Be not goaded

Common sense can have a calming effect, I have found, when engaged in various controversies. It does not necessarily come from me. Usually it is a remark contributed by some “innocent bystander” — a term I should use cautiously, for as a veteran policeman once explained, “There is no such thing as an innocent bystander.” But there are those not guilty of specific crimes.

This morning’s issue will be anthropogenic global warning. It comes naturally to mind on a day when the temperature in the Greater Parkdale Area is zero (Fahrenheit), yet with a significant “windchill,” blowing from dead north. This produces what the weathermen call a “feels-like” of around minus twenty, which might be considered “balmy” by an inhabitant of, say, northern Manitoba. But I note there are very few inhabitants in northern Manitoba.

Denizens of the continental interior, more generally, could spend half the year praying for global warming, and the other half fearing that their prayers have been answered; add or subtract by isothermal latitude. So it goes. I live near the southern extreme of Canada, on land “normally” under a mile or two of ice, if one looks candidly over the known climatological history of the last few million years. So far as they are intelligent, I think most of my countrymen would express a “preferential option” for as much carbon as we are capable of spewing. It is in our national interest to sustain the present interglacial. And should this leave a few low-lying tropical islands under water, well, we have a generous immigration policy.

Now, while it is true that I became bored with this topic, years ago, I was nevertheless on record with my view that “globalwarmalarmism” is a public-funding fraud. It is based on claims to knowledge that humans cannot have, and more pointedly, on methods of computer modelling that cannot reliably predict if it will snow on Saturday, let alone what will happen in another hundred years. It is not my business if people spend their lives playing computer games, but I do not think they should demand trillions for a contrived result.

The reason for their influence should be clear to any political observer not born yesterday. Grand schemes to “reduce global warming” are a godsend to the bureaucracies of states already drowning in debt. They provide an excuse for massive extension of those bureaucracies, and ever more detailed control and supervision of our daily lives — regardless of cost. They could also provide a check on the kind of frontier capitalism that has raised too many Third World countries out of abject poverty and starvation. We need to cut off their fossil fuels, to keep those economic rivals in their place.

Paradoxically, I am myself in favour of brisk technological retreat, but for different reasons. I think people should live simpler lives, and restore attention to the moral and spiritual verities. However, as a Catholic, I also think this should be voluntary; that it can be achieved only by conversion of souls. I do not think much “regress” will be made, in the long run, by scaring people with big lies. But that is not to say my position is pragmatic.

The Church has every right to address questions of the common good; but as she has consistently reasoned through the last couple of centuries in the face of Marxism and other revolutionary and “progressive” movements, she is bound to oppose “collectivism.” Climate-change environmentalism is simply the latest try-on from that diabolical end of the political spectrum. Pope Francis is quite orthodox when eschewing, in principle, “ideologies” of every kind. Would that he had, himself, a better comprehension of what this must entail.

The news that he will take a big stand on “climate change,” along with rumours of whom he is consulting, has added to the heap of desolation felt by many “traditional” (i.e. serious) Catholics who, regardless of their views on the weather, and of human sway upon it, do not think a pope should concern himself with subjects he knows little or nothing about, or go about strutting like a politician. We have, in this opinion (which I am incidentally inclined to share), got beyond the point where “the media” can be blamed for misrepresenting what he says. Of course they do that, but if one persistently plays to their gallery, one must reasonably expect them to play back.

Yet here is where common sense comes in, and we should feel less goaded. It is supplied in this case by Rachel Lu, the imperturbably calm and sensible columnist in Crisis magazine. I would have made this point more forcefully, but instead, tip my hat to her composure (displayed here), and leave this morning’s final word to her:

“We should probably be grateful if the talking heads chatter a lot about Catholicism and climate change. After the recent, literally scandalous debates over divorce and family issues, it might be a relief to see the Holy Father devoting his energies to environmental concerns, rather than stirring up doubt and division over central doctrinal or moral questions.”