Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/15/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Church agrees with the scientific consensus.

Recently, I wrote an article for Catholic Online about global warming. The comments from so many readers, obviously intelligent, gave me pause and I took it upon myself to conduct further research, specifically into the Church's teachings on the subject. I pledged in advance to accept what I would discover, no matter what my personal opinions were, after all, I am Catholic and I have faith in my Church. Surprisingly, I soon found the Church has a well-developed, scientific position on the subject.

Yes, it's real and getting worse and it doesn't just hurt polar bears. It hurts people.

Yes, it's real and getting worse and it doesn't just hurt polar bears. It hurts people.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/15/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: climate change, anthropogenic, global warming, science, pontifical academy for the sciences


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In the United States, the issue of anthropogenic global warming, defined as an unnatural and rapid rise in the Earth's overall average temperature caused by human activities, is strongly associated with left-leaning political ideology.

Publicly championed by liberal celebrities such as former Vice President Al Gore, conservatives often scoff at the claim. At one time, I confess even I scoffed at the claims, for it also happens that many American Catholics also tend to be conservative since American political conservatism fits most closely with Catholic teaching on many subjects.

However, global warming is by definition global, and therefore it is a Catholic issue, and the people of other nations have different views on the subject as a matter of political debate.

This is especially true in the third world, where the impacts of global warming are felt most acutely.

In the United States, there are several charges against global warming.

-    Global warming is a myth constructed by the left to justify restrictions on liberty.
-    There is no scientific consensus on the issue of global warming so any policy changes are premature.
-    Global warming is part of natural climate change and beyond our control, so we should not concern ourselves with changing behavior.
-    The science done to demonstrate the fact of global warming is flawed by poor methodology.
-    The science is fabricated by researchers seeking grant money or wishing to make a name for themselves.

As mentioned above, I decided to seek the teaching of the Church on the subject rather than listen to possibly tainted and biased mainstream reporting. I contacted the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and received a reply from Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the Bishop-Chancellor of the Academy.

I asked him for teaching on the subject and his reply included several links to papers and research, which the Academy itself conducted. The Bishop-Chancellor also noted that much of the work was done in coordination with academicians, Paul Crutzen, Mario Molina, and V. Ramanathan who are noted researchers in the field.

Perhaps this was the most conclusive statement I read in the publication he sent, Geosphere-Biosphere Interactions and Climate:

"There is now a growing consensus that human activities are having a discernible effect on the Earth's climate (IPCC, 1996). An enormous amount of effort has gone into the scientific research that forms the basis for this judgment. There is also growing concern that such human-influenced changes to the Earth's climate could have negative effects on human societies and on the Earth's ecosystems and therefore that these changes should be avoided or slowed." (Toward a New Approach to Climate Impact Studies, sec. 16.1, Will Steffen).

In another publication from May 2011, and bearing the very seal of the Pontifical Academy I found this statement, "We call on all people and nations to recognise the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants."

Ultimately, this was a conclusive read for me.

I trust the Holy Church and the wisdom of the scientists it employs. Their agenda isn't research money, but truth, which is one of the most sacred values espoused by the Church itself.

Of course, I'll admit, my argument here is a logical fallacy, an appeal to authority - albeit the highest one on the matter I might add.

So what about all those objections? Where are they coming from and why are some scientists saying no? The answer has much to do with American politics and capitalism, and even the nature of science itself.

Science is skeptical by nature. A scientist who can find evidence that challenges a broadly accepted theory can make a reputation that may last for their entire career. It's a powerful incentive to review the work of other scientists and to detect their shortcomings and flaws.

To discern facts, scientists must submit their work and results (potential facts or conclusions) for peer review. Those of you who are scientists already know how this works. For those who may not know, peer review means that other scientists in the discipline try to replicate the results of the original research as well as detect flaws in methodology. If enough scientists agree with the methods and the findings then they may come out in support of the research or simply remain silent. In cases where they detect a problem, they speak out.


Virtually nothing in science is free of debate. There are millions of people around the globe who work as qualified scientists and getting them all to agree on even the most basic facts can be a daunting task. However, consensus is sometimes formed on certain issues and debate becomes virtually nonexistent. Eventually you end up with a situation where most scientists remain silent on an issue, or publish supporting research, and very few continue to argue against it.

This isn't the same as objective truth, however it can come pretty darn close. It's how we know many things with a degree of certainty - so certainly that we trust our lives and livelihoods to them every day.

This graph, shared by Phillip Plait, does much to drive home the point of that fact. Personally, I do not feel the graph is entirely scientific, however it makes a good illustration.

Here is something I feel is a bit more professional.

In any case, I trust in the most careful research performed by the Church, for the good of all the people on Earth. Which brings me to my final point, from whence does denial come?

The chief accusation is that climate change denial comes from industrial interests who stand to lose the most from public acceptance of anthropogenic global climate change in America. These interests have supported public policy think-tanks and politically conservative scientists to publish material that questions the validity of the ongoing research.

A common accusation is that climate change researchers are fear-mongers who wish only to pad their wallets with grant money. I ask, how much money is truly available for scientists who are simply restating what the rest of the world already seems to know and accept? It would seem to me there would be greater rewards for a scientist who can disprove the claims of the climate change fear-mongers.

Therefore, I would expect such a scientist to present evidence that proves anthropogenic climate change is a myth so he might claim his Nobel Prize. Likewise, I expect a journalist to expose the conspiracy and be awarded her Pulitzer. Yet none ever has.

Instead, I found that according to Suzanne Goldenberg, who published an article in The Guardian on February 14, 2013, that between 2002 and 2010, conservative billionaires donated almost $120 million to more than 100 anti-climate change groups, financing their charges that global warming is a hoax. Need more proof? Look at how fast the bloggers attacked her. There was nothing wrong with her reporting, except she ran afoul of the think-tanks and money she exposed.

This wasn't money paid to objectively study the issue. It was money paid to write against it. It reminds me of the efforts of big tobacco to slow the avalanche of evidence that smoking was dangerous. Yes, even today the tobacco companies can find scientists who are willing to claim that tobacco smoke isn't dangerous.

But if you follow the rule to follow the money, there is our culprit.

Regardless of all that, even if I'm full of baloney, this is still a Catholic issue and the Church has spoken about our need to recognize anthropomorphic climate change and to consider new behaviors because the current ones are harming fellow Catholics - indeed all people around the world. The Catholic Church, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have called for recognition and change saying, "As people of religious faith, we bishops believe that the atmosphere that supports life on earth is a God-given gift, one we must respect and protect. It unites us as one human family. If we harm the atmosphere, we dishonor our Creator and the gift of creation."

And then there's this from the Pope and the Bishops (Pope Benedict XVI, et. al.), shared by the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change.

The bishops and the Church aren't out to score votes, which is part of the reason why I trust their conclusion. Personally, I have conservative viewpoints on many issues, but I am a Catholic before I am anything else politically.

I know at the end, it's an appeal to authority, but I promise you, it is backed by genuine science.

For those of you who still doubt, might it be time to reconsider?

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Green

DWARF Cows: Are they the answer to farmers' climate change problems? Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Summer months bring an intense heat to farmlands and drought stricken parts of the world. The heat from the sun can damage not only crops that need regular water supply, but will also cause sickness, dehydration and death to farm animals. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES ... continue reading


San Francisco hit with a stinkier side of the California drought as sewer pipes deteriorate Watch

Image of [Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo]

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The severe drought in California has recently alarmed residents of San Francisco, as its century-old sewer system takes a serious hit. Contrary to the popular belief that the drought might give the sewers a break, as it is expected to facilitate less water, it ... continue reading


Mysterious fireball of space junk flies over the South Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A mysterious object lit up in the sky on June 29 in the southeast. The source has since been confirmed as a space junk passing by and reentering our atmosphere. Sightings of the "fireball" were taken to social media, where people tried to guess whether it was a ... continue reading


Californians struggle to find 'normal life' without water Watch

Image of The lack of a sufficient water source in parts of California damages agricultural farmlands

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A normal life remains to be far-fetched for residents in the town of Monson, CA, located 200 miles from the northern part of Los Angeles. Residents in the area have already spent four gruesome months without running water in their homes. The four years of drought ... continue reading


NEW FURRY CRITTER: Hairy-chested crab found trolling at over 7000 feet deep in Antarctic hydrothermal vents identified Watch

Image of The Kiwa tyleri must spend its days in observance of these delicate laws of nature. If they get too close to the vent they will be scalded, but if they stray too far they freeze.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Kiwa tyleri is a furry breed of crab that is only found in the hydrothermal vents in Antarctica. The species can only thrive in water that is between 945 and 104 degrees in Antarctica - making it rare indeed. Growing to only two inches in length, the Kiwa ... continue reading


What ALL Americans need to know about the California drought Watch

Image of California grows and exports a majority of the fruits and nuts eaten by the rest of the country, so water shortages there affect food supply everywhere.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The water shortage in California, now dragging into its fourth year is being categorized as "extreme to exceptional drought." Everyone, including all western U.S. states is now expected to conserve - and not just in California. Below are the facts that everyone in the ... continue reading


Scientists discover amazing corals that adapt to climate change Watch

Image of The Coral Reef Southern Red Sea near Safaga Egypt.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Scientists have cross-bred corals coming from different latitude with variety of temperatures underwater and found that there are some corals that adapt better in climate change than others. With the rapid decline of coral reefs, experts are hoping that this new ... continue reading


Life on Mars: Are humans one step closer to living on Mars? Watch

Image of Is this the future home for humans?

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With the pressing idea that humans have to find suitable life outside Earth in mind, many projects and experiments are being conducted to find a livable environment on Mars. The planet is not yet suitable to live on but a new project suggests that they may have the ... continue reading


Scientists literally could not make heads or tails of bizarre organism of Cambrian age Watch

Image of Researchers have since learned after using sophisticated imaging techniques that at the end the Hallucigenia's head long and slender neck resembling a hose-like tube.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A spiny little organism rightfully called the Hallucigenia sparsa - so hallucinogenic was it in appearance, had scientists scratching their heads, literally unable to make heads or tails of it. Living in the Cambrian age of 508 million years ago, the ... continue reading


Running late? No worries, we get an extra second this month - Find out why Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Earth runs in an inconsistent speed, so to synch it up with the atomic clock, June 30, 2015 will be longer by a second. This extra second, added after midnight, is called a leap second. This is not the first time extra time has been added in order for several ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 22:1-19
1 It happened some time later that God put Abraham to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 115:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
1 Not to us, Yahweh, not to us, but to your name give ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:1-8
1 He got back in the boat, crossed the water and came ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 2nd, 2015 Image

St. Bernardino Realino
July 2: St. Bernardino Realino was born into a noble family of Capri, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter