Friday, January 16, 2015

WHEN THE POPE CAN SPEAK INFALLIBLY AND WHEN HE CAN'T

In 1950 Pope Pius XII, from the chair, declared infallibly, what was already a doctrine and believed by the sensus fidelium, that the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin and sinless throughout her life, was assumed body and soul into heaven. Thus Pope Pius XII declared a doctrine to be a dogma and thus to be believed by every Catholic throughout the world. He did not make this dogma up out of thin air, for as pope, he has no authority to do so. Its infallible declaration is also in the realm of faith, thus an area where popes can pontificate.

On Thursday, it is said that Pope Francis declared to reporters that climate change is caused by man.

This could be true or not. We do know that in Pittsburgh, PA, for a goodly part of the 20th century, pollution, air pollution and other types, changed the weather there. It would be so dark some days because of smog, mostly pollution, that the temperature was cooler than if there was not smog in the air. So I happen to believe that pollution can affect the weather and certainly affects the quality of life and can kill people.

But this is a truth of science. In science there are differing opinions about climate change. There has always been climate change. Some of it is man's fault or caused by him. If you build a canal through a city and cold river water is piped into it, the climate around the canal will be cooler.

So the pope can have an opinion about climate change. He can lead Roman Catholics to be better ecologists and find ways to curtail human pollution. His Holiness can be like Lady Bird Johnson, he has a moral right to lead Catholics to beautify the world. But His Holiness can't turn it into a matter of faith (the cause of climate change, for it is outside the realm of faith and morals) (although protecting the planet if it protects life and the quality of life is a moral matter!).

We follow the pope as a leader in faith and morals even when what he says or teaches is not to be taken in an infallible way. We owe respect to the Holy Father no matter who he is and we can respectfully agree or disagree with him in areas that fall outside his expertise and his pontificating.

20 comments:

corningcm said...

The sad fact is that the progressives among us will ignore the facts you just related, and, will focus on the fact the Pope said that alleged Climate Change is caused by man. I find it sad that Pope Francis would give credence to the idea that man is powerful enough to effect nature in this way, especially when one volcano erupting can change the climate more dramatically than man could in thousands of years. There is a lack of humility in this line of thinking that is consistent with the widespread narcissism that abounds today.

Gene said...

I am anxious to get the Pope's expert views on the conversion of CO2 in the Martian atmosphere into methane for rocket fuel, the feasibility of cold fusion as a propulsion system for long term space travel, and the relative advantages of ceramic vs metal devices in joint replacement. While he is at it, I would also like his take on the feasibility of undersea colonization as an alternative for human life when the sky falls.

JusadBellum said...

Affecting climate is very different to causing climate.

The way the man-made global warming folk think is that every energy input and feedback cycle in nature is CONSTANT while human pollution is the sole VARIABLE.

But that is patently absurd.

1) The sun's output varies from year to year according to the solar cycles.
2) the Earth's relative distance to the sun and precise axis tilt also changes year by year.
3) Cosmic radiation that filters through the Earth's magnetosphere and creates high altitude clouds varies from year to year.

4) Earthquakes and volcanic output are not constants.
5) Methane seeps on land and underwater are not constant

None of the computer models used by the UN or others even have an accurate data reading on these all important natural forces so they assume a constant to make their calculations work.

When a single volcano can dump more carbon into the atmosphere in a week than all of humanity
contributes in a year, you can see how wildly crazy it is to blame human activity for 'climate change'.

We affect our environment. We cannot cause climate to get hot or cold on a global scale.

Henry said...

When he can: When his statement in writing has been vetted for fidelity to tradition by the appropriate Vatican dicasteries, and is explicitly presented as an ex cathedra definition of dogma.

When he cannot: In extemporaneous verbal remarks--e.g. in a press interview or in a Motel 6 homily, or even in a prepared sermon at a full-scale Papal Mass.

Anonymous said...

The models used in the recent past by climate scientists have over estimated the actual amount of warming in the atmosphere in recent years. Climate is far more complex than scientists now understand, influencing the degree to which they can accurately account for all of the causes and effects with respect to climate science.

The same is true for the effects that man has had on climate. Climate scientists speculate on cause and effect, with a greatly underdeveloped understanding of the details of Man's effect on the climate.

John Nolan said...

Reminds me of the way that Pius XII in his later years would earnestly air his opinions on scientific matters which were outside his remit or competence. At least he didn't put them into Encyclicals.

Before he commits anything to paper, Pope Francis should have a word with Cardinal Pell, who is notably sceptical when it comes to anthropogenic climate change.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Do volcanoes emit more carbon in a week than humans do in a year?

"The solid Earth contains a huge quantity of carbon, far more than scientists estimate is present in the atmosphere or oceans. As an important part of the global carbon cycle, some of this carbon is slowly released from the rocks in the form of carbon dioxide, through vents at volcanoes and hot springs. Published reviews of the scientific literature by Mörner and Etiope (2002) and Kerrick (2001) report a minimum-maximum range of emission of 65 to 319 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Counter claims that volcanoes, especially submarine volcanoes, produce vastly greater amounts of CO2 than these estimates are not supported by any papers published by the scientists who study the subject.

The burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use results in the emission into the atmosphere of approximately 30 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year worldwide, according to the EIA. The fossil fuels emissions numbers are about 100 times bigger than even the maximum estimated volcanic CO2 fluxes. Our understanding of volcanic discharges would have to be shown to be very mistaken before volcanic CO2 discharges could be considered anything but a bit player in contributing to the recent changes observed in the concentration of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere.

For further reading: http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/comment-volcanic-versus-anthropogenic-carbon-dioxide-missing-science?page=1

George said...

The climate of the earth during certain periods of its history has been much colder than it is now and also much warmer. These temperature changes occurred when there was little or no human presence. I would say the more pressing concern is ecological, - the deforestation of rainforest areas such as the Amazon without sufficient replanting. Ecological conservation and management and pollution are areas that man has control over. Indeed, the United States, Europe and Canada have accomplished much in this area (leaving aside the reduction of CO2 emissions, which is tied to "global warming"). Getting the rest of the industrialized world to adequately re-plant forests and recycle renewable materials is the challenge.

Henry said...

The dominant effect on the earth's atmosphere is the emission of gasses from the earth's billions of cows and other grazing animals. All other arguments are following the wrong scent. Google "pollution cows" for the smell of truth.

Anonymous 2 said...

JusadBellum’s assertions regarding the impact of volcanic carbon emissions and Father Kavanaugh’s rebuttal underscore a very important point: People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts, as the saying goes, fact being understood as “theory” of course, as it always must be in science. I am not even suggesting that Father Kavanaugh’s “facts” are correct and JusadBellum’s are incorrect (although I suspect that will turn out to be the case). That is not the point.

The point is that we should be guided by the very best science possible and (this is very important) that we should try to minimize the effect of bias (especially ideological bias) in undertaking scientific investigation and reporting the results (and notice I said “minimize” because the complete elimination of bias in scientific inquiry is probably impossible). This approach will yield the most reliable “facts.” But what if the “facts” are still controverted? Well, isn’t it then a question of weighing all the available evidence relevant to both cause and effect to determine the probabilities in accordance with some standard of proof (preponderance, clear and convincing, beyond a reasonable doubt, etc. as the lawyers would say), coupled with allocation of the burden of proof? And shouldn’t both the standard and burden of proof be determined by the consequences of one side or the other being wrong and thus the kind and level of risk involved?

What is not reasonable, surely, is for the debate to be driven by the ideologies of environmental yea-sayers (and their often quasi-religious zeal) and of environmental naysayers (with their heads in the sand and their eyes on the bottom line). The stakes are too high for such immature nonsense. So, after the typical statement “Well, I’m not a scientist” (much beloved, I understand, of Republican naysayers) should come a humble silence – and the same for the other side.

And if we can stop all the irrelevant chatter and let the real scientists (as opposed to ideologically funded prostitutes) get on with their job, then we may see matters more clearly and be able to accord appropriate deference to the intellectual authority of science. Under conditions such as these, which put us in a much better place descriptively, it is surely appropriate for those with moral authority, including the Pope, to speak to the issue of what should be done normatively. (The separation between descriptive and normative is, admittedly, not a sharp one because normative considerations are also relevant to such matters as determining the appropriate standard of proof and appropriate allocation of the burden of proof mentioned above.)


George said...


1860 - The Year without a Summer

climate change caused average global temperatures to decrease by 0.4–0.7 °C

Cause: an historic low in solar activity coupled with a series of major volcanic eruptions capped with the eruption of Mt Tambora (1815)which was the largest in over a thousand years.

I agree Fr. Kavanaugh that except for these kind of unusual happenstances, volcanoes are a bit player in CO2 emissions(they can at times have a large impact), but other natural (not due to man) sources are quite large as is the contribution of heat by solar activity which is variable over time.

Gene said...

There is absolutely no hard, reliable scientific evidence that 1. there is global warming and 2. that, if there is, it is manmade. There are competent scientists on both sides of the issue and many issue compelling evidence against global warming. But, the evidence on both sides is mostly anecdotal and is often tinged with liberal hysterics.

The more interesting theological issue is the arrogance of thinking that we can destroy the earth (humanity, maybe, but not the earth) and that saving the earth is such a concern for Priests and theologians who should be concerned with saving souls regardless of what happens to the earth, which they are supposed to know already.
This is not to deny our responsibility for good stewardship of God's Creation while we are here, but the earth is not God nor is it our home, if you understand Scripture. So, all you Gaia worshippers and pantheists quit wringing your hands and buy a Bible.

George said...

That should had read(my previous post) 1816 the year with no summer.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene:

The following link explores the 97% consensus among climate scientists on the global warming issue. The reader comments are interesting too. And let’s not forget that, as George reminds us, there are other important issues regarding the environment as well.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus-intermediate.htm

There is a lot of information in this link, and it will take a while to navigate around all the tabs. One user friendly feature is the different “levels” of complexity and detail of explanation offered (basic, intermediate, advanced, etc.).

Anyway perhaps this will help provide more light than heat (pun intended).

George said...


This kind of thing (below) is what
gives the "Climate change" advocates a bad name.


The Hockey Stick graph fraud

The invalidation of the "Hockey stick" model strikes a serious blow against "global warming".

Also,it's a difficult thing to tilt against windmills when your career can be on the line.

Anonymous 2 said...

George:

Richard Muller, who wrote the 2004 article you linked, is a climate skeptic who seems to be an honest scientist with great integrity. While remaining somewhat skeptical about some of the claims associated with global warming, in 2012 he recanted his earlier position and accepted that the earth is warming at the estimated rate and that humans are the cause:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0




Anonymous 2 said...

Here is amended text to replace my previous post, which I suspect is horribly ungrammatical (I added a clause while it was in the Comment box – bad idea):

George:

Richard Muller, a climate skeptic who wrote the 2004 article you linked, seems to be an honest scientist with great integrity. While remaining somewhat skeptical about some of the claims associated with global warming, in 2012 he recanted his earlier position and accepted that the earth is warming at the estimated rate and that humans are the cause:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

George said...

I was making the point that one can see why some are skeptical when you have this kind of thing occurring. There may be broad consensus on this, but it hardly seems like settled science.

Take the Medieval Warm Period. Data models constructed and accepted by many of the "Global Warmers" show that temperatures
are warmer now than they were at that time. What I haven't seen explained is why it was possible at that time to grow warm-climate crops in say, England, which are not currently grown there in this warmer-than-then period.

Contrary evidence exists:

2013/study-earth-was-warmer-in-roman-medieval-times

From Scandinavian study (Leif Kullman)

"the pine tree line (and summer temperature) was consistently higher than present ... during the Roman and Medieval periods, c. 1900 and 1000 cal years BP."


http://www.co2science.org/articles/V16/N50/EDIT.php


http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bor.12003/abstract


http://nipccreport.org/articles/2013/dec/18dec2013a1.html


______________________________________________________________________________________


Pacific Ocean Heat Content During the Past 10,000 Years
examining 10,000 years of layered fossil plankton in the western Pacific Ocean. The paper finds that several significant past climate ups and downs — including the medieval warm period and little ice age. The findings support the view that the Holocene Thermal Maximum, the Medieval Warm Period, and the Little Ice Age were GLOBAL events.
Yair Rosenthal,
Braddock K. Linsley,
Delia W. Oppo3



Pacific Ocean Temperatures

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6158/617

The study finds that the rise in ocean temperatures in recent decades is far faster than anything seen earlier in the Holocene, the period since the end of the last ice age.These researchers say that rise in ocean temperatures in recent decades is from a relatively cool baseline. Between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago, at depths between 500 and 1,000 meters, the Pacific Ocean was 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than today.

Anonymous 2 said...

George:


Thank you for those links, which I have read. As I suggested in my first post on this thread:

“The point is that we should be guided by the very best science possible and (this is very important) that we should try to minimize the effect of bias (especially ideological bias) in undertaking scientific investigation and reporting the results (and notice I said “minimize” because the complete elimination of bias in scientific inquiry is probably impossible). This approach will yield the most reliable “facts.” But what if the “facts” are still controverted? Well, isn’t it then a question of weighing all the available evidence relevant to both cause and effect to determine the probabilities in accordance with some standard of proof (preponderance, clear and convincing, beyond a reasonable doubt, etc. as the lawyers would say), coupled with allocation of the burden of proof? And shouldn’t both the standard and burden of proof be determined by the consequences of one side or the other being wrong and thus the kind and level of risk involved?”

Do you agree? If so, it means that we should rigorously apply the scientific method to get the best data we can. It also means looking at all the data together and not cherry picking those items that favor one side or the other. In addition it means that we should be very careful when “evaluating” data. This is especially true for non-scientists. So, as I also said in that post:

“What is not reasonable, surely, is for the debate to be driven by the ideologies of environmental yea-sayers (and their often quasi-religious zeal) and of environmental naysayers (with their heads in the sand and their eyes on the bottom line). The stakes are too high for such immature nonsense. So, after the typical statement “Well, I’m not a scientist” (much beloved, I understand, of Republican naysayers) should come a humble silence – and the same for the other side.”

Along those lines, what is a non-scientist such as myself (I cannot speak for you) to make of the studies you linked? For example, regarding the Pacific Ocean warming, what is one to make of these very different evaluations of the same study (which I assume are by science journalists)? Perhaps it depends on which aspects of the scientific study one emphasizes:

http://news.rutgers.edu/research-news/global-warming-viewed-deep-ocean/20131031#.VL2PISvF-qs

http://grist.org/climate-energy/the-pacific-ocean-is-now-warming-15-times-faster/

I also found something raising questions about the tree line study although it seems to concern an earlier phase of the study in 2008.



George said...

Anon2
I'm not disagreeing with the points you make above. To get an more accurate picture of something, it's often best to have as large a data sample as possible. Given the age of the earth, going back tens of thousand of years would in fact be a small sample but would give us a better picture. Also, as far as the Pacific Ocean study by Yair Rosenthal, Braddock K. Linsley and Delia W. Oppo3, they noted that the Pacific was warming faster in recent decades but this was from (as they also noted)a relatively cool baseline. They concluded using a better baseline that it was 2 degrees Celsius warmer 10,000 to 8000 years ago. It is my position that laymen(and women) should read up on this and get a more in depth understanding (however limited) than just taking at face value what is in the media. I know there is a broad consensus, but to me the issue is not settled. I'm impressed with those scientists who publish findings which go against the current grain. It can't be good for their careers.
We know that our planet was much warmer over it's history than it is now and also much colder and these climatic changes happened when there was no human footprint on the earth. Perhaps man one day will have the technology to moderate these fluctuations. I'm more into recycling and conserving and properly managing the ecological environment. These are things most people can understand and participate in.