Republican Catholics are in a quandary. Do they adhere to their political ideology on climate change, or do they follow their spiritual leader, Pope Francis?
As is well-known, the pope recently issued an encyclical (letter to the church’s bishops) denouncing the world’s political leaders for putting national interests ahead of efforts to combat global warming.
Country over climate
“International negotiations cannot progress in a significant way because of the positions of the countries which privilege their own national interests rather than the global common good,” the letter said, using privilege as a verb. “Those who will suffer the consequences which we are trying to hide will remember this lack of conscience and responsibility.” The pope and his advisers consulted with dozens of scientists and economists for guidance in formulating the church’s opinions on the subject.
U.S. Senator James Inhofe
Of course, that declaration didn’t sit well with Republican politicians. After all, James Inhofe, the Republican chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, had authored a book titled The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. So he must have had a background in science, right? Or at least majored in a scientific curriculum in college. Not quite. He’s said during election campaigns that he graduated from the University of Tulsa with a degree in economics, but has given varying dates of his graduation, which supposedly was around age 40, and a controversy has ensued over whether he actually graduated.
Inhofe provided entertainment – and embarrassed fellow GOP members to their toes – in February when he brought a snowball before the Senate to demonstrate that it was cold outside. It was indeed cold, but Inhofe missed the point scientists have been making: Greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels cause climate extremes, which is what is meant by climate change. The year 2014 was the globe’s warmest on record. The Washington Post put it this way: “All of this is really beside the point: Global warming is a long-term and worldwide trend. The fact that it’s cold at one place on the Earth at one point in time does not undermine the contention that industrial greenhouse-gas emissions are warming the planet over the course of decades.”
It’s all God’s doing
But Inhofe said that, because “God’s still up there,” the “arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”
Oh, by the way: Inhofe has been one of the top congressional recipients of oil money, receiving $662,506 from oil companies between 2000 and 2008. He also received $152,800 in coal contributions during the 110th Congress, 2007-08.
Would you mind repeating that?
Inhofe is not Catholic, but fellow Republican Rick Santorum, a candidate for president of the United States, is. And the pontiff’s proclamation put him in a pickle. Politics trumped the pope for Santorum, who said Frances should “leave science to the scientists.”
Uh, Rick … didn’t it occur to you that what you suggest is exactly what the pope is doing? You’re the one who claims to know more than the scientists. Santorum and Inhofe: Oil-soaked birds of a feather flock together – and poop on the pope.
A man claiming to be a retired scientist wrote a letter to the Palm Beach Post ridiculing Pope Francis for his position. The letter writer said the Earth had been alternating between warm and cold periods throughout its existence. First, the man didn’t say what kind of scientist he was. If he were a rocket scientist, for example, would that give him any more credibility on global warming than any educated, intelligent layman whose professional career lay outside science? Second, how does the fact that global warming has occurred naturally in prior periods of the Earth’s existence invalidate the scientific consensus that the warming occurring now is due to greenhouse gases? It doesn’t, and the so-called former scientist’s insistence that it does shows an inability to think logically. Could it be that politics, or perhaps Inhofe’s brand of religion, trumped the scientific requirement of objectivity for this supposed scientist?
Another indication that man is governed primarily by emotion, not reason.