Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pope Francis’s Embrace of Anti-Fossil Fuel Agenda Follows From Church’s Anti-Capitalism

Pope Francis has come out strongly against fossil fuels. As The New Republic reported:

In 2015, Pope Francis plans to make climate change a personal issue for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. The Guardian’s John Vidal reports that Francis will publish an encyclical (a letter to the world's bishops), speak directly to United Nations leaders in the fall, and organize a summit of world religions—all aimed at pressuring countries to commit to a strong climate agreement at a Paris meeting next December.

The “climate agreement” the pope wants countries to commit to is a worldwide reduction in carbon emissions (fossil fuel use) by 80%. Given that fossil fuels comprise 86% of the world’s energy, what motivates a Catholic pope to threaten the primary energy source that the world’s people choose to power their industrial needs? An admiring New Jersey Star-Ledger may have inadvertently hit the nail on the head. In Can Pope Francis break the deadlock on climate change, the Star-Ledger wrote:

[I]t makes perfect sense that Pope Francis has entered the fray. The world’s poor represent the vast majority of his flock, so he has every reason to make this a personal cause in 2015, taking on an unprecedented role for the Vatican.

I left these comments:

It sure does make “perfect sense.”

To the extent capitalism is allowed to operate, billions have been liberated to work themselves up from poverty. Capitalism leads to industrialization, which raises peoples’ standards of living, which includes an ever-increasing ability to counter and adapt to climate dangers. Industrialization requires plentiful, cheap, reliable energy, which for now and the foreseeable future overwhelmingly means fossil fuels. That’s why fossils are the fuel of choice for economically rising third world nations, which have surpassed the West in carbon emissions. Fossil fuels now make up 87% of the world’s energy mix.

It’s no accident that poor countries “have a harder time coping with severe storms and changing weather patterns.” They have less (or no) capitalism, industrialization, and fossil fuel use. If the Catholic Church really cared about lifting the poor, it would demand freer markets, individual rights—including property rights—the rule of law, and much more of what is by far the best and only energy technology available today capable of sustaining the industrial, technological advancement still-poor nations of the world desperately need—fossil fuels.

Yet, the Church doesn’t and won’t. For decades, Catholic Popes—from Paul VI  to Benedict XVI to Francis VI—have railed against capitalism and free markets, the social engines of upward economic mobility. [I’m not speaking here of rank and file Catholics. I’m speaking of the Catholic Church as an institution.]

Why? In my view, precisely because “The world’s poor represent the vast majority of his flock.” Poverty and misery are the foundation of modern Catholicism. “Ministering to the poor” is central to the Catholic Church’s purpose for being—and its power. Where would the Church be if poverty continues to give way to capitalistic, fossil-fueled prosperity worldwide? The Church has a vested interest in poverty. It will fight tooth and nail to “protect” the poor—from prosperity.

So yes, Pope Francis’s jumping “into the fray” on the side of political statists’ conspiring to strangle fossil fuel energy production under the guise of some alleged, impending “climate catastrophe” that exists only in computer models makes perfect sense, from the Catholic Church’s perspective. Francis’s  position is a logical extension of the Church’s historic anti-capitalist, anti-prosperity mission.

Related Reading:

The Illegitimacy of Pope Francis's “Legitimate Redistribution” of Wealth—Natalie Ogle for The Objective Standard

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