There are many reasons for distrusting the information the IPCC is giving us on climate. Serious contention has arisen from 2 specific areas: The IPCC exaggeration of glacier melt in the Himalayas and the association of climate change with disaster damage such as hurricanes. The IPCC affirmations on both these areas are being seriously contested.
Professor Roger Pielke Jr. is an example of the debate that is raging, and gives a serious critique of the IPCC and it’s flaws with regards to information acceptance and delivery. This is how he concludes:
“That the IPCC has made some important mistakes is very troubling, but perhaps understandable given the magnitude of the effort. Its reluctance to deal with obvious errors is an even greater problem reflecting poorly on an institution that has become too insular and politicized.”
He also has a very detailed piece on the conflict of interest of Rajendra Pachauri and why he cannot be trusted either. Read it here. These are one persons opinions, take them for what they are worth.
The Pope’s comments on the environment are still generating much interest and discussion. Here is an article by Sandro Magister, an Italian journalist who has an article on Pope Benedict XVI and the environment. Make sure to read the commentaries at the end; of Professor Prodi, a leading Church climatologist and the Pope’s Banker. This is the only place I can find their comments in English. Read his article here.
It’s all over the news, the COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen, the much expected world summit on climate change was a failure. Roger Pielke Jr. has an interesting post on his blog explaining why reaching an agreement is so problematic. Follow it here.
Read here the official statement of the Holy See to the President of the COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen.
Following the lead of Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered a balanced and bold statement with regards to the Church’s position to climate change. He calls for both mitigation and adaptation, a focus on morals and values, and shows the Church’s leadership in action without recurring to “sense of fear, apocalyptic terror, overbearing control and hostility towards humanity”. At the end he sends a challenge to the world community:
“how can we hope that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves?”
The language of calamity and exaggeration in the end discredits climate science and climate action. With fantastical scenarios like this, who wants to believe in anything?
It’s common that the secular media put’s a fantastical spin on Vatican statements, as the media coverage announcing “new sins” as if the Catholic Church comes up with a list on a whim every so often. This time, the Pope’s remarks have received less coverage than usual (perhaps overshadowed by the failing Copenhagen talks on environment), but to be fair the reports that have come out have been quite balanced. See for example this article in USA today below:
The only correction I would make is not with regards to what it says, but rather what it omits. Central to the statement was the role of mankind in relation to God and the environment and the danger of neo-pagan ideologies. Nothing here about that. For a more Catholic view of the issue check out CNA on the same issue.
Yesterday a landmark statement to be read by Pope Benedict XVI on January 1st 2010, the World Day of Peace, was made public. The message entitled “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation” is among the most important Vatican teachings on the environment, comparable to John Paul II’s message exactly 20 years ago on the same occasion. It can be read here.
Pope Benedict XVI, recognizing the work of his predecessor, emphasizes the moral dimension to the environmental crisis, and clearly recognizes the importance of the environment within Catholic teachings:
“Respect for creation… has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind” and later “ The Church has a responsibility towards creation, and she considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public life, in order to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone, and above all to save mankind from the danger of self-destruction.”
I will comment on what I think are the key elements in the message. Please read the entire text here.
1. Environment and development. Following the approach from his latest Encyclical Caritas in veritate, the Pope highlights the close relationship between environment and human development. The global dimensions of the environmental challenge connect it to the issue of development, of helping the poor who are most affected by environmental degradation and the need of a “profound cultural renewal”.
“It should be evident that the ecological crisis cannot be viewed in isolation from other related questions, since it is closely linked to the notion of development itself and our understanding of man in his relationship to others and to the rest of creation. Prudence would thus dictate a profound, long-term review of our model of development, one which would take into consideration the meaning of the economy and its goals with an eye to correcting its malfunctions and misapplication. The ecological health of the planet calls for this, but it is also demanded by the cultural and moral crisis of humanity whose symptoms have for some time been evident in every part of the world. Humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all.”
I have been debating about becoming a blogger for a while now. This is an experiment. I have been interested in both faith and environmental issues, and especially their interaction, for a long time. Much of my interest in following the blogosphere has been to understand environmental issues well in order to speak and act with authority from the perspective of faith with regards to nature. I am certain that faith and an approach to reality that is open to God, the Creator of the environment, has much to offer to the environmental debate. As a graduate student at CU Boulder I have a unique opportunity to comment and study with expertise on many environmental issues, and have some of the worlds experts as colleagues and resources on issues such as climate change, biodiversity, environmental ethics and philosophy. Since there are few bloggers making the connection at this level I decided to be one of the first and start a blog.
I am especially interested in the Catholic approach to environmental issues. Catholics especially, and Christians in general, by following the lead of Christ who is the “the Truth” (Jn 14, 6) and the responsibility that this claim carries, have a particularly important commitment to ensure that their positions on environmental issues represent the truth. Because of this claim to truth I am particularly interested in statements from the Catholic Church, but also in commenting and contrasting with other faith positions, secular and philosophical approaches, as well as science and technology issues.
More soon on the responsibility to uphold the truth… For now, let the blog begin!