Any non-scientist civilian can be forgiven, if it is not his business to know about the climate, to follow the majority and claim that global warming, a.k.a. climate change, a.k.a. climate disruption, a.k.a. climate chaos, a.k.a. climate of doom, is here, increasing, devastating, and almost entirely caused by man.
The Pope on a plane (not his strongest milieu) was asked about the subject. He was on his way to the PI to chat with those who managed to live through the thoroughly nasty Typhoon Haiyan which, so reported the AP, “the government has said was an example of the extreme weather conditions that global warming has wrought.”
The PI government might have said that, but if they did they were wrong. It is a false statement. Global warming did not sneak into the weather control room, through a switch, and release another typhoon into the wild. Instead, large tropical storms like Haiyan are actually down in number. The typhoon was sure deadly, however. Why?
Well, I lived for three years not too far from the PI on the small island of Okinawa. We got hit by one or two typhoons a year, and these caused little damage, whereas the same storms, or storms of similar magnitude, bulldozed through the PI. On Okinawa, everything is made of rebarred concrete. On the PI there are still many shacks (and that may be a generous term). The solution is obviously to increase the efforts of holding back Nature on the PI as in Okinawa.
The AP also quoted the Holy Father as saying:
“I don’t know if it (human activity) is the only cause [of global warming], but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face,” he said. “We have in a sense taken over nature.”
“I think we have exploited nature too much,” Francis said, citing deforestation and monoculture. “Thanks be to God that today there are voices, so many people who are speaking out about it.”…
“The [world-government climate] meetings in Peru were nothing much, I was disappointed,” he said. “There was a lack of courage. They stopped at a certain point. We hope that in Paris the representatives will be more courageous going forward.”
Any civilian, I reiterate, whose business is not governance and whose livelihood does not rely (mostly) on matters environmental would say things like this. Civilians are blanketed from birth (since ~1968) with slogans, propaganda, and even the words of honest but mistaken scientists who claim the End Is Nigh. Skeptics, even when joined in voice, can barely manage a whisper. The environmentalists have the bulk of money, resources, and ears.
Yet…our Pope is not a civilian and his business is governance.
Individual men have slapped their environs in the face. Others have caressed. But most of us get along. Yet this isn’t quite right. Something deeper is wrong with the sentiment Pope Francis expressed. Man is part of nature. It is not something separate from us. We’re adapted to live here, not Mars. It is true, necessarily true, that we have manipulated the earth to suit our needs, but that statement is true of every species. It is impossible—as in impossible—for us not to change the climate, the land, the sea.
The only questions are how much should we manipulate, what are the consequences, good or bad, and can we encourage the good and mitigate the bad? Deforestation in developing countries is an understandable response to wanting to feed people, as is monoculture. The solution to both, just like in the PI, is to import the knowledge and technology (and energy, like 100% all-natural organic fossil fuels) that mitigate the maladaptations while keeping the good, which is people with full stomachs.
It’s true that the Peruvian meetings were “nothing much”, but let’s pray the Paris meetings do less. Putting more control of ordinary people’s lives into the hands of fewer and fewer of those curious rapacious monomaniacal Experts we have somehow, inexplicably, let be put in charge of us cannot be a solution. Those would-be Global Leaders stand for every spiritual opposite of the Church. Will the Pope really trade another bike lane in downtown Buenos Aires for accepting gay gmarriage?
The Holy Father’s encyclical won’t be issued until (it is reported) June or July. Which means there is still time for somebody who takes a realistic view of the climate and is close to the Pope to advise him. This isn’t me: I’m a nobody with no contacts. But there must be somebody.