— William M. Briggs (@mattstat) May 28, 2015
Great news, Pope Francis encyclical watchers! The climate has not been growing hotter. This is to be celebrated because for the last thirty years politicians, the mainstream media, environmentalists, faith groups, Kindergarten teachers, and even the occasional scientist has promised that globally averaged temperatures might soar a few tenths of a degree Celsius.
But it didn’t happen! Temperatures have remained more or less constant these past two decades, and there’s no sign this steadiness will waver.
Let’s repeat that, because, strange as it might seem, word of this happy fact, this most welcome, cheering circumstance, does not appear to have reached the ears of those who are certain sure the sky has already fallen, including those many organizations who are preparing to turn Pope Francis’s issuance of an (anticipated) environmental encyclical into a holy day.
We bring glad tidings to these nervous groups: the world has not been growing hotter. It is not worse than we thought; it is better. The scientists were wrong, as scientists sometimes are. (Science, after all, is said to be self-correcting.) Dear activists, your source of concern has been removed. You can cease worrying and stand down! Isn’t that wonderful?
No, it probably isn’t wonderful.
If global-warming-of-doom is false, which it must be, since, consistently, predictions have not matched reality, organizations that have been created to fight it are battling a nonexistent enemy. These organizations thus have no reason to exist. Which means they have no need to raise funds. Which means they may as well disband. Yet they haven’t and won’t.
Instead, the lack of an enemy is being ignored. For instance, Nancy Tuchman, director of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago, is almost giddy as she awaits the Pope’s encyclical. According to one report, her institute “has been working to unite 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities as a common voice on climate change”. After the encyclical arrives, she “plans to collect papers from students, faculty and staff with their reflections” on it. A sort of climatological kumbaya.
That same news report says that on that great day when the encyclical arrives there “will be prayer vigils and pilgrimages, policy briefings and seminars, and sermons in parishes from the U.S. to the Philippines.” The “Archdiocese of Manila’s decade-old ecology ministry is asking bishops to encourage all parishes to ring their church bells”. Hallelujah?
Many of those sermons are being written now, well before anybody has any idea what the Pope will say. “Dan Misleh, director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, an education and advocacy network that works with the U.S. bishops, is preparing model sermons on the expected themes of the encyclical.”
[E]nvironmental advocates — who work with bishops, religious orders, Catholic universities and lay movements –have been preparing for months to help maximize the effect of the statement, hoping for a transformative impact in the fight against global warming.
Now, the global warming “fight” has already been won, as we have seen. Yet this hasn’t stopped progressive Catholic groups from enlisting soldiers. But since they can’t hit what isn’t there, this may be why the main interest of these groups is often “social” or “climate justice.”
One of these groups is the Global Catholic Climate Movement, which boasts of being “a global network of over 100 organizations working to respond to climate change from a Catholic perspective”.
It should be noted there is no uniquely “Catholic perspective” on thermodynamics and the physics of fluid flow, but this has not stopped the GCCM from gathering together organizations like the Holy Cross International Justice Office, the Justice, Peace and Development Office, the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative Steering Committee, the Office of Life, Justice, and Peace and many more. Perhaps they will discover the proper Catholic theology of cloud parameterizations in climate models?
Another player is the Catholic Climate Covenant who asks you to “Shrink your carbon footprint and live more justly.” They have formed partnerships with several very highly influential groups, like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the frequently beleaguered Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and many others with ties to progressive politics.
One of the biggest, and richest, organizations to join the non-fight is Caritas International. They appeal for donations by saying the “poorest countries of the world are being hit disproportionately hard by the extreme weather brought by climate change.” And they think this is “a very unjust situation.”
The answer lies with a petition the Catholic Climate Covenant wants it followers to sign, a petition which begins with these curious words: “I’m Catholic, and I know that climate change is real.” Yet the only way they can “know” this is by ignoring reality.