Participants in Heartland Institute Mission to Vatican Comment on Pope Francis’s Encyclical on the Environment

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Leaked Draft Has Climate Scientists, Experts Worried Pontiff Is Being Misled

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Jim Lakely, Co-DIrector of the Center on the Digital Economy, The Heartland Institute

Pope Francis’s goal of preserving God’s earthly kingdom for future generations is shared by every ‘skeptic’ of man-caused global warming.

In April, The Heartland Institute sent a contingent of experts on climate science, environmental policy, and theology to Rome to offer what it saw as balance the one-sided, alarmist views Pope Francis was getting from the United Nations and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The trip received world-wide media coverage, and the mission’s presence was mentioned inside the walls of the Vatican at the first panel discussion on April 28.

While the world awaits the official release of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment tomorrow, Italian magazine L'Espresso leaked the document earlier this week. The following statements – based on that leaked document – are free to use for attribution but are subject to revision when the encyclical is officially released Thursday.

To schedule an interview with the people quoted below, contact The Heartland Institute’s Jim Lakely at jlakely(at)heartland(dot)org and (cell) 312/731-9364 or Gene Koprowski at

“Sad to say, despite Pope Francis’s best intentions, the policies he recommends to mitigate global warming would make it far more difficult to overcome poverty. And, ironically, by prolonging and even spreading poverty, those policies would put more of the natural environment at risk.

“People worried about putting food on the table, clothes on the back, and a roof over the head can’t afford to care or do much about air, water, and solid waste pollution. Gathering enough twigs and branches to cook tonight’s measly meal and heat a miserable hut take precedence over any concerns about deforestation, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss.

“Wealth enables people to afford better environmental stewardship. Pope Francis should champion economic development as a solution both to poverty and to environmental degradation. Unfortunately, at least as regards climate change, the leaked draft of the new encyclical does the opposite.”

E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.
Founder and National Spokesman
Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

“The Vatican’s partnering with the United Nations climate agenda is nothing short of an unholy alliance. The papal encyclical, no matter how nuanced it may read, will simply be used as a tool to support UN global warming ‘solutions’ that are at odds with most Catholic teachings on issues such as abortion, contraception, overpopulation, and helping the poor nations develop. The Vatican appears to be taking an unprecedented step by seemingly endorsing a specific UN climate treaty.

“Despite the media’s portrayal, this is ultimately not a climate change encyclical, as only 2% of the encyclical deals with climate at all. It is about much more than that, and the irony is that the people who are lauding the pope’s position on climate disagree with just about everything else he stands for. Climate activists who take the time to read the entire encyclical will learn about Catholic teaching on a host of moral issues that they probably have never been willing to listen to before.

“The climate activists are no doubt getting a PR boost from the pope’s entry into the climate debate. But ultimately, the pope’s views on climate science will do little to alter the opinions of Catholics about global warming. As a Catholic, it is my hope that the pope does not take the next step and essentially lobby for a UN climate treaty.”

Marc Morano
Climate Depot

“As a member of the Heartland Institute delegation that traveled to Rome to urge the Vatican to reconsider its embrace and adoption of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development radical agenda, Pope Francis’s Laudato Si Encyclical validates my greatest fears.

“Throughout the last two years, in preparation for the encyclical rollout, the Vatican has relied solely upon global warming alarmists in its rush to judgment to meet the UN 2015 Sustainable Development Goals’ timetable. Additionally, during this process, the Vatican consulted primarily with and continues to rely upon radical population control proponents who exploit discredited climate change science to justify their extremist population reduction policies under the nuanced UN ‘reproductive sexual health’ rubric.

“Instead of welcoming our heartfelt disapproval of papal experts who promote policies in direct contravention of Catholic moral teaching, the Vatican authorities mocked and scoffed at our serious and faithful objections, by calling us ‘Tea Partiers’ and ‘deniers.’ This callous and flippant response exposed the Vatican’s political agenda.”

Elizabeth Yore
International Child’s Rights Attorney
Former General Counsel
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

“Sections 23 and 24 of the draft Encyclical refer to numerous hypothetical disastrous consequences of climate change, or ‘warming.’ But none of these projected catastrophic consequences are anywhere to be found on the real Earth.

“Over the past 18 years, the best measurements of Earth’s global temperatures (by NOAA and NASA satellites) show no warming whatsoever. The total warming since 1979 has been a fraction of that predicted by the IPCC, and of that tiny warming, most can be attributed to natural causes, such as volcanoes. That leaves room for, at most one- or two-tenths of a degree due to carbon dioxide, which projects to half a degree or less of warming by 2100. Half a degree is not noticeable by any human and can have no serious consequences. This mere half a degree is not a prediction from supercomputers, but a simple observation based on the best global data, and it shows that catastrophic, or even harmful, global warming is not a reality.

“In short, over the past two centuries humans have, through productive and beneficial endeavors, added one molecule of CO2 to each ten thousand molecules of air. The feared and forecast dire consequences of that molecule are not coming to pass. Attempts at curtailing those human endeavors to remove that molecule would be flawed policies that will fail to solve a non-existent problem.”

Richard Keen
Meteorology Professor (emeritus)
University of Colorado-Boulder

“Today the supply of energy appears unsustainable because the fossil fuels in the ground are finite. But that worry is predicated on no further progress in fission, fusion, efficiency of solar collection, etc. In reality, all fuels are transition fuels, used for a while until something better comes along. (Think whale oil, circa 1870).

“If the developing countries use fossil fuels for a century or two, thereby lifting themselves out of poverty, that will not subtract from the prosperity of the entire world. There will be a better energy source in the future. The adverse perception of 2015 is incorrect because the actual future does not coincide with the foreseeable future as foreseen today.”

Tom Sheahen, Ph.D.
Professional Physicist and Energy Expert
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

“Pope Urban VIII pronounced on science but Galileo was right. Pope Francis pronounces on science but his advisors err because the Pontifical Academies consulted only scientists on one side.

“The Church should speak for the poor, who need cheap, reliable, base-load coal-fired power. Yet Pope Francis has sided with the rich profiteers of doom.”

Lord Christopher Monckton
Chief Policy Advisor, Science and Public Policy Institute
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

“Pope Francis’s heart is in the right place, but he made a grave mistake by putting his trust and moral authority behind agenda-driven bureaucrats at the United Nations who have been bearing false witness about the causes and consequences of climate change for decades. The data observed since the birth of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the 1990s does not support the hypothesis that the emission of carbon dioxide to power the modern world is causing a climate crisis. Simply put, someone at the Pontifical Academy of Science should have told Pope Francis that every calamity the UN bureaucrats predicted for decades has not come to pass.

“Pope Francis’s goal of preserving God’s earthly kingdom for future generations is shared by every ‘skeptic’ of man-caused global warming. But he will not preserve it by putting his moral authority behind a UN agenda that considers it a sin for the poor to use affordable, ever-cleaner fossil fuels to power their lives. More than a billion of the poorest people in the world would remain in abject poverty for generations if they are to rely on windmills, solar panels, and other unreliable and expensive sources of energy.”

Jim Lakely
Director of Communications
The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 31-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

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