VATICAN CITY, September 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis has called upon the world to give up fossil fuels, claiming that the climate is in a state of “emergency” and that this has been caused by human activity.
In his Message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, an ecumenical celebration held on September 1, the Argentine pontiff encouraged the world to adopt “simpler lifestyles” and to abandon fossil fuels.
“Now is the time to abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and move, quickly and decisively, towards forms of clean energy and a sustainable and circular economy,” he said.
James Taylor, Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy at the Heartland Institute, a conservative research and education organization, told LifeSiteNews that the Vatican “should be careful” when making theological pronouncements on certain worldly issues, like the use of fossil fuels.
“Pope Francis’ desire for humans to be good stewards of creation is admirable,” he said.
“As a theological entity rather than an entity with particular scientific or economic authority and expertise, the Vatican should be careful about assigning theological weight to particular economic theories or scientific questions,” he continued.
“Forcing people off of abundant, affordable energy and imposing expensive, unreliable ‘clean’ energy sentences too many people in the world to perpetual poverty and all the human misery that accompanies it.”
Taylor added that there is “nothing clean” about the “environmentally devastating mining of rare-earth minerals necessary for wind and solar power equipment” and observed that the deaths of millions of birds and bats can be blamed on wind turbines. He also suggested that hundreds of square miles have been destroyed to make room for enough wind turbines to produce the same amount of energy as a single power plant.
“I share Pope Francis’ desire for humans to be good stewards of the environment,” Taylor added. “I hope the Vatican will avail itself of better information if it decides to weigh in on the science and economics of particular energy sources and environmental impacts.”
Steven Mosher, president of the Population Institute, told LifeSiteNews that real science can get “drowned out by polemics”.
“When scientific questions are heavily politicized―as questions concerning the cause, extent, and threat of global warming are―real science tends to get drowned out by polemics,” he said via email.
“Think about how the theories of the Soviet biologist Lysenko―the nonsensical idea that acquired characteristics could be inherited―was so appealing to Stalin that the entire Soviet academic establishment was forced to endorse it,” he continued.
Mosher said that the world needs fewer “grand pronouncements” on climate change and more research into Earth's environment.
“Right now, we can't even predict the path of Hurricane Dorian with any certainty,” he stated. “How can we possibly predict what the climate will be one hundred years from now!”
The alarmist tone of the pontiff’s message does not sit well with everyone. Some fear that Pope Francis’ blessing of the worldwide environmentalist movement emboldens those who want to reduce the human population.
And then there’s the difficulty of doing without fossil fuel.
Becky Williams, a geologist on an oil rig in North Dakota, told LifeSiteNews that it would be impossible to give up fossil fuels right now ― or even ten years from now.
“Truth is we can't,” she said via social media.
“It's not that simple. Ten years is not long enough. Oil is the lifeblood of our modern way of life. Everything we use and wear and touch and eat is because of oil,” she continued.
“It's not just the lights and the gas for cars, it's the plastic to package our food. It's the spandex we wear. It's the cheap avocados we eat.”
Williams noted, however, that oil is not an “unlimited resource, as most people think” and people need to “look for ways to reduce our dependence on it.”
Elsewhere in his message, Pope Francis suggested that humanity take advice on the environment from “indigenous peoples.”
“Let us also learn to listen to indigenous peoples, whose age-old wisdom can teach us how to live in a better relationship with the environment,” he said.
The pontiff called upon humanity “to repent” of acting like tyrants over the earth, “to be converted and to return to our roots.” He counseled humanity to say “no to consumerist greed” and to “inaugurate farsighted processes involving responsible sacrifices today for the sake of sure prospects of life tomorrow.”
Francis looks forward to intergovernmental meetings that will set the environmental agenda.
“In this regard, the forthcoming United Nations Climate Action Summit is of particular importance,” he said.
“There, governments will have the responsibility of showing the political will to take drastic measures to achieve as quickly as possible zero net greenhouse gas emissions and to limit the average increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius with respect to pre-industrial levels, in accordance with the Paris Agreement goals,” he added.
The United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019 will take place in New York City on September 23.
In a previous 2016 message celebrating the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the Pope called on Catholics to go to confession for sins of not being respectful of creation. He gave as examples of an examination of conscience points such as “avoiding the use of plastic and paper,” “separating refuse” and “turning off unnecessary lights.” He called on Catholics to have an “ecological conversion.”
In his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ (Praised be), Pope Francis said climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”