Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cardinal O'Brien's mind captured by 'zealots'?

Cardinal O'Brien in George Square
In the interests of transparency I disclose that I agree with Cardinal Keith O'Brien on many things.

On Ash Wednesday he was identified as a prominent signatory of the Operation Noah declaration on climate change and the purposes of God.  It urges church people to ask four legitimate and worthy questions.  I should also note that I agree with much that is in the declaration.  The many Bible quotations are all accurate and to be admired.

The problem lies with the assumptions incorporated in the foundational statement.  Partisan pressure groups  - and Operation Noah is very partisan - often make a priori assumptions.   Take just the first few words:
"The liklihood of runaway global warming, which will diminish food security, accelerate the extinction of huge numbers of species and make life itself impossiblein some parts of the world. . . "
So there is an assumed 'likelihood of of runaway global warming' with all sorts of dire consequences! The evidence for the probability of this catastrophe (and the statement is replete with hyperbolic phrases), is just not there.

On the day after Cardinal O'Brien signed his intellectual soul over to a pressure group specialising in exaggerations, one of the world's most distinguished climate scientists, Professor Richard Lindzen of Massachusetts Institute of Technology was giving an opposing view in the House of Commons Committee Rooms:
"The evidence is that the increase in CO2 will lead to very little warming, and that the connection of this minimal warming (or even significant warming) to the purported catastrophes is also minimal.  The arguments on which the catastrophic claims are made are extremely weak – and commonly acknowledged as such. They are sometimes overtly dishonest."
Cardinal O'Brien would do well to pay a little more attention to his fellow cardinal from Australia, Cardinal Pell:
"The rewards for proper environmental behaviour are uncertain, unlike the grim scenarios for the future as a result of human irresponsibility which have a dash of the apocalyptic about them, even of the horsemen of the Apocalypse. The immense financial costs true-believers would impose on economies can be compared with the sacrifices offered traditionally in religion, and the sale of carbon credits with the pre-Reformation practice of selling indulgences. Some of those campaigning to save the planet are not merely zealous but zealots."

You can read Professor Lindzen's full talk here. And Cardinal Pell's here.

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