ROME, Italy – Contrary to what a worryingly large proportion of His churches believe, God isn’t a climate charge alarmist. If you’re in any doubt, I’d recommend you read this superbly erudite open letter to Pope Francis which has been put together by the Cornwall Alliance laying out the theological arguments against global warming catastrophism – and, more pertinently, lamenting the massive damage it’s doing to the well being of the people both the Old and New Testaments enjoin us to protect: the world’s poor.
It has been released to coincide with the Vatican’s conference this week on climate change which, unfortunately for anyone who believes in the scientific method or sound economic and social policy has been hijacked by the alarmist camp.
I think it somewhat unlikely the Pope Francis will ever get round to reading this letter. But I wish he would.
Here are some samples
The Imago Dei and Man’s Dominion
Severe poverty, widespread hunger, rampant disease, and short life spans were the ordinary condition of humankind until the last two-and-a-half centuries. These tragedies are normal when—as much of the environmental movement prefers—human beings, bearing the imago Dei, live, and are treated, as if they were mere animals, which need to submit to nature rather than exercising the dominium God gave them in the beginning (Genesis 1:28). Such dominion should express not the abusive rule of a tyrant but the loving and purposeful rule of our Heavenly King. It should thus express itself by enhancing the fruitfulness, beauty, and safety of the earth, to the glory of God and the benefit of our neighbors.
How Societies Overcome Poverty
What has delivered much of humanity from absolute material poverty is a combination of moral, social, political, scientific, and technological institutions. These include science and technology grounded on a view of the physical world as an ordered cosmos that rational creatures can understand and harness for human betterment; private property rights, entrepreneurship, and widespread trade, protected by the rule of law enforced by limited and responsive governments; and abundant, affordable, reliable energy generated from high-density, portable, constantly accessible fossil and nuclear fuels. By replacing animal and human muscle and low-density energy sources like wood, dung, and other biofuels, and low-density, intermittent wind and solar, fossil and nuclear fuels have freed people from the basic tasks of survival to devote time and bodily energy to other occupations.
Read the whole thing. Even if you’re not yourself religious, it’s worth acquainting yourself with the rebuttals to arguments often advanced by believers that the modern environmental creed (sustainability, social justice, the war on “carbon”, renewables and so forth) is in perfect accordance with Christian teaching. (Quakers are the most dogmatic, in my experience. In fact, it’s one of those rare areas where they can come across as decidedly unpeaceful).
In any case, as the delegation from the Heartland Institute has been saying in Rome today, it really isn’t the job of the Pope to pronounce on science.
And though the Catholic church has a patchy record in this respect – the persecution of Galileo, the immolation of Giordano Bruno for the crime of suggesting that there might be life on other planets – at least of Pope Francis’s predecessors have understood this.
Pope Benedict, for example, said on the subject “It is important for assessments to be carried out in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom uninhibited by ideology and not to draw hasty conclusions.” (Though there were other occasions, admittedly, where he sounded like much more of a true climate change believer).
Pope John Paul II too was circumspect on the subject: having experienced for himself in his early years in Poland the appalling consequences of Communist centralised planning – he was never going to be unduly enthusiastic about advocating similar methods to be used by the United Nations.
The main difficulty with Pope Francis, as some of the Heartland delegates have privately been noting, is that he is an enthusiastic subscriber to the quasi-Marxist doctrine of “liberation theology”. So a lot of the arguments advanced by environmentalists to promote the climate change scare – such as the opportunities it creates for wealth redistribution and “trade justice” – are, in this Pope’s case, likely to fall on fertile ground. The challenge then is to persuade Pope Francis that even if you believe, as he does, in narrowing the gap between rich and poor, that the measures currently being advanced by the environmental movement are guaranteed to do the exact opposite.