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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Archbishop Pell and Global Warming - not a pretty sight

Cardinal George Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, has a rather bizarre opinion piece on global warming in the Sunday Telegraph. I'm rather gobsmacked that a senior figure of any church seems to have been taken in wholesale by the Global warming deniers.

We have been subjected to a lot of nonsense about climate disasters as some zealots have been painting extreme scenarios to frighten us. They claim ocean levels are about to rise spectacularly, that there could be the occasional tsunami as high as an eight story building...

Eh, what? Who has said this, certainly no climate scientist. Global sea levels will change significantly between 2040 and 2100. Just how rapid depends on whether the alarming increase in glacier movement continues and how much we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but no one has claimed sea levels will rise spectacularly soon.

A local newspaper editorial’s complaint about the doomsdayers’ religious enthusiasm is unfair to mainstream Christianity. Christians don’t go against reason although we sometimes go beyond it in faith to embrace probabilities.

This statement would be a lot more plausible if the article wasn't chockablock with denialist nonsense. I mean, take this

Neither should it be too surprising to learn that the media during the last 100 years has alternated between promoting fears of a coming Ice Age and fear of global warming!

This takes the myth that scientists believed in a new ice age being around the corner, and makes it even more mythical! Now its the media that have been promoting global warming/cooling (what? alternately?) for a 100 years! Where did this nonsense come from?

Did the Archbishop even talk to a climate scientist? How can he talk of reason with a straight face when he hypes myths to ridiculous levels?

Lots of other denialist taking points are there as well, ice levels in Antarctica (and also here), satellite temperature changes, the lot.

Over at Pharyngula and Recursivity jaws have dropped because Archbishop Pell invokes Noah's flood, (to be fair, he may be thinking of the prehistoric Black Sea flood), but really, the whole thing is such a farrago of nonsense and poor logic that it mocks his claim of not going against reason.

Again, why can't people talk to actual climate scientists before spouting nonsense.


"This takes the myth that scientists believed in a new ice age being around the corner, and makes it even more mythical!"

I wonder if Sagan's anti-ICBM warnings of a possible 'nuclear winter' from the 1980s have merged in peoples' minds with a few ill-founded 70s mainstream media mentions of a potential ice age, to contribute to the current confusion.

Nuclear winter seems to have been a fairly prominent topic in mainstream media, as such things go.

I suppose to someone who wasn't terribly focused on such issues, the 'new ice-age' assertions by Big Wingnut may create a valid-seeming false memory of such talk having been prominent from the 70s up through the 80s (and even up to the first Gulf war when Saddam lit the oil wells.)

(And to some extent, the forces of Big Wingnut may grasp this and be all too happy to exploit the conflation.)

Which is not to pardon Big Wingnut for pushing that line of argument. I'm just throwing it out there as a possibly explanation for why it's such a sticky meme. (Not that the media has any problem pushing a plainly b.s. meme for years on end.)
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