Sunday, July 06, 2008

Climate Change?

By Cardinal George Pell

“The drought this year has been particularly cruel in the country. Not simply because this is the seventh year and most farmers are broke, but because there were good early rains. Hopes were high, but nothing followed.

“The climate has changed, but Australia has long known terrible droughts. I suspect it was not only distance that precluded a large population before European settlement, when only a few hundred thousand aborigines had the skill to survive our harsh environment.

“But is human industrial activity making the weather worse? Are we on the brink of a man-made catastrophe? Could we do anything to change global weather patterns, even in the unlikely eventuality that the Great Powers agreed and society could afford it? These are big and different questions.

“I am a believer in the Catholic understanding of faith and morals. I reserve my leaps of faith for religion e.g. the Incarnation and Redemption. I am certainly skeptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes, because the evidence is insufficient.

“Scientific debate is not decided by any changing consensus, even if it is endorsed by public opinion. Climate change has always been occurring.

“Science is a process of experimentation, debate, and respect for all the evidence. Often it is dealing with uncertainties rather than certainties, and so its forecasts and predictions can be spectacularly wrong.

“In the 1970s some scientists were predicting a new ice age because of global cooling. Today other scientists are predicting an apocalypse because of global warming. It is no disrespect to science or scientists to take these latest claims with a grain of salt.

“Uncertainties on climate change abound. Temperatures in Greenland were higher in the 1940s than they are today, and the Kangerlussuaq glacier there is not shrinking but growing in size.

“The journal ‘American Scientist’ has recently published a study on the melting glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro. The study confirms that air temperature around the glacier continues to be below freezing, so it is not melting because of global warming. Instead, the melt pattern of the glacier is consistent with the effect of direct radiant heat from the sun. Human activity can’t be blamed for that.

“The day before Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the English High Court ruled that DVDs of this documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ cannot be shown in schools without teachers providing additional material to correct 9 ‘significant error’ in the film.

“Among them were claims that Pacific atolls are being evacuated because of rising sea levels and that polar bears are drowning because they have to swim up to 60 miles to find ice. The court found there is ‘no evidence’ to support either claim.

“Some allege preachers raise their voice when they have a weak point. It has never worked for me and it doesn’t work in science and politics.”

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