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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cardinal Pell calls Carbon Credits comparable to Medieval Indulgences

Timothy Birdnow

The catholic Archbishop of Sydney has come out against Global Warming Alarmism. This from The Australian:

Cardinal Pell Questions The Price Of Climate Action

The Australian, 27 October 2011

Tess Livingstone

CATHOLIC Archbishop of Sydney George Pell has questioned the morality and cost benefits of imposing heavy financial burdens in the cause of curbing climate change. Last night Cardinal Pell presented the annual lecture to London's controversial Global Warming Policy Foundation, chaired by former British chancellor Nigel Lawson.

"Whatever our political masters might decide at this high tide of Western indebtedness," Cardinal Pell said, "they are increasingly unlikely, because of popular pressure, to impose new financial burdens on their populations in the hope of curbing the rise of global temperatures, except perhaps in Australia, which has 2 per cent of the world's industrial capacity and only 1.2 per cent of its CO2 emissions, while continuing to sell coal worth billions of dollars to Asia.

"In 1135, the water flow in the Danube was so low that people could cross it on foot. Somewhat earlier, the Rhine had suffered the same fate. Around the middle of the Little Ice Age, the year 1540 was the warmest and driest for the millennium in central Europe. Once again, the Rhine dried up.

"We can only imagine the excitement such events would provoke today.

"Extreme weather events are to be expected, but are unexpected in every period. No one towards the end of the medieval warming in Europe expected the rapid descent into the cold and wet of the Little Ice Age, for example, or the freezing gales, winds and heavy rains that produced the short summers and the terrible developing famines of 1315 to 1320. Surprises such as these will continue into the future."

This was why he supported the views of geologist Bob Carter and Danish environmental writer Bjorn Lomborg that money should be used to raise living standards and reduce vulnerability to catastrophes and climate change, in whatever form.

"We need to be able to afford to provide the Noahs of the future with the best arks science and technology can provide," Cardinal Pell said.

"In essence, this is the moral dimension to this issue. The cost of attempts to make global warming go away will be very heavy. Efforts to offset the effects on the vulnerable are well intentioned but history tells us they can only ever be partially successful."

End excerpt.

And then there's this from National Review Online:

The Cardinal, The Climate, And The Greens

National Review Online, 26 October 2011

Samuel Gregg

These days, scarcely a month goes by without another prominent scientist quietly abandoning the tottering climate-change bandwagon. Climate activists increasingly lament how opinion seems to be shifting against them. It’s likely, however, that among the last hold-outs will be self-styled “progressive Christians.”

From the moment the climate debate heated up within the halls of faith, Cardinal George Pell — the Catholic archbishop of Sydney and one of the College of Cardinals’ intellectual heavyweights — has been arguing that the scientific consensus on this matter is far from settled. Today in London, Pell delivered a lecture for the Global Warming Policy Foundation in which he presented his most comprehensive case to date for why he thinks the consensus is open to question and the moral and economic reasons to be wary about proposed climate-change solutions.

In the full text, provocatively entitled “Eppur’ si muove” (after the apocryphal saying attributed to Galileo), Pell exhaustively details the scientific evidence that the consensus can’t quite account for and underscores what he calls “the climate movement’s totalitarian approach to opposing views, their demonising of successful opponents, and their opposition to the publication of opposing views, even in scientific journals.” He also notes that the economic costs associated with various climate proposals are likely to weigh heavily on the world’s most vulnerable people. “Are there any long-term benefits from the schemes to combat global warming, apart from extra tax revenues for governments and income for those devising and implementing the schemes?”

Pell draws an interesting analogy between the biblical account of the Tower of Babel and particular policy measures demanded by climate activists. Drawing upon the work of distinguished physician-philosopher Leon Kass, Pell notes that the narrative of humanity’s attempt to build a tower that would reach the heavens may be understood as a metaphor for man’s “presumptuous attempt to control or appropriate the divine” and (citing Kass) “the all-too-human, prideful attempt at self-creation.” On this basis, Pell writes: “We should ask whether our attempts at global climate control are within human capacity [or] likely to be as misdirected and ineffective as the construction of the famous tower in the temple of Marduk, Babylon’s chief god.”

In short, Pell isn’t suggesting there’s nothing to be concerned about — “I am not a ‘denier’ of climate-change” — nor does he claim that his perspective is the only possible Christian position on climate change. His key points are simply that (1) the scientific debate is not over, (2) the climate movement has always seemed more driven by ideology than evidence, and (3) this isn’t a basis for implementing extremely costly policies.

There is a broader context to Pell’s remarks, and that is Catholic hierarchy’s growing concern about some of the climate-change movement’s most aggressive allies: the Greens.

It’s no secret that when it comes to those moral questions that are truly non-negotiable for Catholics (e.g., abortion, euthanasia), Greens invariably take the most permissive positions. Their hostility to robust religious-liberty protections is a matter of record. Moreover, anyone who delves into “deep Green” literature soon discovers frankly humanophobic ideas. Such are the concerns of some Catholic bishops that, before elections were held in the Australian state of New South Wales in March this year, Pell and most of the state’s Catholic bishops issued an unprecedented pre-election statement warning their flocks against the more troubling, less publically mentioned parts of the Greens’ party platform.

But wait — doesn’t all this put Cardinal Pell at odds with Benedict XVI, whom some have dubbed the “Green Pope”?

The short answer is no. First, it’s hardly news that Pell and Benedict have been good friends since then–auxiliary bishop Pell served as a member of then–Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith throughout the 1990s. It’s hard to think of another cardinal who has been more supportive of Benedict’s powerful critiques of the “dictatorship of relativism.”

Second, Benedict himself has wondered on many occasions (including during his recent Bundestag speech) about the disconnect between many peoples’ contemporary angst about the environment and their seeming indifference to what Benedict calls the “human ecology” of the natural law, which provides the only truly rational basis for human freedom, dignity, and civilization.

Leaving aside efforts to establish nonexistent tensions between cardinal and pope, the usual suspects — secular and religious — will surely excoriate Pell for this lecture. But in an age where far too many Christian thinkers are way too submissive to transitory intellectual fashions that make them acceptable at fashionable cocktail parties but also partakers in profound intellectual incoherence, it’s refreshing to know not everyone is so intimidated.

— Samuel Gregg is research director at the Acton Institute. He has authored several books including On Ordered Liberty, his prize-winning The Commercial Society, Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy, and his 2012 forthcoming Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and America’s Future.

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