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Gas of Life: Pope Encyclical on Climate Change Ignores Science on Carbon Dioxide


As a scientist, I am not simply disappointed by the issue of encyclical named Laudato Si’ (Praised Be) from the office of the Pope, but I am highly disgusted because of the blatant misuse of science and the scientific method of inquiry as part of the excuse to prevent social injustice and wrong-doing.


Who would be against the protection and enhancement of the poor and underprivileged? Who is indifferent to the suffering of the poor? Who would mask the problems and its symptoms by deliberately ignoring efforts to mitigate its negative or harmful effects?

Even as a believer in God, I find such statements in the encyclical to be troublesome. Finger-pointing is not helpful in this discussion.

The verdict is clear: Any attempt to stop the use of available fossil fuels for life and all human activities will cause far more harm and lead to more deaths than the theological belief in future catastrophic disasters endorsed by the encyclical. Even worse, the church knows that many of the predicted catastrophic disasters from the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide are highly exaggerated if not outright fraudulent. Yet Laudato Si’ gives credence and praise to these predictions by relying on climate models scenarios that have been proven to be false.

A clear lesson should have been learned when UNEP predicted in 2005 that there will be 50 million climate refugees by 2010. When this prediction failed, revisionists – now apparently aided by the power of the Office of the Pope – insisted in 2011 that the same prediction will now come true by 2020. It was repugnant to watch the press event that highlighted Hans Joachim Schellnhuber’s half-truth comment that 50 meters (164 feet) of global sea level rise would occur from the almost impossible melting of both the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets by 2500.

The world’s weather and climate will not be adversely affected by the prudent and appropriate use of fossil fuels to enhancing everyone’s lives. The release of the carbon dioxide gas to the atmosphere is a necessary result of life on Earth – carbon dioxide is a gas of life. Additional carbon dioxide in the air will enhance all forms of biological activity and life overall. The relative greening of the Earth for the past several decades is one positive example.

Another serious untruth in the encyclical occurs where it asserts the emission of carbon dioxide from power plants and automobiles will cause harm to life in the ocean in the name of “ocean acidification.” UN IPCC reports invented this lie, which is now blindly rubber-stamped by the Pope’s encyclical. Scientific analysis proves that the biology and chemistry of the ocean is and never was controlled by the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In fact, the reverse is true – growth of oceanic life is limited by a starvation of carbon dioxide caused by the control of carbonate and bicarbonate biogeochemical cycling. Growth of lobsters and crabs and other sea life in laboratory experiments is enhanced, rather than catastrophically destroyed, if the level of air carbon dioxide is increased.

Would the Pope stop the rain, which is more acidic, from falling into the ocean, which is up to 100 times less acidic than rainwater? Should the Pope prevent water from the ocean depths from coming to the surface as it is up to 10 times more acidic than the ocean surface?

In the about 2% of the encyclical that focuses on climate (4 out of the total of 246 items), many half-truths are presented. Half-truths are the enemy of science and they must be eradicated. I fear that this encyclical is driven not by science, but by social motivations and political yearnings. The office of the Pope is wrong to cast the harsh judgement on the beneficial use of fossil fuels for enhancement of life on Earth. As Galileo put it 400 years ago when the Papacy also trounced on science:

Therefore let these men begin to apply themselves to an examination of the arguments of Copernicus and others, leaving condemnation of the doctrine as erroneous and heretical to the proper authorities. Among the circumspect and most wise Fathers, and in the absolute wisdom of one who cannot err, they may never hope to find the rash decisions into which they allow themselves to be hurried by some particular passion or personal interest. With regard to this opinion, and others which are not directly matters of faith, certainly no one doubts that the Supreme Pontiff has always an absolute power to approve or condemn; but it is not in the power: of any created being to make things true or false, for this belongs to their own nature and to the fact. Therefore in my judgment one should first be assured of the necessary and immutable truth of the fact, over which no man has power. This is wiser counsel than to condemn either side in the absence of such certainty, thus depriving oneself of continued authority and ability to choose by determining things which are now undetermined and open and still lodged in the will of supreme authority. And in brief, if it is impossible for a conclusion to be declared heretical while we remain in doubt as to its truth, then these men are wasting their time clamoring for condemnation of the motion of the earth and stability of the sun, which they have not yet demonstrated to be impossible or false…

Dr. Willie Soon is an independent astrophysicist and a geoscientist.

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