William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Vatican To Have One-Day “Climate Change” Summit. Why Wasn’t I Invited?

Shakespeare tears

The big round tears coursed one another down his innocent nose in piteous chase.

Here’s the word from the America: The National Catholic Review:

The Vatican is set to host a major conference on climate change this month that will feature leading researchers on global warming and an opening address by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon…

The one-day summit on April 28 will also include participants from major world religions and aims to “elevate the debate on the moral dimensions of protecting the environment in advance of the papal encyclical,” as the papal document is known…

In addition to the keynote speech by Ban, participants will hear from Jeffrey Sachs, a prominent American economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Church sources said that leading scientists in the climate change field will also take part.

The official name of the 28 April conference is “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity. The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development“.

The Earth is in little need of protection from us; it isn’t going anywhere. It’s too big. Mankind certainly can’t destroy it, though we can make messes for ourselves which are more and less troublesome. My favorite example came from Alex Epstein’s The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. Seems in China there are lakes of toxic waste produced from the manufacture of iThises and iThats that are causing local residents to fall deathly ill. Hey. If it makes for cheap “devices”, who are we to judge?

About the second goal, who doesn’t want a dignified humanity? The answer is: presumably those folks who purposely act undignified. Right, Frisco?

Good news is the phrase “Sustainable Development”—instead of just “sustainability”, which is nothing but a euphemism for progressive politics. Here’s proof: Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism. Sustainable development means they’re still willing to discuss, well, development.

Anyway, they’re inviting non-scientist Jeffrey Sachs, who specializes in producing dreary ideas. And they’re inviting politicians, a signal of desperation. They’re asking “Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, a top Vatican official who is leading the drafting process of Francis’ encyclical on the environment.”

But they’re not inviting me. (As far as I can tell, only one scientist is coming, and he’s pro-doom.)

It’s not like I haven’t tried to be noticed. Past couple of months, I’ve been waving my hand at places like the Pontifical Academy of Sciences like an over-excited kid in the back of the class, but the teacher still hasn’t called on me. Maybe she thinks I’m a know-it-all.

Which I am. At least in the case of “climate change” a.k.a. “global warming” a.k.a. “climate disruption” a.k.a. etc., etc. Plus, I’m a Catholic, which ought to cut some dry ice (get it? get it?).

I mean, I’m an actual expert. Regular readers know all this, but I repeat it in the slim hopes some newcomer will see it and be triggered (notice my clever use of hip words).

My Bachelor’s and Masters are in atmospheric physics, my PhD (from Cornell) is in mathematical statistics, with one specialty in measuring the goodness and usefulness of predictions (like climate models). I served on the American Meteorological Society’s Probability & Statistics Committee, was Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review (the biggest weather journal), published in Journal of Climate, and many, many other places. And much more.

Readers know of the recent flap about funding in global warming science. I was one of the people in the cross hairs of the ill-informed, and really uninformable, media and witch-hunting Congress.

Again, et cetera.

There’s plenty of groups which are laboring to create “the” Catholic position on global warming. Biggest might be the Catholic Climate Movement (see this list).

Now, I’ve put the word out to some priest-scientist friends, and have managed to make contact with some big names you’d know if you knew the big names (parse that). But so far, no joy. One named person advised (in effect) that some are hoping nobody notices these pontifical climate statements.

I dread waking up in June and hearing the secular media telling me “The official Catholic position on global warming requires you to believe carbon dioxide is evil.” Talk about brutal labor to correct this!

So although I know most of you are just as lowly as I am, I put this up in case somebody of importance eventually sees it. We can’t let the failed but politically correct science to be the only voice represented.

Update Apropos

40 Comments

  1. Most importantly: you are an orthodox Roman Catholic.

  2. Briggs

    April 18, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Hans,

    Let’s just say one who acknowledges he’s a lousy sinner. Where by “lousy” I mean, even my misdeeds are banal and easy to avoid (yet I don’t).

    Real problem may be guys like me don’t believe in man-made heaven-on-earth.

  3. which ought to cut some dry ice (get it? get it?).

    That was cold.

  4. During my mid-last-century boyhood, the only warming the Church harried us about was that which would occur after the Particular Judgment.

  5. “I put this up in case somebody of importance eventually sees it.”

    I see it but, alas, I am a nobody sitting here typing this in my underwear.

  6. I don’t know what to do about our Blessed Holy Father… Is the devil speaking to him or ??? Care for the earth is ok, but putting windmills all over the place to mar the landscape and cut up eagles, frying birds with solar reflectors, mining rare earths for devices and batteries, hardly constitutes that care.

  7. Milton Hathaway

    April 18, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    As in all things, the important question to ponder here is “What would Jesus do?”.

    If you know your Bible, it’s pretty obvious that Jesus worked with the local governments of the time to achieve his political goals, spread fairness, and make the world a better place to live.

  8. Shouldn’t they call it the “Poverty is Great for Everyone” conference? That’s what this is about–having 95% of the world live in abject poverty while the rich who formulated scheme are exempted. There is NO intention of “helping” the poor, other than adding to their numbers. Misery loves company.

    We were warned about false prophets–this is not the first, nor will it be the last. The real question is whether the church keeps the false prophet and perpetuates the damage done. I’m leaning in the “Sure they will” direction on this one.

    Patrick: TMI

    Milton: Are there two versions of the Bible? I think I missed that part about spreading fairness and making the world a better place (maybe there were the words to “Kumbaya” in it and I burned it). Mine had a list of rules and some stories to tell one how life works and what consequences to expect if one ignored the rules.

  9. The pope obviously knows that you are a notorious climate denier. You are a heretic because you don’t believe the church of environmentalism dogma. No invitation for heretics.

  10. Sheri – I agree…from some wealthy and some abjectly poor with many in the middle to elites only wealth and everybody else moderately poor. On the plus side some suffering terrible penury may become part of the moderately poor. But the road to hell… Unintended consequences will result in the deaths of many of the abjectly poor.

    Socialism breeds dependency and dissatisfaction. Capitalism is what does the most good for the most people.

  11. Bob,

    I don’t know what to do about our Blessed Holy Father… Is the devil speaking to him or ??

    Or is the devil speaking to you?

    Briggs,
    Has Judy Curry or Willie Soon or David Legates invited you to give a talk at their institutions? If not, why not ask them to invite you? As always, researchers love to learn something new!
    (This post tastes like sour grapes.)

  12. JH,

    Cant speak for Briggs but I get the impression it was more on the lines of “What the heck do they think they are doing?” It’s really something the Church shouldn’t be involved with in the first place unless it is assumed the cause is anthropegenic. All this conference can do is muddy the waters even further.

  13. Briggs,

    I would love to see from you a statistical study/model of the decline in the official Roman Catholic Church in the USA since Vatican II in the early 1960s. I am a lapsed Catholic in my 70s and can see a general collapse has occurred. For example in the town I am living in there were three Catholic churches and now there is but one active parish. One is vacant and for sale the other was sold to the Salvation Army. Where there were three parochial schools there is none, the last closing in 2014. In the part of the city where I was raised (North Side Pittsburgh) in the 1940s and 1950s there were nineteen parishes, now seven exist and by the end of this year there will be three according to my sister who still lives there.

    Dan Kurt

  14. Dan Kurt,

    How much of the Nor’side is as you remembered it? A lot of it seems to be extensions of the Point or Market Square nowadays. Same with the Sou’side. My niece was living in a place I can only remember as somewhere you didn’t go on a lark. Things change.

  15. JH, there are many things our Holy Father should speak about and we should listen. Were we living in the time of Galileo, we should not have listened to the Church’s pronouncement on his works. St. John Paul II corrected that error. I’ve written a post on whether or when the Church should pronounce on matters of science, and as a faithful Catholic I and my priest can discern whether it is Satan speaking to me (or you).

    (see, if you will: Galileo Redux..
    http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/2015/02/galileo-redux-when-should-church-meddle.html

  16. DAV,

    It is quite clear to me what the Varican knows what they are doing. I understand that people who disapprove of others’ decisions would often raise the question of “What the heck do they think they are doing?” So your assessment of this post might be right but it doesn’t negate the possiblity of my impression.

  17. JH,

    The “what the heck…” could be just what it appears to be: puzzlement.

    Is it clear what the Vatican is doing? The Church i s not likely to be engaging in a purely scientific discussion. Could be but not likely. Of all the scientific topics for a summit why this particular one and not say, why tunnel diodes work?

    It very much looks like the summit is going to result in a declaration that the chief cause of global warming is anthropogenic which is taking sides in a scientific debate. This is not a matter for religion. Well, maybe it is for some but that seems contrary to what science is about.

  18. Dav,
    I’m sure Miss Spears can explain how tunnel diodes work. http://britneyspears.ac/lasers.htm

  19. Ray,

    Of course but then she’s not a real blonde.

  20. JH: I thought this post sounded/tasted like satire.

    DAV: I took “What the heck do they think they are doing” to be a rhetorical question.

    Religion has always been very opportunistic and taking sides in a “scientific debate” that would redistribute wealth (not that it will, but it’s the bait for sale) is very appealing to churches. The fact that they are clearly ignoring the “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” and instead dipping into Caesar’s account–well, let’s just say Christians can be very, very impatient. Always with bad consequences, but they don’t seem to care….Guess they think if they do something enough times, it’s bound to work they way they think it should eventually.

  21. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 18, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    The last time the Church came down on the side of the settled consensus science and interpreted its teachings in terms of that science, they wound up putting Galileo on trial.

  22. YOS,” The last time the Church came down on the side of the settled consensus science and interpreted its teachings in terms of that science, they wound up putting Galileo on trial.”

    Well said!! My point, put much better than I did.

  23. DAV,

    I don’t know how much science will be disseminated or understood in the conference, but the Vatican is going to host a conference on climate change, and has clear goals in mind, regardless of whether you agree with the premise that climate change has effects on our environment.

    Bob,

    In your post, do you show that ALL the Catholic Church’s “meddlings” in scientific investigations in its entire history have all made negative contributions to scientific and social advances? If yes, I shall click the link and read it!

    No Satan for me because I am blessed with a Buddhist spirit that’s impenetrable by a Catholic Satan.

    Anyway, do you think your priest will side with you or Pope Francis?

  24. JH,
    climate change has effects on our environment.

    Wouldn’t climate change (a more or less continuous process) have an effect on our environment by definition? Why would a changing environment in and of itself concern a religious group to the point of holding a religious conference on it? Do they regularly hold these for, say, droughts in Mongolia? Was one held for the Irish Potato Famine? Was one held for the Little Ice Age? The world was warming in the latter part of the 20th century and the warming has halted in the last 18+ years. So they are holding a conference on what? Something that occurred nearly two decades ago? Uh, why?

  25. Sheri,

    Ah! The old cui bono search leading to suspicion of carpe pecuniam? Could be.

  26. DAV, simply because they can! Ooooh, no, the Vatican decided to host the “religious conference” (as you stated it) just to show you how stupid and hypocritical they are, and to give Briggs , Bob, and you a chance to write that they should not do it, have silly intentions, and are wrongheaded.

  27. The Vatican is doing what it perceives to be in its best interest. And because it can. Just like most organizations, be they religions or corporations or governments. Maybe the church can get help in appropriating money from the capitalists and give it to the socialists, maybe not. It’s worth a try, even if it has nothing whatsoever to do with God and Christ. Sometimes things are simply what they appear to be—taking what you want from people rather than waiting on that “Christian charity” to fill the void. It matters not if the issue used to acheive this is current or true. And “they” are the Vatican and the Pope and they can do whatever they want. You don’t have to like or support it, of course, but you can’t stop it in most cases.

  28. with respect to nobody in particular (but, if the shoe fits…). when folks don’t use logic, facts or humor in their comments, sometimes it’s better just to ignore them.
    My thought for Sunday!

  29. Jesus “worked with local governments”? Please provide the biblical backing for that contention.

  30. Milton Hathaway

    April 19, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Mike Smith,

    Wait a tic… blimey, this employment of satire is trickier than I thought.

    I get really tired hearing the WWJD argument used by Christians to justify a very un-Christian political agenda.

    Being steeped in the Bible in my youth, I can attest with absolute certainty that Jesus was not a socialist. Giving what you have to the poor is not remotely comparable to government redistribution of wealth by force. The former can get you on the road to salvation; the latter . . . not so much.

    Could it be that the Pope is succumbing to temptation by worshipping at the alter of a false god? After all, he’s only human.

    Apologies to you Catholics – maybe that was a little harsh.

  31. That’s OK, Milton. I don’t understand what Francis is going in this regard, either (and I am Catholic).

    Should Francis proclaim the moral imperative to not gratuitously waste resources? Sure. But, getting into the science of global warming. Not in his job description.

  32. As a man of absolute certainty, maybe you can answer a question that has been bothering me a lot recently. This is triggered by your statement:

    “Giving what you have to the poor is not remotely comparable to government redistribution of wealth by force. The former can get you on the road to salvation; the latter . . . not so much.”

    There are a number of places in the Gospels where it is stated that someone must sell all that he owns, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow Jesus in order to obtain salvation. Is this just an offer for that particular person or is it meant to apply to everyone? If everyone, you see that we immediately have a problem: when everyone is selling there can be no buyers. The generation of wealth would cease and mass starvation would result, much as in the socialist endgame. The other interpretation is that those who have taken the vow of poverty, and thus obtained salvation, can only do this at the expense of the generosity of the generators of wealth, who are damned for their greed. What is the best use of accumulated weath? The jobs that are created raise more people out of poverty than the dissipation of that wealth into short term relief of the poor. Possibly a subtle balance of the two is needed. I don’t see that this subtlety is recognized in the Gospels, but maybe you, or anyone else, can point this out to me. I would much appreciate it.

    I could be wrong, but I doubt that any of the readers of this website have followed the vow of poverty route in order to obtain salvation.

    P.S.
    It has been stated that the Church should not meddle in scientific questions. I would suggest that we add economics to the meddle-free list.

  33. Scotian: Since you did not provide the versus to which you refer, I’ll wing it. Luke 18:22 is directed at a specific person. As is Matthew 19:21, same story I think. Mark 10:21 also.

    You are correct that if everyone followed the idea of selling all they have, there would be problem. Which is a sign the command is not being properly interpreted. God is not illogical–only our interpretations of Him tend to be.
    God had nothing against work, property ownership, etc. People worked and accumulated things. It became a problem when the things were more important than God.

    Last note: Vows of poverty do not “obtain salvation”. Salvation is by the grace of God only–you cannot earn it, at least according to most of what I’ve seen in the Christian denominations. You can, of course, reject it if you choose.

  34. Ye Olde Statistician

    April 19, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    do you show that ALL the Catholic Church’s “meddlings” in scientific investigations in its entire history have all made negative contributions to scientific and social advances?

    It would be hard to show that there were any such, let alone that they had effects. It is the job of the Church to lead men to salvation– to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. Contribution to scientific advances is not on the agenda, although many churchmen — from Copernicus to Lemaitre — have done so.

    It is unclear is “social advances” translates as “forwarding my particular agenda.”

  35. The climate always changes and always affects those with least ability to change with it.Is this cunning on the part of the Vatican to bring those who are what used to be called trendy lefties into agreeing with the dreadful Roman Catholic Church. Playing them at their own game?
    They will lose a lot of their followers who are feminists, atheists ,wiccan, bisexual etc for a start. I could list many other trendy lefties who will hate this cooperation. There will be infighting etc etc.

  36. Milton Hathaway

    April 20, 2015 at 3:20 am

    Scotian,

    You didn’t mention the verse “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”. That seemed pretty clear to me when I was a kid: rich people don’t go to Heaven. Period.

    But I can’t answer your questions about wealth and salvation. While I did say that I was steeped in the Bible in my youth, I neglected to mention that I have lapsed badly since then. (I just couldn’t make sense of it all, and lazily stopped trying.)

    And to no one in particular . . .

    There is a small-time drug dealer. He is on public assistance, he has a cell phone, a flat-screen, nice furniture. No car, though. He gets food from nearby shelters. He has a steady stream of girlfriends, some with mental issues, all with substance abuse issues. These girlfriends have cars or access to someone with a car; they hang around for a while, coming and going steadily, then get arrested on drug charges, replaced by another girlfriend in a day or two.

    He’s a nice enough guy, friendly and unassuming – he’ll tell you most anything if you ask him. He has a lot of visitors, a few regulars, but mostly a constant stream of new faces, people who stay for a few minutes and leave. A few are very young – maybe even high-school age. Some are carrying flat-screens or computer equipment. Some are very, very scary looking – nobody in the immediate neighborhood lets their kids/grandkids play outside. He has spent the night in jail on rare occasions, but never more than that. His continued presence is a mystery to his neighbors – why do the police never do anything about him?

    He is certainly capable of working, and even a minimum wage job would probably provide him a more comfortable existence. The direct and indirect impacts of his lifestyle surely result in an immense burden on society that dwarfs what he receives in public assistance, not to mention the general societal decay.

    Would you donate to a charity that was in the habit of supporting a lifestyle like this, no questions asked? Is that what Jesus would do?

  37. Ye Olde Statistician,

    Are you saying that the Church has never supported financially any science endeavors or any priests in pursuing scientific studies?

    I don’t disagree with you on the Church’s job. Everyone has a job description for the Church (so it seems), so does Pope Francis. The Vatican doesn’t need me to defend them, and it’d be quite arrogant of me to assume the Vatican doesn’t know what their duties are. I have no interest in explaining whether it’s fine for the Vatican to embark on charity work or set goals by consulting scientists.

    As usual, I have no interest in talking points on climate-change issues that appear in this blog repeatedly. …” I’d love to hear Briggs’s answers to my questions on the graph shown here.

    To speculate why people do certain things or what the results of the conference will be, especially in negative ways, is definitely not my are of expertise. I actually think it is a waste of time.

  38. Milton: No, I would not donate to a charity that supported someone like you described. I have not found anywhere in the Bible where a fully functioning adult was given charity. Widows sometimes were helped, since women mostly did not have jobs when married (I’m sure some did, of course). The lame, the blind, etc were where charity was directed. To those who could not support themselves, no those who would not. The church may have helped people over tough times (much like some churches today self-insure and do all their own building and maintenance amoung members), but I cannot find where a welfare class existed or was said to be a good idea. As noted before, even Christ had a job for much of his adult life. Work was good and expected.

    (The verse about the eye of the needle and camel has multiple translations, not all of which lead to no rich man going to heaven. Had God meant “No rich man will go to heaven”, I think he would have made that clear.)

  39. Sheri, “Had God meant “No rich man will go to heaven”, I think he would have made that clear.”

    I needed a laugh today, Sheri, but I must say that you are sliding close to self parody. 😉

    I just finished invigilating exams today and some students are already asking about their chances of passing. Do you think that there would be any danger of misunderstanding if I made the comparison to the camel passing through the eye of the needle? Do you think that they would be comforted, after revival with smelling salts, if I quoted Jesus “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God.” or would this make matters worse?

  40. Scotian: Happy to entertain you. I stand by my statement.

    Depends on what you teach whether I would worry about my grade. In philosophy, I would certainly not worry about passing and the addition of your last quote would just add more material to incorporate into the answer. If you’re not teaching philosophy, I have no idea if I’d pass. Not enough information.

    I guess I was was pretty “shock-proof”. Never needed to be revived no matter how off the wall the professor got. Kids aren’t as sturdy as they used to be.

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