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Cardinal folly

March 15th, 2011

In his demolition of Ian Plimer’s anti-science screed, presented at an estimates hearing in the Senate,the head of the BOM Dr Greg Ayers offered Cardinal Pell a gracious way out of his ill-advised endorsement of Plimer saying the cardinal ”may well become an ambassador for the quality of climate change science if he is exposed to the quality of the science that is done”.

Instead, Pell has doubled down, accusing Ayers of getting his facts wrong and saying

”I regret when a discussion of these things is not based on scientific fact … I spend a lot of time studying this stuff.”

Comment on the arrogant stupidity of such a claim is superfluous (but feel free to pile on anyway!)

Instead of a tiresome recitation of Ayers’ qualifications on the topic and Pell’s lack of same, I’ll look on the bright side. Each person who comes out with this kind of nonsense (Don Aitkin, David Bellamy, Clive James, Nick Minchin, the entire rightwing commentariat) is one less to whom we need to pay attention on any subject. Whatever their former claims to eminence (!), the combination of ignorance, bad judgement, hubris and plain dishonesty required to endorse nonsense like Plimer’s is enough to discredit them across the board.

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  1. Uncle Milton
    March 15th, 2011 at 10:39 | #1

    You didn’t really expect Pell to admit he was wrong, did you?

  2. Nick R
    March 15th, 2011 at 11:03 | #2

    I get incredibly frustrated with this type of argument because as far as I can see there are only really three competing hypotheses that one can have about AGW.

    1. The general scientific consensus is more or less correct.

    2. The scientists are simply incorrect.

    3. The scientists know the truth but are involved in a massive conspiracy to mislead us.

    Hypothesis 2 is not a null hypothesis. It also rests on the assumption that a layperson can assess the science from their armchair more effectively than virtually all the world experts combined

    Hypothesis 3 is also not a null hypothesis. It is an extraordinary claim and requires very strong objective evidence in its favour.

    If Pell, Minchin etc believe hypothesis 2 it should be straightforward for them to settle the matter with a letter to Nature. If they take hypothesis 3 then they should have some incredibly compelling rationale for it. I suspect neither will be forthcoming.

  3. John Quiggin
    March 15th, 2011 at 11:03 | #3

    Naive of me, I guess, but I didn’t think he would be such a fool as this.

  4. Tim Macknay
    March 15th, 2011 at 11:50 | #4

    Pell must have been chatting to Tony Abbott recently. Abbott was defending poor old carbon dioxide from its malign critics at a gathering in Perth yesterday.

  5. paul walter
    March 15th, 2011 at 11:53 | #5

    When did this sort of antic happen previously in history?
    Was this to do withthe Papacy in the early seventeenth century, when the Vatican sent Galileo on his way, under protracted house arrest, ensuring that his science would travel north to France, England and Holland, and allow for the breakout of the anglo empire through superior technology, from that historical point?
    And what would Pell know about science. As much as Ayres would know of the antediluvian superstitious humbug that Pell peddles?

  6. March 15th, 2011 at 11:55 | #6

    Surely if you actually believed in an omnipotent being you would simply say “The science is irrelevant — God will punish/save us anyway” (presumably Pell is paid to know what God thinks about allowing climate change to happen, and has some insight into why he has employed ice ages and warm periods in the past). Perhaps Pell is actually an atheist, or at least believes that God is dead.

  7. sam
    March 15th, 2011 at 12:10 | #7

    As a long time anti-catholic I am glad to see Pell bringing his church into (further) disrepute.

  8. Doug
    March 15th, 2011 at 12:31 | #8

    Pell is making a first class fool of himself on this issue, no doubt about it. The cause of his stubbornness on this, for that is what it looks like must remain a matter for speculation.

    That said I do not think that Galileo is really relevant here. The use of this incident to try and support an intellectual and anti-scientific attitude by the church is I think largely mistaken. Galileo’s difficulties with the Pope and the church were not in the end really about his science but largely about his ego and that of the Pope. The Pope of the time had been for a long time encouraging his work.

    Arthur Koestler noted that the trial in 1633 was “not in the nature of a fatal collision between opposite philosophies of existence .. but rather a clash of individual temperaments”. (The Sleepwalkers)

    See David Bentley Hart’s summary of the history of the episode in his exploration of the myth of conflict between Christianity and science in “The death and rebirth of Science” in Atheist Delusions.

  9. pablo
    March 15th, 2011 at 12:31 | #9

    I have an idea. Instead of using the rather dry ‘business as usual’ (BAU) description for uninterrupted GHG increase (ie climate change) why not adopt the ‘pell-mell’ (PM) acronym to honour our George and his many followers. That way the pell mell approach will always be more colourfully linked to anti-science antidiluvian deniers in equally colourful costumes.
    OK I know the spelling is a bit of a stretch but it perfectly matches Aussie pronunciation.

  10. Michael
    March 15th, 2011 at 12:34 | #10

    Ian Enting has an interesting talk on Ockham’s Razor on Sunday – “Climate science and public debate”

    …why is so much of what passes for public debate based on fabrication? If Ian Plimer had a real case, why does he misrepresent the contents of dozens of his cited references and fabricates so many of his graphics? More importantly, since Plimer is only one individual, if his fellow pseudo-sceptics desire scientific truth rather than just manufacturing doubt, why don’t they explicitly dissociate themselves from Plimer’s conduct?


  11. silkworm
    March 15th, 2011 at 12:42 | #11

    Pell is no expert on climate science. In fact, Pell’s scientific ignorance was on display at the senate estimates hearing when he referred to nitrogen as a greenhouse gas.

    A broader question is: Why is a theologian appearing at a senate estimates hearing on climate science?

  12. Uncle Milton
    March 15th, 2011 at 12:47 | #12

    None of this should come as a surprise. Pell is a leader of the Australian cultural Right, and for the Right climate change is a cultural not scientific issue. It is utterly pointless trying to engage him in a discussion on the science of climate change, or the economics of it for that matter.

  13. fred
    March 15th, 2011 at 12:53 | #13


    Like you I have Koestler’s [K] book “Sleepwalkers” and it is a fascinating and excellent work.
    But clearly wrong when it comes to the Church vs Galileo issue.

    K contradicts himself massively when he admits that the issue was a conflict over the political power to decide who was going to arbitrate scientific enquiry.

    Who was going to be boss?
    The Church or the scientists?
    The issue was political power.

    As far as the Church was concerned the scientists [and there were more than just Galileo in the frame, Kepler’s book was indexed and others] could say and think what they liked as long as …and this is the key point ….they did not contradict Church ideology or dogma.

    “Discussion of the Copernican system was not only permitted but encouraged – under the one proviso …[that it] should not impinge on theological matters” Koestler page 363.

    That is a massive proviso which gives the Church power over science and scientists and is utterly unrelated to personalities.

    Pell is acting in the same way.

  14. rog
    March 15th, 2011 at 13:06 | #14

    As events unfold Pell is increasing looking like Father Ted.

  15. Freelander
    March 15th, 2011 at 13:09 | #15

    If cardinal Pell becomes the next pope, his word will be infallible. Clearly, he has started to practice. Pray for his rapid election. Once elected he will declare AGW and a changing climate not to be and it will be so.

  16. O6
    March 15th, 2011 at 13:24 | #16

    On #10, above, I suppose everyone has read Ian Enting’s line-by-line demolition http://www.complex.org.au/tiki-download_file.php?fileId=91 of Ian Plimer? Except His Eminence, of course.

  17. may
    March 15th, 2011 at 13:33 | #17


    could it be that organised religions are and always have been political animals?

    “we don’t sully ourselves with the mundane ordinary world .
    our concern is with the spiritual”

    they lie.

    power over the lives of others for the chosen by the chosen.

    communist ,corporate capitalist,theocrat.

    different labels from the same box.

  18. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2011 at 13:47 | #18

    Religious people, priests and laity alike, are trained in dogmatic thinking; the dogma is paramount. Dogma is not based on empirical evidence. Dogma is based on written (or verbal) assertion. In particular, the Christian faith relies on Revelation. The written Word proves God. And God proves (inspires) the written Word. This is, of course, a classic case of circular proof.

    Now, you might wonder why I am banging on about the above. You might say, well that’s all very basic and obvious to any modern scientific humanist. My point however, is that you must not underestimate how powerfully this dogmatic paradigm not merely colours their thinking but IS the bedrock and sum total of all their thinking. It is, quite literally, impossible for these people to do structured thinking in any fashion except dogmatically. By the by, you ought not to underestimate how structured their thinking is. It is highly structured. However, the structure is dogmatic not empirical and therefore by definition, and in real practice, not susceptible to empirical or logical argument.

    I like to compare a man like Pell to a man like Charles Darwin. Both were trained to believe in Christian dogma. Pell… well Prof JQ’s words will suffice for Pell… “arrogant… ignorance, bad judgement, hubris and plain dishonesty”. Whereas with Charles Darwin, imagine what an enormously high level of objectivity, honesty and respect for objective evidence allowed Darwin to transcend his dogmatic training and achieve the advances that he made in understanding evolution.

    Time and again we see throughout history, ancient and modern, that dogmatic religious fundamentalists make the worst leaders possible. When it comes to attempting to suppress science and human rights the early protestant reformers, if anything, were worse than the Catholic church itself.

    “Following his return (to Geneva), Calvin introduced new forms of church government and liturgy, despite the opposition of several powerful families in the city who tried to curb his authority. During this period, Michael Servetus, a Spaniard known for his heretical views, and the first European to describe the function of pulmonary circulation, arrived in Geneva. He was denounced by Calvin and executed by the city council. Following an influx of supportive refugees and new elections to the city council, Calvin’s opponents were forced out. – Wikipedia.

  19. Jim Birch
    March 15th, 2011 at 14:15 | #19

    “The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.”
    –St. Thomas Aquinas

  20. March 15th, 2011 at 14:20 | #20

    The capacity of the Catholic Church to invariably choose the wrong side in any dispute, embarrassing itself in the process, is something that never ceases to amaze me.

    Frankly, Cardinal Pell would not have been out of place in Copernicus’ times.

    There: a suggestion for decision-theoretic research! Can we design a utility maximization problem where the optimal decision is the wrong one?

  21. Doug
    March 15th, 2011 at 15:13 | #21

    Pell would have been way out his depth in Copernicus’s times.

  22. AndrewD
    March 15th, 2011 at 15:27 | #22

    Pell does not speak for the Church on this issue.
    As retrieved from Deltoid’s thread on this topic:

    By John L
    ‘ Apparently the Cardinal is not aware of Catholic teaching on AGW:

    “God created our world with wisdom and love and when he had finished his great work of creation, God saw that it was good.”

    “Today however the world is confronted with a serious ecological crisis. The earth is suffering from global warming as a result of our excessive consumption of energy.”

    “We cannot deny that human beings bear a heavy responsibility for environmental destruction. Their unbridled greed casts the shadow of death on the whole of creation.”

    “Together Christians must do their utmost to save creation. Before the immensity of this task, they must unite their efforts. It is only together that they can protect the work of the creator.”

    end quote

    There is a link to the Vatican website where this text is given.

    Myself, I don’t understand why he has allowed himself to be drawn into this matter. Dr Ayers offered him an olive branch, a way out, and he refused it. Reluctantly (I’m a Catholic myself) I have to agree with ProfQ’s description.

  23. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2011 at 15:29 | #23

    @Jim Birch

    I would be prepared to concede St. Thomas Aquinas was a philospher as well as a theologian. However, I would not be prepared to concede that he knew what science was in the modern or even in the (Francis) Baconian sense.

    “Francis Bacon has been called the father of empiricism.[2] His works established and popularized inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method, or simply the scientific method. His demand for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, much of which still surrounds conceptions of proper methodology today. His dedication probably led to his death, bringing him into a rare historical group of scientists who were killed by their own experiments.” – Wikpedia.

    Aquinas lived about 400 years before Francis Bacon. Logically, the Aquinas quote must be either apocryphal, a translation error (he wrote in Latin) or an error induced by a fundamental change in the meaning of a word. In truth the truth is in the last point.

    By “science”, the Medieval Scholastics actually meant every study not theological namely; philosophy, history, law, medicine (such as it was in medievel times), and the “natural sciences” by which they meant a natural philosophy which bore essentially no resemblance to the modern empirical hard sciences. In fact, by “science” they meant what we today call the humanities.


    To suggest Aquinas as a defender of empirical science or advocate for anti-dogmatism is a clear anachronism founded on the misunderstanding described above. It would not be unfair to call Aquinas a medieval schoolman albeit with better philosophical credentials than most.

  24. Alex
    March 15th, 2011 at 15:38 | #24

    rog :As events unfold Pell is increasing looking like Father Ted.

    Rog wins the internet!

  25. Doug
    March 15th, 2011 at 15:41 | #25

    Calling in the shades of Galileo to lash Pell with does not I think advance the argument – Pell is wrong as to the science, wrong in not seeking to engage with scientists on the empirical issues and in examining the way they are undertaking their scientific research.

    To the extent that there is any analogy it might suggest certain resemblances between the Cardinal and Galileo in terms of their personality characteristics.

  26. Donald Oats
    March 15th, 2011 at 15:51 | #26

    PAU: Pell-As-Usual.


  27. PB
    March 15th, 2011 at 15:53 | #27

    Freelander said “If cardinal Pell becomes the next pope, his word will be infallible.”

    As a Catholic I find Pell an embarrassment. Fortunately, if he does become pope his word on AGW most definitely won’t be infallible. Infallibility is a doctrine dreamt up by Pius 9th largely in response to the loss of the papal states in the 19th century – when the Vatican became the limit of the Pope’s political power. ‘Infallible’ isn’t quite the right word. ‘Definitive’ might be better. It was more about who spoke for the church. Pius 9th had no doubt that it was him. “I am the Church” he famously said.

    The doctrine of infallibility says that the pope defines the church’s teaching when he pronounces on matters of faith. It needs to be done formally (‘ex-cathedra’ is the technical term). It has very rarely been invoked. Only times that I know of are in the 19th century and in the 1950s to do with the nature of Mary.

    So no. I don’t think Pell becoming pope (God help the church if that happens) will mean Catholics have to believe him about AGW.

  28. Ernestine Gross
    March 15th, 2011 at 16:00 | #28

    “Can we design a utility maximization problem where the optimal decision is the wrong one?”

    Easy. Consider a specialist in human resource management, called ‘human development’. The production technology (skill) of this expert can be described as a function which transforms the sign of the values of the arguments. The arguments in the function are performance criteria. The said expert is ‘successful’ (gets paid a lot) if he can demonstrate an improvement in the performance of the human being to be ‘developed’. The expert has preferences that can be represented by a utility function (pick any one from a micro textbook) as long as the assumption of ‘non-satiation’ on preferences is fulfilled. Feed the expert false data (ie all past positive values of performance variables are recorded as negative values and the expert is given the recorded values), then the utility maximising optimal decisions of a competent HR expert results in wrong decisions.

  29. Joe
    March 15th, 2011 at 16:00 | #29

    Aquinas has another quote attributed to him, “Beware the man of one book”. Pell, it seems, has only one book, Plimer’s “Heaven and Earth”.

  30. Freelander
    March 15th, 2011 at 16:11 | #30

    If the pope says the sun rises in the west, it rises in the west. Whether you believe that is a matter of faith, and on matters of faith the pope is infallible. Religion can withstand every persecution except laughter, which is why the religious wish to extinguish those who laugh at them.

  31. Donald Oats
    March 15th, 2011 at 16:21 | #31

    Ian Entlng admits AGW isn’t true!:

    The real issue for me is that there was a genuine case against a human influence on climate

    He said this on Ockham’s Razor^fn1, so it must be true (that it isn’t true!)!!!

    And that is how fabrication is done by the denialist industry.

    Just because Pell has recently doubled the number of books he has read in his life, it hardly makes him an expert on the climate systems of the Earth. I mean, sure, 50% of his book reading is about climate, but 100% of his reading is fiction. Sorry, epic fail.

    Footnote fn1: Actually, this is how the transcript reads as is: the full quote, including the remainder of the sentence I’ve chopped at the comma mark, is “The other criteria that Diethelm and McKee identify for denialism are more clear-cut. The real issue for me is that there was a genuine case against a human influence on climate, why is so much based on fabrication, relying on the fact that most people lack the time, energy and background to check on even the most blatant of spurious claims. Specifically, why does Ian Plimer’s book Heaven + Earth misrepresent the contents of dozens of his cited references? Why don’t his fellow pseudo-sceptics explicitly dissociate themselves from this conduct?
    Good question indeed!

  32. Jim Birch
    March 15th, 2011 at 16:27 | #32

    Correct, I guess, but we then could say that the quote has improved with age.

  33. Donald Oats
    March 15th, 2011 at 16:46 | #33

    @Donald Oats
    My previous remarks concerning reading matter of Cardinal Pell were meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek; I imagine there is at least some non-fiction in Plimer’s tome, it is just such a turgid read though 🙁

  34. TerjeP
    March 15th, 2011 at 17:31 | #34

    A broader question is: Why is a theologian appearing at a senate estimates hearing on climate science?

    That was my immediate thought. It sounds like somebody invited him for political reasons rather than intellectual ones. However the senate is political so no real surprise I suppose.

  35. Freelander
    March 15th, 2011 at 17:49 | #35

    Tony Altar-boy Abbott is regularly saying that he accepts that human activity is ‘contributing’ to climate change. Of course, denialists say that the climate is changing all the time, and when saying contributing, Abbott might mean, contributing, yeah, but not so you would notice. Running the line he is currently running, ‘skeptics’ know he isn’t serious, but does the wider community know he isn’t serious about doing anything? The magic pudding policies that the coalition proposes to address AGW are laughable but maybe they are meant to be so.

  36. Ron E Joggles
    March 15th, 2011 at 18:30 | #36

    Where might I find the text of Dr Ayers evidence to the Senate hearing? A few sceptics I know would benefit from reading it.

  37. Mike
    March 15th, 2011 at 19:22 | #37

    Dr Ayers responce ishere, but it is the 129 page Hansard record for the whole session of senate estimates.

    For a shorter version you can read both Pell’s letter and Ayers’ responce here .

  38. Ken Fabos
    March 16th, 2011 at 07:08 | #38

    This is a comment I posted over at Deltoid on this –

    Sounds like Pell has not taken up Dr Ayers offer/challenge that “… he comes with me and visits a range of climate change science establishments in Australia and has a look at the science directly, not through this book but through the lens of what men and women in Australia are doing in scientific institutions that is valid, that is published and that has real credibility.”

    I’m not sure that a mind as apparently closed as Pell’s can easily be changed but I’m sure Ayers offer was genuine. The belief that scientists are incompetent, biased, manipulators of data has to be harder to sustain when, rather than repeat slanders at a distance, he has to look them in the eye.

  39. Scott
    March 16th, 2011 at 07:48 | #39

    I’m staggered by George Pell’s arrogant stupidity. I was raised in the Holy Catholic Church, so I’ve seen a lot of clerical arrogant stupidity in my time, but this is extreme, even for a Cardinal.

    And to think that Christians cast aspersions on Muslims for being backward and un-enlightened.

  40. Jill Rush
    March 16th, 2011 at 08:45 | #40

    There is a bright side as you point out Prof Q – that the ignorance and intellectual shallowness of people like Cardinal Pell are on show in these kind of statements. However in an anti-intellectual Australia it is of lesser comfort than I would like.

    As far as Tony Abbott is concerned we have seen more of the chameleon this week when he now suggests that the science isn’t settled.

    Unfortunately there are naby people who choose to believe in things with no proof and to ignore contrary evidence. While I would like to ignore such people they do need to be contantly called to account otherwise people will think that they know best.

  41. paul walter
    March 16th, 2011 at 09:14 | #41

    Great post Ikonoclast- Aquinas ought to be seen in the context of his role as a conduit during that critical integration into European culture of Muslim and Jewish literacy and thinking, eptomised in the accurate presentation of Socratic philosophy that allowed for logic to operate in reasonable proximity to faith and as someone who conducted a consequent serious investigation of reason versus faith in comprehensible terms.
    But Bacon?
    Well, whatever you say you about a bloke who catches pneumonia stuffing snow up a chook’s clack, he is the commencement point for eccentric geniuses like Newton and Darwin.

  42. Doug
    March 16th, 2011 at 09:35 | #42

    Cardinal Pell did not appear before Estimates committee – a letter from him was tabled in a parliamentary context and there was a reply put on the record hby a senior departmental official.

  43. March 16th, 2011 at 11:16 | #43

    I stand corrected.

    I’ve always assumed Monsignor Pell’s views, as visible head of the Australian Catholic Church, were the official views of the Church in Australia.

    It would be good if the Church itself clarified this distinction.

    Thanks anyways.

  44. Joe K
    March 16th, 2011 at 11:25 | #44

    Has attacks or percieved attacks on religion/the existence of God etc by P Davies/R Dawkins/Hawking etc turned the religious types against science? A generation or two ago the mainstream scientific consensus would be taken as truth wouldn’t it… I’m not saying it makes sense, just wondering why so many of them are so hostile.

  45. Freelander
    March 16th, 2011 at 12:17 | #45

    @Joe K

    I don’t think cardinal pell developed his views post-Dawkins or that his views can in anyway be attributed to those awful atheists who are responsible for so many evils. Seems there have always been plenty in the clergy who would like to turn back the clock to the good old medieval days when their word was law and dissent meant a horrible death. Unfettered Christianity, as it was in days gone by, was truly splendid.

  46. Tim Macknay
    March 16th, 2011 at 14:09 | #46

    Like quite a few conservative skeptics, Pell’s stance on climate change seems to be largely motivated by his dislike of environmentalists and the Greens. Unlike the more secular skeptics though, Pell apparently believes that environmentalists are some sort of ‘pagans’ and he therefore opposes them on religious grounds.

  47. may
    March 16th, 2011 at 14:27 | #47

    how much money is fed into religious schools?

    is this the standard being taught?

    no objection to teaching ones’ own children ones’ own beliefs.

    if you want to though, pay for the instruction yourself.

    education budgets have enough on the plate already.
    (i would imagine,science teachers having to waste time in remedial lessons.)
    (at least they haven’t had students,religious text in hand, challenge basic knowlege here in Aust. yet?)

  48. AndrewD
    March 16th, 2011 at 15:11 | #48

    I can only answer for my own kids’ schooling at Catholic schools in WA.
    According to myschool, my daughter’s school gets 55% of its funding from “fees, charges and parents contributions”. I am not sure, but the remainder – from State and Federal Government is, I think, less than State schools get.
    I have been helping my daughter with her science homework this week – I can vouch that the standard taught is rigorous, and no different from that which would or should be taught anywhere. My experience is that science and religeon are kept separate in these schools and happily co-exist.
    I’m with PB at #27 – Pell is an embarrassment and ought to shut up. On this issue, he does not speak for me, and I would venture that he does not speak for the majority of catholics in this country – though, of course, I cannot back that up!

  49. March 16th, 2011 at 16:41 | #49

    If Cardinal Pell does not accept that carbon dioxide is a source of warming in the atmosphere, perhaps he might suggest a specific cause that has not been considered or rejected.

  50. stockingrate
    March 16th, 2011 at 19:57 | #50

    I did laugh at Pell, he’s earned it. He is ridiculous, but sadly also Pell is an exemplar of declining standards in a country which many many years ago featured Cook, Banks and Darwin in its practical and scientific life.

  51. Alice
    March 16th, 2011 at 20:28 | #51

    It must be the devil that is causing global warming according to Pell?? Dont discount Pell – Im sure he would rather see the rest of us illiterate, uninformed and only the priests being the scribes (havent we been there a long time ago?).
    Nothing so unfortunate as for a 21st century Cardinal to overestimate his own standing.

  52. paul walter
    March 16th, 2011 at 21:06 | #52

    wmmbb, “Phlogiston”, mate.

  53. Tony G (posting as Greg Ayers)
    March 16th, 2011 at 21:45 | #53

    I suppose having a Phd in Church History, Physical Chemistry, or Economics is qualification enough to be an expert in the finer qualities of hot air, but now I can understand why the personnel in the so called science is classified as dismal, NAMELY they do not know who (or what) they are talking about.


    The above is from banned troll Tony G, which made the snarky point that I got BOM director Greg Ayers first name wrong in my post (fixed now). The fact that Tony G apparently considers this a devastating riposte would be a mildly amusing example of comment thread trollery if it weren’t for the fact that he is on an intellectual level with the supposed leaders of his side of the debate – JQ

  54. Leo Lane
    March 16th, 2011 at 21:49 | #54

    What global warming? There has been none since 1998, and the warming over the 110 years to that date was a little over one half of a degree.

    Coming out of the Little Ice Age, we should be grateful for that little bit of warming.

    The rest of the warming predicted by the IPCC, with the help of the Climategate miscreants has not eventuated.

    It is fortunate that Pell knows what he is talking about,

    The boneheaded Archbishop of Canterbury invested $300 Million with the fraud, Al Gore, so guess which Church supports the AGW myth.

  55. Neil
    March 16th, 2011 at 21:54 | #55

    @Greg Ayers

    Perfectly entitled to point out the mistake, Greg, but this must go down as one of the most ungracious comments in internet history.

  56. paul walter
    March 17th, 2011 at 09:21 | #56

    Who are his supposed leaders, budgies?

  57. Doug
    March 17th, 2011 at 10:13 | #57

    leo Lane on the evidence on global warming see Sceptical Science http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-cooling-january-2007-to-january-2008.htm
    Cardianl Pell does not know what he is talking about on this issue. His lack of willingness to engage in discussion with Dr Greg Ayers is to say the least discourteous and disrespectful. It also implies a lack of good faith and integrity on the part of the scientific research being undertaken by those whose position he so blythely dismisses.

  58. paul walter
    March 17th, 2011 at 10:41 | #58

    Yes am afraid Doug’s sober comment is pertinent and perceptive. Lois Lane needs to get out that tabloid dream world and see people and events less through rose coloured glasses.

  59. Tim Macknay
    March 17th, 2011 at 11:00 | #59

    Is Leo Lane Tony G?

  60. Keith
    March 17th, 2011 at 11:09 | #60

    Way to have a debate – don’t listen unless you agree.

  61. Freelander
    March 17th, 2011 at 11:46 | #61

    When cardinal pell reads a good book he knows he can believe every word. Now he has two good books on his shelf.

  62. Alphonse
    March 17th, 2011 at 13:21 | #62

    Pell is obviously a hot air specialist. I regret when his discussion of Christ’s teachings is not based on biblical fact. I spend a lot of time studying that stuff. There’s no substitute for knowing what you’re talking about.

  63. may
    March 17th, 2011 at 14:22 | #63

    pell is a result of a catholic education.

    undoubtedly some things have changed but given the history and nature of the organisation ancient mindsets are a feature not a bug.

    the monies available for your childrens’ school can be found on a new web page put out a little while ago.
    it was all over the news media.

  64. Douglas Clifford
    March 17th, 2011 at 15:32 | #64

    Pell will never be pope. Although he is highly regarded in Rome (he headed the recent revision/edition of the English language liturgy), he has forever queered his pitch by being subject to charges of sexual impropriety with a male person. He was/is probably innocent of this charge (he voluntarily stood down whilst this charge was investigated), but it would have been enough to prevent his name being put forward as one of the papabile. As another has observed, he is a leader of the cultural Right in Australia, and as such, is a deep embarrassment to many Catholics. I am an ex-Catholic, and us such, despite my best intentions, have a sense of fruedenschade (?sp) @ seeing Pell make a fool of himself.

  65. AndrewD
    March 17th, 2011 at 15:45 | #65

    I don’t get your point, may.
    All I’m saying is that Pell’s views on this topic are not shared by either the Vatican, or by all Catholics, and also that you are not paying for my kids to be brought up as Catholics (read my previous post, the “55%” figure came from the myschool website). I think you are saying Pell is an idiot because he is a Catholic, whereas I’m saying that he is an idiot who is a Catholic.

  66. paul walter
    March 17th, 2011 at 16:39 | #66

    Andrew D, that is what we are all, almost, saying. It’s not personal and I doubt whether he is a sexual deviant- his offense would be in the covering up of this facet, as with kiddyfiddling, more likely and in a way that’s just as bad, if so.
    Am sure he’s not an idiot, but why does he talk down to people rather than to them?
    And the refusal to listen in general, with the Catholic church as its retreated to the political right over the last generation globally, has caused its best minds to leave or be sidelined, as with the Jesuits, Liberation theorists and people like Paul Collins.
    A parallel to the Labor and Liberal parties, where the neolib or conservative right have also forced out dissenters and lateral thinkers, to keep in good with the people who are really running things in various places.

  67. Freelander
    March 17th, 2011 at 17:22 | #67

    @Douglas Clifford
    That didn’t stop Pell becoming a cardinal. Also, a recent pope’s less than wholesome pre-war and during-war activities didn’t stop him from being already half way to being a saint. And that pope is the clown that expanded the fairy tale to include the ‘Assumption of Mary’. Oh, come on, isn’t a virgin birth and messiah executed by being nailed to a cross, and rising from the dead, enough! Did he have to make the new testament even more ridiculous?
    If anything those sorts of things (Pell’s blemishes) help. The vatican really does like to poke those not so close to god in the eye, on a regular basis. Look who they have chosen the last couple of times. The history is if you do get elected and you’re not a bit suspect you’re not going to live long. Surely this modified quote applies “Vatican politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.”
    Pell is an idiot and a christian. But I repeat myself. But maybe I don’t. Even if he wasn’t a christian he would still be an idiot. I happen to agree with the view that a christian upbringing constitutes child abuse. On the academic side of things you used to be able to get a good education from a catholic institution (as long as you ignored the child abuse).

  68. Jill Rush
    March 19th, 2011 at 00:17 | #68

    It appears that Catholics have been ordered not to vote Green by the Catholic Church in NSW. Many Catholics however will find this hard to a abide as they understand that they are there to act to protect the environment as part of their duties.

  69. Ken Fabos
    March 19th, 2011 at 07:01 | #69

    It’s likely that Pell has bought into the description of environmentalism (and global warming ‘alarmism’) as a cult. Whilst there is a fringe radical element that’s not wholly rational (though not so prevalent as within the Roman Catholic Church) it isn’t representative of mainstream environmentalism – which is itself, something quite different from scientific understanding of the impacts of human activities on climate and on ecosystems. Pell does nothing to encourage a credible mainstream political awareness of issues like climate, sustainability and environmental degradation and is actually engaged in preventing it by promulgating misinformation. One more who’s acceptance of the ‘puny humans can’t alter the climate’ orthodoxy is so strong that all attempts to educate him are rejected?

    I suspect promotion of the whole ‘green religion’ thing by the Right has more to do with think tanks and PR arms of effected businesses looking for catchy phrases that resonate. It’s being used to undermine the science based legitimacy of concerns that our future security and prosperity is being sacrificed for short term and unsustainable commercial gain. A growing movement that puts those concerns for the future ahead of religious belief has led an important religious leader to deny the legitimacy of those concerns rather than seek to reconcile them.

  70. Jill Rush
    March 19th, 2011 at 08:11 | #70

    Captain Paul Watson put it very well on Adam Hill’s show this week. We are on a spaceship where there is the crew and there are the passengers. The natural world is the crew and humans are the passengers – the passengers are absolutely reliant on the crew so need to consider them at the forefront in decision making.

    For a religious analogy Cardinal Pell should believe that the world was created first and whilst people were given dominion over it they are in a caretaker role. He might be worried about the Greens as religion but there is plenty of support in the Bible for mitigating against climate change. The religious structures of the church make this a difficult argument for more aware Catholics to promulgate.

  71. Donald Oats
    March 19th, 2011 at 09:43 | #71

    Plimer has popularised (in denialist squares) that volcanoes release much more CO2 than humans; and yet, they don’t. I won’t be surprised if from now on we have earthquakes being claimed as the new carbon dioxide emitter du jour, and that they have been deliberately ignored even though the evil climate scientists knew all along (written all in CAPS, of course). Don’t ask me for any hypothetical mechanism although I’m sure the denierati will figure something out. And for Pell’s next submission…

  72. may
    March 19th, 2011 at 15:46 | #72


    oh dear,what have i started.

    i do accept that you don’t get my point.

    (hint see comment #18)

    nuff said.

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