At last, the Pope is being taken seriously when he warns of moral degeneracy — well, sort of. When popes have tried to preach to us about abortion, promiscuity, materialism, drugs and selfish lifestyles, they have widely been treated as old fools or bigoted moralists who want to stop us from having fun and being who we are.
But how miraculous the transformation among enlightened opinion now Pope Francis has issued on exhortation on climate change, warning us that “irresponsible” western lifestyles are ruining the planet. Christine Figueres, former UN executive secretary on climate says she “warmly welcomes” the Pope’s exhortation. Climate campaigner Bill McKibben says “the work of spiritual leaders around the world may be our last chance of getting hold of things.”
The Pope’s is the ‘hair shirt’ approach to climate change, with western lifestyles to blame
The Pope has gone full AOC. It is faintly odd to read him lecturing us on the rate of glacial melting and the absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans. I am no great reader of Papal exhortations, but do popes generally go into such detailed scientific detail? I guess he has sought advice on what to write, but at points it goes horribly wrong. “Droughts and floods, the dried-up lakes, communities swept away by seaquakes and flooding ultimately have the same origin.” Is Pope Francis really trying to blame the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on global warming?
But it gets even worse when he starts addressing social policy. Apparently, “in an attempt to simplify reality, there are those who would place responsibility on the poor, since they have many children, and even attempt to resolve the problem by mutilating women in less developed countries.” Apologies if I have missed it, but is there really anyone advocating female genital mutilation as means of tackling climate change? Such a proposal certainly doesn’t seem to feature prominently in the publications of western governments.
He goes on lazily to assert that “what is happening is that millions of people are losing their jobs due to different effects of climate change: rising sea levels, droughts and other phenomena affecting the planet have left many people adrift. Conversely, the transition to renewable forms of energy, properly managed, as well as efforts to adapt to the damage caused by climate change, are capable of generating countless jobs in different sectors.” It is the usual old guff about “green jobs.” Try telling that, for example, to American steel workers as they see their jobs draining away to China thanks partly to much cheaper coal-fired power there and the absence of carbon levies.
At the same time, the Pope doesn’t seem to want all that much in the way of technological development — his is the “hair shirt” approach to climate change, with western lifestyles to blame: “To suppose that all problems in the future will be able to be solved by new technical interventions is a form of homicidal pragmatism, like pushing a snowball downhill.” He goes on to praise “the actions of groups negatively portrayed as ‘radicalized’” — by which he presumably means the likes of Just Stop Oil.
Climate change has become a bandwagon onto which most world leaders, business people and celebrities now feel compelled to clamber. But in the Pope’s case, it is a bandwagon which seems to have a few worryingly loose nuts and bolts.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.