by Chris Becker
The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is about to release a new statement on church doctrine, pushing even harder than his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI on the subject of climate change. Taking the stewardship approach, the Pope has recently said his message is:
…”addressed to everyone” and that he hopes it would spark “renewed attention to situations of environmental degradation and to recovery” and lead to “greater responsibility for the common home that God has entrusted to us.”
Predictably, taking the lower ground on this debate, the religious conservative lobby in the United States have framed the Pope’s new doctrine – one of rational risk management and responsibility – as “outside (his) domain of faith and morality”.
A typical response of the religious right came from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who recently announced his candidacy for the Republican 2016 Presidential nomination:
“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope. Religion ought to be about making us better as people, less about things [that] end up getting into the political realm.”
The repeated line that religion should ‘leave the science to the scientists’ is ironic, given that the majority of religious politicians completely ignore the science when it comes to climate change, opting to take the “skeptical ground”, yet castigate anyone else who legitimately does so on their own irrational beliefs about religion.
Unfortunately this change is unlikely to have an impact with the home ground of religious conservatism in the US, where the recent 2014 Pew Research Center poll found:
“that 79 percent of Democrats think there is solid evidence the Earth is warming, compared with just 37 percent of Republicans. And 80 percent of steadfast conservatives reject man-made climate change.”
Unfortunately this extremism finds a home here in Australia with the staunchly conservative LNP government, lead by the Catholic Tony Abbott, blocking and reversing any and all rational risk management policies surrounding climate change, including abandoning the renewable energy target (RET) and backing coal even in the face of a dim future.
Let’s be clear – this is not a debate between faith, concerned skepticism and science. The moral low ground belongs to those who profit and protect those industries that stand in the way of climate change risk management, mainly fossil fuel extractors and emitters. Conservative politicians, by virtue of their connections and/or outright ownership in these industries have routinely cast aside the evidence, the insurance and the morality involved in ignoring the risks of climate change.
Its clear to all and sundry now that when their religious leader tells them not to do so, their worship of the one true God – the mighty dollar – becomes clear.
As does their hypocrisy as the so called “moral majority”.