If there is any doubt about the Pope’s total adherence to an anti-capitalist, anti-growth, and eco-hysterical agenda, you only need to look at his closest science advisors. The most recent “advisor” to the Vatican this week is Canadian journalist Naomi Klein.
A self-described “secular Jewish feminist,” Klein is delighted to advise the Holy Father. “Given the attacks that are coming from the Republican Party around this and also the fossil fuel interests in the United States, it was a particularly courageous decision to invite me here,” she said.
The Pope’s latest encyclical, Laudato Si, claimed that the Earth was becoming a huge “pile of filth,” inveighed against air conditioning (except, presumably, the AC in the hotel where the Pope lives), called for a global transfer of wealth from the rich nations to the poor, called for the creation of a planetary, “public Authority with universal jurisdiction,” and demanded a “cultural revolution” to fix the “perverse” global economic system that has, incidentally, lifted millions out of poverty.
The Pope was most likely inspired by Klein’s latest screed, written upon her own discovery of global warming: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Klein claims that “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.” The issue of global warming has given progressives “the most powerful argument against unfettered capitalism” ever, she writes.
Klein wants to ban shale oil fracking and is highly critical of genetically modified crops. She wants to ban all nuclear power, fossil fuels, geoengineering, and carbon sequestration. Like the President, she wants to block the Keystone pipeline, and she would prefer a transfer of trillions of dollars to poor countries like India to pay off the rich countries’ carbon “debts.”
The Pope and his new advisor both have little faith in technological solutions to the world’s environmental ills, despite the mass production of fertilizer and the Green Revolution creating a world where the food per capita is at an all-time high. Neither Ms. Klein nor the Pope have ever mentioned the ongoing 18-year “pause” in global warming which was totally unpredicted by the scaremongers’ computer models.
It is true that Pope Francis, on November 7th, 2013, gave a personal blessing to Golden Rice, a genetically modified brand of vitamin-A fortified rice that could save more than 668,000 small children from death each year. However, the Pope did not give an “official” blessing to the GMO. The Pope apparently told the co-inventor of Golden Rice who received the blessing, Ingo Potrykus, about his concerns that genetic modification technology primarily benefits big business and not the poor. While Francis’ personal blessing of the invention was encouraging to its inventors, it was certainly something less than a full-tilt endorsement announced by the Vatican to the skeptics of the world. Meanwhile, millions have suffered from preventable blindness or death because of opposition to this invention.
Pope Francis followed up about the dangers of GMOs in his encyclical, focusing mainly on the supposed economic dangers to small farmers of large agribusiness conglomerates:
Although no conclusive proof exists that GM cereals may be harmful to human beings, and in some regions their use has brought about economic growth which has helped to resolve problems, there remain a number of significant difficulties which should not be underestimated.
In many places, following the introduction of these crops, productive land is concentrated in the hands of a few owners due to “the progressive disappearance of small producers, who, as a consequence of the loss of the exploited lands, are obliged to withdraw from direct production”.
The most vulnerable of these become temporary labourers, and many rural workers end up moving to poverty-stricken urban areas. (134)
In other words, what really matters is not how many hungry mouths GM cereals can feed, but whether small farmers might move to poor “urban areas” on account of “a few owners” using the “exploited lands.”
The Holy Father is unlikely to be swayed from this statist position by the likes of Naomi Klein, who is enamored of the same meme:
During the so-called Green Revolution, small-scale peasant farmers, growing a wide variety of crops to feed their families and local communities, were pushed to shift to industrial, export-oriented agriculture. That meant single, high-yield crops, produced on a large scale. Many peasants, now at the mercy of volatile commodity prices and deep in debt to the seed companies, lost their farms and headed for the cities.
Again, the end result, whether or not the goal, is always to freeze in place the pre-existing rural poverty of the Third World, regardless of the benefits of GMOs in human lives saved. There is only the “pie” of static world resources, and the pie can only be divided so many ways. It never gets any bigger.
Pope Francis will be further confirmed in his beliefs by his appointment this week to the Pontifical Academy of Science of German atheist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who has an appropriately apocalyptic view of the environment.
Schellnhuber told the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference that global warming would devastate Earth’s population and “In a very cynical way, it’s a triumph for science because at last we have stabilized something — namely the estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet, namely below 1 billion people.” You heard that right: Dr. Schnellnhuber, now official advisor to the Pope on matters of science, believes that the Earth is overpopulated by six billion souls.
To be fair to Pope Francis, he explicitly rejects population control in Laudato Si. But of all the people he could have chosen to appoint to the Pontifical Academy of Science and help disburse his encyclical, why would he choose Schellnhuber? The only answer is that the Pope agrees with the statist Schellnhuber on nearly everything else.
Dr. Schellnhuber proposes to keep the Earth from warming no more than 2 degrees higher than the beginning of the industrial revolution in the middle 18th Century (which was, by the way, in the Little Ice Age). To keep the Earth within 2 degrees as chilly as it was when the Thames River was frozen over, Schnellnhuber wants an Earth Constitution, a Global Council and a Planetary Court to punish capitalist environmental evildoers. Rather like Pope Francis.
Schnellnhuber was asked to help roll out Pope Francis’ encyclical. He particularly agrees with the part wherein Francis claimed that “infinite growth” is “based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit.” Human ingenuity plays no role in either man’s assessments—the resources are always finite, the pie is limited, and technology is no solution at all.
But if technology is no solution, why, despite the huge increase in the world’s population, has the energy needed to produce a unit of fertilizer fallen nearly 90 percent in the last hundred years? Why has the energy needed to produce a ton of steel dropped five times since 1950? Why has the amount of energy needed to desalinate a gallon of water plunged 90 percent since 1970? Technology.
These facts are widely available. For the Pope and his new advisors, who ignore them, the real problem is not so much carbon emissions but, apparently, the creative aspirations of humanity itself.