As a global warming skeptic, when I saw the headline "The Pope Condemns the Climate Change Prophets of Doom," it goes without saying I was as pleased as a child on Christmas Day that had gotten everything he asked Santa for and then some.
My glee accelerated after reading the marvelous beginning of this Daily Mail article (paragraph break removed for space considerations):
Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology. The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.
See why I was so thrilled?
Unfortunately, as I reviewed the text of the Pontiff's message, defeat was stripped from the jaws of victory upon realizing the Mail's author had divined intent that might have been absent from the Pope's words:
7. The family needs a home, a fit environment in which to develop its proper relationships. For the human family, this home is the earth, the environment that God the Creator has given us to inhabit with creativity and responsibility. We need to care for the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion. Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves. Nor must we overlook the poor, who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all. Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances. If the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations. Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.
8. In this regard, it is essential to "sense" that the earth is "our common home" and, in our stewardship and service to all, to choose the path of dialogue rather than the path of unilateral decisions. Further international agencies may need to be established in order to confront together the stewardship of this "home" of ours; more important, however, is the need for ever greater conviction about the need for responsible cooperation. The problems looming on the horizon are complex and time is short. In order to face this situation effectively, there is a need to act in harmony. One area where there is a particular need to intensify dialogue between nations is that of the stewardship of the earth's energy resources. The technologically advanced countries are facing two pressing needs in this regard: on the one hand, to reassess the high levels of consumption due to the present model of development, and on the other hand to invest sufficient resources in the search for alternative sources of energy and for greater energy efficiency. The emerging counties are hungry for energy, but at times this hunger is met in a way harmful to poor countries which, due to their insufficient infrastructures, including their technological infrastructures, are forced to undersell the energy resources they do possess. At times, their very political freedom is compromised by forms of protectorate or, in any case, by forms of conditioning which appear clearly humiliating.
See anything about "climate prophets of doom?" Not nearly the castigation of global warming alarmists and their assertions depicted by the Mail, was it?
Despite the tenor of the Mail's piece, there was actually something for folks on both sides of the manmade global warming debate in the Pope's address. In fact, as Robert Duncan of Spero News pointed out, the Pontiff's holiday message was certainly not just about climate change:
It's funny how a person can write something, and others read only the things that interest them...The truth is that while global warming was a major subject of the speech, the press seems to have missed that it was couched in a bigger message of Peace and the Human Family...Once again it appears the press only got half of the message -- and decided to go with the flavor of the day, global warming, and ignore the underlying message of family and responsibility.
Clearly. And, as it pertains to global warming, the press seemed to see only one side of the debate, most surprisingly not the alarmist one we've grown accustomed to. Here's how Reuters reported the Pontiff's message:
International decisions on the impact of environmental change should be made prudently, avoiding hasty conclusions, ideological pressures and unilateral stands, Pope Benedict said in a peace message on Tuesday.
To be sure, almost nine months after Australia's Cardinal George Pell called global warming alarmism "an induced dose of mild hysteria -- semi-religious if you like, but dangerously close to superstition," I would welcome similar statements from his boss.
However, regardless of how the Mail and Reuters presented the Pontiff's proclamation, I don't believe he has gone as far as Cardinal Pell. Do you?
While delegates from around the world are meeting in Bali to discuss climate change, what does this tell us about the direction of this debate that many have arrogantly stated is over?
Are media starting to tire of this subject? Have two consecutive years of exaggerated hurricane projections as well as the lack of a second Katrina soured the press on the concept that scientists can accurately predict climate's future?
Maybe more importantly, as it appears that nothing substantial will come out of Bali concerning mandatory carbon dioxide emissions cuts - after similar failures by the G-8 six months ago - is it possible the press are beginning to realize that when it comes to global warming, despite posturing to the contrary, the governments of the developed world aren't as alarmed by this issue as they sometimes appear?
Consider statements made by President Bush on May 31 just before June's G-8 summit:
Bringing progress and prosperity to struggling nations requires growing amounts of energy. It's hard to grow your economy if you don't have energy. Yet, producing that energy can create environmental challenges for the world. We need to harness the power of technology to help nations meet their growing energy needs while protecting the environment and addressing the challenge of global climate change.
In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it. The United States takes this issue seriously. The new initiative I am outlining today will contribute to the important dialogue that will take place in Germany next week. The United States will work with other nations to establish a new framework on greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
So my proposal is this: By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases. To help develop this goal, the United States will convene a series of meetings of nations that produce most greenhouse gas emissions, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China.
At the time, this was greeted with great enthusiasm by climate alarmists, and has since been used by such folks as demonstrating how strong the so-called consensus is concerning this issue. Yet, as previously mentioned, the G-8 punted in June, and did absolutely nothing to address climate change.
Now, six months later, the same results appear to be coming from Bali, and the world's press seem to be recognizing that politicians across the globe are willing to make speeches about this issue to appease environmentalists in their nations, but when the sun goes down, won't do anything that threatens their economies.
Although we shouldn't hold our collective breath for Brian, Charlie, or Katie to report this any time soon, maybe just knowing their brethren are starting to recognize that which has been obvious for years is quite enough.
After all, has any of us been good enough this year to deserve a Christmas present like the television news networks other than Fox admitting Nobel Laureate Al Gore is indeed no more than a snake oil salesman, and that the only thing warming the planet is the sun?