Thursday, June 18, 2015

Holey Climate Denial

By Bob Ferris

I wish I could say that I was flabbergasted by comments coming out of the climate denier and
conservative Catholic camps in response to the Pope’s encyclical on planetary stewardship and climate change, but I am not.  Not at all.  Disappointed, disgusted, and appalled but not flabbergasted.

There are many examples, but two stand out in my mind.  The first has to do with the Heartland Institute (see CNN story) and their opposition to the Pope’s message.  A big part of me wants to say: Shame on CNN for doing this story.  What is really newsworthy about an industry front group funded by rich conservatives like the Koch brothers being opposed to the curtailment of fossil-fuel use and anti-greed messaging?  And on what planet does an “institute” headed by a leader without a college degree, which produces research that is so bad it is mainly self-published, and that has to hold its own climate summit because the “scientists” it supports and gives awards to are no longer invited to speak at legitimate forums serve as a valid and appropriate counter-point to the leader of church with 1.2 billion members worldwide?  What’s next: preschoolers commenting on nuclear physics?

I apologize (a little) for the above facetiousness.  My point being that the Heartland Institute is a textbook case of astroturfing which might fool the public some of the time as they have been trying with their Tea Party antics (see above), but should not fool CNN.
“He once said the carrying capacity of the earth is less than one billion; considering the earth currently holds more than seven billion people, this would mean he favors the reduction of the vast majority of mankind.”  Church Militant June 2015 
The second attack example on the Pope’s message comes via criticism of his appointment of Dr. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber to a Vatican science panel.  Dr. Schellnhuber is world-renowned scientist who helped the Pope understand some of the implications of climate change.  He also has given talks regarding his concerns about what certain climate change scenarios will do to the carrying capacity of the planet (see here).  This is a far, far cry from implying that he would like to see 6 billion people disappear as stated above or more aggressively in the conservative blogger Breitbart’s post.

These are not the only examples of flim-flaming or fact twisting in this debate, but both make me think we are sometimes too kind to those we have characterized as “deniers.”  Denial is the act of declaring something untrue which strikes me as a different beast than declaring something true as untrue.  This latter undertaking moves much more towards the “lie” end of this spectrum and should be called out as such.  Those that participate in these deceptions need to spend a little less time with their "combat rosaries" and a lot more time examining their moral compasses as the Pope is pointing towards True North at this point.

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