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Earth Politics Science

Pope Attacked By Climate Change Skeptics 703

HughPickens.com writes: The Telegraph reports that as the Vatican forges an alliance with the UN to tackle climate change, skeptics accuse Pope Francis of being deeply ill-informed about global warming. The Pope discussed climate change with Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, who then opened a one-day Vatican conference called "The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development". Organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, SDSN and Religions for Peace, the goal of the conference is to help strengthen the global consensus on the importance of climate change in the context of sustainable development.

But a group of British and American skeptics say the Pope is being fed "mistaken" advice from the UN and that he should stick to speaking out on matters of morality and theology rather than getting involved in the climate change debate. "The Pope has great moral authority but he's not an authority on climate science. He's a learned man but the IPCC has got it wrong," says Jim Lakely of the Heartland Institute, a conservative American pressure group partly funded by billionaire industrialists who question climate change. "The Pope would make a grave mistake if he put his moral authority behind scientists saying that climate change is a threat to the world. Many scientists have concluded that human activity is a minor player. The Earth has been warming since the end of the last Ice Age."

It was the first time the Heartland Institute, which is based in Chicago and has been described by the New York Times as "the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism," has traveled to Rome to try to influence a pope. "The sideshow envisioned by these organizations will not detract from the deep concern that Pope Francis has for the truth and how it relates to the environment," says Dr. Bernard Brady, Professor and Chair of the Theology Department at the University of St. Thomas. "Pope Francis will probably follow his predecessor, Benedict XVI, recognizing the interrelatedness of climate change with other moral issues and calling for persons, organizations, communities, nations, and indeed the global community, to reconsider established patterns of behavior."
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Pope Attacked By Climate Change Skeptics

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  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:21AM (#49576723)
    than the climate skeptics like. But maybe they are right, maybe he should just give them spiritual guidance to stop lying for money.
    • by Squiddie ( 1942230 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:40AM (#49576937)
      I think it's time to stop calling these people "skeptics". They are science denialists, just like creationists. Skeptic would imply that they have found fault with the current science and attack that line of reasoning, but they don't. Instead, they have already come up with the conclusion that climate change is no issue and it is not caused my man, which goes against all current evidence.
      • by Jeff Flanagan ( 2981883 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @11:11AM (#49577285)
        Correct. Most of these "skeptics" are right-wing cranks fed their beliefs from wingnut blogs, hate radio, and Fox News. They're not only not scientists, they don't believe in any science that runs counter to right-wing dogma. At some point the Republicans put out so much disinformation that the party became a cult, totally disconnected from reality.
        • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @11:46AM (#49577707)

          Don't worry. The invisible hand will fix it. Just like it's fixing the economy.

          The only thing I don't like about this is that the fixing is of the veterinary definition.

          • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @01:06PM (#49578527)

            Actually it will.

            I seriously believe that Tesla's cars are beautiful electric cars and if I had enough money, I'd own one.

            I also believe that Tesla's will get both better AND cheaper until more people (even most people) can afford them. Of course that also includes other manufacturers upping their electric car game too.

            When superior electric cars (and the high range Tesla Model S's are superior) are cheap enough for everyone, people will flock to buy them.

            Then we just need to build Nuke plants to power all these electric cars, shutter all the coal plants an viola! Problem solved.

            Now you will argue that that won't happen, that its all pie in the sky, but I'm saying its inevitable -- given time. Because if we want to solve this problem without kneecapping the economy, its what HAS to happen.

            Taxes, and rules and regulations are the things that seem like they'll solve the problem, but they really won't.

            Technology WILL.

        • by harrkev ( 623093 ) <kfmsd AT harrelsonfamily DOT org> on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @11:59AM (#49577857) Homepage

          I really do not understand the hate involved here. Let's assume that climate change is NOT happening. We still have the following facts:

          1) Fossil fuels are a limited supply. Maybe enough for another 50 years. Maybe 100. But still limited.

          2) We purchase large amounts of oil from countries that, in general, do not like us.

          3) If it were not for oil, our interest in the middle east would decline greatly, which would be a good thing. If Muslims want to kill Muslims, that sounds like their problem. There is no "right" side in a conflict like that.

          For all of these reasons, we should be decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels. More fuel efficiency and alternative fuels just simply make long term sense, even without considering climate change.

          So, what is the problem?

          • The problem?

            People, and especially politicians, are afraid of change.

            Remember when the 'odd' kid got picked on in elementary/middle/high school, even though they were often smarter/more creative? Just like that.

            • The 'problem' is that the current fossil fuel investors have many billions of their dollars sunk into those investments

              They are not going not give up that investment without a fight

              They are similarly committed to keeping the country from moving to nuclear power, solar power, or any other source of energy that does not directly leverage their investments

              Oh, and the fossil fuel 'investors' are deeply invested in republican politicians as well

              To them it is 'good business', to the rest of us it is a disaster

            • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @01:20PM (#49578681)

              People, and especially politicians, are afraid of change.

              People aren't afraid of change. Not only do people expect change, but they embrace it.

              The internet fundamentally changed and disrupted a lot of things, from the way people get their news, to the way people get their entertainment like music, movies, and TV shows. I can watch a movie on the phone in my pocket. The only people afraid of those changes are the ones in charge of the old industries which supplied those things, who never adapted and are now in a position of increasing irrelevance.

              Uber is another example. Regular people have widely embraced services like Uber, because they offer many advantages over traditional taxis, they are a welcome change. The major noise against Uber is coming, again, from the people losing money and business to them.

              On the topic of alternative fuels in general, Toyota took over the hybrid market with the Prius, if you deny that people embraced that ugly thing then you're delusional. They are all over the road, and it's not because they are attractive vehicles, it's because people like the change that they represent. Tesla showed it further, even with a car priced out of reach of the majority of people I still see several Model Ss on the road every week, usually every day. There are plenty of unknowns with all-electric vehicles, like what happens if you find yourself in a situation where you don't have enough juice left to reach a charging station. That hasn't stopped people from embracing the idea and the change though.

              Residential solar power is another great example. There are houses all over the place that have solar cells on their roof or on stands in their yard. People were not afraid of that change, when the price hit the right point they embraced it. They feel good because they're generating their own power for their own house, and it cuts down their electric bill to the point that it can pay for itself over enough time.

              I don't know about you, but I haven't had a home phone for over 12 years. I had a few dumpy cell phones and since then I've had a few high-powered smart phones. I'm carrying a computer in my pocket more powerful than anything I would have built for home use when I had a home phone. I was not afraid of getting rid of my home phone, it was a welcome change. If someone wants to talk to me they can call me directly, not my house where I may or may not be. If they just have something quick to say they don't even need to call, they can just send a small text message. Or send me a picture. Or send an email, which I can also get on my phone. Or send me a link to a web page, which I can pull up no matter where I am.

              These are not "changes" to be "afraid" of, this is what we call progress. The only people holding us back from continued progress are the ones who stand to lose money and become irrelevant. The reason why politicians appear to be afraid of change is because they are paid by the businesses who are becoming irrelevant.

              Businesses are afraid of change, people are not.

          • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @12:38PM (#49578233) Homepage Journal

            "1) Fossil fuels are a limited supply. Maybe enough for another 50 years. Maybe 100. But still limited."

            Matters on the type of fuel you're talking about. The US has coal reserves for hundreds of years. Even NG and Crude reserves to last a loooooong time, but they will continue to cost more and more to extract and refine.

            "2) We purchase large amounts of oil from countries that, in general, do not like us."

            We buy most of our oil, from ourselves. The vast majority of the rest is bought from Mexico and Canada. The largest of the insignificant provider nations is Venezuela. The amount of oil we buy from countries that, "Do not like us", is insignificant.

            "3) If it were not for oil, our interest in the middle east would decline greatly, which would be a good thing."

            Our interest in Middle Eastern oil is due to the lack of oil reserves in western Europe. Even without any US demand on Middle Eastern oil, the US will have a continued interest in the region until Western Europe transitions off of crude.

            "More fuel efficiency and alternative fuels just simply make long term sense, even without considering climate change. So, what is the problem?"

            This is really the crux of it. So let's say that the Pope/Scientists are wrong. There is no global warming and any investment in improving vehicle efficiency, air quality, and use of renewable is a waste of economic output. Well, we still get more efficient vehicles, better air quality, and a bunch of jobs. So, no big loss.

            On the other hand, say the Pope/Scientists are right, but we do nothing. We are at risk of creating a catastrophic level event that would dramatically alter life on the planet, and could result in the death of billions of people.

            So option A, we possibly lose a percent or two off of economic growth. Option B, we die, and the economy no longer matters.

            As you said, "So, what is the problem?"

            -Rick

            • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @12:51PM (#49578369)

              The US has coal reserves for hundreds of years

              Keep in mind that the mining started with the really good anthracite coal, and has been moved steadily to lesser and lesser grades, with less energy per ton. If you look at the produced energy from coal, the US hit the peak back in 1998.

              We buy most of our oil, from ourselves

              This tertiary oil boom in the US, due to fracking, is a very temporary stopgap. Fracked wells have an incredibly steep decline rate, which means that after just a few years, the well stops producing in useful quantities, and you have to drill new ones. Pretty soon, they're going to run out of places to drill, especially the really good places where they started. The story for natural gas is similar.

            • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @01:32PM (#49578811)

              We buy most of our oil, from ourselves. The vast majority of the rest is bought from Mexico and Canada. The largest of the insignificant provider nations is Venezuela. The amount of oil we buy from countries that, "Do not like us", is insignificant.

              The major supplier is in fact Canada. Saudi Arabia and Mexico are essentially tied for second, followed by Venezuela, then countries like Ecuador, Colombia, and Russia. Imports from Canada and the Persian Gulf countries account for a little over half of our total imports.

              http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pe... [eia.gov]

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I really do not understand the hate involved here. Let's assume that climate change is NOT happening. We still have the following facts:

            1) Fossil fuels are a limited supply. Maybe enough for another 50 years. Maybe 100. But still limited.

            2) We purchase large amounts of oil from countries that, in general, do not like us.

            3) If it were not for oil, our interest in the middle east would decline greatly, which would be a good thing. If Muslims want to kill Muslims, that sounds like their problem. There is no "right" side in a conflict like that.

            For all of these reasons, we should be decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels. More fuel efficiency and alternative fuels just simply make long term sense, even without considering climate change.

            So, what is the problem?

            There isn't any, most reasonable people would agree with all of the above...

            Then the global warming/global cooling/global climate change people go nuts and take it WAY to far. It becomes about money and power and redistribution of wealth more than the planet.

            It is like the environmentalists who are AGAINST EVERYTHING!

            The average person is so sick of it that he/she is just tuning them out.

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/lo... [forbes.com]

            http://save-as.org/GreenNews/N... [save-as.org]

            http://abcnews.go.com/Technolo... [go.com]

            And on, and on...

            They

      • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @11:35AM (#49577555)

        I think it's time to stop calling these people "skeptics". They are science denialists, just like creationists. Skeptic would imply that they have found fault with the current science and attack that line of reasoning, but they don't. Instead, they have already come up with the conclusion that climate change is no issue and it is not caused my man, which goes against all current evidence.

        The difference is that creationists deny science because of their faith. These guys deny science because of greed.

    • by kelarius ( 947816 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @11:34AM (#49577545)
      TFS: "The Pope has great moral authority but he's not an authority on climate science" I would think that it would be a moral imperative to leave our children a world thats not a complete disaster and if 99% of the worlds learned people are saying that this is a problem, it would behoove him, morally, to make sure that the Catholic Church is doing everything in their power to make sure they have a flock to attend to in the next few generations.
      • by neoritter ( 3021561 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @12:00PM (#49577877)

        It's a tenet of the Church actually.

        http://www.vatican.va/archive/... [vatican.va] :

        2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @11:42AM (#49577651) Homepage Journal

      It will be interesting to see the Heartland Institute's reaction to someone who is immune to suitcases filled with money.

  • well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:22AM (#49576739) Homepage Journal

    When the Pope is more progressive than you are then you might be an extremist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you think that your every political opinion must be defined by your overall leaning, then you are an extremist. The Catholic Church has just as many super progressive ideas as it does super conservative ones.
  • by goruka ( 1721094 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:33AM (#49576841)
    He worked as a Chemical Technologist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_technologist) part of his life, and global warming definitely seems like a moral issue to me.
    If he can criticize the deaths caused by poverty or extremism, he can criticize global warming.
  • by Knightman ( 142928 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:33AM (#49576845)

    Not really, since if there is no man made climate change we at least need to clean up our environment anyway. If on the other hand the skeptics are wrong and they win the argument humanity is up shit creek and it's going to cost a ton of money and lives in the near future.

    So, to be on the safe side isn't it better to deal with a possible man made climate change now regardless of it's true or not?

    • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:35AM (#49576873) Homepage Journal

      To paraphrase Philip K. Dick, reality is what doesn't go away when you stop believing in it. That definition seems more and more appropriate every day.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Will it change the value of my wall street stock? If so, then it does matter on the short term and THAT is important. Right?

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @11:08AM (#49577241) Journal

      So, to be on the safe side isn't it better to deal with a possible man made climate change now regardless of it's true or not?

      No, because the magnitude of the problem determines what our response should be.

      *If climate change is catastrophically serious, we need to reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere and immediately switch from coal to nuclear (as James Hansen advocates).
      *If climate change is moderately serious, we can put resources into solar/wind/other technologies, and put them into production when they are viable (or somewhat before).
      *If climate change is not serious, we can focus on improving the economy and living conditions of poor people, which by itself will reduce more serious pollution (like atmospheric sulfur and polluted rivers).

      If we choose wrongly, our actions very likely will be counter-productive and take us farther from our goals.

  • Confused much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:33AM (#49576847) Journal
    "But a group of British and American skeptics say the Pope is being fed "mistaken" advice from the UN and that he should stick to speaking out on matters of morality and theology rather than getting involved in the climate change debate"

    While I would have no reason to consider the pope's opinion on a scientific matter to be particularly interesting; doesn't climate change count as a glaringly obvious moral issue under all but the very, very, most optimistic models of its expected effects? I realize such statements are a polite way of saying 'go back to talking about financially irrelevant stuff like homosexuals and the slut menace, and let us do as we wish'; but if the imposition of negative externalities, on a substantial scale, isn't a moral issue, what would be?
  • The Pope is just the person we need to settle once and for all the correct interpretation of the scientific evidence. Thank goodness we'll be spared the downward spiral into nearly religious zealotry that climate change debate was headed.

  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:40AM (#49576947)

    The lines between communism/socialism and Catholicism/"conservative Christianity" have never been all that sharp to begin with: they both denounce competition and wealth, they both tend to be socially conservative in practice, and both believe that they know the road to salvation for all humanity and it's their job to impose it even on the unwilling. That is probably why those two ideologies hate each other so much.

    One of those ideologies has taken over the Democrats, and the other has taken over the Republicans. They agree on the principle of compelling people against their will to do what they believe is good and moral, they simply disagree about who should be in charge and which irrational principles justify that. You and what you want is irrelevant to either of these groups; according to both of them, you are just a "stupid American voter" who needs to be tricked into doing the right thing for his own good (tricking people into doing the "right" thing is, again, a long-standing principle in both ideologies).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:41AM (#49576953)

    It's like members of the flat earth society getting top billing on all the news broadcasts.

    Pope: "The Earth is round."

    Skeptics: "How can you be sure? I paid $100 million to have bunch of people say it's flat!!"

  • by Wubby ( 56755 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:41AM (#49576959) Homepage Journal

    Fixed the headline.

    This is not just a nitpick. Skeptics are people who reserve judgement or attack bad evidence. Pretending the evidence is bad doesn't make you a skeptic, it makes you a denier. As in "holocaust denier" or "evolution denier" or "Sandy Hook shooting denier".

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:41AM (#49576961) Homepage
    Skeptic implies the science isnt overwhelmingly concentric on the nature and cause of climate change as a science. What we mean when we say 'skeptic' is overpaid corporate shit-lord who learned grant funding for snake oil 'research' means trading your honda hatchback for a BMW and making your student loans disappear.
    Climate change is real. We are causing it. When even the leader of a cult that believes you can eat and drink the body of your dead god comes to realize this, its probably time to pack up your dog and pony show.
  • by Bonzoli ( 932939 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:44AM (#49576993)
    Sounds like the Heartland Institute is getting a lot of Koch lately.
  • Matters of Theology? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:48AM (#49577025)
    Well, correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the Bible say that Man has dominion over all living things, and even the Earth itself? If God commands us to be the stewards of the Earth, then it seems to be climate change is well within the purview of the Pope.
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @10:50AM (#49577067)
    Of course the Earth has been warming since the last Ice Age, that's why we call it the Ice Age. duh...

    .
    However, the rate of warming has increased, with a correlation to the increase of the warming gases.

    Is the correlation 100%? No. However, if we wait until the correlation is 100%, then it will be too late to do anything about the problem.

    On the other hand, even if global warming were not caused by humans, shouldn't we be trying to mitigate its effects anyway? Should we be planning for the effects of rising sea waters, instead of (as the skeptics want) just do nothing and let the waters rise?

    • On the other hand, even if global warming were not caused by humans, shouldn't we be trying to mitigate its effects anyway? Should we be planning for the effects of rising sea waters, instead of (as the skeptics want) just do nothing and let the waters rise?

      Is that their claim? The seas have risen by something like 200m in the past 13000 years.

      I thought their claim was that human-produced CO2 is a minor contributor and that the vapor feedback cycle is limiting, so humans should focus on adaptation to chang

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @11:37AM (#49577571)
    I find it hilarious that the one "leading climate change skeptic" they name is Christopher Monckton who is basically a climate change denial kook [rationalwiki.org]. The Telegraph seems to have an obsession for climate change denial and hosts columns from two other prominent denialists - James Delingpole and Christopher Booker.
  • ... the day you make it illegal for billionaires to use air conditioning.
  • by mjm1231 ( 751545 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @01:10PM (#49578561)

    It was corporate interests that sold Americans on the idea that Capitalism went hand in hand with Christianity [nytimes.com]. I love the irony of Christianity arguing back. (It isn't just the pope, there have been some fundamentalist groups making the same basic argument recently).

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