A leaked version of the climate change encyclical written by Pope Francis ignited a storm of controversy earlier this week.

The unexpected leak of Pope Francis’ much-anticipated environmental encyclical has meant the return of something that not long ago was fairly common around the Vatican but had become often dormant during the two-plus years of Francis’ mostly charmed papacy: intrigue.

Who leaked it and why? Was this the work of frustrated conservatives in the Vatican, as some experts have speculated? Does it portend big fights at a pivotal October meeting in which church officials are expected to grapple with homosexuality and divorce? Or is it just a tempest in a teapot?

“Somebody inside the Vatican leaked the document with the obvious intention of embarrassing the pope,” said Robert Mickens, a longtime Vatican expert and editor of Global Pulse, an online Catholic magazine.

In the wake of this incident, the Vatican revoked the credentials of Sandro Magister, the Italian journalist who has been reporting on the behind-the-scenes development of the papal document.

The draft disparaged free market principles while indicating “global governance” as a solution to the politically created climate change crisis. Yet, climate expert Anthony Watts and his team had a chance to review the material in detail, noting it was a “damp squib“. Intriguingly, the leaked document also called carbon credit trading a “ploy.”

The official document has now been released, and the assessment that it is a moist firecraker with little explosive charge seems to be correct. The Guardian offers an extract of the 184 page papal teaching. Sadly, Pope Francis buys completely into the politicized science of global warming and completely dismisses the serious challenges to the supposed “consensus”.

A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognise the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the Earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.

However, all is not lost. The radicalized approach to solving the supposed climate crisis is derided by the Pope, too.

The same mindset which stands in the way of making radical decisions to reverse the trend of global warming also stands in the way of achieving the goal of eliminating poverty. A more responsible overall approach is needed to deal with both problems: the reduction of pollution and the development of poorer countries and regions.

Happily, the reference to the carbon credit trading ploy made it into the final version.

Many conservatives will be pleased, however, because Francis also included a strong criticism of abortion while also belittling the argument that population control represented a solution to limited resources and poverty. However, he sharply criticized carbon credits — the financial instruments now central to the European Union’s current climate change policy — as a tool that “may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”

The title of the encyclical is “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise Be to You”. And while elite media and climate change promoters heaping praise on Pope Francis today, careful reading and interpretation will mean some of the hot air will be taken out of their overinflated tires and the wind taken out of their misdirected sails.

In fact, this process has already started:

WCA [World Coal Association] chief executive Benjamin Sporton told AP that to address the developing needs of poor countries, “we need to have affordable reliable energy, and coal is a key part of achieving that.”

…The encyclical says high-polluting technologies based on fossil fuels — “especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas” need to be progressively replaced. But it also says that until renewable energy sources are widely accessible, “it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils to find short-term solutions.”

So, In the end, “Laudato Si”, will not significantly change the climate of global warming politics.

And, in looking at the final product, perhaps the team of climate experts who staged a counter-conference to challenge the politicized science during the encyclical’s preparation made more of a difference than originally thought.

If so, “Praise Be”!


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