OTTAWA, Sept. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - "Rather than simply follow the United Nations on climate change, Pope Francis must consider whether U.N. climate policies are doing more harm than good," said Tom Harris, Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). "Based on a theoretical hypothesis about climate change, the Pope is unwittingly supporting a movement that works against the Catholic Church's social justice and environmental protection efforts."
Dr. Ian D. Clark, University of Ottawa earth sciences professor, gives an example.
"By promoting the idea that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must be reduced to prevent dangerous climate change, climate activists encourage the expanded use of biofuels," said Clark. "The result is that, in 2011, 6.5% of the world's grain went to producing fuel instead of food, contributing to food price spikes that are a disaster for the world's poorest people."
"Biofuels need enormous amounts of fertilizer which ends up in streams and eventually the ocean where it promotes the growth of microorganisms such as algae," Clark explained. "This depletes oxygen resulting large 'dead zones' in which no amphibians or fish can survive."
"The demand for biofuels also causes serious problems for indigenous land owners in developing nations," continued Clark, pointing to a February 2015 open letter to the European Parliament from 197 civil society organisations from Asia, Africa, and Latin America which asserted:
"The destruction of forests and fertile agricultural land to make way for oil palm plantations is jeopardising the food sovereignty and cultural integrity of entire communities who depend on the land as their source of food and livelihoods."
Clark added, "Providing palm oil for biodiesel, again largely driven by the climate scare, had led to the replacement of virgin forests with monoculture plantations, greatly reducing biodiversity over vast regions. Pope Francis should do nothing to encourage these violations of social justice and environmental protection."
New Zealand-based consulting engineer Bryan Leyland, an alternative energy expert and ICSC's Energy Issues Advisor, explains another issue that should concern the Pope.
"The international focus on reducing CO2 emissions makes it more difficult for developing countries to finance the construction of vitally-needed power plants," said Leyland. "For example, South Africa was able to secure a $3.9 billion loan in 2010 to build the Medupi coal-fired power station only because developing nation representatives on the World Bank board voted for approval. The U.S. and four European nation members abstained from approval because of their worries about climate change. They seemed to want South Africans to use wind and solar power instead, sources too expensive for widespread use even in the wealthiest nations."
Leyland concluded, "Rather than hypothetical future climate change, the Pope should help focus the world's attention on the millions of Africans who suffer severe respiratory illnesses and extreme poverty because they lack an electricity supply – a supply that could be easily obtained from their fossil fuel reserves that rich people in Western countries don't want them to use."
Strategic Advisor and ICSC Founding Chairman Terry Dunleavy of New Zealand explains yet another unintended consequence of the climate scare. "Because of the nonsensical belief that humans control climate as if we had a global thermostat, only about 7% of the almost $1 billion USD spent daily across the world on climate finance is dedicated to helping vulnerable people cope with climate change today. The remainder is spent trying to stop phenomena that might someday happen. This is immoral, in effect valuing the lives of people yet to be born more than those in need today."
ICSC chief science advisor, Professor Bob Carter, former Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia adds, "Because he has been misinformed by his scientific advisors, the Pope supports the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy. Such an action would work directly against the Church's social justice and environmental concerns, especially when one considers the impact of the hundreds of thousands of industrial wind turbines (IWTs) that are being constructed worldwide."
"The American Bird Conservancy estimates that by 2030 well over 1 million birds, including endangered species such as eagles and hawks, will be killed in the United States each year by wind turbines," said Carter. "Spain's Ornithological Society estimates that the 18,000 wind turbines in that country could be killing six million or more birds and bats every year."
"Without subsidies, the real cost of electricity from wind power is about three to four times that of a modern coal-fired electricity station. Denying poorer nations the means to construct environmentally-friendly and cost efficient coal-fired power stations precludes their development and reinforces the economic subjugation of their most vulnerable citizens," Carter explained. "Why would Pope Francis support burdening the poorest people in the world with such discriminatory policies and heavy financial loads?"
Harris describes Ontario's IWT tragedy as a warning to the U.S. "Despite constructing 6,736 IWTs, only 4% of our power came from wind energy in 2013 and 1% from solar, yet together they accounted for 20% of the commodity cost paid by Ontarians," said Harris. "So, as the government closed down the 25% of our electricity that used to come from coal, power rates have soared, mostly affecting the poor. Why would the Pope want Americans to repeat Ontario's mistakes?"
"Besides a significant loss in property value for homes near IWTs, health concerns abound. A particularly tragic example is occurring in West Lincoln, Ontario," Harris said. "There, just as in dozens of other counties, the government is breaking an election promise to not permit IWT construction in regions where there is strong public opposition. Wind developers have received approval to install at least seventy-seven 3 Megawatt IWTs in the West Lincoln region, each as tall as a 61 story building, some so close to residential areas that families will be driven from their homes."
Harris summarizes, "In all of these cases, climate mitigation takes precedence over the urgent needs of the present. Pope Francis must distance himself from the U.N.'s climate scare, not march with it."
To arrange interviews with ICSC participants (listed here), contact:
Tom Harris, Executive Director, ICSC
SOURCE International Climate Science Coalition