I have to keep writing about the intense irritation I feel whenever I hear of, watch or listen to people spruiking on subjects about which they have no knowledge.
I am a lay person and know my limitations. I am not a climate scientist and I have no option but to listen to those who are climate scientists and who are qualified in other scientific disciplines. After all, climate science is a cross disciplinary subject requiring input from many different areas.
I am also aware that science is never settled; that scientists are always devising further research experimentation in an attempt to disprove a hypothesis and even theories. Take Feynman for example. He always started from first principles because he wanted to understand as much as possible about already evidenced theories.
So it galls me greatly when the Archbishop of Sydney is given a dais from which to make his uneducated statements about climate change and how it isn’t happening. Or, put another way, how it has always happened and today is no different from other global periods of climate change. In other words, nothing to do with us and how we live on this planet while consuming about 1.4 planets in the process.
Pell is called a conservative intellectual by a generous Andrew Welder in today’s Crikey environmental blog Rooted. I first realised that Pell was in London on Friday when another Rooted correspondent wrote of Pell’s dreadful address at Westminster’s Cathedral Hall.
He (Pell) was invited by a dodgy group called The Global Warming Policy Foundation. It was founded in 2009 by Nigella Lawson’s father, an arch conservative. The Board of Trustees has dodgy names on it and the Academic Advisory Council to the Foundation has more dodgy names but does also have Matt Ridley, so there may be some hope. Otherwise it smells of big money and climate change denial.
So they invited George Pell to deliver a lecture he called One Christian Perspective on Climate Change. Here is the ruddy lecture! He plays the Christian apologist all the way through while cherry picking whatever suits his ‘Christian’ view. I agree with Welder that Pell hates the grass roots ‘Greens’ and even more so, the political Greens. You can hear Pell virtually spitting in the transcript whenever he mentions them. It is because as Welder says:
The Greens are Australian politics’ most active supporters of policies that go against what Pell regards as core Catholic teachings on how people should conduct their lives: abortion, euthanasia, sex education, homosexuality. If the Greens are “wrong” about those issues, the reasoning goes, then they must also be “wrong” about the climate.
I suppose I could apologise for the vitriol with which I write this post but I am disinclined to having read the insulting language Pell employs in his lecture towards anyone who accepts climate change as happening as a result of our poor husbandry of our planet.
A commenter on the Rooted blog notes that:
“He (Pell) isn’t an idiot (he has a Phd (sic) from Oxford in Church History and a Masters in Education from Monash) and he is an influential man and a (sic) extremely good communicator. Don’t be blinded by his position in the catholic church (as most of the atheists do (more sic!))”.
I fail to see how a PhD in Church History or a Masters in Education qualifies someone to comment cogently on anything let alone climate change. Pell believes in fairy tales. To my mind anyone who dispenses with logic and rationality in favour of obvious superstitious nonsense is inviting ridicule. Otherwise he wouldn’t believe in ridiculous things.
The main points of tosh that Pell cherry picks and proudly vomits in his lecture include:
- That it is only ‘fashionable opinion’ to attest to the fundamental theory of climate change as being scientifically settled. He fails to realise that opinion is worthless in scientific endeavour.
- That the consensual view among qualified scientists is a ‘category error’.
- That sceptics, like Ian Plimer, bring new data and substantial intellect to the subject.
- He conflates global warming with climate change in order to disparage both global warming and climate change.
- That CO2 is ‘not a pollutant, but part of the stuff of life’.
- That concentrations of CO2 could rise almost 13 times today’s concentration before humans and animals would notice it and that plants would love it.
- Pell quotes known and discredited climate change deniers with aplomb while picking on every little problem faced by the IPCC and its panel of working scientists.
The other problem for Pell (apart from his intellectual dishonesty) is that he is a Christian and therefore cannot move past a geocentric view that his god will manage affairs on his planet the way he (god, not Pell!) wants, thank you very much.
Pell suffers dreadfully from that terrible affliction, mental myopia caused by religious belief. Like the Bishop of Carlisle in 2007 who blamed the floods in Yorkshire on society’s moral degradation. This is from the Wiki article on Carlisle:
Dow stated that he believed the resulting flooding (in which several people were killed) was the result of God’s “strong and definite judgment” on the “moral degradation” of British society. In particular, he blamed the economic exploitation of poorer nations and the United Kingdom’s introduction of laws aimed at reducing discrimination against gay people. He stated that “the Sexual Orientation Regulations are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God’s judgment.”
In the introduction to his lecture Pell covers ‘god’s flood and Noah’ and ‘god’s destruction of the linguistic unity of Babel’. There is almost a not so veiled threat that if science tries to answer the big questions and attempts to exert control (Pell would call it interfere in) over the living environment then Pell’s god will wreak his (its) vengeance!
Pell concludes ‘the appeal must be to the evidence, not to any consensus, whatever the levels of confusion or self-interested coercion.’ What!!!
I barely managed to read beyond that statement. Pell is so far behind the times that he is unaware that by far the vast majority of real scientists now accept the anthropic contribution to our current climate change woes.
Together with the Mad Monk, Tony Abbott, leader of the Opposition in Australia who has sworn to reverse any carbon tax legislation should the Libs come to power, Pell represents the worst of public figures. I have no idea who mentors whom between the Monk and the Bishop but as I commented on facebook, they detract from Australia’s image abroad and appear to escalate each other’s synaptic death throes.
Soon may it happen so they can enter the asylum, removed from the public sphere.
Frightening and dangerous.