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Pell On Climate (Part 2, Part 1)

A little while ago I came across the talk given by Cardinal George Pell for the 2011 Global Warming Policy Foundation Annual Lecture. That talk is entitled One Christian Perspective on Climate Change.

Reading the talk I was shocked at how completely Pell is centred within the AGW denialist camp. His talk encompasses all the major memes of AGW denialism: Climategate, research funding gravy train, central government conspiracy with scientific community knowingly complicit, modern temperature increases are being driven by natural processes (not AGW), CO2 is plant food, climate change community is totalitarian and bullying, only computer models, cannot predict climate with certainty, alarmist school cherry-picks time periods, climate models are deficient, medieval warm period was warmer, CO2 precedes temperature increase and does not lag it, percentage of CO2 miniscule, its El Nino stupid, planet is not warming uniformly and AGW an irrational false religion.

Denialist Insider

In fact, reading through the footnotes to Pell’s talk I think there is evidence that Pell is not merely a fan of the denialist movement but an active principal within it along with other Australian and international notaries such as Bob Carter, Ian Plimer, Christopher Monckton and Bill Kininmouth.

A number of footnotes to Pell’s talk contain the notation ‘(typescript)’. ‘Typescript’ is the academically correct way to cite unpublished manuscripts such as typewritten or word processor documents such as might be presented to an academic journal when submitting for consideration for publication.

Here are the typescript citations from Pell’s talk:

Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, “Is CO2 mitigation cost effective?” Lecture to the Prague School of Economics (typescript), May 2011, 17.

Timothy Curtin, “The Garnaut Review’s Omission of Material Facts” (typescript) 2011, 11.

Carter, Climate: The Counter Consensus, 245-46; & Robert M. Carter, “Climate Change in Natural Context” (typescript, n.d.),4-5.

Pell and Monckton BFFles ?

Pell’s citation of drafts and journal manuscripts from the presses of Monckton, Carter indicates he is privy to denialist literature before publication or that he receives original typescripts post-publication. This is a clear indication that Pell occupies a privileged position within the denialist community.

I speculate that Pell operates in the role of influencer and mouthpiece for the denialist community receiving insider access to denialist articles for the purposes of disseminating such within his Church, political contacts (e.g Tony Abbott) and the general community under cloak of Pell’s ecclesiastical position, which position is assumed by the general community to operate under and provide impartial moral leadership.

Not Impartial

Pell holds himself out to be impartial and unbiased on the issue of AGW but he is not. In fact, as his talk to the Global Warming Policy Foundation makes clear, Pell’s attitude toward AGW is based on his abhorrence of the ‘Deep Greens’ which he considers command the ecological and environmental movements. Pell states plainly that an important part of his motivation in stating his skeptic position on AGW is to counter the influence of Deep Green ideology which Pell sees as anti-human and a false religion, a modern manifestation of Paganism.

As Pell stated in his talk:

Why might a Catholic Bishop Comment ? I first became interested in the question in the 1990s when studying the anti-human claims of the “deep Greens”, so I had long suspected that those predicting dangerous and increasing anthropogenic global warming were overstating their case.

As to Neo-Pagan, in this article in The Catholic World Report, January 2008, Pell ‘indicated his disappointment’ with the way Australians ‘have embraced even the wilder claims about man-made climate change as if they constituted a new religion.’

some of the more hysterical and extreme claims about global warming appear symptomatic of a pagan emptiness, of a Western fear when confronted with the immense and uncontrollable forces of nature … In the past pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions!’

and from his GWPF talk:

A final point to be noted in this struggle to convince public opinion is that the language used by AGW proponents veers towards that of primitive religious controversy. Some of those campaigning to save the planet are not merely zealous but zealots. To the religionless and spiritually rootless, mythology – whether comforting or discomforting – can be magnetically, even pathologically, attractive.

More on Pell and AGW Paganism here

Pell also worries that AGW Paganism is infecting the Catholic priesthood which is the substance behind his comment that ‘I was speaking out […] to provide some balance to ecclesiastical offerings’,
and that the issue of AGW distracts clergy from their proper duty to attend to Christ’s commission to evangelise the world in His name.

In short, Pell’s denialist attitude to AGW science is based on his pre-existing bias to reject Green propositions because of his fear of the ‘Deep Greens’, in particular their position on population control which is in conflict with Catholic teachings on human fertility. He has second-order fears that the Green movement is distracting Catholic clergy from specifically Catholic pastoral care priorities and that the clergy will neglect Christ’s Gospel as a result of over-weighted concern for environmental issues.

The very title of Pell’s talk ‘One Christian Perspective…’ offers a significant clue that Pell’s rejection of AGW follows from his belief that AGW is rooted in a non-Christian or anti-Christian ideology. That’s why Pell adorns his response with the signifier ‘Christian’.

Holy Green Unholy Insanity

Pell’s specific concerns about anti-human deep greens, climate-driven pagan syncretism in Catholicism and distraction from priestly mission are shared by certain other conservative Catholics and are exemplified in this article ‘Holy Green, Unholy Insanity: Religious Leaders Hoodwinked Into Global Warming Hysteria’ linked on the web site of Catholic Apologetics Information n.b. not an official web site of the Catholic Church.

The Crux

Pell does not oppose AGW because of the science. He opposes it because he fears Climate Change policies will includes limits on human fertility and authenticate abortion, such positions undermining the authority of the Catholic Church. On this one must say that some statements from Green organisations and personages are downright frightening. Pell is justified to be concerned about these remarks:

For example, from David Browser, founder of the Sierra Club:

“Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.”

Pell has been absolutely explicit about his fears concerning the rise of the anti-human Deep Greens.

He strongly criticized the Medical Journal Of Australia for publishing a letter from Obstetrician Dr. Barry Walters, who proposed an annual Carbon tax on families with more than two children.

As the blog Cafe Theology reported, Pell, speaking in Seoul, where he was awarded the Mysterium Vitae Grand Prix award for his outstanding efforts for the pro-life movement, said

this is a striking illustration of where a minority neo-pagan, anti-human mentality, wants to take us.

But no matter crazy some Green person’s ideas might be, or how different they may be to one’s own ideals, this does not justify denying factual science. I will address Pell’s disconnection with AGW science as demonstrated in his GWPF talk in a subsequent post.


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