Letter: Pope Francis respects science
In his June 26 column, “On climate change, Pope Francis is missing something,” Frank Beckmann made known his disregard of and disgust over Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on the environment, taking along the way rather nasty swipes at “the likes of” Ban Ki-Moon and Detroit’s own Jeffrey Sachs who advised the pope at his invitation. Sachs is a celebrated economist and advocate for the world’s poor.
They, Beckmann said, are promoters of “the myth of man-made climate change” and ipso facto zealots spreading untruths. He refers as well to the pope’s “so-called science panel.”
Surely Beckmann cannot be unaware of the overwhelming consensus among environmental scientists to the effect that effluent from fossil fuels as well as methane are responsible for the melting of polar ice fields, consequent and disastrous rising of sea levels and the increasingly inhospitable climate extremes.
Why should such scientists, who could make far more money working for the oil and gas industries, have struggled in their research and analysis to reach such unhappy conclusions? Because they are Marxists who wish to destroy the U.S. and world economies? Hardly.
The two persons I know who do research in the field do so as academics earning less than $100,000 a year, strive to publish (instead of perish) and are very tired of their colleagues and themselves being smeared in the newspapers by such writers as Beckmann.
They are messengers who, through their painstaking research, bring the bad news that it yields. They are the equivalent of the fire alarm or the warning sirens telling us that bad weather is coming. It has come already.
The pope may not have had every detail sufficiently correct to the likes of Beckmann, but on the whole and in almost every respect the encyclical tells it like it is and likely will be.
I have found in my own field of research that being right, or nearly so, about something is hardly ever the path to popularity. The pope seems not to care if he is popular with climate change deniers. I think he was more than ready for the tidal wave of disrespect that rolled into the Vatican.
Beckmann also misunderstands the word “myth,” which he uses to describe climate change data. The word comes to us directly from the Greek and means “story.” Thus is the myth of Icarus a story, a story about undue hubris and unfortunate ignorance being told again and again this time by climate change deniers.
Harry T. Cook, retired Episcopal priest
and Bible scholar, Royal Oak