A New Odd Couple: Pope Francis and Jerry Brown

Pop Quiz: what does California governor Jerry Brown and Pope Francis have in common? No, it isn’t a trick question. “Nothing” is not the correct answer.

Just for the record, although Pope Francis is pictured on the left in the photo above, that isn’t Governor Moonbeam shown on the right. Recently, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (who knew such a thing existed?) held a three day workshop at the Vatican titled “Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility: Climate Change, Air Pollution, and Health”, a fact that inspires this very serious question…why?

Why on earth does Pope Francis seem far more concerned about the threat of climate change than say, radical Islamic terrorism? Shouldn’t we at least be as worried about the imminent threat of being murdered by a terrorist as we are about vague threats to the environment that may or may not come true over the next 100 years?

Pope Francis was quoted as saying this:

Some forms of pollution are part of people’s daily experience. Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths. People take sick, for example, from breathing high levels of smoke from fuels used in cooking or heating. There is also pollution that affects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general. Technology, which, linked to business interests, is presented as the only way of solving these problems, in fact proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others.

Pope Francis and I apparently agree on the idea that we humans seem incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things. However, that may be the only opinion we share in common on the subject of climate change, and what humanity should do about it. At any rate, I’m absolutely certain that we should not be listening to Jerry Brown for “expert” advice on the subject of global warming.

This story reminds me of the infamous hole in the ozone layer that scientists briefly used during the 1980s to cause a sense of panic in the general public, warning that the use of chloroflourocarbons created “acid rains” that were slowly destroying the atmosphere and enlarging the hole in the ozone layer, gradually making the Earth uninhabitable. Fast forward 30 years, and amazingly, the “irreparable” hole in the ozone layer has somehow healed itself, in spite of science’s best and most dire predictions, and is now (by some “miracle”) approximately the same size it was in 1988.

Included in the introduction to the materials for the Vatican’s climate change workshop was this interesting paragraph:

Climate change caused by fossil fuel burning leads to increased risks of extreme events such as heat waves, droughts, fires, severe storms, floods which in turn have major health effects. For example: a single heat wave event, which occurred in Europe in 2003, claimed 70000 lives; 250,000 excess deaths were attributed to droughts and famines during 2011-2012 in the horn of Africa. Tropical storm Haiyan claimed more than 7800 lives in the Philippines; heat waves in Pakistan and India lost at least 4000 people to the 2015 heat wave. While we cannot claim these extreme events were caused by anthropogenic climate changes, we know that the probability of exposure to extreme events is increasing significantly due to climate change. These extreme events affect the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

Notice how the “experts” admit that their litany of natural disasters cannot be attributed to climate change in the paragraph where they desperately attempt to link those same natural disasters to climate change. Besides, whatever happened to the idea that science and the church are supposed to be non-overlapping magisteria?

And why is the abnormal fear of climate change now considered a tenet of Catholic faith?

This question has also probably occurred to the reader by now: what does Jerry Brown have to do with the Pope and climate change? It turns out that Brown was invited to speak at this Vatican “workshop” on climate change, where he said that addressing the problem of climate change will not only require science, but a “religious commitment.”

In my opinion, it was a mistake for Pope Francis to invite Jerry Brown to speak at his workshop on climate change, where Brown suggested that the world needed to be brainwashed into believing in climate change and then “something” (higher taxes) could be done to solve the problem (even though experts have also said that we’ve already passed the point of no return).

Spending trillions of dollars to lower the earth’s temperature by only a fraction of a single degree might not provide the best return on investment, in fact.

Personally (assuming I had any power or authority within the Catholic church) I would strongly be opposed to anyone evangelizing a message saying that people should be brainwashed so they might believe in something they don’t. Pope Francis and Jerry Brown appear to have formed some sort of a new “Odd Couple” but unfortunately, this new act doesn’t seem to be a comedy.

We can’t even tell which of the two is supposed to be Felix Unger.


In California: Use the wrong pronoun, go to jail

In the state of California, calling someone a Grammar Nazi is now closer to being a statement of fact. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill last Thursday which makes it a crime for you to “willfully and repeatedly” use the wrong pronoun, possibly resulting in a $1,000 fine or a year in prison.

Currently, the law only applies to nursing homes and long-term care facilities, but, as is always the case with laws, this is only the beginning.

The author of the bill, Sen. Scott Weiner had the following to say:

“Everyone is entitled to their religious view. But when you enter the public space, when you are running an institution, you are in a workplace, you are in a civil setting, and you have to follow the law.”

That’s interesting. Does that also apply to the gay coffee shop owner in Seattle who recently banned Christians from his business?

Wherever you fall on the transgender issue, this law is only the latest in a disturbing trend America has been following for decades: the slow abandonment of liberty for tyranny.

Americans want what we want, and since we know we can’t force our neighbors to abide by what we think they should do, we elect politicians to do it for us.

Is it too much to ask for people to live and let live? Is it possible for us to be charitable with one another? If you have a moral disagreement with transgenderism, but you’re around a transgender person at work, do you think refusing to call that person by their preferred gender will cause them to be open to your point of view?

Conversely, if you’re a same-sex couple and a baker can’t bake you a wedding cake on the basis of a religious objection, can you simply go to another baker who will happily bake you a cake?

America is a nation that was founded on the basis of liberty, and we will not survive as that nation if we insist on forcing others to do what we want — just because we want it.

Benjamin Franklin said something that always springs to mind in situations like this:

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

Sadly, America has been heading down the path of corruption and viciousness (stemming from the word “vice”) for a long time now. It’s notable that as we’ve increased in those traits, we have certainly desired more “masters” in the form of the politicians we elect who pass more laws and more regulations as well as more lawyers and insanely long contracts, since every possible contingency must be covered.

At the same time, we wish to pass the blame on to anyone else — generally the politician, who was elected by the people. Then we can feel good about ourselves that we are merely the victim and that there’s nothing to be done about it.

Ah, but there is. In our constitutional Republic, ultimate responsibility comes down to We the People. I’m not offering the usual political solution of “elect new people” (although that is a part, and, let’s be brutally honest: our politicians are a reflection of us). This goes far deeper and requires reflection and change on all our parts. What kind of people are we? What kind of a person are you? In the dark? When no one’s looking?

Do you look at everyone you run across during your day as a human being with innate worth, or are they merely an inconvenience to be gotten out of your way. I admit that I’ve had this attitude far too many times — particularly in traffic.

If you have the opportunity to “get away with” something — even if it’s small — do you? We are the culmination of choices we’ve made and the beliefs we hold. With every bad choice — or every good choice — we move in a direction. There is no neutrality.

Once we all realize that the responsibility to return America to the “sweet land of liberty” we’ve all wanted her to be is ours (yours and mine), we’ll realize that we must become the kind of people who will reflect that. The question is: Will we?

If we choose not to, we ought to prepare ourselves to become like all the other nations in history with less and less liberty and an increasing number of “masters.” If we choose the path of least resistance, we’d better hope we like the “masters” who are in charge.