A Fool’s Errand? Attempting to Educate Pope Francis on the Climate and Economics

 
The First Family of the US with the pope at the White House on September 23, 2015.

The First Family of the US with the pope at the White House on September 23, 2015.

Below is a piece that Heartland Senior Fellow James Taylor and I got published at US News and World Report yesterday about how Pope Francis is being misinformed by the bureaucrats at the United Nations about the causes and consequences of climate change. (Hint: It’s not caused by man, and any natural warming that might occur is not bad .. and might be good!)

I’d like to think that Pope Francis can be persuaded by actual data — such as the fact that the global warming “panic” pushed as “fact” by the United Nations ended nearly two decades ago. So it stands to reason, one would think, that the pope might realize that humans aren’t causing global warming to happen because it’s actually … you know … not happening.

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No such luck so far, judging by the pontiff’s early statements on US soil.

I don’t want to think that Pope Francis is so steeped in “Liberation Theology” that he can’t ever see facts. I hold out hope — as I did when I led a contingent to the Vatican in April to counter the UN’s climate advice to the pope. We’ll see.

Anyway, here’s the piece in US News and World Report:

Francis Misses the Mark on Economics

By James Taylor and Jim Lakely

Pope Francis’s trip to the United States this week is a historic event, and all should listen carefully to his words when he speaks on the importance of religion and faith. By all accounts, the pope is a pious man who cares deeply about the human condition.

The pontiff’s heart is in the right place when it comes to his concern for the world’s poor and for God’s creation. But Francis’s special knowledge and insight pertain to matters of faith, not science. The pope’s views on atmospheric science, energy economics and political implementation are certainly deserving of consideration, but these are secular issues.

Indeed, the best available information indicates Francis’s prescribed agenda on these topics would dramatically worsen economic well-being, achieve few environmental benefits and assign the poorest of the world to greater poverty and misery.

In June, Francis released an encyclical, titled Laudato Si, which was devoted to environmentalism. The media “pull quote” from that document was the pope’s observation that Earth “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” That may be true in many of the nations that have followed the socialist course Francis seems to admire, but that is certainly not true in nations like the United States that have nurtured economic freedom.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has documented this, reporting that emissions of its Six Principal Pollutants of greatest concern have declined by approximately 70 percent since 1980. Similarly, it was the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the introduction of economic freedom behind the Iron Curtain that led to a dramatic improvement in environmental conditions in those countries during the past 25 years.

This same pattern is clear regarding carbon dioxide. Even if one believes the dubious notion that carbon dioxide emissions are creating a climate crisis, emissions from the United States and Western democracies are declining. Emissions from the Third World are solely responsible for the 33 percent increase in global carbon dioxide emissions so far this century. China alone emits more carbon dioxide than all nations in the Western Hemisphere combined, and Chinese emissions are rising at approximately 10 percent every year.

Francis writes in Laudato Si, “a very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.” Yes, temperatures have modestly warmed since the end of the Little Ice Age a little over a century ago, but that is far from disturbing. The pace of warming is quite modest, temperatures remain lower than those that existed during most of the past 6,000 years, and history shows humans have always benefited from warmer rather than colder climate conditions.

Francis warns “this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level.” True, but people and nations effectively adapted to the same pace of sea level rise throughout the 20th century. Why would things be any different utilizing more advanced 21st century technologies?

Francis laments we are experiencing “an increase of extreme weather events.” Exactly the opposite is the case, with objective data showing hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and other extreme weather events have substantially declined in frequency and severity as our planet has warmed.

Francis has a tremendous opportunity during his visit to the United States to spread the beauty and reach of God’s word. Unfortunately, he appears likely to squander this opportunity by misconstruing and emphasizing issues outside his area of theological expertise.

There are 11 comments.

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  1. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    I can’t vouch for the truth of it, but a priest interviewed on Fox said that the Pope doesn’t watch television and reads only one Italian newspaper, on which he spends 10 minutes a day.  (No mention of how much time he spends reading Ricochet, but I don’t have high expectations there either.)  So whatever it is the Holy Father thinks he knows, he is getting from some Vatican position papers written by God knows who, literally.

    • #1
  2. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    One gets the impression the Francis may not even be aware that this issue is still being debated.  He may just assume that no one doubts the reality of GW but that there are just many who don’t care about it.

    • #2
  3. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    Larry3435:I can’t vouch for the truth of it, but a priest interviewed on Fox said that the Pope doesn’t watch television and reads only one Italian newspaper, on which he spends 10 minutes a day. (No mention of how much time he spends reading Ricochet, but I don’t have high expectations there either.) So whatever it is the Holy Father thinks he knows, he is getting from some Vatican position papers written by God knows who, literally.

    Oh, wow!  If true, that’s really is concerning.   If the Pope just wanted to stick to religious topics, I’d understand this approach.   But if he wants to wade into political topics of all kinds – he needs a more varied diet of information.

    • #3
  4. billy Inactive
    billy
    @billy

    Larry3435:I can’t vouch for the truth of it, but a priest interviewed on Fox said that the Pope doesn’t watch television and reads only one Italian newspaper, on which he spends 10 minutes a day. (No mention of how much time he spends reading Ricochet, but I don’t have high expectations there either.) So whatever it is the Holy Father thinks he knows, he is getting from some Vatican position papers written by God knows who, literally.

    Meet Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.

    • #4
  5. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    Mr. Lakely, thank you for your work on this issue.

    I’m deeply concerned about the impact on all people, but especially the poor, if the AGW crowd is able to enact their agenda.    So much harm will be done in the name of ‘doing good’.

    Nevertheless, it seems to me most people decide what they believe, then look for supporting reasons afterward.  It would take a truly a thoughtful and intelligent person to review and accept information contrary to their preconceived ideas.    This Francis such a man?   Sadly, I have my doubts.   I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

    • #5
  6. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    By the time one becomes Pope, given the schedule, the layers of bureaucracy , their age,  fundamental  relearning is unlikely, but one can hope.  I’d be happy to see/hear the best most credible experts have at it in prime time, or in running podcasts, a running dialogue.    The dialogue seldom takes place at the same table facing off, confronting alternative arguments and it is broadcast by media elites and celebrities that are even more ignorant of the science than I am.    I’d like to see folks also talk about alternative remediation.  For instance, what would be the likely change in energy use if we just plowed under most government regulations, zoning, mandates etc.  Would there not be less energy use per unit of GNP, and more new technology and more adaptation, so is it just the growth that is bothersome?  I do not think that there can be any doubt that after it gets hot, or after a new ice age begins, free decentralized economies, if there are any left,  will  adapt more rapidly than top down centralized  systems.    The thing that fosters my skepticism in spite of my ignorance of the science and data, is that their remedies always empower and enrich the most actively concerned and foster a top down ideological approach that we know is dysfunctional, polluting and corrupt.

    • #6
  7. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    billy:

    Larry3435:I can’t vouch for the truth of it, but a priest interviewed on Fox said that the Pope doesn’t watch television and reads only one Italian newspaper, on which he spends 10 minutes a day. (No mention of how much time he spends reading Ricochet, but I don’t have high expectations there either.) So whatever it is the Holy Father thinks he knows, he is getting from some Vatican position papers written by God knows who, literally.

    Meet Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.

    Billy,

    The original environmentalism is a mixture of Malthus, Marx, and Jung. The Jungian part is just trendy intellectual window dressing to make it sell. It is the hard illogical paranoid foundation of Marx & Malthus that gives it that special krypto-genocidal flavor.

    First, you will buy from Malthus that people will starve to death soon do to a narrow minded zero sum analysis. Second, you will buy from Marx that it is the evil of capitalism that is killing them rather than the productivity of capitalism that keeps them alive. Finally, you will buy from Marxism-Leninism who the usual suspects are to round up. You will never realize that genocide will come from the left not the right. Socialized Medicine will exterminate inferior races. The Apparatchiks will determine who is on the “wrong side of history” and can be liquidated.

    If you buy all of that nonsense then you are ripe for the really big lie of Climate Change. Hand in hand will go the need for abortion as in the China one child policy. It is good that the Pope got in his shot about Religious Freedom. Unfortunately, he is swimming in quicksand on most everything else.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #7
  8. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Francis is a man of the left. The human mind creates a model of reality; people of the left have chosen to value the model over the reality. It’s a fool’s errand to try to educate a fool.

    • #8
  9. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Jim Lakely: Francis has a tremendous opportunity during his visit to the United States to spread the beauty and reach of God’s word. Unfortunately, he appears likely to squander this opportunity by misconstruing and emphasizing issues outside his area of theological expertise.

    Which is one of the chief reasons that, unlike many of my Catholic friends, I am not DVRing every moment of the Pope’s visit. While they’re celebrating, I’m just depressed by it, and waiting for the fallout.

    • #9
  10. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    As a Catholic, I praise God that we have Peter, and even for all that we jackhammer him for, I praise God that we have Francis. What other Christian religious leader draws commentary? I say that is good for The Church.

    Yes it drives me nuts that Francis believes in global warming and seems to be clueless on economics. But, so what. He has preached the Gospel, upholds Church doctrine, and prays for my salvation.

    The best we can do is to pray for his safety and wisdom and pray for a dose of humility for ourselves.

    • #10
  11. Austin Blair Inactive
    Austin Blair
    @AustinBlair

    Scott Wilmot:As a Catholic, I praise God that we have Peter, and even for all that we jackhammer him for, I praise God that we have Francis. What other Christian religious leader draws commentary? I say that is good for The Church.

    Yes it drives me nuts that Francis believes in global warming and seems to be clueless on economics. But, so what. He has preached the Gospel, upholds Church doctrine, and prays for my salvation.

    The best we can do is to pray for his safety and wisdom and pray for a dose of humility for ourselves.

    Then why have free will at all?  Simply sitting back and hoping for the best is what has allowed people like Obama and others to fundamentally change our country.

    Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world.  If that is the case, sitting back and just praying for someone to do something he has shown no inclination to do is in my mind an abject failure of our responsibilities as the stewards of this world.  If we do not push back on what in my mind is an assault on freedom and free will, we deserve everything we have and will receive when it comes to the socialization of our civilization.

    • #11

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