Pope Francis Says Ask Scientists About Their Uncertainties on Global Warming. Good Idea

The uncertainties are many and high

By William M Briggs Published on September 12, 2017

A reporter asked Pope Francis about the recent hurricanes in the Atlantic, adding the questions, “Is there a moral responsibility for political leaders who reject collaborating with the other nations to control the emission of greenhouse gas? Why do they deny that climate change is also be the work of man?”

The Pope answered in part:

If we don’t turn back we’re going down, that’s true. Climate change, you see the effects and scientists say clearly which is the path to follow. And all of us have a responsibility … to accept from the opinion or make decisions, and we have to take it seriously …

I would say: everyone has their own moral responsibility, first. Second, if one is a bit doubtful that this is not so true, let them ask the scientists. They are very clear. They are not opinions on the air, they are very clear. And then let them decide, and history will judge their decisions. Thanks.

Advice From a Scientist

The Pope is right. It is a good idea to ask actual scientists about their best guess of the uncertainties involved in climate change. One thing every climate scientist, myself included, will tell you is that it is 100% certain the climate will change.

It’s just as certain that nothing on earth can stop the climate from changing. Let me emphasize that “nothing.” It means just what it says. Nothing.

The climate of the earth has never stood still, and never will. That means efforts to “battle” or “stop” climate change are futile. This position in physics is known as climate realism.

Added to the realism position is the truth that mankind really does influences the climate. As readers of The Stream know, every species influences the climate. It’s impossible not to. Every breath you take influences the climate since your exhalation is loaded with carbon dioxide, a “greenhouse gas.”

Further, there is little real “minimizing,” let alone eliminating, our influence, or another species’ influence, on the climate, short of removing that species from the earth. This is proved easily. Since each breath you make influences the climate, albeit in a very small way, the only way to eliminate your influence is to stop breathing. Reducing our influence basically means culling the human herd.

If you doubt climate realism, the theory espoused here, then I urge you to seek out any actual climate scientist and put this to them. Be sure to talk to an atmospheric physicist of some kind, and not one of the multitude of hangers on who call themselves “climate scientists,” like economists or sociologists.

How Much is Too Much?

The big question is how much influence does mankind have? And the answer is nobody knows.

We know this is the answer because the climate models we built to account for our influence do not skillfully predict future temperatures. You would be just as well off if you were to guess that next year will be like this year, than if you used the world’s most sophisticated model.

This is why it was strange, in the Pope’s impromptu press conference, when a second reporter said, “The effects of climate change, here in Italy — I don’t know if you’ve been informed — has caused many deaths in Livorno. … Why is there a delay in taking awareness?…”

There is a delay because it’s irresponsible to implicitly blame the bad weather, which created the droughts, on mankind. We simply do not know this. And even if it were true, we do not know that we could have prevented the events that led to the drought. Perhaps, for instance, growing wheat in Ukraine tipped the balance in favor of drought in Italy. Should we have then forbidden Ukrainian wheat farming?

Horses Don’t Wear Pants

The Pope replied to the reporter (the ellipsis are original):

Why? A phrase comes to me from the Old Testament, I believe from the Psalm: Man is stupid. He is stubborn one who does not see, the only animal of creation that puts his leg in the same hole is man … the horse, no, they don’t do it. … There is arrogance, the sufficiency of “it’s not like that,” and then there is the “pocket” God, not only about creation, so many decisions, so many contradictions (…) depend on money.

And there (we must suppose) is the answer. Many matters do come down to money. We have to accept tradeoffs and uncertainties. Cutting back on some economic activity might reduce greenhouse gases and these reductions might lower the future temperature to some unknown level. But what will cutting back do? There will be a price to be paid. That price might be too high, especially since it’s unclear if a slightly higher temperature is good or bad. Yes, global warming may also cause good things to happen.

So acting for the sake of acting, or, worse, for the sake of being seen to be acting, makes no sense. In fact, it might harm or kill people. That’s the simple reality.

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  • m-nj

    “Reducing our influence basically means culling the human herd.”

    There are some (perhaps) wild conspiracies out there which revolve directly around this idea. But even the stated goals of the UN involve some level of population control. Getting everyone to sign on to AGW alarmism is one way to make “culling” sound not only reasonable but mandatory.

    • Population control, like obtaining wealth, is a prudential goal, one we cannot implicitly claim is evil.

      However, also like obtaining wealth, there are licit and illicit means of reaching this goal. Abstaining from sex is a licit means towards population control, much as work and trade are licit means for obtaining wealth. Contraception and abortion are inherently illicit means towards population control. And, of course, they are the means most often recommended by the UN.

      • revljlaplant

        If we are to take what God said to Adam and Eve seriously, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be
        fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have
        dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and
        over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28

        If we are to take what God said to Noah and his sons at the conclusion of the flood as His will and blessing, “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Genesis 9:1

        Then population control may indeed be implicitly evil.

      • Nate Winchester

        Saw you post a link to this over at Shea’s place. (and already the refusals to read it)

        Needless to say I’m still impressed you’re not banned yet.

        • Nota bene that the refusal comes from Mark’s commentariat, and not from him. Every so often I point Mark at something right-wing, and suggest that he ought not to dismiss it out of hand because it is from a ritually impure source of information.

    • berserker

      But don’t tell the UN to do something about the population explosion in the Middle East and North Africa. That would be racist.

      • I know I’ve seen reports that Iran’s fertility rate is approaching that of Europe, and well below 2. While I can’t be sure about the rest of the Middle East, I tend to think Iran’s case is not isolated.

  • Alice Cheshire

    The problem lies is “We just don’t know”. Human beings are very comfortable listening to lies and prophecies that sound certain. The truth value is irrelevant. When science says “we just don’t know”, the charlatans rush in and fill the void. If only people used the brain God gave them and not the emotions that got them into trouble in the first place……. If only.

  • joelhfx

    There is no evidence that destroying our economies with “green” initiatives in turn bringing all nations to the brink of WW3 will change anything at all. We are not doomed. The climate will change and we will survive. Anyone who tells you otherwise is in the grip of charlatans.

  • MikeW

    One certainty is that Global Warming of Doom charlatans will continue to try to make money off of this issue, just as fake rain-makers did in the past, or those that blamed bad weather on witches and spirits. Weather myths and their associated scams remain with us to this day.

  • I have recently accepted this, and am now more open minded about both sides of the argument so I can contribute better to that trade off balance

  • texasknight

    If you think CO2 is a pollutant, you might be a socialist.

    • Betawelder

      I’m going to put that on a T shirt.

  • PhD

    The pope can voice his “opinion” on AGW but he is specifically a layman when he talks about non-faith issues.
    This pope has distinctly socialist views and is not afraid to voice them…… a shame for the Catholic religion that
    their leader is so biased ideologically.

    Everyone needs to realize that AGW is 100% baloney and is merely propaganda to deliver more control to the
    socialists and communists trying to destroy the West……. the pope has sadly joined that dissolute fraternity.

  • Mark Luhman

    If I die and get to heaven on thing for certain that present day pope will not be there.

    • You are not God. You may be able to judge the foolishness of some of his actions, but in your place, I would at least hesitate, if not forbear, to presume I know the state of his soul.

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