The papal encyclical on climate change — highly anticipated and applauded by people who accept and care about the fact that human-caused climate change is threatening our existence — came out Thursday morning. Not everyone was pleased.
In the lead-up to the release of the document (which was leaked earlier this week), climate deniers and conspiracy theorists have railed against Pope Francis, theologian and former chemist, for wading into the “political” issue of taking care of the environment.
The Usual Suspects
The Heartland Institute got out ahead of the curve, publishing a piece titled Is The Global Left Counting on Pope to Split the Catholic Church Over Global Warming? back in May. Take a moment to ponder this:
Has the Left finally come out with a method that will destroy the power of the Church to cause further damage to an already weakened Church, having been busy for years preparing for this moment? Not to be forgotten is the unholy alliance of international communism with the jihadi Islamists.
According to the article, the Pope’s stance on global warming is part of a left-wing communist conspiracy to… do something. You can read the whole thing here.
Steve Milloy, co-founder of the conservative Free Enterprise Action Fund, offered up a plethora of shocked tweets, calling the pope a communist and saying climate change is not real.
Red Pope calls for 'CULTURAL REVOLUTION.' Been there, done that. pic.twitter.com/hpHYerA9PS
— Steve Milloy (@JunkScience) June 18, 2015
Pope advised on climate encyclical by U.S. abortion advocate and German totalitarian. http://t.co/WuOKIXwNUP So it's really an encynical.
— Steve Milloy (@JunkScience) June 17, 2015
In another tweet, Milloy asked, “Dear Red Pope: Which plants and animals have not adapted to whatever climate change may have occurred? Example?”
Most climate-denying politicians — even Catholics like GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio — are treading lightly around the encyclical, but are mostly saying that climate change is a political, not moral, issue. Catholic presidential candidate Jeb Bush, though, waded right in, telling reporters earlier this week that the pope should butt out of policy conversations.
“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush said, “but I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”
Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources concurred. “No, I’m sorry, it’s a political issue,” he told the AP. “Most people have their minds made up on this issue, so any more rhetoric about the issue doesn’t really add a heck of a lot more to it.”
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, maintained the perspective that climate change is a belief, not a scientific fact, and said he disagreed with “the pope’s philosophy on global warming.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), side-stepped the content of the pope’s position, saying, “I respect his right to speak out on these important issues.”
Candidate Rick Santorum stepped into the fray last week, saying he was more qualified to talk about climate change than the pope — despite the pope’s background in science.
“The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science,” Santorum told radio host Dom Giordano. “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.”
The International Coal Contingent
The long arm of the coal industry shaped reactions across the world. In Poland, a largely Catholic nation that is also dependent on the coal industry for jobs and power, one newspaper called the encyclical anti-Polish. “The new encyclical is already being interpreted as an ‘anti-coal’ document,” conservative newspaper Rzeczpospolita wrote “In the Vatican one can also hear voices that this encyclical is ‘anti-Polish’.”
Polish Parliamentarian Andrzej Jaworski told Yahoo! News that “the Polish energy sector not only should, but must be based on coal. We can’t turn our backs on coal production, building coal mines, or building coal power plants.”
Gerard Henderson, an Australian climate denier, told the Australian Broadcast Company that the encyclical was written because the pope has writers. “There’s a kind of encyclical writing group, they gotta write something, so this is what they’re writing,” Henderson said.
Coming from another coal-dependent nation, Henderson took issue with the encyclical’s content as well. “If you’re an Australian, it’s not good news,” he said. “I mean, the Pope seems to think we should get rid of coal, we should downplay gas… he thinks that our standard of living should decline.”
The Far Out
“If he really cares about the poor, the last thing he should be doing is endorsing this nonsense,” Breitbart’s James Delingpole told British news show Daily Politics. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, the world’s poorest people are disproportionately at risk to the effects of climate change.
During a Fox News discussion of the encyclical, talking head Greg Gutfield pointed out that the pope “came out against the Charlie Hebdo attacks! He criticized the cartoonists!” It was unclear how that was related to the encyclical, but the whole rant is worth watching.
Over at the Daily Caller, the encyclical was framed as a rejection of abortion. The outlet interviewed anti-abortion advocate John-Henry Weston, who pointed out that the pope said that environmentalism did not justify abortion. Weston also focused on two of the pope’s environmental advisers.
“Jeffrey Sachs is an explicitly abortion-promoting population control fanatic. And how can the Vatican work with this man when they believe abortion to be murder?” Westen said. “But Schellnhuber, the German is even worse. He’s on record as suggesting the earth has a carrying capacity of under 1 billion people. What he proposes to do with the other six billion is anyone’s guess.”
A spokesperson reached out to ThinkProgress with the following statement:
LifeSiteNews is issuing a partial retraction of John-Henry Westen’s recent criticism of German climatologist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. In statements this week, Westen criticized Schellnhuber in the following way:
“But Schellnhuber, the German is even worse. He’s on record as suggesting the earth has a carrying capacity of under 1 billion people. What he proposes to do with the other six billion is anyone’s guess.”
We have since learned that Schellnhuber’s comments were made in context to the capacity of the planet if Earth’s average temperature dramatically increased, not in context to the current circumstances of earth’s population.
Additionally, Schellnhuber’s comments indicate that he considers his opinion an unfortunate reality, not a goal to be accomplished.
We regret the error.