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Help With Reality-Based Catholic Climate Declaration

Update If you’re interested in this, please send this post to those you think may be interested.

Update 2 Please see the Classic Posts page for material on global warming, and so forth, with which I am well familiar.

I received a request from a prominent priest to “get a counter [Catholic Climate] declaration going”. About that, more below. He said the following email “was sent to my official pastor email address via the ‘Official Catholic Directory,'” about which he was none too pleased.

September 6, 2018

Dear Catholic leader:

On April 25, I wrote to you seeking your support for the U.S. Catholic Climate Declaration, a distinctly Catholic expression of the We Are Still In (WASI) campaign.

I am delighted to report that over 700 Catholic institutions have signed the declaration thus far, including 43 archdioceses and dioceses. I write today to thank those of you who have already signed and to make a second appeal to those who have not joined in this public witness for our common home.

Why this effort?

The WASI campaign is an effort to demonstrate America’s commitment to address climate change after President Trump announced on June 1, 2017 his intention to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. On that day, the U.S. bishops added their voice to the many groups expressing disappointment with this decision. A few days later, American civil society launched the We Are Still In campaign to show the world that America’s leaders stand by the Paris Agreement and are committed to meeting its goals. To date, over 3,400 institutions–including cities, states, tribes, businesses, investors, universities, non-profits, and places of worship–have joined the campaign, representing the largest cross-section of American society ever to support climate action.

The Catholic Climate Declaration is aligned with this effort yet elevates a distinctly Catholic expression by highlighting the moral imperative to protect and promote human life and human dignity, the poorest and most vulnerable peoples, and our common home. It also recognizes, as expressed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, that “global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God’s creation and the one human family.”

Catholic Teaching on Climate Change

Beginning with Saint John Paul in 1990, the Catholic Church has accepted the reality of human-forced climate change and expressed concern about the moral consequences of global warming. Our Church has repeatedly advocated for an international climate change agreement in response to this existential threat. The Paris Agreement is an international effort adopted by 195 nations and supported by the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It establishes a framework to encourage nations to work to limit the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 oC above pre-industrial levels.

We hope you will join the Declaration as we seek to celebrate the U.S. Catholic community’s commitments in word and deed. From September 12-14, Dan Misleh, Executive Director of Catholic Climate Covenant, will be attending the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco and will announce the number of signers to the Declaration and highlighting some of the actions that our Catholic dioceses, parishes, religious communities, health care providers, universities, parochial schools, and other organizations are taking to address climate change. With your support we can demonstrate to the world the strength of our Catholic community’s commitment to the well-being of our common home and our common future.

If you wish to enroll your Catholic institution, organization or community, and/or sign on as an individual, please go to http://www.catholicclimatecovenant.org/catholic-climate-declaration.

We hope you will join us in this powerful witness to our Catholic faith.

Catholic Climate Covenant
415 Michigan Ave. NE, Suite 260, Washington, DC 20017

You can click the link and look at the high falutin panic “declaration.” My task is to write a counter. I’d like your help for suggestions about what such a thing would look like. And how it should be organized — if at all.

I’m tempted to write “There is no such thing as a Catholic teaching on climate change; plus, you have bigger things to worry about” and let it go at that. Both true and brief. But not convincing, I’m guessing.

Brief is good. The panic declaration is six short paragraphs. Anybody can read it. We should aim for five.

I do not think any petition does much good per se. Except, perhaps, to gain some publicity. And that’s all we would do, too.

So is it worth the effort? If so, what should we say? Any key points you think should be included, put in the comments. I’ll use what looks good.

If there is any enthusiasm at all, I’ll make a draft (writing by committee produces unreadable dreck), post it, and we can go from there.

Addendum 1 Cardinal Muller (fired by Francis):

For the real danger to today’s humanity is the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and the decay of morality when no one knows and teaches the difference between good and evil. The best environmentalist and nature lover is the Gospel Herald that there is only survival with God, not just limited and soon, but forever and ever.

Addendum 2 Do NOT have anything to drink in hand while reading Fr Rutler’s explanation of the current plastic “crisis.”

15 thoughts on “Help With Reality-Based Catholic Climate Declaration Leave a comment

  1. I’m no expert here, but I think a key idea is the real reasons why people believe in human-caused climate change. You can tell this is important because those people pushing it never tell the whole truth about it. Those reasons are:
    1. Religious (man, being made in the image of God, is evil and is a curse on the good (wild) earth).
    2. Tribal (I am one of the good guys – see how I submit to the decrees of the priests?)

    The reason these are the only 2 reasons for belief is that the data is crap. Anybody* who looks at it for 2 minutes can see it plainly. Neither response is appropriate for a Christian, and the church should be preaching against both.

    *that’s the kind of anybodies who invented indoor plumbing, refineries, and space vehicles, or can diagnose and repair an air conditioner in one sitting–there seems to be less of these guys moving around in the population every year

  2. Hey William,

    Stefano here from C-Fam.

    Here are a few points and resources:

    1. Any Catholic response to the climate change political debate must be rooted in confidence in divine providence and the promise of God to Noah to never again destroy the earth because of the sins of mankind, and that he would provide for man’s needs, including though favorable climactic conditions. Catholics.

    Above all, Catholics must not capitulate to environmental fear, which closes the possibility of authentic stewardship of earthly resources for love of neighbor and gives rise to dehumanizing ideologies and draconian policies such as population control.

    2. The Church’s preferential option for the poor requires the Church to oppose a command and control green economy imposed top down by developed countries who possess virtually all the green technology and stand to benefit economically from a global mandate to adopt new technologies and environmental protocols. Such a mandate would simply ensure that developing countries will always have to play catch up.

    3. Also, following from the preferential option for the poor, Catholics cannot overlook the real immediate needs of the poor, such as the lack of access to water and sanitation that kills 2,000
    Children and 8,000 adults every day, and instead divert resources to address hypothetical and speculative catastrophic climate outcomes that may or may not materialize in coming decades.

    4. Catholics must champion responsible stewardship for the environment as a way to realize the commandment to love thy neighbor, principally by facilitating transfers of emvironmentally friendly policies and technologies, especially time tested ones that have been in use for many decades in wealthy countries to clean-up industrial waste, improve air quality in cities, and provide protection for flora and fauna. Focusing on proven policies and technologies that are feasible economically and fiscally must take precedence over speculative solutions to hypothetical and empirically unverifiable future catastrophic climate scenarios.

  3. Turn Cardinal Muller’s sober words into a fire and brimstone passionate denunciation of the loony environmentalists?

    This is all too depressing…

  4. First address the issue of the nebulous fear of climate change. People don’t listen to facts or reason when they are afraid. Every time in scripture when an angel or post-resurrection Jesus appeared to followers, the first words were “Don’t be afraid”. Follow that example and you have a foothold for making a convincing case for what follows. Don’t just dismiss the fear. Examine the psychology of how it’s used as a campaign tool and why it it unjustified. Cast doubt on the tactic. Hard to be brief, but you will manage.

  5. I would emphasize the fundamental, Catholic principle of subsidiarity and that the Catholic Church has always recognized the right of civil leaders to make prudential decisions within their scope of authority. Cf. the Epistle to Diognetus, a very early work, and the decree “Unam Sanctam,” which puts a particularly strong stress on the authority of the Church and yet, even so, recognizes the proper exercise of civil authority. Denzinger can provide you with other references, undoubtedly.

    There can never be a “teaching” of the Church, in correct sense of the term (“teaching”), based on a contingent fact. The handling of contingencies calls for the irreplaceable virtue of prudence.

    I support your efforts entirely.

  6. “It establishes a framework to encourage nations to work to limit the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 oC above pre-industrial levels.”

    Why no more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels? Sounds very Marxian.

    Regardless, what makes anyone believe that “nations” can achieve that mark — or any mark, for the matter — given Psalm 9:20, ” … that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.”

  7. I think it is important to at least mention the lack of empirical evidence, the fallacies of the models, and the failed predictions. I know this is a really political and religious debate but the whole thing sits on scientific error.

  8. I, too fully support this effort. There are some great ideas from other commenters. Two points you might consider for the counter declaration:

    (1) State that we do not support the Paris Climate Accord, and are grateful for the prudential decision by our president to extract America from the agreement, because the science is proven that the climate is changing, always has changed, and always will change.

    (2) The belief that man can stop the oceans from rising or alter the climate is not a Catholic teaching, but representative of modern man’s technological arrogance and dangerously close to a rejection of God. Jesus established His church–the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church–to proclaim His Gospel.

    Some stylistic thoughts…keep it respectful (no snark), and don’t play on their terms (don’t waste any words rebutting their junk science).

  9. 1. Warmer is better: longer growing seasons, more rain, increased agricultural productivity, less hunger, less poverty. All our staple foods are tropical: wheat, maize, rice, sorgum, potatoes, manioc, etc. Best (most productive) farm acres are also tropical.

    2. It was warmer when Jesus walked the Earth (Roman Warm Period).

    3. Ice Ages are scientifically proven. We are still in them. Earth has been cooling for 8,000 years. Colder is coming and will be catastrophically bad for humanity and all of God’s creatures. If people can warm the planet, we should.

  10. At least one paragraph should cover the failure of the models to predict. Continued reliance on them represents fleeing from the rationality of St. Thomas and Aristotle. Feynman also says that if theory doesn’t match experiment, then it’s just wrong. Wrong no matter who said it.

  11. AGW, or indeed any kind of supposed “warming” of the troposphere, is easy to refute with a very minimal knowledge of junior school physics and chemistry, and observation viewed through the practically extinct lens of rational common sense.

    Presently, “average” CO2 levels in the atmosphere hovers around somewhere just less than 400 ppm (parts per million) which translates to roughly 4 CO2 molecules mixed up with 10,000 molecules of dry air. Even if it could be reliably established that at some time in the recent past the concentration was only 3 molecules of CO2 per 10,000 it is a fantastic conjecture to claim that 1 molecule per 10,000 of a completely transparent, relatively inert gas could have any direct physical effect on the temperature of the troposphere.

    However, a quick look at relevant biology, physics and chemistry reveals that increased CO2 would indirectly have a cooling effect (if any) because CO2 is a necessary nutrient (and growth stimulant) for all plants allowing for a more efficient use of sunlight, water and other nutrients. In land plants (other than those in a small area of tropical rain forest where the humidity hovers around 90%) water use and CO2 intake is a trade off that is regulated by leaf stomates that must “open” to admit CO2 and “close” to limit water wastage by transpiration (evaporation from their tissues). If they can get the required CO2 with less water loss then they can grow more with the available water and sunlight.

    People who have been growing plants in controlled environments (like greenhouses) have been enriching the atmosphere with CO2 to stimulate plant growth for 100 years or more. Presently, satellite images show that the planet is “greening” (more and greater density of plant cover). In aquatic and marine environments the main limiting factors to plant growth are the availability of sunlight and CO2. Gasses (particularly CO2) are more soluble in cold water which could well explain why polar seas are more productive even though the available sunlight is less.

    The main reason that increased plant growth should cause an (imperceptible) cooling is that more of the sunlight falling on the Earth will be absorbed into the manufacture of organic carbohydrates rather than being dissipated as heat into the lower atmosphere.

    Anyhow, the amount of CO2 released by the burning of “fossil fuels” is pretty insignificant compared to that belched out by volcanoes and the like.

  12. Addendum:

    It is physically impossible for a relatively cold upper atmosphere to transmit a net amount of heat to cause a “warming” of the relatively hot troposphere. (The laws of thermodynamics).

    CO2 is very slightly denser than dry air so that, even though it is completely miscible in air, the concentration will decrease with elevation.

  13. For 99% the last 250 million years the Earth has been warmer than today. The Miocene Epoch was warmer, as was the Oligocene, Eocene, Cretaceous, Jurassic, etc etc. It was during our current Pleistocene Epoch beginning about 1.8 million years ago that the Earth’s temperature plunged to lows not seen since the Karoo Ice Age of the Permian Epoch, when trilobites were the dominant animals.

    We are in the New Ice Age. The Earth is unusually cold. For most of the Pleistocene repeated Ice Age stadials have coated the Northern Hemisphere with continental ice sheets up to 2 miles thick. Massive extinctions have occurred because neither plants nor animals can live on ice sheets.

    During the last 12,000 years the Earth has experienced a short-lived (geologically) warm interglacial. Such interglacials have happened every 100,000 years (or so) during the Pleistocene, and have been relatively short, lasting from 6,000 to 13,000 years.

    The thermal peak of the current interglacial, the Holocene Stage, occurred 8,000 years ago. The Earth’s temperature has been trending downward ever since. This phenomenon is called neo-glaciation. The continental ice sheets are coming back. All this is well-known by geologists and paleo-climatologists.

    The Earth is NOT too warm. That is hubris-laden fallacy, a myth perpetrated by pre-scientific medieval hysterics. All of you mystics (including the Lavenders) need to catch a clue. Warmer is Better. Fight the Ice.

  14. I want to impose on the entire country my views on and my morality of abortion, i.e., it is murder and should be prohibited by criminal laws. I want to impose my beliefs on this on the entire population via both state and federal legislation.

    Oh no, no, no, no, no. That violates the sacred democrat and other totalitarians’ dogma of the separation of church and state. No one can impose their morality on the rest of us via such unconstitutional legislation. Note well, however, democrats may be personally opposed so long as they vote the party line

    I want to impose on the entire country my morality of self-defense.

    Oh no, no, no, no, no. See above.

    I want to impose on the entire country my morality on the illegal entry or illegal aliens into the USA.

    Oh, no, no, no, no, no. See above.

    We want to impose our morality of environment and climate change on the entire population, taking away more of their personal liberty so we can more fully control every aspect of their lives (nudge, nudge, and we can slip in the virtuousness of contraception, population control and pass hate crime legislation for having more than 1.3 kids).

    Oh, yes, yes, yes, si, si si, yes, yes, yes. Because your intentions are so good and totally aligned with the ecclesial totalitarian and heretical catholics, yes that is just fine.

    What about all that “separation of church and state excrement?” What about all that “you can’t impose your personal morality sewage?” What if “I am personally opposed but?”

    Never mind.

    Guy McClung, Texas

  15. I’m sure the 17th century Italian churches got a circular letter from Concerned People about Catholic Teaching on Heliocentrism. Or perhaps people weren’t quite so silly then.

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