
        Yes, the concept of comparative advantage is non-zero sum in that it is supposed to show that nations’ specialization allows for greater overall systemic efficiency, hence a larger pie for all.
        The concept is idealistic, however, as there are things like strategic self sufficiency: a nation which specializes in plush toy making does not have the same economic impact on another as one which specializes in growing food for export (or oil).
        Be that as it may, the purpose of the World Bank and IMF is to ensure that areas which the US believes it has comparative advantage will not be threatened by potential competitors by redirecting economic effort in other nations towards non-competitive areas or areas which the US has advantage and can thus sell into.
        Ricardo’s theories are just that: theory. Nations in reality do not necessarily retain comparative advantage in any specific area over time, because comparative advantage can come from many factors. China, and the Asian Tigers before it, are great examples: the Asian Tigers rose because they had cheap labor, but were eventually driven out of this area due to the opening up of China.

  14. Pingback: Pope Francis, climate change, and morality | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  15. The Heartland Institute organized a delegation to go to Rome to advise the Pope (I have no idea if they actually obtained an audience with the Pope).

    I find that idea rather amusing. Not too many people can just :”request” an audience with the Pope. They should have just sent him a copy with of the NIPCC sp? and left it at that. We all know how reliable the NIPCC is..

  16. I gather the people most enthusiastic about Papal teachings on climate change aren’t Roman Catholics. Otherwise they would know that the lay members of the Church have been learning for quite some time that the Pope oftentimes speaks in matters where he (whoever he is) has little or zero experience, or need to practice.

    The end result is that, rather than getting unquestioned moral guidance, Roman Catholics are given warm feelings and a hint of hope – and that’s enough, having to live in a world where contraception, divorce, all sorts of marriages, euthanasia, etc etc and even abortion are to be dealt with, and lived with, not just dismissed or fought against.

    There is also the not-so-small point that one could agree with the moral gist (make the planet greener and the poor richer) without having to agree with the practical prescriptions (ditch capitalism). Hopefully none will hold their breath expecting the Papal words to change much in Paris or beyond.

  17. The Pope is the titular head of a religion comprising approximately 16% of the world’s population. The other 84% may or may not agree with his views. I have no way of knowing.

    The first recommendation I read is as follows:

    “● Reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions without delay, using all means possible to meet ambitious international targets for reducing global warming and ensuring the long-term stability of the climate system.”

    This seems a little vague. How does one set a target to reduce global warming which doesn’t seem to be occurring? If the climate is chaotic, (as the IPCC states), what would a stable chaotic climate system look like? Unchanging weather, forever? The same weather as a particular year or thirty years in history?

    Who gets to decide what type of climate is to be stabilised? Great climate for the 16% of the population who belong to the Popes faith, but hellish conditions for the other 84%? Do we get to vote?

    All a bit odd.

    • As I understand it the global warming measures to stabilize climate would result in in Gaithersburg having a constant temperature of 55-60°F instead of the 10-100°F temperature range we have now.

      This is one reason I oppose global warmers. To me this seems like a bad plan.

    • Mike Flynn,

      It’s not odd at all once you understand that Pope Francis is a run of the mill default progressive politically. To his economically illiterate slams against capitalism, to this more recent scientific illiteracy, Francis knows what he knows politically with absolute certainty, because that is all he was ever taught, that was all he ever saw (in Argentina and Europe), and that is what everyone he socializes thinks.

      This PAS meeting and the coming encyclical are both part of his push for himself personally to get a ‘seat at the table’ of progressive world politics. expect much worse in the future.

      • Gary, which is why he should stick to his non-political tasks. I think that spiritual development is the highest goal for mankind, and that it involves the development of wisdom and insight by each individual; which depends not on external teaching and teachers – which can only be a guide and/or inspiration – but on direct personal experience of the nature of reality at subtle levels: changing, impermanent, substanceless. If there is a role for organised religion, IMHO it should beprimarily to assist individuals with their spiritual development. It should not lie in direct intervention in political and social matters where religious leaders lack expertise.

        That said, I agree with your general world view as I perceive it on CE, and the important role of the Judeo-Christian religions in the positive developments in Western societies over many centuries. A society with a sound moral basis will always be superior to one which lacks that; and the natural consequence of spiritual development is a reduction in ego and selfishness, an increased compassion and love for others and willingness to help them. To be successful, the volition to help others must, of course, be accompanied by a clear understanding of what will in fact best help them. I don’t doubt the Pope’s volition; I do doubt his understanding of the non-religious matters on which he has chosen to pontificate.

  18. If Francis and the church are concerned with enfranchisement of the poor, especially Third World women, I have an idea. Actually, I have two ideas. 1) Grid power from the cheapest and most reliable source and 2) Electrical appliances, especially automatic washing machines. This sounds shallow to First World people who do not have to spend large slabs of their lives slapping clothes on rocks while pregnant, sick or decrepit. So get shallow.

    As for the First World, it needs efficiency and conservation badly, especially because the “rich” are the ones expected to buy the drinks for the rest. So no more money, resources or energy is to be wasted on green fetishism. If the church thinks wind power is good, let it lead the way and stick wind turbines atop the Vatican and Lateran and go off-grid. They can pay with a Fra Angelico or two. Walking and video conferencing can replace their jet trails. The rest of us will modernise our coal power and build nukes and dams (thus making a lake of cheap oil and gas for plastics, vehicle transport etc, to the fury of Big Oil and the cartels, who will rightly become just another energy shop along the strip.)

    As for this average-to-good slice of the Holocene, let’s just enjoy it and help others to enjoy it. A cooling climate has never been fun for Africa or Asia, so even if you know how to dial-a-climate…don’t!

  19. It’s been a while since there was a peer reviewed scientific paper in Latin.

    Somebody did one in the 1970s though…looking…ah

    Solutio Generalis et Accurata Problematum Quamplurimorum de Motu Corporum Elasticorum Incomprimibilium in Deformationibus Valde Magnis, C. Truesdell, Archive for Rational Mechanics and Analysis 11 1 p.106, 1962

    That’s something for the Pope to aim for.

  20. Not again!

    The rustling of cardinal silk
    and whisperings in the corridors
    of power, the reach of far flung authority
    inside the stone-walled hive,
    while on the slopes outside,
    peasants scrabble
    for scraps from the priests’ table.

    H/t Name of the Rose, the movie.

  21. Denying fossil fuels to the poorest three billion is a dominant moral and ethical issue for society for sure. We cannot afford to fully transition to renewables, let alone provide it for a further three billion. As if any of this was for the common good, it would be the worst thing to happen to us all, especially in a solar minimum of all times.

  22. Judith Curry

    “The debate on climate change has centered on the science and economic cost/benefit analyses – both of which are dominated by deep uncertainties.”

    For people of religious faith, there are no uncertainties with regards to their belief construct. People as in Pope Francis as the leader of a faith that has no uncertainties, presenting arguments that are predicated upon uncertainties, whether about climate or contraception, can only fall on deaf ears as there is no logical way to consider uncertainties when one’s whole being is based upon, there are no uncertainties. There is one God and Jesus Christ is our savior.

    As with Vladimir Lennon, Che Guevara, Leon Trotsky, there are no uncertainties, there are but distractions from a goal. Pope Francis is rooted in the idealized wealth distribution story that each of the above embraced.

    To me, it is highly unlikely that any argument of climate change that contains a large degree of uncertainties will not be logically processed in any meaningful way because of the cognitive dissonance created as such concepts, as uncertainties are, have no logical framework to hang one’s hat, or to consider.

    If very young adults are faced with voting for increasing costs of electricity, in the face of economic gloom and wage stagnation, camouflaging intermittent energy sources as windmills and solar panels with words such as renewables and sustainables more likely than not will see the “barricades” raised against the perceived deceiving class. It is up to skeptics to direct the ire at the appropriate authorities: Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and others of their ilk.

    Skeptics of the World Unite!

  23. Brian G Valentine

    Cardinal Bellarmine didn’t do a whole lot to increase Catholic Church popularity.

    Neither did Lucius III.

    It looks to me like Francis didn’t learn too much from history

  24. Pope Francis is gaining a reputation among conservative/traditionalist Catholics for purging those who dissent, and having a progressive tribal reflex when it comes to political thought. He appears to be a typical political progressive, with all the intellectual vanity and lust for political power that that entails.

    He does not have the authority to change core Church doctrine, but that does not mean he will not try the Obama method of ignoring doctrine (in Obama’s case the US Constitution), and simply ‘radically transforming’ the Church in any way he sees fit.

    He will meet resistance in this from conservative/traditionalist clergy, but he is busily filling the ranks of the bishops and cardinals with his fellow progressives. If he lives long enough, he could drastically change the College of Cardinals, and more importantly the community of bishops.

    The same thing happened in the 60s and 70s in US seminaries, as secular humanist, political progressives gained control of the admissions offices in Catholic seminaries. They turned away orthodox Catholic candidates for the priesthood, and recruited like minded secular progressives, with disastrous results.

    • Brian G Valentine

      Francis came into office and was apparently bullied by the standard lot of EU pinks and “progressives.” His own handlers didn’t let anyone else around him.

      Before that, Francis appeared to be pretty much apolitical.

    • Brian G Valentine,

      Francis was relatively silent because he had no power. The last two popes have been political and doctrinal conservatives. You don’t get radical leftist ideas, and the stridency with which he is pursuing it, in a matter of a couple years.

      The thing about progressives, once they gain power, they reveal their true selves.

  25. The fastest growing populations are in African and Middle Eastern countries, where what the Catholics dictate has no sway anyway. Their population growth is not because of the Pope’s policy. It will happen whatever he says.

  26. I wonder what the pope got.

  27. Reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions without delay, using all means possible to meet ambitious international targets for reducing global warming and ensuring the long-term stability of the climate system.

    This is rather conflicted. If we want to ensure the long-term stability of the climate system, I would think we would want to increase well mixed greenhouse gas concentrations and just keep monitoring global warming.

  28. To a poor citizen of the third world, a fast and orderly transition from burning dung inside the home to burning coal in a modern power plant several miles away would seem like a gift from heaven.

    Improved air quality, vastly improved productivity, a local ecosystem no longer stripped of every scrap of wood, maybe even a box fan to help infants and elders survive a sweltering night. One should ponder long and hard on the meaning of morality before denying these very basic improvements for many millions of the suffering today.

    Hopefully others (i.e. China) would step forward to help if capital is denied by traditional sources struggling to redefine morality.

    • A tank of gas is a week’s wages there. It will be a while before they can even afford fossil fuels.

      • The first step from cooking with dung is not filling the tank of an SUV.

        With one KWH of electrical power and a 75% efficient lift, one man can lift 2,000 one hundred pound sacks of cement three meters, or lift nearly 10,000 gallons of water a meter from a ditch onto a field of crops.

        Or that KWH could light 25 huts with 10 watt cfl bulbs for 4 hours each, so that an entire classroom of women can return home and study after dark.

        Or that KWH could run a box fan on medium speed for maybe two or three sweltering nights so that a sick child might get some sleep and survive a heat wave.

        With just one coal-fired KWH, which cost maybe 10-15 cents US retail.

      • A coal power station, coal fuel and electric grid are not cheap either. They might do better to go with solar and batteries. There are light bulbs you can charge with the sun in the day, and use at night.

    • I hate welfare queens. Africans should be drug tested before getting cheap energy. Give a man fish to eat, and he’ll conclude he’s owed a square meal. Teach a man to fish…

  29. Well, they already have, even before the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.

    The fastest growing economies are largely in Africa, and that kind of growth attracts capital ( also from the zero interest rate bound moribund west ).

    Also fortunately, the demographic trends are largely secular – economic development leads to lower population growth. Foolish ancient ideas from religious leaders aren’t important.

  30. I’m surprised nobody’s noted that it’s probably not the followers of the Catholic church the Warmists are after, it’s the money. The Catholic church has tons of cash.

  31. bedeverethewise

    The Pythons have covered this topic in great detail.

  32. Sorry, but the plea on birth control is misplaced. UN population projections show the population peaking and then dropping back in this century, without that intervention.

    The Church’s teachings on birth control are not political. They come from the Church’s very long held holistic view of family and children, and are philosophically and theologically deeply consistent. Bugging the Church about birth control will get you nowhere, and it is going after the wrong problem. Those views also do not detract from the Church’s moral authority – quite the opposite. They are pro-life in the deepest sense.

    The current pope is too much informed by liberation theology. Coming from Argentina, he simply is not equipped to understand capitalism, and apparently, science. The good news is that we Catholics do not have to follow him on his neo-Marxist quest against capitalism, and his journey along with the alarmists. That’s not how Catholicism works./

    • You make a very good point, and in doing so, highlight a serious potential problem with the Pope’s climate actions:
      while it is unfair to say that environmentalists are against human life, it is completely fair to say that environmentalists – particularly the more radical types – are against prioritizing human life over all other life.
      And this is a problem. The Church is concerned with souls. Animals and plants don’t have souls. I would be very interested to see how a Pope can reconcile the demotion of emphasis on human souls to be replaced with an emphasis on environmental friendliness.

    • The current pope is too much informed by liberation theology.

      This rings true.

      Sorry, but the plea on birth control is misplaced. UN population projections show the population peaking and then dropping back in this century, without that intervention.

      How much of that is due to China’s intervention and/or due to abortion? People who don’t have enough food for themselves probably would not be choosing to have children if they had access to effective birth control. The Catholic Church’s teaching on birth control is not founded on principles that all Catholic theologians deem completely convincing, hence the alternate advice rendered by the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control in 1966.

      • “The Catholic Church’s teaching on birth control is not founded on principles that all Catholic theologians deem completely convincing….”

        There is no issue in Catholic theology, not even the divinity of Christ, that all “Catholic theologians deem completely convincing.”

        It would be nice if some of you would actually try to find out what the Catholic Church teaches on birth control, and more importantly why. But hey, there is a consensus that modern secular rejection of any restraint on sexuality is a good thing.

        Not to rain on your parade, but the 1960s was not the first time humanity decided to reject morality, and particularly sexual morality. It has not ended well. Birth control is one issue of many in a complex area of human behavior. But don’t let that bother you.

        After all, 100% of Climate Etc. commenters agree that the sociology is settled. John Cook eat your heart out.

      • It would be nice if some of you would actually try to find out what the Catholic Church teaches on birth control, and more importantly why. But hey, there is a consensus that modern secular rejection of any restraint on sexuality is a good thing.
        Not to rain on your parade, but the 1960s was not the first time humanity decided to reject morality, and particularly sexual morality. It has not ended well.

        This is the fallacy of the false dilemma, as if the only two options are the prohibition of birth control and the abandonment of morality. Is that even a reason in favor of a prohibition on birth control, that it defends morality under penalty of overpopulation? And let’s also not go into immediate persecution mode just because somebody suggests that you could do things differently or inquires why you don’t.

        There is no issue in Catholic theology, not even the divinity of Christ, that all “Catholic theologians deem completely convincing.”

        Right, but some aspects of the faith have much wider consensus within the church than others and some teachings have a much more compelling rationale in scripture and tradition than do others. This one resulted in an opposite conclusion by a Pontifical Commission.

      • Funny stuff. You admit that your comment was an exaggeration, then claim I am feeling persecuted for pointing that out.

        And I am not impressed by appeals to authority, either among ‘climate scientists’, or Catholic clergy.

        Nor did I pose any “dilemma”. I simply pointed it out that the issue is much more complicated than most of you think, and that no one here yet has shown an actual understanding of the ‘why’ of the Church’s position. And your comment just confirms my point.

        “Is that even a reason in favor of a prohibition on birth control, that it defends morality under penalty of overpopulation?”

        Sheer utter nonsense. I won’t waste my time on such silly straw man arguments. You shouldn’t either.

        What progressives, liberaltarians, independents and ‘moderate’ conservatives don’t get, is that their rejection of western morality is destructive, regardless of whether that morality is of divine origin, the result of millennia of trial and error, or a combination of the two (my own personal belief).

      • Funny stuff. You admit that your comment was an exaggeration, then claim I am feeling persecuted for pointing that out.

        What comment was an exaggeration?

        And I am not impressed by appeals to authority, either among ‘climate scientists’, or Catholic clergy.

        What appeals to authority are you referring to?

        What progressives, liberaltarians, independents and ‘moderate’ conservatives don’t get, is that their rejection of western morality is destructive…

        OK, but we are talking about birth control. How do you get to the destruction of western morality? You can understand the difficulty some have in concluding that the use of birth control within the confines of marriage obviously involves a rejection of western morality.

      • swood1000,

        “What comment was an exaggeration?”

        This: ““The Catholic Church’s teaching on birth control is not founded on principles that all Catholic theologians deem completely convincing….”

        My bad, this is not an exaggeration, it is just content-free.

        “What appeals to authority are you referring to?”

        This: “…hence the alternate advice rendered by the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control in 1966.”

        The findings of a commission tell you nothing about the probity of Catholic moral teaching. Other than that there is dissent, which again, is true on every aspect of theology, and therefore of no importance.

        “OK, but we are talking about birth control. How do you get to the destruction of western morality?”

        The drive to remove limitations on birth control was just the first really significant step in the secular/progressive deconstruction of the family. It is one aspect of the entire debate. Unfortunately, western progressives have succeeded in isolating each aspect of their attacks on religion and the family as isolated issues.

        And liberaltarians, default progressives, ‘moderate conservatives’ and independents can’t be bothered to actually…you know…think about it.

        The sociology is settled. It is ‘uncool’ to even think about birth control. Move along, nothing to think about here.

      • The findings of a commission tell you nothing about the probity of Catholic moral teaching.

        Not following this. Why does a Pope set up a Pontifical Commission except to advise him on doctrine? What is the purpose of such a commission other than to address the probity of Catholic moral teaching?

      • Interesting discussion of the Papal Commission in the National Catholic Reporter and also here.) Part of the problem was that Pope Pius XI had in 1930 issued the Encyclical Casti Connubii, which prohibited any form of artificial birth control. So the commission first had to determine whether the existing teaching was “reformable” or not. They decided that it was, but the suggestion is given that one worry in the mind of Pope Paul VI was that enough people thought that the original encyclical had been issued “infallibly” that to change it now would wreak great damage on the doctrine of papal infallibility.

        Apparently, the original commission contained 15 bishops and cardinals but was expended by Pope Paul VI when he saw what decision they were coming to. The pope also tried to do an end run by getting Vatican II to endorse Casti Connubii but they refused. In the end, the commission voted to support the permissibility of birth control, the result endorsed overwhelmingly by the original members.

    • I’m not about to back giving aid to nations which fail to control population growth now. It’s a simple matter of choice for me, I don’t have any religious ties to the Pope, I think contraception is fine, and I don’t like to waste money.

      Regarding the Pope getting into the climate argument, something he is doing to help the poor, I think it’s about time. But I do want to see all the gold in the Vatican sold to help out.

      I can’t stand Republican candidates since Bush Jr ran for office, and I’m unable to endorse a major party. However, I think it would be a lot of fun to see a Democratic candidate run on a platform that says “let’s stop global warming and donate all our money to Bangladesh, Micronesia, Zambia, and countries like that”.

  33. sciguy54,

    I guess an example one of the laws of unintended consequences can be seen by the enormous increase in deforestation where electric lighting is supplied either free or close to it.

    People stay up later, and as a consequence need additional heat.

    I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Nepal, and can read, write and speak a little Nepali. Many Western assumptions turn out to be inappropriate. Nepal has great topographical and climatic diversity, many different ethnicities, cultures and languages.

    I agree with you about the benefits of cheap (free) electricity, but I have also seen negative effects. Things don’t always turn out the way we hope. Time will tell, but I find Jim D’s comments a little naive, from time to time.

    • Mike

      You make an excellent point about unintended consequences. This is why central 20-year planning is rarely successful. All plans should be made as close to the action as possible, and subject to almost daily scrutiny.

      Jim D will have a team of unicorns do the real work after plans are made under the glow of a dollar-store solar garden light.

  34. Dr. Curry,
    Cheers for again bringing a level headed viewpoint into a politically – and now religiously – charged situation.
    I am personally persuaded that the Pope sees climate change as an opportunity to push for the betterment of the lives of the many poor in the Catholic flock.
    The devil will be in the details, however. Would the Pope endorse electrification programs which are able to serve 1/10th or less poor Catholics via (expensive even for 1st world) alternative energy vs. coal fired electricity?
    Would the Pope accept many 1st world aid programs which come with strings attached such as the requirement to provide and teach birth control?
    What about the demotion of the primacy of the human soul and religious salvation in favor of the animals and plants of the environment?

    • Guess they haven’t seen this in the Vatican.

      • “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

        The TED talk points out that francis is not just wrong, but wrong in a damaging harmful way.

        So too are the Ehrlichs of the world.

        Francis is guilty of dangerous backward ignorance.

  35. Between the pre conception
    and the mis-conception lies
    the con -firmation shadow.

    Between ass-sumtion
    ant the reality
    lies the data.

  36. My Faith teaches me that we should always try and find things that unite us, rather than dwelling on things that divide us.

    The three approaches to addressing AGW are:
    (1) Mitigation
    (2) Energy Technology Research (especially Nuclear Power)
    (3) Infrastructure Adaption Efforts.

    No matter which side of the AGW debate you fall on, there is broad support for Items #2 and #3 above.

    For Mitigation, there are two approaches that have the potential of achieving broad support:

    (1) Dr. Ramanathan’s “Fast Mitigation” (reducing short lived climate pollutants of smog, methane, HFCs, and black carbon).

    (2) International Trade. This can be a Win/Win approach where Developing Countries are given “favored trade incentives” into U.S. and EU Markets by implementing lower carbon footprints of products they make by purchasing/implementing energy efficient goods & services from the U.S. and EU. This could include massive U.S. exports of natural gas (LNG) to Developing Countries.

    http://greenenergy.blogspot.com/2013/11/using-international-trade-to-lower.html

    • #3 is a little too vague for me to agree to.

      But we have enough advanced nuclear power designs now to move forward. All we have to have in order to advance nuclear power is for the government to signal it won’t hamper the effort with unreasonable regs and approval procedures/times. The private sector will then take it from there.

      • All we have to have in order to advance nuclear power is for the government to signal it won’t hamper the effort with unreasonable regs and approval procedures/times. The private sector will then take it from there.

        Have you considered the risks from widespread nuclear proliferation? From terrorists/rogue “states”? Of course those risks can be managed.

        But my big question is this: Who’s going to protect me from the people “protecting” me from nuclear risks? Wouldn’t you need (or at least get, before many would sign off on it) a worldwide Nuclear Regulatory Agency, with broad police powers and authorization to raid wherever, whenever, with no notice to anybody? Run by some UN Bureaucracy? Imagine Rajendra Pachauri in charge of it!

        What checks and balances would be in place to assure that there was real evidence to justify raids? How to be sure individual bureaucrats didn’t hold raids for private purposes? With the type of corruption usually seen in UN agencies?

      • AK – you have gone totally off the rails. I have no idea why we would need some sort of world level nuclear police and you haven’t provided motivation for that.

      • I’m not sure I agree with your premise above.
        The actions of private NGOs and individuals bringing lawsuits about is a huge factor in nuclear facility construction. Nor is this my imagination as such tactics were explicitly spelled out in a number of NGO charters.
        Equally, the actions of private NGOs and individuals lobbying for heavier regulations – with or without the intent of raising nuclear construction costs – is also to be expected (and has been seen).
        Thus unless you’re referring to a totalitarian government, I’m in no way in agreement that “All we have to have in order to advance nuclear power is for the government to signal it won’t hamper the effort with unreasonable regs and approval procedures/times.”

      • ticketstopper – your comment about “totalitarian government” is a bit dramatic. Government makes laws that define what can and can’t be adjudicated in court. The Federal government gave the states power to refuse to have a nuclear waste site in their state. This could be repealed. Other laws could tighten the standard of who has standing to block nuclear power plants. I.e., only allow individuals to sue.

        There is more that can be done, but the overarching point is that if the government wants it, it will attract money and get done. Just look at how the governments backing of the stupid ideas of wind and solar have caused them to proliferate.

      • Certainly governments make laws as you mention, but you equally failed to address the dismal record of private lawsuits and lobbying against nuclear power construction.
        If there is a law against a state passing a law prohibiting siting of a nuclear waste facility, it sure hasn’t helped since the US still hasn’t gotten agreement on such a facility. Private lawsuits – whether NIMBY or environmental are absolutely a factor there as well.
        Even in the past few years, we’ve seen how Fukushima has galvanized the anti-nuclear movement with both litigious and political efforts. For that matter, the original Greenpeace intent was to protest nuclear, and you can see that today:
        http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/deep-green/deep-green-special-1/
        “We have arrived at a place in history where decisive action must be taken to avoid a general environmental disaster. With nuclear reactors proliferating and over 900 species on the endangered list, there can be no further delay or our children will be denied their future.”
        The Greenpeace web site also lists Nuclear right beside Climate Change in their What We Do portion of their web site.
        Greenpeace revenue in 2013 was nearly 73 million euro – so this is hardly some fringe organization.

      • ticketstopper – I myself was a member of Friend of the Earth for a time in the ’70’s. I’m well aware of how these NGOs operate. I agree with you that the lawsuits and other legal tactics have held back nuclear power.

        But again, my point is that when the government decides to back something, businesses jump on board. And the legislature can change the legal environment. If these things occur, you will see nuclear move forward at a much faster pace.

    • And Stephen, I advocate for nuclear power even though I’m invested in oil and coal companies. When it comes to investing, I play the cards I have, not the ones I wish for.

    • The USA lacks the natural gas resources to export “massive amounts of LNG” to other nations. USA gas should be used as a geopolitical tool by limiting exports to Mexico and Caribbean island nations.

      • Fernando – how would limited exports to Mexico and Caribbean islands help the US? And, BTW, we are building out the necessary LNG terminals to export nat gas.

  37. Can the Pope suppress Genesis 1:28?

    • Well…

      Gee,
      1. “Be fruitful and increase in number”
      This objective has been met.
      2. “fill the earth and subdue it”
      Still room for improvement. Some parts of the earth are unfilled and unsubdued. The ocean is untapped as a habitation resource. Just about everything below a couple hundred meters is unsubdued.
      3. “Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
      Still room for improvement here.

      Report card: admirable success but still more work to do. Training animals to listen to us and obey us hasn’t been adequately addressed.

    • bedeverethewise

      Can the pope suppress Deuteronomy 25:11-12 ?

  38. So if someone actually agrees with what the vast majority of scientists that climate change has the potential to have negative consequences, wouldn’t it make sense for them to speak out and call for action? Why is trust in science a bad thing or something to be ridiculed?

    • stevefitzpatrick

      Trust in science is certainly not a “bad thing”… heck, I have spent most of my life working in science…. but I have enough experience to see that climate science is most certainly not ‘typical science’. The practitioners (on average) have a POV and set of personal priorities which I believe lead to distortion of ‘the science’, tilting of the public presentation, overstatement of certainty, and resistance to accept (and to actively discount!) all credible data that is contrary to projections of “thermal doom”. Or in short: IMO, the field is highly politicized, biased, and focused on promoting a costly set of specific public policies. I would not take at face value the work of anyone whose personal values/goals/objectives are so closely aligned with their work… any more than I would take at face value the results of a clinical trial where the clinicians have a vested financial interest in the “success” of the trial. IMO, extreme skepticism of climate science is pretty much demanded.

      • enough experience to see that climate science is most certainly not ‘typical science’. The practitioners (on average) have a POV and set of personal priorities which I believe lead to distortion of ‘the science’, tilting of the public presentation, overstatement of certainty, and resistance to accept (and to actively discount!) all credible data

        I amazed when I hear people say that they know the point of view and priorities of a group of individuals. How is this possible?

      • You observe what they say and do, joey. I’d like to get you in a poker game, joey. High stakes, if you got it.

      • Don, how many climate scientists have you “observed” and for how long?

      • stevefitzpatrick

        Joseph,
        “How is this possible”?
        You can’t of course absolutely know what any individual really thinks, but you can draw reasonable inferences which serve as a sensible guide. You read what they write, listen to what they say, look at their published work, and evaluate how they analyze data. It’s really pretty simple.

        Most people, and probably even you, quite sensibly evaluate the likely credibility of others, or likely lack thereof, using simple heuristics. Among these are obvious personal and financial interests, their political and religious views, their personal history, and more. Why do you suppose people generally consider used car salesmen and ambulance chasing lawyers to be less than completely credible? I think the answer is obvious.

        Here’s a simple instance: Tamino has a recent post about how fracking leads to earthquakes. Now, it is true that the are a few measurable tremors associated with fracking, but these are mostly below the seismic level (~3) that a person can perceive, and most such tremors are detected by seismometers, not people. To put it in perspective, the surface motion due to “earthquakes” from fracking is 4 or 5 orders of magnitude below that of the major quakes that cause damage. The “energy release” from these tiny quakes is 8 to 10 orders of magnitude lower than that of a major quake. There is no evidence that fracking causes significant, never mind dangerous, earthquakes. So what does this tell me about Tamino? Only that his loathing of the use of fossil fuels motivates him to present a technical argument which is utter rubbish: ‘Earthquakes are bad, fracking causes earthquakes, so stop fracking.’ He is showing gross (actually comical) bias in his analysis. As he has made it very clear in the past: he wants people to stop using fossil fuels. Fracking has increased recoverable oil and natural gas (http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=14431), and reduced fossil fuel prices globally, and he does not like that. I infer from his post he is just not credible about the danger of earthquakes from fracking. See, pretty simple.

      • We don’t have to peep through their windows to know what they are up to, joey. It’s not like they are hiding. Don’t forget that the curtain on their shenanigans was lifted when the Climategate emails were leaked by an insider. Try to catch up, joey.

      • ‘…how many climate scientists have you “observed”…’

        Well you can observe the freely expressed personal views of over 60 of them at the following three links (letters / videos / web testament). Scary pitches and heavy emotional expression. Many stating with little or no caveat or qualification various disaster scenarios that are not backed by IPCC high confidence levels. Significant proportion are also throwing in ‘children threatened’ (sometimes grandchildren) story. I’m sure they are genuinely scared for themselves and their children, and the emotions they express are not faked. That’s exactly why their ability to stay within bounds has deserted them. And why they will end up scaring other folks too (including other scientists), by lending their authority and unjustified certainty to the narrative of catastrophe.

        http://isthishowyoufeel.weebly.com/this-is-how-scientists-feel.html
        http://morethanscientists.org/
        http://scaredscientists.com/

      • Thanks andy, that’s very revealing about the feelings of climate scientists. Looks like they feel strongly that they bare the burden of saving the world. That’s a big responsibility and a strong motivation to be as alarmist as possible. I was surprised that so many of them can write in cursive. I would give most of them high marks for penmanship.

    • So if someone actually agrees with what the vast majority of scientists that heliocentrism is wrong, wouldn’t it make sense for them to speak out and call for action against Galileo? Why is trust in science a bad thing or something to be ridiculed?

      Context is everything.

      • There wasn’t much true science being done before Galileo. Times have a changed there Gary..

      • Joseph,

        It’s not that there wasn’t much true science going on before Galileo. It’s that what it was producing was wrong. Kinda like ‘climate science’.

      • Why is trust in science a bad thing or something to be ridiculed?

        Careerism and funding pressures make science resistant to some truths/fact that are obvious to disinterested observers.

    • Joseph, I don’t think Francisco really cares that much about global warming, but he sure sees the income redistribution angle. This Pope is a real commie in a sense, which is fine for religious figures.

      But he’s using the science angle to argue for political change “to end poverty” (but he gets to ride limos and live in splendor). And this is where he will fail.

      If the world turns communist, humanity is toast. If it doesn’t, humanity fares better. Either way poverty will always exist, we have too many stupid people who get to the top. I know this perfectly well, I ran away from Cuba at 14, and I’m watching Venezuela get destroyed by communists. The Pope is on a dead end street.

  39. From Wikipedia …

    Vatican City’s climate is the same as Rome’s: a temperate, Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters from September to mid-May and hot, dry summers from May to August. Some minor local features, principally mists and dews, are caused by the anomalous bulk of St Peter’s Basilica, the elevation, the fountains and the size of the large paved square.

    [ … ]

    In July 2007, the Vatican accepted a proposal by two firms based respectively in San Francisco and Budapest, whereby it would become the first carbon neutral state by offsetting its carbon dioxide emissions with the creation of a Vatican Climate Forest in Hungary, as a purely symbolic gesture to encourage Catholics to do more to safeguard the planet. Nothing came of the project.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_City

  40. Not being Catholic or a person of faith and having that influence my judgment, the current Pope’s stand on political issues are taken for my consideration much as those of any other person or politician of stature. The Pope is obviously of left wing persuasion and I would venture to surmise not at all an advocate or a student of capitalism. I doubt that he understands either the technical or political issues involved with AGW and government policies. It will be interesting to see how the scientists/advocates in the AGW debate use the Pope’s political tendencies in this matter. Probably even more interesting will be the reactions of the Catholic/religious skeptics. With regards to science: Does infallibility beat a consensus?

    • “Does infallibility beat a consensus?”

      I assume this is sarc, but the Pope is not speaking infallibly on this issue. He can’t.

      Andrew

    • Does infallibility beat a consensus?

      As stated by GaryM, not everything the Pope says is considered infallible, and in fact there have been very few such things. See
      http://oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Theological_Definition

      • Peronistas are a political faction in Argentina. The current regime, known as Kirchneristas, are a corrupt offspring of the Peronistas. Argentina isn’t doing very well, and it looks like the Kirchner machine will be defeated.

      • kenfritsch

        I did not say I was referencing the Roman Pontiff with regards to infallibility.

        Borrowing from a criterion from the Roman Catholic Church for infallibility we have: “Two things are implied by the statement that a decree, to be a definition, must be final and irrevocable. The decree must be the last word of supreme teaching authority; there must be no possibility of reopening the question in a spirit of doubt; the decree must settle the matter for ever. The decree must also, and in consequence of its final nature, bind the whole Church to an irrevocable internal assent. This assent is at least an assent of ecclesiastical faith; and in doctrines which are formally revealed it is also an assent of Divine faith.”

        That criterion sounds not a little like we hear from some scientists and advocates that the science is settled (although not often defined but left I would suppose intentionally vague). Further when governments embark on attempted mitigation as past history of failed programs gives evidence for all intents and purposes we are bound to irrevocable internal assent.

    • The Pope is a peronista. That’s the goofey pseudo-populist ideology that will bankrupt the once productive nation of Argentina a few more times, before it is finally discarded.

  41. Curry, Judith A. “Climate Change Availability Cascade.” Scientific. Climate Etc., April 9, 2015.
    https://judithcurry.com/2015/04/09/climate-change-availability-cascade/

  42. cf. Lord of The Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien) – Wormtongue

    • Let’s all go back to nature. “And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.” Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (/sarc)
      http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/254050.html

      • The “Enlightenment” was really the intelligentsia realizing that sh*t canning religion had not worked out so well. (See the Dark Ages) It was their attempt to get the benefits of religion, without all that obedience and guilt stuff. That way, they could teach how the masses should be governed by ‘natural rights’ while they themselves ‘discovered’ through the ‘scientific method’ what those rights should be.

        Shockingly, every Enlightenment philosopher found that nature created exactly the rights he himself would have prefered. Imagine the coincidence.

        (Not unlike Martin Luther who was terrified of hell, who coincidentally discovered that in fact, the correct view of Christianity removed all risk of hell once you were ‘saved’.)

      • GaryM –

        (Not unlike Martin Luther who was terrified of hell, who coincidentally discovered that in fact, the correct view of Christianity removed all risk of hell once you were ‘saved’.)

        A view shared by St. Augustine.

  43. If you want to see the difference between a society where the leadership believes in God, and feels themselves constrained by god-given rights, versus a society where the elite pays lip service to God, but believes that man’s rights are ‘natural’ and to be determined by men, compare the results of the American and French revolutions.

    One led to the freest, most powerful, richest, most generous society in history. The other led to butchery and dictatorship. And now we have our progressives trying desperately to impost the French model on the US.

    This Pope’s open embrace of progressive politics is informing his ‘faith’. Like a good progressive, he is dressing his political beliefs up as commanded by his religion, and in fact by God.

    Just goes to show that Popes are just as subject to vanity and political tribalism as anyone else. (Not that anyone who has actually read any history would be surprised by that.)

    • Fair comment. My view is that whether or not there is a God or gods, the way to develop and live a life which is peaceful, harmonious, good for oneself and good for others, is no different: it comes down to each of us individually. The more that is recognised, the more that people work in ways which actually develop humility, selfless service, absence of craving and aversion, the better the world will be. I don’t see that as being a major focus of organised religion in practice, all the faults common to other large organisations appear in religions too, and the practitioners often lose sight of the fundamental goal: Shia-Sunni hostility is a good example, although I’m not sure whether Islam ever did have the right goal – the practices it dictates have to do with obedience and conformity, not discovery or spiritual development.

      Faustino

    • There are some, myself included, who would say that the primary difference between the American and French revolutions is the speed at which each evolved into butchery.
      The French did it quickly as Napoleon seized power and created a state with imperial aims, the US took a little longer because it had all that empty land to colonize first – after removing all those pesky natives.

  44. I believe the biggest problems facing Africans is the lack of a rule of law to protect property rights.
    If someone can come on to your property and kill your goats, destroy your business or kidnap your children with no repercussions it will generally be difficult to grow your economy.

  45. Well, birth control is an issue, but pope or no pope, the majority of the world’s population now lives in a country with falling population:

    And religion apparently is less important than personal growth and development, when even Saudi Arabia ( 2.17 fertility ) is falling near replacement rate.

    And as David Merkel points out, we’re closing in on falling global population – a truly unprecedented event in human history. And if the same rate that’s occurred for the last few decades persists, human population will peak around 2035 – far sooner than the IPCC predicted.

    Great. Irrational motivation to ‘do something’ about global warming just as it’s becoming obvious that it’s not a problem. Since Ehrlich got on to global warming because the population bomb didn’t pan out, I wonder what he’ll try next. Or maybe just learn to enjoy his remaining life.

    Just a few minutes left in the fourth quarter and the score is:
    History 27, Malthusians: 0

    • I have a guest post on population coming soon; the key issue is the rapid rate of growth in some countries in Africa and South Asia – 20-25 yr doubling time.

    • The world is all but empty of people, but it is low on ideas. A billion humans without ideas will tear up a planet much quicker than ten billion with. The climate bubble is a perfect example of what fear can achieve by way of waste.

      I’d be ashamed if humans were still getting energy in a hundred years the way they are getting it now. But I’m ashamed we are announcing false peaks and adopting feeble substitutes for the energy sources we have now. That’s not planning: it’s neurosis.

      Let future people live in the future. We don’t know them and we don’t know IT.

    • Thanks to invention of the moldboard plow, the mechanization of agriculture, and agricultural cooperative extension services, one no longer needs ten children to farm your 40 acres.

  46. The more durable texts I have found about population are Henry George’s “Progress and Poverty” (1879 and Julian Simon’s “Ultimate Resource II”
    Too many dire predictions have not been useful.

  47. In taking these views on uncertain and dubious science, I think the Pope has now moved into the realm of neo-Gnosticism and heresy. My thinking here comes from Eric Voegelin’s “Science, Politics and Gnosticism” (1968). A good summary of Voegelin’s theses can be found in his Wiki article.

    One fundamental aspect of Gnosticism is that certain “elites” have a special knowledge (gnosis) of the disorder (or evil) of the world. This gnosis provides these elites with the immediate vision of Truth without the need for critical reflection; this is their special “gift.” As such, these “elites” believe their special knowledge is not subject to criticism. Sound familiar?

    Another aspect of the Gnostics Voegelin describes is that they believed that the world’s “disorder” could be overcome through their special insights. Then (of course) they would take actions or make policies to implement this special knowledge. They would be able to create Heaven on Earth, a clear heresy.

    A third aspect of the Gnostics (per Voegelin) is the notion that the world and humanity can be transformed by these elites (god-men, or Ubermensch), since they have this special knowledge.
    This is another heresy of Gnosticism, since it puts men on the same level as God. Not being a Catholic, I have never have thought that the Pope had ”special knowledge.” Particularly not in science. But he does have a large and faithful audience.

    Voegelin also wrote about “Ersatz Religion” in this context (almost fifty years ago). While looking back at Marxism, Nazism, and Fascism, he was warning about current political trends which had religious tendencies (back in the ‘60s). This now fits the current political atmosphere, and particularly the environmental alarmism of current climatology leadership.

    Now I’m certainly not an expert on the Gnostics, and it seems there are many “flavors” and much historical uncertainty of this old heresy. But it would be interesting to see the Pontiff challenged theologically on this. And it would have made a good storyline for a Rod Sterling episode in any of his series.

    • Well done summary. I had forgotten Gnosticism.

      • You should not forget gnostics. As cirque notes, elites apparently possessing ‘special knowledge’ have not gone out of fashion.

      • Pooh, Dixie

        When some propose an astonishing theory, we do well to pursue evidence for that theory. When a theory proposes remedies, we should examine the consequences of those remedies. In the case of catastrophic “global warming”, the CO2 theory was followed by proposals for various taxation schemes, all of which were similar to the “Turnover Tax” of the former Soviet Union (raise the price, lower the demand).
        Since that time, I have been searching to see if what certain “climate scientists” were saying was true. It was true in part; the data showed warming over some of the time periods examined. However, it did not show that warming had dangerous consequences. The cure was worse than the disease.

        In another context,
        Acts 17:11 King James Version (KJV)
        “These (the Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
        I Corinthians 13:9-12 King James Version (KJV)
        “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
        “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
        “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
        “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

    • The Cathars were gnostics. The popes (and king of France) formed a crusade against them, apparently killing about half a million, so this ‘flavor’ hasn’t survived to the modern era. Ismailis are a Muslim gnostic ‘flavor’ who are still around today; now ruled by the Aga Khan via grant of the British Empire.

  48. jhprince2014

    Thank God for the clear thinking of Matt Ridley.

  49. Prof Curry,

    I am surprised to find you apparently sympathetic to the alarmist statements of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on climate, and instead choosing to focus on population and the Catholic teaching on birth control. If I did not know you better I could mistake this for reflexive liberal boilerplate.

    It seems to me the Catholic teaching on birth control is far more reasonable, and certainty based upon a much deeper understanding, than its new-found enthusiasm for CAGW activism.

    I write as an atheist, though married to a Catholic and with some knowledge of the Catholic view on these matters. I find that critics of Catholic teaching hardly ever know much about it. Your link above is a case in point: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB5063/index1.html

    Catholic opposition to birth control is discussed, but there is not a single mention of natural family planning (NFP) in the entire document. This is typical of birth control ‘activists’ though NFP is taken seriously by health professionals all over the world (e.g. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/contraception-guide/Pages/natural-family-planning.aspx) and it is not only used by Catholics.

    The wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_family_planning is a reasonable introduction to both NFP and the Catholic teaching. Note that NFP can be over 99% effective, ie less than one pregnancy per year per hundred women. (The NHS says up to 99%, comparable to male condoms at 98%. Both those figures should be treated with caution however, since both NFP and barrier methods can have much higher ‘user failure’ rates).

    Catholic teaching is that married couples can and should limit their family size to the number of children they can reasonably care for. So, even if you think there is a problem with population growth, and that Catholic teaching is at all influential in the places this is an issue (both doubtful propositions), the idea that the Catholic church is somehow coercing people into having more children than they want or can feed is without foundation.

    In fact NFP may be particularly suitable for the poorest populations. Periodic abstinence is acceptable to many cultures (perhaps not ours?), and a glass and mercury thermometer lasts a life time and is much cheaper than a year’s supply of condoms. (That may also be one reason it is not widely promoted. No one makes any profit from it).

    The point must also be made that the Catholic Church is a voluntary association. There is no death penalty for apostasy (unlike some other religions). However the teaching is self-consistent in its own terms, and if you accept that world view, you are asked to conduct your life, including your sex life, in accord with it. This is perfectly possible if not always easy. (Perhaps Christianity is not supposed to be easy). The Pope can’t just overturn teaching on birth control, and I doubt he privately wants to.

    As for the ‘population bomb’ that was the pseudo-scientific catastrophe delusion on which I cut my sceptical teeth. Hearing people still banging on about it almost makes me nostalgic. I will save detailed comment for your promised guest post on the issue.

    • “Periodic abstinence is acceptable to many cultures (perhaps not ours?)” Back in the ’70s, I found it easy to be celibate in India, hard not to be promiscuous in England (& briefly the US). In India, this was not primarily due to lack of opportunity, but, it seemed to me, the differences in the prevailing cultures and societal pressures.

    • johnvonderlin

      Gareth,
      I was baptized and raised Catholic. Though I left the Church, I still refer to myself as an atheistic Jesusite. I think you are letting the Church off too easy.
      I was educated to believe as Pope Eugene IV, (1388-1447 CE) wrote in a Papal bull in 1441 CE titled Cantate Domino.
      “It [the Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart ‘into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.’ Numerous other Popes have similar quotes attributed to them. For the Church to change this bedrock dogma in my lifetime makes the issues of abortion, contraception, gay marriage and female priests all seem open to a change too.
      I was also educated to believe that any interference in the procreative process was a mortal sin. Though I can’t specifically remember the concept of deliberately timing intercourse to avoid pregnancy being discussed, it would certainly seem to violate the concept of “Be fruitful and multiply.” Pope Paul VI in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae said: “Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.”
      Do you have any evidence that NFP (other than abstinence) was a historically acceptable dogma? Or is it as I suspect just another late-stage effort to salvage some relevancy, like Harp-and-cloud sharing with Protestants and other undesirables?

  50. johnvonderlin:

    On Salvation, I think what you are looking for is here:
    http://www.catholic.com/tracts/salvation-outside-the-church

    I’m not aware that any Pope announced a sudden change. Rather there has been a gradual change of emphasis and interpretation.

    Catholic teaching does evolve, because it is a result of a tradition of scholastic argument: the same tradition from which modern science began to diverge a few hundred years ago. It is not simply a rag-bag of arbitrary decisions that a Pope can add to or subtract from at will. If Francis was going to promote a new teaching on birth control he would need to reconcile that with the whole body of established teaching. There are certainly differences amongst Catholic theologians on this and many other moral issues. That is why Francis was able to hint there might be developments concerning whether condoms could be used to prevent the transmission of a disease such as AIDS. But to see this as heralding a wholesale rethink on artificial birth control, as some liberals have, is to misunderstand the process.

    As I said I am an atheist and don’t entirely go along with the Catholic mode of thought, but it seems to be a model of rationality compared with the stuff we have been getting from the hockey team, the IPCC, and much of the scientific establishment on CAGW.

    The Wikipedia page covers the history of NFP. It was not until the early 20th century that it was discovered that women ovulate only once each month, and within a few decades the Church was accepting NFP. Before then it was not known that there were fertile/infertile times and that NFP might be possible. (It has always interested me that so far as we know no ancient cultures discovered NFP. Perhaps they were not very interested in preventing conception?).

    The medieval church held, with Aristotle, that the soul appeared in an embryo at 40 days for a male and 90 days for a female. After scientists discovered the mammalian egg and sperm and the process of fertilization theological opinion shifted towards ensoulment at conception (though this is not a dogma). The Church followed the science.

    So the Catholic Church does (contrary to popular prejudice) have a history of incorporating new scientific knowledge fairly rapidly once the evidence becomes clear. In the case of CAGW it seems they have jumped the gun.

    I wonder which religious institution will revise its estimate of climate sensitivity soonest, the Vatican or the IPCC?

    • After scientists discovered the mammalian egg and sperm and the process of fertilization theological opinion shifted towards ensoulment at conception (though this is not a dogma).

      Why do you say that this is not a dogma? Isn’t it the basis for the prohibition of abortion in the Catholic Church?

    • Interesting comments.

    • johnvonderlin

      Gareth,
      ” On Salvation, I think what you are looking for is here:
      http://www.catholic.com/tracts/salvation-outside-the-church

      No that isn’t what I was looking for. In my opinion the apologist Catholic.com website in no way represents an objective portrayal of their beliefs or behavior towards “heretics,” in the long ago or the recent past. Try the Wikipedia entry on the Inquisition for a start. Or read the entry on Jewish Deicide.
      .
      ‘It was not until the early 20th century that it was discovered that women ovulate only once each month, and within a few decades the Church was accepting NFP. Before then it was not known that there were fertile/infertile times and that NFP might be possible. (It has always interested me that so far as we know no ancient cultures discovered NFP”

      A Wikipedia search of the “History of Contraception” is revealing. It’s hard to believe just from this source alone that many of the intricacies of fertility weren’t known thousands of years ago. I find it impossible to believe that many so-called primitive societies weren’t finely in tune with their reproductive nature. Animals know all sorts of things from smells, including the presence of cancer in humans, state of estrus in members of their species, etc. Why should we, before “Summer’s Eve,” underarm deodorant, perfumes, soap, multiple layers of clothing, and regular showers and baths not have had the same knowledge? The significance of human odors, one of the several areas of non-verbal communication so crucial to our social species, is being verified with experiments regularly according to what I’m reading.
      That said, thanks for your comments and the thinking they elicited on my part. Being kinder and gentler to the source of my early conditioning I’d add: I see the Church as an overall good for society, despite my estrangement, and hope that even the present Climate Change initiative will foster the development of No Regrets policies that will make cultures more resilient and capable of better serving their members, whatever is coming in the years ahead..

  51. Streetcred

    I speak as a Catholic … this Pope is taking us back to the Middle Ages … hasta la vista, Ponte Pappa !

  52. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

  53. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | I World New

  54. Pingback: The Pope and Climate Change | Somewhat Reasonable

  55. Pingback: The Pope embraces the religion of global warming - NetRight Daily

  56. Pingback: The Pope embraces the religion of global warming - Freedom's Floodgates

  57. Population increase my ***s. The only predictions ever close to the mark have been the UN Low Fertility Band ones, and it now shows a ’40s peak at ~8bn, declining thereafter. Depopulation will be the actual crisis, unless androids step into the breach.

  58. Pingback: The Pope embraces the religion of global warming | Conservative Republican News