The confluence of climate change catastrophism and religion continues apace. And it makes sense. Climate catastrophism is itself a religion, running on a faith-based belief in a moral concern higher than human well-being. In the catastrophists’ vision, the pre-human environment replaces God as the Almighty.
So, it’s no surprise to read articles like this from Rabbi Gerald Zelizer, who urges Jewish solidarity with Pope Francis’ statist climate change agenda. In People of all faiths should follow Pope Francis in putting climate change on the agenda, Zelizer sums up the Leftist Jewish position:
Because global warming challenges the very existence of the planet, it is not simply one of many agenda items for do-good committees in our synagogues and churches. Without a planet, there will be no food to grow or poor to feed.
Zelizer laments the fact that rank-and-file Jews are relatively unconcerned about global warming, despite the alleged impending catastrophe. He attributes this “casualness regarding our susceptibility to climate change” to Jews’ relative prosperity. Zelizer cites Rabbi Lawrence Troster for the answer:
"The answer does not lie in religion but class. Most Jews are middle to upper-middle class and even higher. ... (Those) who are in the upper-class income brackets ... tend more to doubt climate change and even if they believe in the science, also believe that they will either economically benefit from climate change or will be able to weather it."
Zelizer, like Pope Francis, professes concern for the poor as moral justification for an anti-fossil fuel climate change political agenda. Both miss—or, more likely, evade, especially in the Pope’s case—the obvious lesson to draw; that prosperity, not energy poverty, is the only path to climate safety.
I left these comments, edited for clarity:
There is no evidence that “global warming challenges the very existence of the planet.” Such hyperbole runs counter to the facts.
Extreme-weather and climate-related deaths have dropped 98% over the past century—the very era of global warming and increasing fossil fuel use. 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. Industrialization has made life on Earth for human life safer, healthier, better fed, more comfortable, and longer than ever before. 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 results have been stupendous. Everywhere fossil fuel use is on the rise, life is getting better. By every measure of human well-being—from access to clean water, to more food and better nutrition, to falling infant mortality rates, to lengthening life spans, to sharp reductions in poverty—fossil fuels have been overwhelmingly positive for human life.
The only “evidence” of catastrophic global warming (or climate change) is contained in perpetually wrong computer models. The catastrophists are stuck in Annie-land, where “tomorrow is only a day away”—and always will be. The climate catastrophe is always in the future, and the future never seems to arrive. The more their predictions fail, the more shrill the catastrophists get. Why? Because climate-related dangers, including weather extremes, are no worse than in the past.
In a sense, though, the “climate crisis” is real—and always has been. The only difference is, today we can better cope with it. The fact is, man once was susceptible to a real climate crisis: In the ages before fossil fuel-driven industrial development, people were ever at the mercy of storms, extreme heat and cold, droughts, floods, wind. Today we are better protected than ever from nature’s fury. There is no impending climate crisis. The climate crisis has always existed, and today has been mostly overcome, thanks to fossil fuels. As Rabbi Zelizer readily observes, to be wealthier is to be less concerned about global warming—for good reason; it’s less of a concern.
But not for everyone. True, the poor are more susceptible to climate dangers than wealthier people. And the same goes for nations. The climate crisis continues for poor undeveloped nations. Since wealthier nations are so much better able to cope with climate dangers, you’d think the Church would advocate for the poor the same social conditions—fossil fuel-driven industrial advancement and its cause, free market capitalism—now enjoyed by the developed world. Instead, the Church calls 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.
It’s a moral issue, alright. Rabbi Zelizer assures us that “Jews . . . eagerly accept scientific discovery.” Then why does he call for abandoning the best energy source available; the one most capable of delivering reliable, clean, cheap, industrial scale energy—fossil fuels? 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 and thus out of climate-related harms way? The Church says no. The Francis Church’s position is anti-human well-being and thus immoral. The moral high ground belongs to the pro-plentiful, reliable, economical energy side, which today means the pro-fossil fuel side.
Some wonder why Francis would drag the Church into the global warming quagmire. But from the standpoint of the Catholic Church’s broader worldview, Pope Francis’s jump into global warming makes sense. It’s a perfect cover for the Church’s long-standing anti-capitalist, anti-individualist, anti-liberty philosophy.
The April 2015 declaration of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences,’ Climate Change and the Common Good—the preamble to the encyclical—is unequivocal: “Market forces alone . . . cannot solve the intertwined crises of poverty, exclusion, and the environment.” “Present economic systems have been accompanied by the development of unacceptable gaps between the rich and the poor, the latter still lacking access to most of the scientific and technical benefits that we have developed in the industrial world.” To solve these alleged problems, the Declaration calls for “a reallocation of the benefits and burdens that accompany humanity’s activities both within nations and between nations”; i.e., a global statist regime of economic control and redistribution of wealth. This is not a new position for the Church, but a reiteration of a long-standing goal. Half a century ago, Pope Paul VI attacked free market capitalism and its foundation of individual rights and limited rights-protecting government in calling for global collectivization:
"God intended the earth and everything in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should flow fairly to all." (20)
All other rights, whatever they may be, including the rights of property and free trade, are to be subordinated to this principle.
It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them. . .
Add in a hefty dose of climate change and a slap at income inequality—today’s hot Leftist causes—and you have warmed over Pope Paul VI. As with the Left, Global warming is just a modern tool for advancing the Church's long-standing goal of totalitarian world socialism.
Francis echoes Paul’s condemnation of “surplus goods” with his condemnation of “unsustainable consumption”; i.e., both attack prosperity by attacking the means to prosperity, free market capitalism and fossil fuels.
Why attack prosperity and its means? 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. No more poverty, no more Mother Teresas. So it will fight tooth and nail to “protect” the poor—from fossil-fueled capitalist prosperity. Why would any rabbi want to hitch the Jewish community to that nihilistic bandwagon?
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels—Alex Epstein