Noon: Catholic leaders and climate miracles
For the first time, “Catholic leaders representing all regional and national bishops conferences” have come together in a “joint appeal.” According to reporting in the New York Times, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India, called the October 26 meeting at the Vatican a “historic occasion.”
What brought all these Catholic leaders together for the first time? Not the refugee crisis in Europe. Not the plight of Christians in the Middle East. Not a prayer meeting or a Bible study. It was climate change.
The leaders drafted a 10-point specific policy proposal for, as the document says, “those negotiating the COP 21 (United Nations climate conference) in Paris,” Nov. 30 – Dec. 11. Saying they are looking out for “the poorest and most vulnerable,” these church leaders want “a fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement.” They call for “a drastic reduction on the emissions of carbon dioxide.”
Within the 10 points of the “joint appeal,” No. 4 demands a goal of “complete decarbonisation by mid-century.”
Point five addresses bringing people out of poverty and calls for putting “an end to the fossil fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions, including emissions from military aviation and shipping and providing affordable, reliable and safe renewable energy access for all.”
Calling climate change a “moral issue,” Thomas G. Wenski, archbishop of Miami, acknowledged: “We’re pastors and we’re not scientists.”
So, what do the “scientists” say about their proposal to phase out fossil fuel emissions and provide affordable renewable energy access for all?
With a similar goal, Google launched a project in 2007 known as RE<C (Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal) — which “aimed to develop renewable energy sources that would generate electricity more cheaply than coal-fired power plants do. The two scientists responsible for Google’s effort, Ross Koningstein & David Fork, both Stanford Ph,D.s, state: “At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope.”
More recently, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, made a similar acknowledgement. In an interview with The Atlantic magazine, he said wind has “grown super-fast, on a very subsidized basis” and that solar “has been growing even faster—again on a highly subsidized basis,” yet solar photovoltaics are “still not economical.” Gates admitted: “we need energy 24 hours a day” but “the primary new zero-CO2 sources are intermittent.” He says, that due to “the self-defeating claims of some clean-energy enthusiasts” that are often “misleadingly meaningless statements” the public underestimates how difficult moving beyond fossil fuels really is — saying it will take an “energy miracle.”
Surely the Catholic leaders really do care about “the poorest and most vulnerable.” If they do, rather than calling for the unrealistic “end of the fossil fuel era,” they’d call on the “climate aid” to be spent on “improved public health, education and economic development,” as recommended by noted economist Bjorn Lomborg.
Lomborg, in the Wall Street Journal, states: “In a world in which malnourishment continues to claim at least 1.4 million children’s lives each year, 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, and 2.6 billion lack clean drinking water and sanitation, this growing emphasis on climate aid is immoral.” Yet, the Catholic leaders call climate change “a moral issue.”
Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, who advised Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, has called for church’s influence on public policy to be “grounded in realities, not ideas”—yet clearly what the church leaders are calling for will require not reality, but a miracle.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy.