Air Date: September 22, 2015
Host: Jim Schneider
Guest: Dr. E. Calvin Beisner
Listen: MP3 | Order
This week the U.N. is having a sustainable development summit. In addition, Pope Francis is coming to the U.S. to address the U.N. General Assembly. Then in November there will be a climate change conference in Paris.
Could the plight of the poor actually be at stake in all of this?
Joining Jim to discuss this issue was Dr. E. Calvin Beisner. Dr. Beisner is the founder and national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He is an interdisciplinary scholar specializing on the application of the Christian worldview, theology and ethics to economics, government, environmental stewardship and public policy. He has served as both a college and seminary professor and has written 12 books and made contributions to over 30 books. He has testified as an expert witness on the ethics and economics of climate policy before congressional committees. He also lectures around the world.
The major thrust of the Pope’s visit will be the urging for action to reduce so-called, man-made global warming. Dr. Beisner believes the media will hype everything the Pope says that they like and ‘hush’ the things he says that they don’t like. This means that you won’t see a lot of media attention paid to what the Pope will say about abortion, human trafficking, population control, family planning or homosexual marriage. On the other hand, the media will love the things he says about environmentalism and particularly about climate change.
Dr. Beisner cautioned listeners that the Pope cannot be described as an expert on the science or economics of the issues related to climate change and policy. He has been very poorly served by his advisers at the Vatican which includes some cardinals as well as some climate scientists who gathered together at the Vatican back in April. Intentionally excluded were any scientists that question the idea that human emission of so-called greenhouse gasses is causing dangerous warming.
According to Dr. Beisner, the debate is not over whether our carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels might contribute something to global warming. The debate is over how much. The theoretical view of the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change is that this added carbon dioxide raises the temperature a lot. The empirical observations suggest just the opposite.
Dr. Beisner noted something very interesting when reading the Pope’s encyclical. The Pope documents various statements that he makes except in the four sections in which he deals with climate change. In fact, there isn’t a single source reference about climate change. Instead the Pope repeats the common media-type statements on the issue which points to the poor job the Vatican did when preparing the Pope on this subject.
Another point brought up by Dr. Beisner to consider is that according to Catholic teaching, the Pope does not speak infallibly when he speaks about subjects outside the realms of dogma and ethics/morality. So when the Pope starts making statements about science , economics or energy policy, he’s speaking outside the area where even Catholic dogma says he has authority.
As Jim noted, the premise of people like the Pope and President Obama is that man-made global warming is so dangerous that the world will need to spend trillions of dollars trying to prevent it by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Dr. Beisner believes spending this amount of money poses a greater threat to our world than the threat of so-called man-made global warming itself. So if you are poor and only earn about $1.25 per day, you can’t thrive anywhere on the planet. So to call for policies to avert global warming that would cost trillions of dollars would destroy millions of jobs and would slow economic development, especially in developing countries. Such an action would be to condemn people to more generations of poverty and high rates of disease, premature death and other suffering that accompanies poverty.
What’s the solution? The solution is to not deprive the poor of that without which no society has ever climbed out of poverty or can stay out of poverty. That would be abundant, affordable and reliable energy in massive amounts. That can only come economically from fossil fuels and not wind and solar which are far more expensive, far less abundant and far less reliable.