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A salvo of silliness

The Pope, it seems, has decided to involve himself in the climate debate, apparently because he wants to ensure that the 2015 Paris summit is a success (if you can call condemning millions of people to destitution "a success"). Via Andy Revkin I also learn that the Pope's new-found enthusiasm for green issues was the result of a workshop of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences held in the middle of last year.

The proceedings of the workshop have been published online and they make interesting reading. For example, the list of attendees tells a story in itself, with familiar names such as Naomi Oreskes, Peter Wadhams, Martin Rees, Hans-Jochim Schellhuber, Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph Stiglitz. There was also Daniel Kammen, the editor at Environmental Research Letters who is threw scientific integrity out of the window in a bid to prevent John Cook's fictions from being exposed. Needless to say, there were no familar names who could be put in the "global warming not a catastrophe" camp.

All of the talks are available online too, both in video format and in print. I've looked at a couple of them in brief.

A was amused by Schellnhuber's with its allusions to "insidious" changes in the jet streams and wondered where his science was. Does the Pope really want to have people presenting the latest cockeyed hypothesis to him as if it were settled science?

But best of all was Peter Wadhams. You have to say that for the Pontifex to be taking advice from a man who  is seen as a bit of a fruitcake by both sides of the climate debate does make the Vatican look a bit silly. And Wadhams' presentation doesn't disappoint either, ending with this salvo of stupidity:

...a common view is that, morally and economically, we must reduce our carbon emissions at a rapid rate in order to save the world from dangerous climate warming. I wish that I could agree with this view but my own conclusion, based only on unconsidered Arctic feedbacks, is that even a rapid reduction in CO2 emissions will not work in time, so we must seriously and urgently consider emergency methods which could slow down the rate of warming and give us time to change to a new paradigm of living on this planet – that is, the use of geoengineering techniques, repugnant as these are to many people.


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Reader Comments (130)

Start by blowing out all the candles. Then allow birth control. That would be a good start.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

The Pope is only infallible where he comments on doctrinal issues.

On all other things he is not infallible.

That's how I remember being taught on the Popes infallibility

'nuf said!

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Walsh

Contrary to the popular belief of some, the Pope obviously doesn't have a direct-line to the main player.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

(if you can call condemning millions of people to destitution "a success").

What else have the European elite ever been good for? We in Britain have had unalloyed asset stripping since the Norman Conquest. Any success has been in spite of the 'elite.' (IMHO)

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

The pope getting involved in this sounds like great news. I hope he's very vocal about it. It should nicely underline the religious nature of the global warming movement.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

The more religion agrees with alarmism, the easier it is to point out which side the bible-bashing is on.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

The papal stance on environmentalism might gain credibility if they created less pollution during their selection process.

Burning a mixture of potassium perchlorate, anthracene and sulphur to create black smoke; and, burning a mixture of potassium chlorate, lactose and rosin to create white smoke would certainly contravene the UK's Clean Air Act.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Here is more info on "Infallibility"

Is the Pope Really Infallible?

By Rev. John Trigilio, Jr. and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti from Catholicism For Dummies, 2nd Edition

Catholicism maintains that the pope is infallible, incapable of error, when he teaches a doctrine on faith or morals to the universal Church in his unique office as supreme head. When the pope asserts his official authority in matters of faith and morals to the whole church, the Holy Spirit guards him from error.

Papal infallibility doesn’t mean that the pope can’t make any mistakes. He’s not infallible in scientific, historical, political, philosophical, geographic, or any other matters — just faith and morals.

It boils down to trust. Catholics trust that the Holy Spirit protects them from being taught or forced to believe erroneous doctrines by preventing a pope from issuing them.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Walsh

Needless to say, there were no familar names who could be put in the "global warming not a catastrophe" camp.

I would have thought that the Pope was familiar with the concept of a 'Devil's Advocate'.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

Catholicism - two religions for the price of one. I think Josh will have a field day on this one.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:38 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The main infallible ruling of Popes seems to be: (wiki)
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven, informally known as the Assumption, according to the beliefs of the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of Anglicanism, was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life.

The Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory".[1] This doctrine was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus by exercising papal infallibility.[2] ...
The point of her bodily death has not been infallibly defined, and many believe that she did not die at all, but was assumed directly into Heaven. The dogmatic definition within the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus which, according to Roman Catholic dogma, infallibly proclaims the doctrine of the Assumption leaves open the question whether, in connection with her departure, Mary underwent bodily death; that is, it does not dogmatically define the point one way or the other, as shown by the words "having completed the course of her earthly life".[20]

Without wanting to be disrespectful, is there any risk of a satellite colliding with her corporeal body?

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterTony Thomas

The Pope would be better advised to concentrate on issues relevant to his authority such as the global threat to Christianity.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Wadhams may be a fruitcake but he is not daft.

He is doing a great job of diverting attention in that last section.

We all saw the pea of disaster under the cup marked CO2, he has deftly finessed it under the Arctic Feedbacks cup.

When it's time for the big reveal the CO2 cup will be empty and the showman will pretend the pea was under the Arctic Feedbacks cup all the time. Until the next round when it could pop up under the Jetstream cup because the arctic recovers to pre-industrial levels.

The odds for the punters are even worse than the pea game though because they can add cups at will to keep up interest in the game.

The backup plans are being made.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

Tony Thomas~ our satellites don't get that far out. Also, she left some time ago.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

According to Wiki, the Pope - who generally wears white - is entitled to wear any of the five defined colours of Zucchetto (skull-cap). Perhaps he will need to add a sixth: Green.

I'm still trying to get my head round the idea that the Pope would take advice from someone with the ego of Naomi Oreskes - who probably thinks she out-ranks him.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Perhaps we will see these two religions merging - catholic climativism?

Bring on the shroud of catastrophe! Thermageddon chapter 6 verse 9 - we will all fry for using evil fossil fuels!

Dec 29, 2014 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

If the Pope gets involved in global warming, can you imagine what would happen to the new atheists? Heads would explode.

Dec 29, 2014 at 11:14 AM | Registered Commentershub

So we're all going to burn in hell unless we shut up, do as we are told, and hand over our money if we have any. And generally stop sinning.


Dec 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Matt Ridley should be concerned as the Pope may issue an Exsurge Domine now. After all he is as dangerous as Martin Luther.

I hope the Pope will not take the advice from some extreme alarmists that the skeptics should be burned at the stake

Dec 29, 2014 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

The Pope would be better advised to concentrate on issues relevant to his authority such as the global threat to Christianity.

Dec 29, 2014 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

He's already been nutmegged by Lionel Messi.

Dec 29, 2014 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

It just political. One might go as far to say political expediency. Some will go even further into the political trenches.

Quite simply, the Pope likely views Green Theology (to give it a name) as a method to allign the Chruch with Western governments. If you're not familar with the Church's Catechism on "social justice" see It dates back to the rise of Marxism and it's related fascism, communism, and the host of other variations of what we simple call Socialism. Hitler and Stalin were particularly harsh regarding the Church. By defining, and later refining, the Catechism to support socialism, the Church assured it's relevancy and even it's very survival. After all, religion, especially Western relgions, are socialistic at their core. It's that tribal thing.

Remember, God did not appoint him to be Pope. A majority of senior priests elected him and knew full well where he would lead. And just like other political bodies, the Church's majority ot the senior priests are socialists. The less socialistic, aka "conservative", priests are in the minority and have been simply slapped silly and told to sit down.

The Pope's move is purely political move. Actually, just about all of the activities of this Pope fall into the political moves as the Chruch tries to accomdate gay marriage, trans-genders, mandatory support of birth control, etc., which the modern Socialist has visited upon the populations.

Dec 29, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

This Pope is not John Paul II.

Dec 29, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Registered Commenterperry

Or, perhaps, the pope is reaching out to the nuttiest among us (remember Oreskes is leading the monkey troop) and is going now to wash their feet, etc.

This is, after all, a pope for the TV age. It took long but he's finally here. That's glacial change for you folks. The cyber-pope will take another half a century to arrive.

And, btw, since not a single one of the catastrophes (not-a-one) has come to pass, the green tribe is now entering the post-catastrophe stage where hope for a solution is gone. In a few years, they might just sublimate into pure enlightenment and out themselves altogether thus preempting the post-post-catastrophe stage.

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

It was always only a matter of time before Francis fell for this trick.
The reason why the workshop is loaded with alarmists is very simple. They are the ones who are (as far as the general public are concerned, insofar as the general public thinks about it at all) the experts. They are the ones with the "relevant" qualifications. They are the "scientists". They are the ones who have studied this subject in great depth and at vast expense. They are the ones that have made sure that they are the ones who will be believed.
If we haven't yet learnt and understood this then we are simply sitting here gazing at our own navels. Who on earth did we expect was going to organise a seminar/workshop at the Vatican on the subject of climate change? Those who believe in it and have a vested interest in it, who else?

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:04 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Green Theology
I like it.

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Restin

Maybe because Cardinal Pell holds the keys to the money box at the Vatican and the Pope needs such ammunition to wrest it away from him.

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:09 PM | Registered Commentershub

Catholics aligning with environmentalists is not surprising. Catholics believe that man is a sinner and must pay for his sins. Environmentalists believe that man is a destroyer and must pay for his destructions. The alliance between the two faiths is quite natural. Eventually environmentalism will completely replace religion but in the short term a mixing of the two faiths is indeed quite natural.

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRedbone

I think it fair to say that you cannot be Pope and believe in the rule of natural law, so any opinion on scientific matters is bound to be more than usually conflicted. The dispute over the "reach" of science, particularly when it found itself in apparent contradiction with the scriptures, was at the heart of the dispute between Galileo and the Papacy over the heliocentric hypothesis. This was not a good precedent for Papal involvement in scientific controversy.

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

(If you can call condemning millions of people to destitution 'a success'...)

I think you'll find that the Catholic church is pretty damned efficient at condemning its followers to destitution - so no change there, then...!

Dec 29, 2014 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1


Dec 29, 2014 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

If the Pope led a campaign, .to prevent avoidable deaths due to deprivation of food, water, power and medicine, he would have my support.

If legal measures were introduced, worldwide, to prosecute those politicians, and others, advocating policies that condemned people to avoidable deaths that would be a start.

Name the crime Anthropogenic Genocide.

Dec 29, 2014 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

The alliance between the two faiths (as you put it) is anything but natural. Read your Bible if you don't believe me.
I tend to keep my religion out of this debate because I don't need to introduce it in order to make a case against the global warming paradigm or against the anti-human activities of the rabid environmentalist or, if it comes to it, against the control freaks that would see mankind as no more than cattle to be prodded in whichever direction they feel appropriate at the time.
There will be enough voices in the Church raising the traditional beliefs of Christianity (and Judaism or Islam, come to that) to give Francis and any others with the environmental bit between their teeth pause for thought.

Nicholas Hallam
Rubbish! Most of the major scientific advances of the Middle Ages were made by monks (since they were the only ones that could read and write) and Galileo's argument was pretty much the same as Assange's. He wasn't prepared to keep his mouth shut until the Church considered the time was right to let the faithful in on the secret. It was a news management problem, that's all.

It doesn't (or shouldn't) take a genius to work out that an organisation that has as its core belief that God created the world and all that that implies (whether he did it in six days or not) is hardly going to be against scientific discovery though it does tend to take a bit longer than your average climate scientist to accept the latest piece of research as fact. Pity the climateers aren't as patient.
Neither should it come as a surprise that an organisation that claims to be concerned with the salvation of people's souls is more concerned with the ways in which scientific discoveries are used than with the discoveries themselves.
Man's ingenuity in splitting the atom and using the result to provide energy is something to be applauded; its use as a weapon of mass destruction is not.
And that, if you'll forgive me, is my last word on this subject since any mention of religion inevitably generates more heat than light.

Dec 29, 2014 at 1:36 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Fairs fair, the Pope is entitled to hold his view, just like everyone else. I am more interested in what Nostradamus had to say on the matter, after all, one has books that are full of contradictions, floods, murder and mayhem. The other wrote in quantrains

Dec 29, 2014 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

All of the so-called "experts" are embarrassing sell-outs to the green gravy train but Wadhams is especially so, to wit,

Of course now that 2015 is nearly here, he moved the year to 2020. I wonder what he will do in 2019 if his 2020 prediction also fails, will he proclaim 2030 the year, 2060?

Scientific frauds, every one of them. It is a shame the Pope did not consult with actual, objective, truth-seeking scientists.

Dec 29, 2014 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuck L

It's a pity he's taken the view the media puts forward and not investigated the true facts. I suppose he's got his hands full
at the moment! Seems like a good man.

Dec 29, 2014 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered Commentermeltemian

With the Pope on board, Global Warming Alarm is confirmed as a religious belief.

Dec 29, 2014 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon C.

Did the last pope not dismiss AGW as being a load of guff? Albeit in a way more befitting a pontiff.

Dec 29, 2014 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimfrey

Perhaps we should give the climate con-merchants at least some credit - they clearly know how to spot a sucker.

Dec 29, 2014 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

I would suggest remembering that the report Andrew mentions is in the Guardian, and reports on Vatican affairs from that souce are as accurate as their reports on climate and include a good dollop of wishful thinking.

The encyclical has been a while in gestation. These commentaries are worth reading:


In dealing with human ecology the Pope is likely to take a rather different view of the importance of human life than the neo-malthusians that are prominent in UN backed organisations.

There is also hopefully the influence of Cardinal Pell, one of the 'C9' group of top advisors. BH readers may remember Pell's talk for the GWPF a while back.

The Pontifical Academy workshops were certainly stuffed with the sort of people that would only give one view. That's a pity. I hope Cardinal Pell (and others) have enough influence to ward off the worst excesses.

I can't find the reference just at the moment, but back in the Autumn there was an interview in which Francis (I think, may have been a spokesman) said that they were considering the science aspects of the encyclical very carefully and would only include non-contentious facts in the body of the document. Anything debateable would be relegated to footnotes.

Just to add to what Mike Jackson said, if we can keep the debate on this civilised I (as a Catholic) would appreciate it. [I regard the comment by ptw at 1.10pm as personally insulting].

Dec 29, 2014 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Roman Catastrophism

Dec 29, 2014 at 2:28 PM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

"Nicholas Hallam
Rubbish! Most of the major scientific advances of the Middle Ages were made by monks (since they were the only ones that could read and write) and Galileo's argument was pretty much the same as Assange's."

Mike Jackson
The Middle Ages was not a time for many scientific advances despite monks keeping learning alive. Galileo's later dispute with the Vatican was much more fundamental to the development of thought in the Renaissance than you appear to credit, going to the heart of the issue of whether empirical science should be believed when it appears to contradict the scriptures. To compare Galileo with Assange is very generous to the latter.

Dec 29, 2014 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Wot?? Bono was not invited? Then this meeting is incomplete.

Dec 29, 2014 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

[snip- venting]

Dec 29, 2014 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

[Snip- response to snipped comment]

Dec 29, 2014 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

The Pope gets sillier by the day.

Dec 29, 2014 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimbrock

I've now found the comment by Pope Francis I referred to above. It was part of a press conference given on a plane as he returned from a visit to South Korea in August. (This is after the PAS workshop which was held in May).

The key quote is in an answer to the German speaking journalists, towards the end of the document:

Pope Francis:

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.

Dec 29, 2014 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Professor Wadham is widely regarded, by most sides of the debate on global warming, as an embarrassment. Who deliberately decided to embarrass the Pope, by linking him, with someone ridiculed by science?

Perhaps a modern Papal inquistion is called for. Unexpected obviously.No one would expect an unexpected inquistion.

Dec 29, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

"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."

Interesting quote Cumbrian Lad. The Pope is way out of his depth. He seems to be conceding that he should not affirm anything that is not supported by science which places pretty well all of Catholic doctrine off limits. In passing he errs in thinking that the sun is centre of the universe.

Dec 29, 2014 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Nicholas Hallam
You can argue that Assange was not the best analogy but the dispute between Galileo and the Vatican was in essence an argument about when to publish rather than what. The Church was already aware by that time that the earth went round the sun but it was very slowly coming to terms with the idea that Genesis was not to be taken literally and it was quite reasonable (even in modern PR terms) to get this message out in a way that didn't undermine the "greater truth". Politicians through the ages have done as much and why wouldn't you?
Galileo refused to back down and was put under house arrest to keep him quiet. Everyone in authority knew he was right; he was just being a pain in the arse about it.
The Church has never shied away from Keynes' dictim "when the facts change I change my mind; what do you do?" though perhaps better phrased as "when our understanding of the facts ...".But as I said above the Vatican has always tried to make damn' sure before making pronouncements on such things and it's a pity that others are less reluctant to open mouth before engaging brain!

Dec 29, 2014 at 3:32 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The Galileo affair is interesting, but a slight tangent. A very good backgrounder covering all the issues is here:

NH - On the contrary, the Pope is saying that the complementarity of science and doctrine is to be protected; in this instance he appears to be hinting that the more gross claims of calamity in climate science may well be sidelined. We'll have to wait until March to see what he actually puts his name to.

Dec 29, 2014 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

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