Working my way through the climate portion of the encyclical I agreed with many of the problems the pope articulates with regard to pollution, the need for pure water, the destruction of the rain forest and wetlands, etc. However, the underlying assumption that global warming/climate change is directly linked (or even exists) to anthropogenic, i.e., man made, activity is questionable. Here's a little of the section involved. Note the claim of a "very solid scientific consensus:
23....A very solid scientific consensus (my emphasis) indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it....
25. Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited....But is there, in fact, a "solid scientific consensus" that mankind is causing a rise in CO2 emissions and that CO2 is responsible for changes in the climate that are going to devastate the planet? Certainly there is solid REPORTING of a consensus. But does it actually exist? Or is it really a deliberate effort from the global warming cheerleaders to outscream the "deniers" (name-calling is always a tactic that raises my eyebrow) and prevent any scientific questioning of the party line?
First of all the "consensus."
Apparently "the consensus" comes from a 2013 study that examined almost 12,000 peer-reviewed papers on climate change from the scientific literature.The study was performed by climate change activists who promote the theory. Where did they get the 97% figure? Not from the unbiased results of the study. It showed that 66% of the articles' authors took no position at all, either for or against, global warming. Of the 34% that took a position, 97.1% supported global warming. And that's how the cheerleaders reported it, simply making those who deny or question the global warming theory disappear. Poof! (Source)
Many of the articles supporting man-made climate change come from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) which clearly has an agenda and is critical of all scientists who disagree.
That political views and opinions about climate change consensus affect the views of scientists was confirmed in a survey by the American Meteorological Society in 2013. (They surveyed all who had email addresses and over 25% responded.) They found that political ideology and opinions about consensus affected the views of their members. In other words, studying the data was not necessarily the principle measure of the scientists' views on whether climate change is real.
In America alone 31,000 scientists (over 9000 with PhDs) have signed a petition to the government disputing global warming. Qualifications required of the signers are here. Many actually work in environmental and meteorological areas. They fear the results of global warming policy will hurt the poor especially in technologically underdeveloped nations.
One other disturbing fact: It appears the Vatican has silenced the voices of those who question anthropogenic climate change. At the Vatican climate summit in April sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, promotion of global warming was clearly on the agenda. With U.N. reps as prominent participants, discordant voices were deliberately excluded. That strategy is reminiscent of the Pontifical Academy's meeting on evolution in 2009 when scientists supporting Intelligent Design Theory were also excluded from participation. No boat-rockers welcome.
Yesterday's Washington Post described the efforts of global warming skeptics to be heard at the April meeting of the Academy, but, in the end, they were excluded leading to an alternate conference a stone' throw from St. Peter's sponsored by The Heartland Institute. The scientists there hoped to have an impact on the final report, but in the end did not see any evidence of it:
We all want the poor to live better lives, but we just don't think the solution to that is to restrict the use of fossil fuels, because we don't think CO2 is causing a climate crisis....So if that''s our message in a sentence, that message was not reflected in the encyclical.Talk about an understatement!
So...Is there really a "solid scientific consensus" on global warming, or are those scientists who dispute it simply gagged and persecuted like scientists who explore Intelligent Design? Is there a consensus or just the perception of a consensus fueled by liberals using the green movement to enrich themselves (Think Al Gore.) and redistribute income?
It would be interesting to see a Ben Stein documentary on the question like the one he did on evolution, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. And don't forget, an encyclical is not a doctrine of the Church and can only be unreservedly trusted when it corresponds to the unchanging teachings over the millennia like Humanae Vitae on marriage and sexuality. (To be continued....)