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The Pope vs. Global Warming By: Joseph D'Hippolito
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, December 18, 2007


London’s Daily Mail reported on December 12 that the Vatican released the remarks the pope will make in his annual January 1 address, “The Human Family, A Community of Peace.” The release coincided with the December 11 opening of the United Nations’ conference on climate change in the Indonesian resort of Bali.

“We need to care for the environment,” Benedict writes. “It has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion.”

That responsible freedom rejects both the panic motivating global warming activists and a radical environmentalism that demands humanity’s subjugation to ecology.

“Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole,” Benedict continues. “Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man.

“It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances.”

Australian Cardinal George Pell, the archbishop of Sydney and one of the church’s more conservative prelates, was less diplomatic in his Feb. 18 column for Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph.

“We have been subjected to a lot of nonsense about climate disasters as some zealots have been painting extreme scenarios to frighten us,” Pell wrote. “What we were seeing from the doomsdayers was an induced dose of mild hysteria, semi-religious if you like, but dangerously close to superstition.”

Pell cited data suggesting that the evidence for global warming is weak. Data from a NASA satellite demonstrated that the Southern Hemisphere had not become warmer over the past 25 years, and the climate research unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia noted that the earth’s overall temperature did not rise between 1998 and 2005.

Pell’s conclusion? “The science is more complicated than the propaganda!”

The pope directed his remarks not only to scientists but also to Catholics who enthusiastically embrace the fashionable attitudes about global warming. Among them is Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“Global warming is a threat, one that will affect generations to come,” Flynn said at a meeting of religious leaders in November 2006. “Those of us living in the United States should be leaders in efforts to curb global warming, not resistant followers.”

Flynn has gone so far as to create a “Global Warming Action Team” for the archdiocese that “will be the ‘leading edge’ of a coordinated and strategic Catholic effort to measurably reduce the carbon that is emitted in the state,” according to the archdiocese’s Web site.

“There is a need for an increased emphasis on eco-justice to ensure that the non-human portion of God's great gift of Creation … is likewise given great attention and care,” the Web site continues. “Furthermore, social justice and eco-justice are tightly interconnected, and must both be addressed holistically.”

During an appearance in front of the Minnesota legislature in January, Flynn said that “the entire human family needs to participate in solutions. We need to act for the common good today (emphasis added).”

One Catholic layman wrote Flynn personally to criticize his appearance and his entire approach to global warming. (The letter appeared on a blog written by Martin Andrade.)

The layman called Flynn’s appearance “irresponsible and morally objectionable to those of us that believe responsible, Christian stewardship of the earth is intrinsically linked to maximizing freedom and opportunity for the world’s people…one can rationally evaluate the causes of and effects of climate change without concluding that the alarmists’ recommended course of action is a sensible remedy.”

The letter continued:

“Sound science and sound economics lead many people of good faith to conclude that the policies promoted by the global warming alarmists … will actually harm the people, and the planet, that they seek to help. A growing number of these faithful, well-intentioned people include scientists and climate change experts whose voice has been stifled by the premature declaration of the ‘end of debate’ over climate change.

“The Catholic Church’s greatest challenge in the twenty-first century will undoubtedly be to provide moral leadership and a spiritual home for those that are in the greatest need of God’s love. That has always been the Church’s mission – to connect people with Jesus Christ.

“I believe that is still your mission personally, as well as that of the Archdiocese; and I will pray that I am able to forgive you for your mistake, and pray that you reconsider your allegiance to this misguided cause.

“However, until the Church ceases to lend its credibility (including my credibility as a believer) to promoting an ideological agenda, and to providing cover for those that are using the Church as a moral steppingstone to achieve more political power, I cannot in good conscience contribute financially to what has become a partisan institution.”


Flynn’s response went beyond displaying dogmatism on an unsettled scientific issue. He exhibited breathtaking arrogance. Some excerpts interspersed with personal commentary:

“I would like to ask whether or not you recently read the Book of Genesis. I would suggest to you, as your Archbishop, that you read it thoughtfully and prayerfully. When God gave us this earth, the gift was coupled with the command, ‘Take care of it.’”

Doesn’t caring for nature mean a serious examination of problems based on facts and research, instead of latching onto intellectual fads that have no substance?

“There is no way that I can see that my words would be anything but the words of Jesus Christ.”

Really? Where does Jesus say that people should unquestioningly embrace theories and solutions maintained by questionable evidence?

“You wrote that you, in good conscience, cannot contribute financially to the Church any further. I would like to tell you… that you have separated yourself from your Archbishop and St. Ignatius of Antioch writes, ‘Where the Bishop is, there is Christ.’”

If that equation is true, then isn’t it the responsibility of all archbishops to dedicate themselves to truth through research and study, and not to succumb blindly to the fashions of the moment?

“If there is anything that irritates me, it is someone writing to me and saying that they will no longer support the Church because of a stand that the Church has taken – global warming or abortion or same sex marriage.”

So global warming is now on a moral par with abortion and same-sex marriage? And Flynn speaks for the entire Catholic Church on global warming, and nobody should legitimately challenge him in an area where he has no professional expertise?

Flynn’s dogmatism reflects the totalitarian attitude of his fellow activists. Skeptical scientists are called “deniers” and treated as if they were denying the historicity of the Holocaust. Worse, they are increasingly unable to procure research funding.

“Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse,” Dr. Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric science at MIT, told Toronto’s Financial Post in February. “Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.”

On the other hand, the Financial Post reported that American scientists who support the hype receive $1.7 billion in grants every year.

So why are the skeptics skeptical?

First, no firm link between such man-made greenhouse gases as carbon dioxide and global warming exists. Israeli astrophysicist Nir Shaviv, who once supported the hype, told the Financial Post in February that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide by 2100 “will not dramatically increase the global temperature.”

Even if carbon dioxide increased by only 50 percent, “the expected reduction in the rise in global temperature would be less than .5 degree centigrade,” Shaviv said. “This is not significant.”

Second, any increased global temperature reflects intensified solar activity, which increases not only the overall radiation that warms the earth but also the ultraviolet radiation that forms and destroys ozone, thus releasing heat. Such solar activity ebbs and flows in cycles.

“The Sun contains 99.8% of the mass of solar system,” said meteorologist John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel. “Its constant hydrogen-fueled atomic fusion consumes more mass in a second that all the fossil fuel ever burned on Earth. It is difficult to imagine man's activities overwhelming the heat from the Sun. But, that is exactly what global warming advocates want you to believe.

“If you plot average annual temperatures on Earth, solar cycles and mankind's supposed most significant climate altering activity, the burning of fossil fuels, the solar cycles and temperatures match and the use of fossil fuels seems to be unrelated.”

Such dissenting scientists as Dr. David Evans of Australia are trying to make themselves heard at the Bali conference, which features the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Evans – a mathematician and electrical engineer who served as a carbon accountant for the Australian government – is promoting a peer-reviewed team study published in the December edition of the Royal Meteorological Society’s International Journal of Climatology. The study showed that increased atmospheric temperatures have natural causes, not man-made ones.

“We now have quite a lot of evidence that carbon emissions definitely don't cause global warming,” Evans said. “We have the missing (human) signature (in the atmosphere), we have the IPCC models being wrong and we have the lack of a temperature going up the last 5 years.”

Dr. Vincent Gray, a climatologist who reviewed all of the IPCC’s drafts since the panel was formed in 1990 and who shares a Nobel Prize awarded to the panel, was even more emphatic:

“All the science of the IPCC is unsound. I have come to this conclusion after a very long time. If you examine every single proposition of the IPCC thoroughly, you find that the science somewhere fails. It fails not only from the data, but it fails in the statistics, and the mathematics.”

Perhaps the most prominent skeptic is a scientist who helped lead the original charge against global warming. French geochemist Claude Allegre – an expert in atmospheric chemistry who belongs to the National Academy of Sciences and the French Academy of Science – first proposed the idea in the mid-1980s and joined nearly 1,500 other scientists in signing the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning To Humanity,” which predicted “spirals of environmental decline, poverty, and unrest, leading to social, economic and environmental collapse.”

But Allegre’s research into the increase of ice in Antarctica and the diminishing snow caps on Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro caused him to change his mind. “The cause of this climate change is unknown,” Allegre wrote for the French magazine L’Express in September 2006.

Since then, Allegre has been blunt about global warming’s fear mongers, as the Financial Post reported in March:

“Calling the arguments of those who see catastrophe in climate change ‘simplistic and obscuring the true dangers,’ Dr. Allegre especially despairs at ‘the greenhouse-gas fanatics whose proclamations consist in denouncing man's role on the climate without doing anything about it except organizing conferences and preparing protocols that become dead letters.’ His dream, he says, is to see ‘ecology become the engine of economic development and not an artificial obstacle that creates fear.’”

Using different words, the pope shares essentially the same ideas.

Joseph D’Hippolito is a columnist for Frontpagemag.com, whose main focuses are religion and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


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