On that so-called global warming encyclical

Christopher Booker over at the Telegraph suspects smoke and mirrors in recent reporting on the upcoming encyclical on the environment.  He writes:

Ever more desperate become the warmists’ efforts to lobby for that “global climate treaty” they hope to see signed in Paris next December. But a special prize must go to the Guardian for its claim that Pope Francis will soon issue an encyclical calling on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to pressurise their politicians into supporting this treaty.

The Pope has been persuaded to take this dramatic step, it is alleged, by a series of papers from something called the “Pontifical Academy of Sciences”, which might sound vaguely impressive until we see who wrote them. They are like an A-list of the world’s most strident climate alarmists. Cambridge professor Peter Wadhams has been crying wolf over the melting of polar ice since time immemorial. Martin Rees is the astronomer who turned the Royal Society into little more than a hotbed of warmist propaganda. The “social scientist” Nancy Oreskes sprang to fame in 2004 for her analysis of 928 scientific papers, 75 per cent of which she claimed endorsed the case for man-made climate change. Only subsequently was it shown that the true figure was 2 per cent, while the vast majority of the papers did not mention it at all.

Did the Guardian fall for the lobbyists’ wishful thinking? The Pope’s promised encyclical on man and the environment may well be outspoken about human greed, and inequality in how the world’s natural resources are being exploited. But from his previous statements on the subject there is little to suggest that he will lend his support to that ludicrous treaty the warmists are clamouring for.

And even if he did, of course, there is no chance that a treaty committing richer countries to pay trillions of dollars to bribe the world’s less developed nations, including China and India, into cutting back their own “carbon emissions” will ever be agreed anyway.

 

And my friend and faith and science specialist writer Denyse O’Leary wrote me privately in an email she agreed to have published her concerns about any encyclical that is based on “science” that is later disproved.

She writes:

There is another aspect I hope to touch on if the discussion continues: the reason the Church got into the apparently endless (in pop culture) Galileo mess is that it chose to take sides in a controversy that critically depended on science evidence *about which there was a division of opinion among professional astronomers.*  ​

It doesn’t have to be 50-50. Sometimes the minority is right. The preponderance of actual evidence is what matters. And that’s been the problem.
Contrary to the pop science history taught in school, it was not possible at the time to know if Ptolemy or Copernicus was right, for a number of reasons. It did not become possible until the later time of Johannes Kepler. (Copernicus’s math didn’t work because he thought the planetary orbits must be circular; Kepler corrected his math to show that they are elliptical, which gave Copernicus the edge long after his death in 1549.)
But I once indexed a World History textbook which claimed that Galileo had resolved the question by looking through the telescope he built, which is ridiculous because he couldn’t have. The issues were mathematical, not observational.
Now, how smart is it for a Pope, who has devoted his life to spiritual matters, to get involved in this kind of stuff once again? It may take decades before we can establish what current patterns allow us to predict.
In another email she wrote:

BREAKING — Pope Says We Are All Responsible for Climate Change

Note: A poli sci prof once pointed out to me that any time someone says “society” is responsible, he means in practice that no one is.
Consider the following statement:  Everyone is responsible for law enforcement on this campus!
Well, if anyone thinks I am going to get involved with a violent addict in withdrawal … who may even have a weapon …
So then in practice, nobody in particular is responsible for law enforcement on campus. They told me I was, and I am just going to sneak away with no consequences.
Now suppose the person informs me instead:
The municipal police [or the campus police or a private police force] are responsible for law enforcement on this campus.
Okay, now I know who must confront the violent addict – whether or not he is armed.
That’s what we always really mean by “responsible for law enforcement.”
One could say the same about climate change. If we can’t identify who exactly is to do what, no one is responsible for doing anything.
How I wish Francis would just sit quietly for a while and meditate.
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3 Responses to On that so-called global warming encyclical

  1. Macy says:

    Thanks for sharing the information from Ms O’Leary! Just to gild the lily:
    Galileo had given the tides as proof of eliocentrism (he’s quoted as having deemed as “imbecilic” the theory about the moon’s gravitational pull). In their academic capacity, Church authorities opposed the fact that he insisted on teaching eliocentrism as proven, rather than as a theory alongside geocentrism. It’s worth recalling that philosopher of science Paul Feyerband — an agnostic — said: “In Galileo’s time, the Church remained more faithful to reason than Galileo himself. The trial against Galileo was reasonable and just.” Paradoxically, Benedict XVI got into trouble for having quoted Feyerband, given that the pop narrative (abused by anti-Christian scientists) is that Galileo was infallible.

    • EPMS says:

      The Church showed prudence in not committing prematurely to a hypothesis that was still in the process of being investigated. This is not the same as declaring the hypothesis to be a put-up job by sinister forces bent on world domination.

  2. Macy says:

    I dug up what Pope Francis said about the encyclical in a press conference last August. His remarks offered some reassurance:

    “This encyclical… I’ve spoken about it at length with Cardinal Turkson, and with others, and I asked Cardinal Turkson to gather all the contributions which have arrived. And before this trip, the week before, no, four days before, Cardinal Turkson handed me the first draft. The first draft is this big…! I would say that it is a third bigger than Evangelii Gaudium! It’s just the first draft. But now there is a rather difficult problem, because, up to a certain point, one can speak with some assurance about safeguarding creation and ecology, including human ecology. But there are also scientific hypotheses [to be taken into account], some of them quite solid, others not. In this kind of encyclical, which has to be magisterial, one can only build on solid data, on things that are reliable. If the Pope says that the earth is the centre of the universe, and not the sun, he errs, since he is affirming something that ought to be supported by science, and this will not do. That’s where we are at now. We have to study the document, number by number, and I believe it will become smaller. But to get to the heart of the matter and to what can be safely stated. You can say in a footnote: “On this or that question, there are the following hypotheses…”, as a way of offering information, but you cannot do that in the body of encyclical, which is doctrinal and has to be sound.”

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