Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Climate Alarmism and the Catholic Church; Faith-Based Allies in the War on Prosperity

New Jersey Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine recently wrote:

Those of us who are skeptical of climate alarmism have always maintained that it is a religious movement.

Last week the Pope proved us right. That encyclical on climate change showed a great deal of faith, hope and charity but very little in the way of logic and rationality.

It’s a religious movement, alright. Consider a Star-Ledger letter in support of Pope Francis’s June climate change encyclical by the “N.Y./N.J. Congregations of Dominican Sisters” titled Joining Pope Francis in considering moral implications of climate change. For the Sisters, Sister Joan Agro writes:

Scientists agree that Earth is warming, which is destructive to life on the planet. While some may deny that human activity causes climate change, the vast majority of the scientific community does not. It is clear that our dependency on fossil fuels along with other destructive behavior is placing the future of life on Earth in peril.

The N.Y./N.J. Congregations of Dominican Sisters have committed to take action to stem the tide of climate change. This week we welcome the encyclical of Pope Francis as a clear, thoughtful presentation of the moral considerations of climate change. We are delighted that Pope Francis is using his moral authority to address the dangers of climate change and to call us to action on behalf of life on Earth.

I left these comments:

The whole first paragraph is a deliberate and dishonest distortion, implying a “consensus” that, as energy expert Alex Epstein observes, doesn’t exist. These scientists are climate specialists, not energy experts or experts on anything else.

  • Scientists don’t agree on how much humans are contributing to climate change, or how big a threat, if any, climate change is.
  • Opposition to statist restrictions on fossil fuel use does not equate to “den[ial] that human activity causes climate change.”
  • And there is certainly no scientific consensus that “our dependency on fossil fuels along with other destructive behavior is placing the future of life on Earth in peril.” In fact, extreme-weather and climate-related deaths have dropped 98% over the past century—the very era of global warming. Far from making life on our planet harder, fossil fuel-driven industrial prosperity has made us safer than ever before. Fossil fuels have enabled us to take a dangerous environment and make it much more human life friendly.

The Sisters continue:

Climate change is clearly a moral issue. It is the most vulnerable who disproportionately suffer from the excessive floods and fires and the extreme cold, heat and violent storms such as Sandy. Regions like the Arctic, island nations and coastal communities are at great risk. As a result the poor, those least responsible for climate change, are paying the highest price for our use of fossil fuels.

My comments continue:

2008 presidential candidate John McCain once said, “I . . . believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also." This is a faith-based feeling, not science. There is no evidence of God in the Grand Canyon. Likewise, when the Sisters essentially say, “When I see excessive floods, fires, extreme heat, cold, and violent storms such as Sandy, I see climate change,” they are expressing a faith-based feeling, not scientific fact. There is no evidence of climate change, let alone evidence of climate catastrophe, in those “excessive” climate dangers, dangers that have always existed. There are only perpetually failed predictions of climate catastrophe.

Facts don’t concern the Catholic Church. But given the Church’s worldview, it makes perfect sense for the N.Y./N.J. Congregations of Dominican Sisters to support the Pope. Notice the Sisters’ main concern; “the vulnerable” and “the poor.” Since wealthier nations are so much better able to cope with climate dangers, you’d think the Sisters would advocate for the poor the same social conditions—fossil fuel-driven industrial advancement—now enjoyed by the developed world. Instead, the Sisters, echoing Pope Francis, call for restrictions on the energy source most responsible for making wealthier nations safer and less vulnerable to climate dangers. They’d rather spread the misery, rather than the safety—a “vow of poverty” for the entire world.

That’s probably the point. The Sisters say “It is clear that our dependency on fossil fuels along with other destructive behavior is placing the future of life on Earth in peril.” What is the “other destructive behavior?” The April 2015 declaration of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences,’ Climate Change and the Common Good—the preamble to the encyclical—condemns “unsustainable consumption”—i.e., prosperity and human flourishing, which are enabled by liberty and free markets (capitalism). The Catholic Church, through a long line of papal encyclicals, has been waging a long-standing war on liberty, free market capitalism, and prosperity. Pope Francis goes one step further: He connects prosperity and climate change together into a common enemy. The Pope has recognized that climate change is a perfect vehicle to exploit for the purpose of waging the Church’s anti-capitalist crusade, which includes a call for a global statist regime of economic control and redistribution of wealth.

Why wage war on capitalism?

To the extent capitalism is allowed to function, billions have been liberated to work themselves up from poverty. Capitalism leads to industrialization, which raises people's’ 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. The War on Fossil Fuels is a War on Capitalist prosperity.

It’s a moral issue, alright. The moral question is, should the people of the Earth be free to use the best energy technology available today to lift themselves out of poverty? The Church says no. Why? 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 capitalist prosperity. The Pontifical Declaration plainly reveals that “Climate Change” is merely a new front in the Church’s fight.

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