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Pope Francis recently made headlines engaging in non-theological matters such as the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba and income inequality. Taking positions on these controversial topics has made Francis both a hero and a villain (depending on whom you ask), but few of his past positions inspired the sort of ire Francis is sure to receive should he decide to engage in the hotly contested global warming debate.
It doesn’t appear as though the pope is worried about making friends.
According to the Guardian, in 2015 Francis will deliver a message condemning man-made climate change to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and will address the General Assembly of the United Nations, where he is expected to call upon world leaders to reduce carbon dioxide production to halt the deadly and immediate effects of global warming.
Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, says Francis hopes his efforts to combat climate change will directly contribute to action by governments at the global climate meeting to be held in Paris in December 2015.
The pope should be commended for actively working to make the world a better place and for promoting the long-term sustainability of Earth, but his big climate-change push fails to recognize the overwhelming evidence suggesting immediate catastrophic global warming is not occurring.
There has been no long-term trend of rising global sea levels.
The Palmer Drought Severity Index, which attempts to measure the duration and intensity of long-term drought-inducing circulation patterns, shows no trend since 1895.
According to Heartland Institute policy analyst Taylor Smith, the so-called extreme weather of the past two decades is nonexistent. For instance, the number of wildfires has been in decline since at least the 1960s, when wildfires occurred twice as often as they did in 2013. Similarly, the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season witnessed the fewest hurricanes since 1982, and no major hurricanes — Category 3 or higher — have made landfall in the continental United States in nine years.
Even claims that sea ice is vanishing are overblown. The Southern Hemisphere’s polar ice cap “surpassed its greatest April extent in recorded history” in 2014.
The reality is that man-made climate change is simply not the immediate threat Francis seems to believe it is. Before choosing to hitch himself to this horseless wagon, he should consider the detrimental effects climate policies have on poor and developing nations — those whom the pope has consistently tried to help and defend.
Pope Francis is right to be concerned about protecting the environment, and there is solid evidence to suggest that man-made global climate change could present some challenges in the distant future. But the sort of policies the United Nations and like-minded alarmist nations and organizations have proposed will cause far more harm than good, and they almost always ignore evidence that clearly shows imminent catastrophic man-made climate change is not happening.
[Originally published at the Washington Examiner]