With the crucial UN Climate Conference taking place in Paris, 30 Nov–11 Dec 2015, it is fitting to look at some alternative ideas that have been published partly in an attempt to influence it. In a previous article I introduced Pope Francis’ environmentalist manifesto, Laudato si’, as a radical social justice document, and noted that recent papal writings have developed four concepts on debt, waste, ecology, and poverty. In that article I focused on Francis’ concept of ‘ecological debt’, so here I will overview the remaining three: ‘the culture of waste’, ‘integral ecology’, and ‘the earth as the poor’. Read the rest of this entry
This article of mine was originally published on The Partially Examined Life.
That the Pope cites experts rather than scientific research of his own does not nullify Rick Santorum’s embarrassment.
If you needed proof that Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on care for the environment, Laudato si’, was not only seminal but radical, it would be that it is now being published by Verso, a leading publisher of leftist continental philosophy. It is sad then, that rather than focusing on the ideas themselves, all of the attention being given to this event is to sensationalist reactions to the Pope among conservatives- not least of all when he visited the USA. Even the respected philosopher Robert P. George tried to downplay Francis’ ability to know that climate change is anthropogenic, presenting the consensus on the matter by 97% of scientists as if it were of equal weight to the opposite opinion. But as Francis says in the document, this consensus means that the burden of proof is on the proponents of a business as usual approach to demonstrate that it will not cause serious harms. (§186) In this piece I will engage with just a little of the criticism of Francis, as an aid to clarify the ideas as well as to examine their limitations. Read the rest of this entry
This month we saw a Democratic President of the United States seek an audience with the Pope, likely with the hopes he could regain his tarnished progressive image by having some of the Bishop of Rome’s credentials rub off on him. And if nothing else, this unusual state of affairs goes to show that the music of Prince, who, two decades ago sang “You can be the president, I’d rather be the Pope” is as relevant as ever.i
The following is an article I co-wrote with Sean Oakley; the original version appears in the American magazine The Daily Confidential.
By last month Pope Francis, or Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was a year in to his tenure as leader of the oldest and largest religious organisation on the planet. Bergoglio, formerly the archbishop of Buenos Aires, had taken charge of a church whose members believe him to be the final authority on all holy matters. And judging by recent media reaction it seems that some in the secular world are beginning to think the same. Read the rest of this entry
A major analysis of cutting edge studies has been published in Nature Geoscience this week by an international team of over 70 scientists. Although the authors rightly qualify that their report is not designed in the terms of ‘attribution studies’ which is the most reliable approach to distinguishing causes, their ‘region-up’ analysis of global temperature variance over the last 2,000 years found exactly what would be expected if the current consensus on anthropogenic climate change (ACC) was correct.
Global temperatures were warmer between 1970 and 2000 -the period with the greatest greenhouse gas emissions- than in any other period in the last 1,400 years. This is despite the fact that we should still be experiencing a long period of global cooling which began c.1580 AD, because, as the study indicates, rises and falls in global temperature take place very gradually over long periods. Recent warming, with its rapid arrival in the late 19th century is: 1) by contrast, too sudden to fit the pattern for natural shifts in global temperature, and 2) also perfectly correlated with where we would expect to find warming if it were caused by the explosion of polluting industrial activity, and 3) inexplicable by natural causes such as volcanic eruptions and changes in solar irradiance. Such natural causes do, however, predict earlier periods of significant change which were often short lasting but in such cases were always restricted to small regions, unlike the current global change.
The report therefore adds ‘the Earth has warmed up like this in the past’ to the ever growing list of arguments favoured by the ideological (i.e. bribed) opponents of ACC science    to have been refuted empirically. If you are at all interested in the other items on this list and how they relate to the evidence for ACC, why this climate change is such a catastrophic threat to human civilisation, and what actions we can be taking to ameliorate it, I wholeheartedly recommend The No-Nonsense Guide To Climate Change (2nd Edition) by Danny Chivers as an extremely succinct introduction.