In the wake of yet another fiasco at the latest U.N. Convention on Climate Change (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, and on the heels of another release of damaging emails between high-profile climate scientists (Climategate 2.0), I believe this to be a propitious time for the Catholic Church and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to faithfully re-evaluate their position on climate change science.
As a practicing Catholic and one who has also diligently researched this subject for the last several years, I am increasingly disconcerted to see the church and the bishops take such an inflexible position on an issue that has become more fraught with controversy and uncertainty as new studies and data fail to corroborate earlier claims of the climate-change alarmist community.
Moreover, the Catholic Church’s active membership in the National Religious Partnership for the Environment — the NRPE is an organization of mainline churches promulgating “environmental sustainability and social justice” — is disturbing given the radical environmentalist positions taken by various ecotheologian leaders in the history of this group and the principles the organization embraces.
Coming full circle, the Catholic Church and the USCCB, in associating with the NRPE and its more extremist affiliate members, have disingenuously communicated a message to church members conflating ideas of stewardship of the Earth with the debauched science supporting the claims of those in the radical environmentalist community.
Looking specifically at the Catholic Church/USCCB, the religious institution has taken its position on the climate change issue with the backing of any number of pronouncements from the papacy and those of various Vatican working groups. One study released this past May (“Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene”) was a working paper of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The study concluded with apocalyptic projections of rising sea levels, floods and other climate catastrophes based partially on data obtained from the deeply flawed Fourth Assessment Review (FAR, 2007) of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In short, I found the glacier data used to be statistically weak given the lack of historical glacier data available and the fact that the data sample included only .25 percent of globally existing glaciers. Furthermore, a plethora of other peer-reviewed scientific studies were found that clearly refuted the analysis. This lack of hard scientific support is just one example of the problems that plague the church’s position on climate-change science.
Finally, the USCCB’s tacit acceptance of the views of the U.N.’s IPCC and its adherents as fact implies that it subscribes to the scientifically flawed view that the “consensus position” is incontrovertible. Unfortunately, this position completely contravenes the essence of science via the scientific method (stated hypotheses and models are subject to constant testing and held as true only until disproven).
What steps should the Catholic Church and the USCCB take at this point? Above all, the USCCB needs to take a position in which its first goal is the pursuit of the truth. It should not be too quick to disavow thousands of scientists whose work has been dismissed because it does not fall in line with the beliefs of the global environmentalist community, and it should respect the integrity of the scientific method.
Secondly, the Catholic Church and the USCCB should take a view that one’s questioning of climate-change beliefs does not render one incapable of being a faithful steward of God’s creation.
Third, the USCCB would do well to take a more critical view of the work of the IPCC, especially in light of contravening evidence on the science and the blatant efforts by scientists in the alarmist community to suppress unsupportive studies and data.
Fourth, the USCCB should carefully consider the optics of aligning itself with organizations professing beliefs in a radical environmentalist agenda, some of which go so far as to extol the virtues of population control and worship of the Earth to the detriment of mankind, beliefs clearly not part of Catholic dogma.
Paul Crovo is an energy analyst for a major financial institution. He lives in Furlong.