12

Quick, Someone Tell the Pope

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“A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades, this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”

Pope Francis, Laudato Si

 

 

Well, apparently scientists, contrary to the claims of advocates of the global warming scam, are not in lock step behind this hoax:

 

It is becoming clear that not only do many scientists dispute the asserted global warming crisis, but these skeptical scientists may indeed form a scientific consensus.

Don’t look now, but maybe a scientific consensus exists concerning global warming after all. Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.

The survey results show geoscientists (also known as earth scientists) and engineers hold similar views as meteorologists. Two recent surveys of meteorologists (summarized here and here) revealed similar skepticism of alarmist global warming claims.

According to the newly published survey of geoscientists and engineers, merely 36 percent of respondents fit the “Comply with Kyoto” model. The scientists in this group “express the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause.”

The authors of the survey report, however, note that the overwhelming majority of scientists fall within four other models, each of which is skeptical of alarmist global warming claims.

The survey finds that 24 percent of the scientist respondents fit the “Nature Is Overwhelming” model. “In their diagnostic framing, they believe that changes to the climate are natural, normal cycles of the Earth.” Moreover, “they strongly disagree that climate change poses any significant public risk and see no impact on their personal lives.”

Another group of scientists fit the “Fatalists” model. These scientists, comprising 17 percent of the respondents, “diagnose climate change as both human- and naturally caused. ‘Fatalists’ consider climate change to be a smaller public risk with little impact on their personal life. They are skeptical that the scientific debate is settled regarding the IPCC modeling.” These scientists are likely to ask, “How can anyone take action if research is biased?” Continue Reading

9

Thoughts on Laudato Si

Earlier last week I quipped that the original title of Pope Francis’s latest encyclical was Industrial Society and Its Future. For those who didn’t get the reference, it is the title of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s manifesto. Now I wrote this with tongue firmly planted in cheek, although I am evidently not the only person who made this connection. Though the Pontiff iterates that he is not opposed to technological progress per se, the impression he leaves is that he is not particularly fond of modern society and the advances of the great inventions of the 20th and 21st century.

In this he’s not entirely alone. Who hasn’t complained about the ways people bury themselves in their phones, failing to interact with those around them? But he goes far beyond such laments and rails against many of the aspects of modern life. What’s more aggravating is the way that he ignores how most of these advances have improved rather than hampered the lives of the poor. More unfortunately, this is a relatively minor failing of the encyclical compared to its other shortcomings.

The overarching defense of the encyclical is that it isn’t just about climate change. The Pope was really aiming his pen in large part at secularist environmentalists and trying to persuade them to encounter the entirety of the Gospel. After all, the Pope definitively defends Church teaching on abortion and family life, pointing out the hypocrisy of greenies who seemingly value plant life over human life.

This is true to an extent. It is not merely a climate change encyclical, and the Pope made an attempt to provide a holistic approach to ecology. As Yuval Levin puts it:

The Pope is trying to hijack the standing and authority (in the eyes of global elites and others) of a left-wing or radical environmentalist agenda to advance a deeply traditional Catholic vision of the human good and to get it a hearing by dressing it up as enlightened ecology.

Sadly the Pope utterly failed in this attempt, and that leads me to my fundamental criticism. The encyclical is a rather bifurcated document. The Pope generally relies on secularist language in attempt to talk, as it were, to the whole world. Then the Pope scatters in theological references. At no point, though, does he integrate the theological and the secular. What we’re left with is an encyclical that simultaneously treats the secular audience too softly and too hard. Too softly in that he is reluctant to boldly preach the Gospel message to them to convince them of the right approach to acting more ethically, and yet too hard because where he does attempt to defend traditional Church teaching, he does so in an abrupt, unconvincing manner. Calling out the hypocrisy of supporting environmental reform while also defending abortion rights is all well and good, but the Pope fails to elaborate on this. He doesn’t substantively rely on the rich teachings of the Church that date back two thousand years. He just makes a declarative statement that this attitude is incongruous and then moves on.

That this approach is doomed to failure is witnessed in the very first comment to the post linked at the beginning of this post.

If the pope wants to fight climate change he could start by allowing contraception.

Clearly the parts of this encyclical that we’re supposed to have cheered on didn’t reach this person.

Now it will be said that the Pope is not at fault because either the media under-reported these aspects of the encyclical or the audience simply rejected it. Sorry, but more than after two years into his Pontificate if he’s unaware of how his words will be used, then the Pope is not a particularly wise man. Furthermore, if he’s going to make a moral case against abortion and birth control, he has to try a little bit harder than he did on these pages. Considering how repetitive and long-winded the rest of the encyclical is, he surely could have edited down elsewhere to make room for more detailed apologetics on these issues. He did not, though, and he is primarily responsibile for this failure to connect.

And that’s a core issue with this Pope’s style: it’s one that is necessarily going to sway the people he’s trying to sway. Just as he is doomed to fail to convince the secularists, his method of dealing with economics is just as awkward and off-putting. He presents a rather black and white worldview with the ever put upon poor on one side, and a group of Snidely Whiplash-like cartoon capitalists on the other, twirling their mustaches and cooking up schemes to make the poor even poorer. Actually, there might be a third group: uncaring bumpkins sitting in their air conditioned homes with the eyes locked onto their mobile devices.

What’s funny about this rather strawman-laden document (which incidentally reads as though sections were written by the blogger formerly known as Morning’s Minion) is that he chides the ivory tower intellectuals who don’t really interact with the real world, and who form opinions without truly understanding what people are going through on a day-to-day basis. Now it’s true that perhaps Americans and others in the west can’t relate to some of the abysmal conditions existing in other parts of the world, and thus we might tend to ignore or shrug off as exaggerated some of the Pope’s lamentations. At the same time, the Pope himself has lived in his own sort of bubble. Having lived his entire life in an economic basket case he can’t totally be faulted for criticizing the current economic system. Yet these experiences have perhaps inoculated him from forming a more accurate picture of the world and how economic and technological progress has vastly improved the lot of much of humanity. Thus he has formed a rather simplistic view of capitalism. Sadly, this leads to a simplistic, meandering, and ultimately worthless document.

Coda: I wrote this blog and had it set to post last Friday, but then the Supreme Court decision came down and decided to hold off. Part of me thought of completely deleting the post because it seemed other issues were more pressing. Ultimately that’s why I decided to publish this: it’s even more evidence of the Pope’s bad judgment. With all that is happening in the world, this is what he chooses to write a long-winded encyclical about? This is what he’s throwing the full p.r. machine of the Vatican into? I’m not normally one for suggesting that Pope can’t write about certain subjects due to the severity of other issues. Metaphorically speaking Popes ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. And the Pope can’t drop everything for American political events. But it’s not just America that is being impacted by these cultural shifts.

12

Bear Growls: Her Hotness

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Saint Corbinian’s Bear brings us this:

 

In what Vatican watchers say is an attempt to rekindle flagging interest in Pope Francis’ “Green Encyclical,” the Vatican unveiled a new symbol for the initiative. A Vatican spokesman explained that “we want the people of the Earth to still think of Her as a ‘sister,’ but more of a hot step-sister.” The spokesman added that her “hotness” would remind people of global warming. Continue Reading

15

Thoughts on the Green Encyclical

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Having read and pondered the Green Encyclical, PopeWatch has reached certain conclusions:

1.  The Pope really, really hates markets.  Time and again he goes out of his way to bash markets.

2.  The Pope favors a top down approach.  For all the Pope’s singing the praises of the poor, one of the striking features of the Encyclical is how elitist in tone it is and how little trust that the Pope has in the unguided average man and woman to do what he considers to be the right thing in regard to the environment.

3.  The Pope has little use for democracy.  Time and again the Pope points out that elections cause governmental policies to shift when what is needed are long term solutions.

4.  The Pope could care less if what he proposes leads to negative economic growth.  I think for the Pope, a poorer material life for the great majority of people is a feature not a bug in what he proposes.

5.  The Pope’s proposals, except for a few minor nods to subsidiarity, involve Caesar telling us what to do.

6.  The Church created the Holy Roman Empire and then spent the next thousand years fighting it.  PopeWatch believes that would also be the case if the global authority that Pope Francis so ardently desires should ever come about.

7.  The use of Scripture to support the Pope’s Encyclical is strained, and in some cases shockingly weak.  The Bible, except in a few scattered passages, is of little use for twenty-first century environmentalists attempting to transform their policy preferences into “Thus Sayeth the Lord!” commands.

8.  The length and the bad style of most of the authors of the Encyclical will probably lessen its influence.

9.  The document is deeply pessimistic in tone.  Like most environmentalist screeds it relies on predictions of gloom and doom, that somehow never seem to come about, in order to produce assent and action from the reader.  However, close reading of the Encyclical causes PopeWatch to suspect that the Pope believes that environmental harm has gone too far and that humanity will not, and perhaps cannot, undo the damage.

10.  Passages in the Encyclical seem jumbled, with disparate elements falling over themselves.  Those passages, PopeWatch suspects, are all Pope Francis, as they are the type of chaos that he brings to his writings, speeches and his Papacy.

Below are the notes of PopeWatch on the Encyclical by paragraph number: Continue Reading

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Tell Us What You Really Think About the Green Encyclical Maureen

Mullarkey

 

Memo to self: Never get Maureen Mullarkey mad at me:

 

A strain of inadvertent comedy runs through “Laudato Si.” Il Papa assumes the posture of governess to the world—Mary Poppins on the Throne of Peter. Who else could align the magisterium of the Catholic Church with exhortation to turn off the air conditioner, shut the lights, and be sure to recycle? For this Christ died: to atone for petroleum products. And for carbon emissions from private cars carrying only one or two people.

For this Christ died: to atone for petroleum products. And for carbon emissions from private cars carrying only one or two people.

While Christians in the birthplaces of Christianity are crucified and beheaded for their faith, young girls are kidnapped and sold for the price of a pack of cigarettes, our encyclical whines: “In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”

There is more in that letter-to-the-editor vein: “Neighbourhoods, even those recently built, are congested, chaotic and lacking in sufficient green space. We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.”

Of course not. We were meant to live in a beautiful, walled-in enclave like Vatican City with splendid gardens, a throng of world-class museums, its own armed gendarmerie aligned with Interpol, and an impenetrable immigration policy.

Gospel quotations are bent to serve. In the chapter “The Gaze of Jesus,” we read this: “98. Jesus lived in full harmony with creation, and others were amazed: ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’ (Mt 8:27).”

That passage from Matthew has not a thing to do with harmony. Rather, it tells of Jesus’ dominion over nature. It is a statement of authority, of lordship over the natural order. The verse complements one from John: “He that cometh from above is above all.” By abolishing the scriptural intuition of power and might, the truncated quotation makes Jesus a screen on which to project a chimera of cosmic equality.

 

Continue Reading

17

The Pretense of Knowledge

Hayek

 

I have been viewing with some mirth the joy of the Left in regard to the release of the Green Encyclical.  Prior to Pope Francis, most of those celebrating were intensely hostile to the papacy, viewing it as enemy number one on their path to the ever elusive socialist utopia.  Now they think they have a pope on their side.  Of course, in regard to the Green Encyclical we have Pope Francis being celebrated by the Left for doing something which was anathema to them before he came on the scene: a pope  judging science.  Leftist accusations aside, that is something the Church has rarely done, for sound reasons.  Most ecclesiastics lack the education to make sound judgments on science.  Plus, the conclusions of science are always being modified as new data is studied, and for an institution that exists to expound the Timeless Truths of Christ, it is dangerous to seek to mix in with those Truths opinions on science which are bound to be wrong in part in the fullness of time.  Thus the Pope is being celebrated by the Left for agreeing with them, although his manner of agreeing with them can just as easily be turned against them when a future pope has different opinions on science, if a future pope is foolish enough to wish to do what the Pope has just done.  It is one of the features of our time that the clergy, doing a lousy job by and large in expounding the Gospel, are eager to give their opinions on subjects they are frequently bone ignorant about, merely parroting, in the main, beliefs of the Zeitgeist popular among the chattering classes, and the clergy are always members in good standing of that group.

Father George Rutler at Crisis Magazine explains why having the Church sit in judgment on the conclusions of science is a very bad idea indeed:

Pope Francis’ encyclical on the ecology of the earth is adventurously laden with promise and peril. It can raise consciousness of humans as stewards of creation.  However, there is a double danger in using it as an economic text or scientific thesis. One of the pope’s close advisors, the hortatory Cardinal Maradiaga of Honduras said with ill-tempered diction: “The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits.” From the empirical side, to prevent the disdain of more informed scientists generations from now, papal teaching must be safeguarded from attempts to exploit it as an endorsement of one hypothesis over another concerning anthropogenic causes of climate change. It is not incumbent upon a Catholic to believe, like Rex Mottram in Brideshead Revisited, that a pope can perfectly predict the weather. As a layman in these matters, all I know about climate change is that I have to pay for heating a very big church with an unpredictable apparatus. This is God’s house, but he sends me the ConEd utility bills.

It is noteworthy that Pope Francis would have included in an encyclical, instead of lesser teaching forms such as an apostolic constitution or motu proprio, subjects that still pertain to unsettled science (and to speak of a “consensus” allows that there is not yet a defined absolute). The Second Vatican Council, as does Pope Francis, makes clear that there is no claim to infallibility in such teaching. The Council (Lumen Gentium, n.25) does say that even the “ordinary Magisterium” is worthy of a “religious submission of intellect and will” but such condign assent is not clearly defined.  It does not help when a prominent university professor of solid Catholic commitments says that in the encyclical “we are about to hear the voice of Peter.”  That voice may be better heard when, following the advice of the encyclical (n.55) people turn down their air conditioners.  One awaits the official Latin text to learn its neologism for “condizione d’aria.”  While the Holy Father has spoken eloquently about the present genocide of Christians in the Middle East, those who calculate priorities would have hoped for an encyclical about this fierce persecution, surpassing that of the emperor Decius.  Pictures of martyrs being beheaded, gingerly filed away by the media, give the impression that their last concern on earth was not climate fluctuations.

Saint Peter, from his fishing days, had enough hydrometeorology to know that he could not walk on water. Then the eternal Logos told him to do it, and he did, until he mixed up the sciences of heaven and earth and began to sink. As vicars of that Logos, popes speak infallibly only on faith and morals. They also have the prophetic duty to correct anyone who, for the propagation of their particular interests, imputes virtual infallibility to papal commentary on physical science while ignoring genuinely infallible teaching on contraception, abortion and marriage and the mysteries of the Lord of the Universe.  At this moment, we have the paradoxical situation in which an animated, and even frenzied, secular chorus hails papal teaching as infallible, almost as if it could divide the world, provided it does NOT involve faith or morals. Continue Reading

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Mark Shea on Climate Change

 

After the issuance of the Green Encyclical today I assume that Catholics will be debating global warming.  I thought we would kick off the debate here on TAC with Mark Shea representing both sides:

2011:

As you probably know, I’m skeptical of the Global Warming hype, not least because its marketers and packagers keep changing the name. First, it was “Global Warming,” then “Climate Change” (as if climate does anything besides change) and lately it’s “Global Climate Disruption.” I’m also skeptical that it is man made, and I think the dishonesty of some of the scientists in the field, not to mention the packagers and marketers, leaves me cold (clever pun, eh?). So, for instance, when I see evidence of rising sea levels that doesn’t always refer me back to the same remote island nobody knows anything about except that it might be a case of erosion and not rising sea levels, I will begin to take our melting ice caps more seriously.

Go here to read the rest.

2015:

I have always expressed ignorance of the science for the very good reason that I am not a scientist. I have always granted the premise that there is climate change for the very good reason that change is what climate does. Beyond that, I have always left the matter in the hands of experts to hash out because what do I know?

Go here to read the rest.

48

Why?

 

why

 

Now that the Green Encyclical is about to be released, a good question to ask is why is the Pope doing this?  The answer is obvious and disheartening.  The Pope, with a few notable exceptions, most significantly in regard to abortion, shares the prejudices of most left of center educated people in the West.  For them the environment is the cause of causes, and they embrace it with a religious devotion.  The added bonus of course is that global warming, or climate change, or whatever name the scam goes under, is an excellent excuse for more government.  For the left of center the answer to virtually any problem is to scream for more government.  Our Pope has a naïve faith in government and a distaste for free enterprise.  This is not unusual when one considers his background.  Argentina is largely an economic basket case because its political class has overwhelmingly embraced heavy government intervention in the economy, that has led to stagnant growth, crony capitalism and immense corruption, all in a country that is blessed with natural resources that should largely ensure prosperity.  Thus we have the Green Encyclical which seeks to make the globe Argentina writ large.

John Hinderaker at Powerline points out that the Encyclical is as wrong in its premises as it is in its conclusions:

First, the Pope has no idea what he is talking about. His letter is full of factual errors. For example:

Scientific consensus exists indicating firmly that we are in the presence of a worrisome warming of the climate system.

This is false. There has been no net global warming for something like 18 years, according to satellite data, the most reliable that we have.

In recent decades, that the heating was accompanied by the constant rise in the sea level….

Sea level has been rising for approximately 12,000 years, first dramatically as the Earth warmed rapidly at the end of the last Ice Age, and much more slowly in recent millennia. Currently, the rate of rise of sea level is not increasing.

…and is also hard not to relate it to the increase in extreme weather events, regardless of the fact that we can not attribute a cause scientifically determined to each particular phenomenon.

Wrong again. Extreme weather events are not increasing. This isn’t an opinion, it is a fact: there is no plausible empirical claim to the contrary. In fact, for what it is worth, the climate models that are the sole basis for warming hysteria predict fewer extreme weather events, not more, because the temperature differential between the equator and the poles will diminish.

It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanism, and the variations of the orbit of the Earth, the solar cycle), but numerous scientific studies indicate that most of the global warming of recent decades is due to the large concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other) issued mainly because of human activity.

Putting aside the fact that there hasn’t been any net warming during the last two decades, this is precisely the issue that is the subject of intense scientific debate–a debate that, it becomes increasingly clear, the realists are winning. For the Pope to wade into this controversy would be nearly inexplicable, absent some overriding motive.

That motive is, apparently, hostility toward free enterprise and the prosperity that it creates. Francis has manifested such hostility in previous statements, and it comes through again in his anti-global warming letter. Francis sounds like just another leftist: the solution to global warming is more state control to dictate how people live, and new international organizations to direct vast transfers of wealth and power. Continue Reading