Climate Change: Rick Santorum vs. The Pope

Since I often post videos on Fridays, I thought I’d share this little nugget from last Sunday. Chris Wallace from Fox News Sunday interviewed former Pennsylvania senator (and current Republican presidential candidate) Rick Santorum. Interestingly, Santorum offered reasons why he’s more qualified to discuss global warming and climate change than Pope Francis. As Santorum had stated prior to the interview, the Pope should “leave science to the scientists.” His job should be to focus on “theology and morality” instead.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Chris Wallace starts to grill him on this point—and if a Republican can’t get a little love from Fox News, where can he get it? As Wallace put it:

If [the Pope's] not a scientist—and in fact, he does have a degree in chemistry—neither are you? So, I guess the question would be, if he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?

Santorum’s answer is that since politicians have to make decisions that affect public policy, they need to talk about it. But not a Pope with a degree in science. It’s as if our main vocation in life precludes us from discussing things like global warming and climate change. By that right, I shouldn’t discuss anything but cardiology. (So I guess Santorum really meant “leave science to the politicians.” It’s all becoming much more clear.)

Even though Santorum suggested leaving science to the scientists, he doesn’t accept their comments or recommendations either. Wallace points out that 80 to 90 percent of scientists agree that we’re contributing to climate change—the statistic is actually closer to 98 percent—but Santorum then falls back on the old GOP standby: “the science isn’t settled.” True, science is never completely settled, but the certainty of us contributing to climate change is about the same level of certainty that cigarettes cause cancer. So at what point does it become silly and stupid to ignore the scientists we’re supposed to be leaving the science to?

Watch the video for yourself and see what you think. Since climate change is a global problem, I think every global citizen has a right to speak up about it. Frankly I’d much rather hear what Pope Francis has to say about it than a denying Republican any day.

Who to Believe: Ancient Religious Texts or Today’s Scientists?

A new book by the Republican senator from Oklahoma James Inhofe is entitled “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.” Its basic premise is a common one heard today from some of the more extreme climate change deniers and skeptics: that God and the Bible tell us we’re safe and sound doing business-as-usual without fear of harming the planet or its climate. A frequently asked question is: how can we as a species affect the climate of an entire planet? (Never mind that more than 7 billion people are spewing over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide—a know greenhouse gas—into the atmosphere every year. As Inhofe points out by quoting his not-so-scientific source Genesis 8:22, “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” All the proof we need that God will look after us, no matter what we do to the planet.

This kind of thinking is always scary to someone like me. And when I say “someone like me,” I mean someone who believes in science and facts. It’s tough to take. I had a religious upbringing and I understand why many who are raised that way remain devout to the principles that religion teaches. (Believing in the principles is generally more reasonable, however, than believing in the facts from these ancient texts, I would argue.) But it’s difficult when people hold so tightly to small snippets of a book written thousands of years ago by people who had no understanding of science, and continue to ignore the contradictory facts we’ve learned since those words were written. The Bible has been proven wrong many times already: the sun doesn’t orbit the Earth, our planet has existed for almost 5 billion years not 5 thousand, and our species exists thanks to evolution, not a magical being that snapped his fingers and said “abra cadabra.”

One huge problem with taking such small quotes from the BIble and holding onto them literally is that it ignores its many other quotes that are clearly misplaced in today’s society. If we’re going to accept Genesis 8:22 as proof that God will look after the climate for us, then what about selling our daughters into slavery (Exodus 21:7), owning slaves of our own as long as they come from neighbouring countries (Leviticus 25:44), or the fact that we’re supposed to put people to death who work on the Sabbath Day (Exodus 35:2)? People like James Inhofe who hold onto the small portions of the BIble that serve their personal agendas have to address the larger portions that are so much more clearly outdated as well.

I  have a difficult time understanding people like James Inhofe, or Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum who is equally as trusting in these ancient stories instead of what the brightest scientists have been telling us about the laws of nature. They claim that the liberal left—those who argue that we have to do what we can to fight against climate change—have their own hidden agenda and are misleading everyone. It seems especially hypocritical when Inhofe received over 1.3 million dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. Seems like a perfect example of symbiosis: one group gets political support to make billions of dollars, and the other gets money to use toward their political agendas. Truly, neither group has to believe in any part of the Bible to achieve what they want, but if it’s a convenient means to an end, then hey, why not?.

For those who believe in religion and the Bible, I would like to point out that even if God created the heavens and the earth, that doesn’t mean the men who tried to document the story thousands of years ago got it all correct. And belief in a God doesn’t mean that God will look after us if we’re stupid and foolish. The best set of rules a God could come up with are the laws of science. If we ignore them, I truly believe that any Supreme Being watching from above will let us destroy ourselves rather than intervene. He’s proven too many times in the past that intervention isn’t His style when it comes to human nature. It’s up to us and no one else.