Junk Science and Cheap Moralism on the Tiber
The Vatican's top science officer lashes out at critics, defending his alliance with abortion advocates and failing to answer basic questions.
The Vatican has interested itself in global warming, going so far as to stage an invitation-only exhibition on the matter, and to release through the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences the curious document “Climate Change and The Common Good.” The document’s main author is the Chancellor of the Academies, Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo.
His Excellency was criticized by many for the low-quality, error-laden science in this document, but he received the most heat for buddying up to abortion and “population control” enthusiasts like UN boss Ban Ki-moon and economist Jeffrey Sachs.
Evidently, these critiques stung. The Archbishop returned fire, accusing his detractors of acting on the orders of a cabal dedicated to destroying Science — a charge which found sympathetic ears. But he couldn’t quite escape the scandal caused by his purposely associating with, and giving political cover to, abortion and contraception advocates. More explanation was called for, so he gave it.
In an interview with Stefano Gennarini, Sánchez shot back with an odd claim he has made many times, that the “climate crisis leads to poverty and poverty leads to new forms of slavery and forced migration, and drugs, and all this can also lead to abortion.” Elsewhere, he included prostitution and “organ trafficking” as other results of global warming.
By any reckoning, this is an impressive list of evils. Yet what’s missing from his Excellency’s statements is any explanation of how exactly the slight increase in clement winter afternoons has caused abortion, prostitution and other grave human evils to increase.
Did the fraction of a degree uptick in temperature late last century make men more amorous? Perhaps the dearth of hurricanes and tornadoes — the “climate crisis” has pushed these way down — induced men to seek other excitement in their lives. Or again, maybe the minuscule accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide has shouldered aside oxygen, depriving our brains and lessening our capacity to reason.
“These are serious matters!” the objection will run. And so they are. But mentioning something serious doesn’t make you a serious person. There must be more than moral dudgeon backing a claim as … grandiose as Sánchez’s, namely that global warming causes abortion. There must be evidence. Is there? The answer depends on how reliable global warming theory is.
Many have fallen prey to the unscientific belief that predictions of doom are proof the predictions are right, and that therefore the theory which generated the predictions must be correct. Otherwise intelligent people commit these blunders because of fear, or because they are in the grip of environmentalist ideology, or, in the worst cases, because it is politically convenient.
The predictions of doom have been consistent: temperature is promised to soar ever upwards. The theory is that small boosts in carbon dioxide (compared to the atmosphere as a whole), by way of feedback mechanisms too complicated to explain here, are responsible for the rise. The predictions are consistent, all right. Consistently poor. No, worse than poor. Rotten. For nearly two decades, climate models have predicted rising temperatures, but the reality has been that there is no such increase.
Since the climate is demonstrably not changing in the direction or rate predicted, how could this non-event be increasing the incidence of abortion, organ harvesting and slavery?
Let me pose another question. Which is more likely to lead to more abortions:
(A) Global warming, through a twisting, fanciful chain of causality, which anyway hasn’t even happened yet, or
(B) The bolstering of the rich, influential, abortion- and contraception-friendly United Nations and radical NGOs, who can now claim to enjoy “Vatican support”?
It is, or used to be, a fundamental principle of science that a theory was proved false when predictions made based on the theory were a bust. Even Einstein had to wait for Arthur Eddington to verify relativity’s predictions before scientists wholly backed the theory.
Sánchez was asked about this principle: “What do you answer to so called ‘climate skeptics’ who point to the lack of change in temperatures in the past 18 years and the difficulty in finding any definite correlation between human activity and large scale climate changes?”
His response was revealing: “I hope you are not [a skeptic] because then we would discover the true reason for these false accusations against us!”
Sánchez went on to hurl some false accusations of his own. He said climate change skeptics were all either members of the Tea Party or people with “incomes derived from oil.” Because, well, that would prove that everything they’re saying is false, wouldn’t it? Thank heavens no scientists who assert that man-made climate change is a crisis receive any income for their work, or support from billion-dollar foundations.
Archbishop Sánchez is keen on sustainability, which many take as a code word for population control. On this issue, he said that his Sustainable Development Goals didn’t “even mention abortion or population control. They speak of access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.”
Everybody, even his Excellency, knows what such words are: dull euphemisms for population control and abortion. This is why he tried to deflect the moral implications of including these terms in Church documents by saying, “Some may even interpret [these terms] as Paul VI, in terms of responsible paternity and maternity.” If there is a polite, ecclesiastical way of saying “balderdash,” this is the place for it.
The Archbishop said that we “can rest assured that the two academies of which I am chancellor are against abortion and against population control simply because we follow the Magisterium of the Popes, on which we directly depend.” Okay, let’s accept that. Yet it is also true that Sánchez’s actions have lent political, cultural, and religious support to organizations which push, and push heavily, population control and the systematic killing of the unborn. They now can claim Vatican support for their agendas.
The Archbishop sought these worldly connections to give weight and prominence to his political programs. He ought to at least consider what is obvious to the rest of us: that his actions will foster the very evils he hopes to eliminate.