In matters of Catholic dogma the Holy Father in Rome is deemed infallible, but when it comes to more earthly matters surrounding climate change, Pope Francis is mostly talking through his Pontifical Posterior. At one point, Francis suggests humans emitting carbon dioxide are causing “seaquakes”, while his inner Guardian soul is on clear display with his claim that the world is “collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point”.
Pope Francis’s latest comments on climate change are contained in an ‘Apostolic Exhortation’ titled Laudate Deum. It is a follow up to an earlier doom-ridden encyclical letter in 2015 when he referred to CO2 – a gas the Supreme Pontiff emits with every breath – as highly polluting. The latest letter is full of emotional errors, unsubstantiated scientific opinions and a cold condescension for the growing number of scientists who dispute the political narrative of a climate emergency. At one point these scientists are said to bring up “allegedly solid scientific facts”.
Francis is on very shaky ground with his contention that humans somehow cause submarine earthquakes. Even more nonsensical is his suggestion that the human-caused seaquakes are leading to communities being swept away. As the Daily Sceptic recently noted, the Holy Grail of climate alarmism is to link earthquakes to humans driving their cars. Sadly to date the suggestion is only to be found at the whacky end of climate fearmongering. A recent article in the Conversation noted “evidence” that the loss of surface ice in Scandinavia triggered numerous earthquake events around 7,000-11,000 years ago. Alas, further inquiry showed that the only tectonic plate action was to be found in the circuit boards of a researcher’s computer. Seaquakes would appear to be a new field of climate alarm, suggesting Francis is well ahead of the game on this one.
The Pope is also leading the pack with his contention that melting of the continental ice sheets at the poles will not be reversed for hundreds of years. What melting of the ice sheet in Antarctica Francis is referring to is not immediately clear. Alarmists usually find Antarctica a difficult neighbourhood to run the Thermogeddon narrative. According to Singh and Polvani, warming has been “almost non-existent” for at least 70 years. NASA reports the ice loss is 0.0005% a year. In 2021, the South Pole recorded its coldest winter since records began in 1957. Meanwhile in the Arctic, a small, little publicised, cyclical recovery in sea ice has been underway for over a decade.
At one point in his letter, Francis makes the claim that it is “verifiable that specific climate changes provoked by humanity are notably heightening the probability of extreme phenomena that are increasingly frequent and intense”. Quite how it is possible to verify something that is only probable is not immediately clear, but it seems Francis is referring to the computer model-driven pseudoscience of weather attribution that has grown up in recent years. In fact its popularity is partly in response to the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) currently holding back from directly linking individual weather events to longer term changes in the climate.
Despite all attempts to deny, conceal, gloss over or relativise the issue, continues Francis, the signs of climate change are here and increasingly evident. No one can ignore recent extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and unusual heat, he continues. It is not possible to conceal the correlation of these global climate phenomena and the accelerated increase in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly since the mid-20th century, he argues. As regular readers will know, plenty of scientists do just that, as does the IPCC. According to its latest report, the IPCC states there is “low confidence” that humans influence droughts in most regions, while confidence is generally low in attributing changes in the probability or magnitude of flood events to human influence.
All Francis is doing is joining up the dots of recent weather anomalies and claiming a causal link to long-term climate trends. With global warming having run out of steam over the last 25 years, this practice is in common use in alarmist circles. It is used to promote the collectivist Net Zero narrative, and is profoundly unscientific.
“I feel obliged to make these clarifications, which may appear obvious, because of certain dismissive and scarcely reasonable opinions that I encounter, even within the Catholic Church,” states Francis. In fact the Pope shows no sign, as was his attitude in 2015, of listening to any alternative view – the “allegedly solid scientific data” he seems to find so distasteful. He merely repeats the collapsing and tipping point fearmongering of the green activist lobby. In doing so he does a disservice to a tradition of Church support and patronage to the scientific process through monasteries, funded hospitals, schools and universities. The Catholic Church teaches that faith in God and science are complementary, with the Catechism noting that “methodical research in all branches of knowledge, providing it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God”.
Of course it would take a longer article than this to identify many of the inevitable past conflicts between the Church authorities and some of the findings of science (don’t mention Galileo). So far as the climate story is concerned, scientists are just starting to comprehend the complexities of the non-linear atmosphere. However, it is perhaps not surprising that the Vatican has hitched its influential wagon to current unproven scientific narratives that serve a largely political purpose. In a 2020 encyclical letter, Francis spoke of the possibility of a world authority “equipped with the power to provide for the global common good”. The world Government should be given “real authority in such a way as to provide for the attainment of certain goals”. In this way , there could come about a multilateralism that is not dependent on changing political conditions or the interest of a certain few, and possesses a stable efficacy, he concluded.
Possibly this is papal speak for no more Trump, Farage, Brexit and all those other annoying inconveniences of national democracy.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.