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Climate Change Conference

According to a Vatican press release, the Holy See has a delegation at the ongoing climate talks in Bali:

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2007 (VIS) - The 13th session of the conference of States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is being held on the Indonesian island of Bali from December 3 to 14.

A communique made public yesterday afternoon affirms that the Holy See will be present at the Bali meeting with a delegation led by Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Indonesia, and composed of Msgr. Andrew Thanya-anan Vissanu, nunciature counsellor in Jakarta, and of three local experts from the Philippines and Indonesia: Fr. Benito B. Tuazon, Fr. Alexius Andang Listya Binawan S.J., and Vera Wenny Setijawati.

"Given that the sessions of the Convention on Climate Change are held once a year in various countries," the communique reads, "the Holy See is usually represented at such meetings with a delegation led by the apostolic nuncio and made up of experts from the area, so as to take advantage of local resources and to achieve a broader and more differentiated vision of the questions being examined."

Good for them. Let's hope this signals the beginning of a shift away from the Church's neglect of this important moral and political issue. One would hope that it could speak with at least half the urgency that it has endlessly heaped on such issues as gay marriage and contraception. Yesterday, in his acceptance speech in Oslo, Al Gore showed how it's done:

We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency - a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst - though not all - of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world's leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler's threat: "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent."

About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.



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Professor Penalver is absolutely right. It is scandalous that the issue of climate change gets so little attention from church leaders as well as political leaders. Re political leaders in the U. S.: The press ought not to allow any candidate for the presidency or for congress to avoid talking with some specificity about climate change and the policies required to respond to it. And we citizens ought to demand that the press fulfill this task.Re Church leaders: If there is a more important moral issue than that of how one ought to respond to climate change, I'd be happy to learn of it. Nonetheless, church leaders have done precious little to teach their faithful that it is a moral duty to pay serious attention to climate change, to be prepared for significant change in their lifestyles and their politics, and to refuse to support politicians who duck this issue.

Benedict XVI has actually spoken out quite regularly and strongly about environmental concerns, and the need for action. He is turning out to be quite the "Green Pope," which is not that surprising given his life-long affection for animals. He will likely hit that note during his April visit to the US and the UN, as well.The challenges are two-fold: One is that Benedict's vision of environmentalism, or at least the church's role in it, tends to hew towards Dick Cheney's view that conservation is a personal virtue, rather than something that society and state, informed by the church, should act on. Above all, the church is like the proverbial ocean liner, and will take a good dea of nudging from above to turn around. There are still enviro-deniers like Cardinal pell of Australia out there. And a conference at the Vatican (last year, I think) was weighted with industry types, and wound up being a conference on whether humanity was really contributing to climate change, and whether we could or should do anything about it. Hence it vitiated the impact of the church's voice. The bishops conference in the US isn't issuing many prophetic documents at all these days, so they'll need a real nudge from B16. But overall, it is true that many faith traditions are way ahead of the Catholic Church, or at least the Catholic leadership. On the ground, the Church is doing, or attempting to do, great things. I think of Sister Dorothy Stang, who was brutally martyred for her work protecting the Amazon and the indigenous people there. Yet she got no love from Benedict during his visit to Brazil. We need a good shove from above.

As a tangential input to the issue of climate change, here is a list of skeptical scientists gleaned from various sources. I apologize for the length of the list, and possibly the impression that I am attempting to hijack this thread, but I believe that one of the reasons that the Church has been slow on this is that it (the Church) wants to be sure.These are names of scientists who are questioning the global warming hysteria. * Khabibullo Abdusamatov, Scientist, Russian Academy of Sciences * Dr. William J.R. Alexander, Professor Emeritus, University of Pretoria * Dr. Claude Allegre, Geophysicist, Institute of Geophysics * Dr. August H. Auer, Former professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming * Dennis Avery, Environment economist, Center for Global Food Issues * Dr. Sallie L. Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics * Dr. Timothy Ball, Canadian Climatologist and Former Professor, University of Winnipeg * Dr. Robert C. Balling, Jr., Climatologist, Arizona State University * Dr. Jack Barrett, Chemist and Spectroscopist, Formerly with Imperial College London * Dr. David Bellamy, Honorary Professor for Adult and Continuation Education, Durham University * Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Reader, University of Hull * Dr. Simon Brassell, Geologist, University of Indiana * Dr. Reid Bryson, Meteorologist, University of Wisconsin-Madison * Mr. Nigel Calder, Former Editor, The New Scientist Magazine * Dr. Robert M. Carter, Geologist, James Cook University * Dr. Ian Castles, Fellow, Australian National University * Dr. Petr Chylek, Physics and Atmospheric Science Adjunct Professor, Dalhousie University * Dr. Ian D. Clark, Earth Sciences Professor, University of Ottawa * Dr. Paul Cooper, Professor Emeritus, Laurentian University * Dr. Richard S. Courtney, Climate and Atmospheric Science Consultant, Climate and Atmospheric Science Consultant * Dr. Chris de Freitas, Associate Professor and Climate Scientist, The University of Auckland * Dipl.-Ing. Peter Dietze, Official Reviewer, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change * Dr. Freeman J. Dyson, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Studies * Dr. Hugh W. Ellsaesser, Physicist/Meteorologist, Formerly with Livermore National Laboratory * Dr. Robert H. Essenhigh, Professor of Energy Conversion, The Ohio State University * Dr. Christopher Essex, Applied Mathematics Professor, University of Western Ontario * Dr. Bill Gray, Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University * Dr. Vincent Gray, Expert Reviewer, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change * Dr. Keith D. Hage, Meteorology Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta * Dr. Howard Hayden, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Connecticut * Dr. Douglas Hoyt, Retired Scientist, Raytheon Company * Dr. Andrei Illarionov, Chief Economic Adviser, Russian President Vladimir Putin * Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, Physicist and Chairman, Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection * Dr. Ola Johanneseen, Professor, Nasen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center * Dr. Wibjorn Karlen, Emeritus Professor, Stockholm University * Dr. Aynsley Kellow, Professor, University of Tasmania * Dr. Madhav Khandekar, Former Research Scientist, Environment Canada * Mr. William Kinimonth, Former Head, National Climate Centre * Dr. Hans H.J. Labohm, Former Advisor to the Executive Board, Clingendael Institute * Dr. Douglas Leahey, Meteorologist and air-quality consultant, Calgary * Dr. Marcel Leroux, Climatology Professor Emeritus, University of Lyon * Dr. Dennis Lettenmaier, Hydrology Professor, University of Washington * Dr. Richard Lindzen, Meteorologist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology * Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, Associate Statistics Professor, University of Aarhus * Dr. Alister McFarquhar, International Economist, Downing College * Dr. Ross McKitrick, Associate Economics Professor, University of Guelph * Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia * Dr. Fred Michel, Associate Professor, Carleton University * Dr. M.R. Morgan, Climate Consultant, First Minister of Wales * Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, Emeritus Professor, Stockholm University * Dr. Tad Murty, Adjunct Professor, University of Ottawa * Mr. David Nowell, Fellow, Royal Meteorological Society * Dr. Garth W. Paltridge, Director, The Cooperative Research Centre for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean * Dr. Benny Peiser, Professor of Social Anthropology, Liverpool John Moores University * Dr. Al Pekarek, Associate Professor of Geology, St. Cloud State University * Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr., Meteorologist, Cooperative Institute of Research * Dr. Ian Plimer, Professor, University of Adelaide and University of Melbourne * Dr. Harry N.A. Priem, Emeritus Professor, Utrecht University * Dr. Andreas Prokoph, Adjunct Professor, University of Ottawa * Dr. Paul Reiter, Professor, Institut Pasteur * Dr. Art Robinson, Founder, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine * Dr. Arthur Rorsch, Emeritus Professor of Molecular Genetics, Leiden University * Dr. Rob Scagel, Principal Consultant, Pacific Consultants * Dr. Gary Sharp, Director, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study * Dr. Nir J. Shaviv, Astrophysicist, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem * Dr. Fred Singer, Climatologist, The Competitive Enterprise Institute * Dr. Graham Smith, Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario * Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist, The University of Alabama * Dr. Henrik Svensmark, Climate Scientist, Danish Space Research Institute * Dr. Gordon E. Swaters, Applied Mathematics Professor, University of Alberta * Mr. George Taylor, State climatologist, State of Oregon * Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, Retired Director of research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute * Dr. Gerrit J. van der Lingen, Climate Change Consultant, Geoscience Research and Investigations * Dr. G. Cornelis van Koten, Environmental and Climate Change Professor, University of Victoria * Dr. Jan Veizer, Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa * Dr. Boris Winterhalter, Retired Senior Marine Researcher, Geological Survey of Finland * Dr. David E. Wojick, Senior Editor, Electricity Daily International Magazine

Why do you think the hierarchy should jump into this? Aren't the laity the church too? I prefer they stick with their competency, faith and morals. Is it a double standard of liberals in the church that they want the hierarchy to get involved in the issues they see as important, but when the hierarchy says something about issues they aren't so worried about, they say, why doesn't the laity ever have a say, etc.?

Bob Schwartz, try a footnote next time. Also, what is the source of your list? At this point, scientists who question global warming are a bit like Young Earth Creationists. Moreover, I fail to undertsand why those who question global warming--often the conservative "virtue-crats"--don't think that polluting the earth and using up resources is simply bad for one's soul. Doesn't modesty count for something? Line me up with the Crunchy Cons. As for JC, I don't get your point. The laity are into this Green Issue, but many more, esp on the right, might be "conscientized" if the hierarchy were to speak out more forcefully. Anyway, that's one thing the herarchy is supposed to do. I'm not sure I see the double-standard. What issue are you thinking about? The laity might disagree with the hierarchy, but the bishops are there to help the church be a prophetic voice. If I see a double-standard, it is the conservatives who think the bishops shouldn't go beyond their "competency" when it comes to matters of war and peace, immigration and the environment, and then suddenly want them to pronounce as policy wonks on abortion and euthanasia. Can't have it both ways, methinks.

We can all be gratified that the Church has come, even if tardily, to environmental concerns. As I understand it, one reason for the holding back has been the concern that population control be considered as necessary for saving the environment.In the World Day of Peace Message 2008, released today, the Pope echoes that concern:We need to care for the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion. Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis--vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves.

The source of the list of "skeptical scientists" is list was apparently compiled by The Business and Media Institute, whose mission is to defend free enterprise, which the American people and the press don't understand.Their home page is

Yeah, the right seems to do this too. But, isn't there prudential room to disagree about whether humans are causing global warming, as this long list of doctors is supposed to suggest? Whereas, to use Eduardo's example, where's the prudential room on gay marriage?

If you want a meditation on global warming try Maryknoll , feb 2007 , vol101#2, pg 6-8.

JC: I think I could easily argue that there is more "prudential room" on gay marriage than there is on global warming. The evidence is hugely stacked against global warming skeptics. As for gay marriage, there is no evidence that it does any societal harm whatsoever. Indeed, if may benefit the many children who are adopted by gay couples. Also, the important point is that there is no such thing as gay marriage in the Catholic Church. So who is it harming? It is a theoretical "problem" that violates a theoretical principal. That is, of course, a very important thing to contend with. And one can argue both sides of that issue. But there is no gay marriage in the Church, there is an infintesimal degree of gay marriage in the form of civil unions in the wider society, and there is no measureable effect on society as a result. Divorce, domestic violence, teen pregnancy--those are epidemics and issues the Church might address more profitably to work for peace, as the Pope suggested today.

It's easy to cite a relative handful of scientists who question climate change, but it's hardly wher ethe vast majority ar eat. I'll prescinfd from what their intentions are/were.NPR this mornin gasked our rep that now that Australia signed off on Kyoto, do we feel isolated. The reply was, "No, Turkey hasn't signed it either."So much for coming at the problem with stark objectivity.My question involves the Church's posture - obviously care for the environment is a desideratum, bu tis the onus solely on individuals to do their part? Or are governments bound to teke specific steps?I think Benedict is reluctant to preach to governments except on a few issues dear to him.(I think poverty is another of these issues as well.)As to the new posts on contraception first, this is only the kind of tunnel vision view that weakens not strengthetrns the Church''s position in the eyes of so many folk.

"The list was apparently compiled by The Business and Media Institute, whose mission is to defend free enterprise, which the American people and the press dont understand."Really. The problem is of course that most people can only handle one religion at a time.

[...] at Mirror of Justice, Rick Garnett isn’t too taken with Eduardo’s post on the Vatican and climate change. Eduardo writes, with respect to the news that the Holy See is [...]

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