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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. Alice
    March 16th, 2011 at 20:28 | #1

    @wmmbb
    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.

  2. paul walter
    March 16th, 2011 at 21:06 | #2

    wmmbb, “Phlogiston”, mate.
    Phlogiston.

  3. Tony G (posting as Greg Ayers)
    March 16th, 2011 at 21:45 | #3

    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.

    http://www.bom.gov.au/announcements/new_director/index.shtml

    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

  4. Leo Lane
    March 16th, 2011 at 21:49 | #4

    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.

  5. Neil
    March 16th, 2011 at 21:54 | #5

    @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.

  6. paul walter
    March 17th, 2011 at 09:21 | #6

    Who are his supposed leaders, budgies?

  7. Doug
    March 17th, 2011 at 10:13 | #7

    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.

  8. paul walter
    March 17th, 2011 at 10:41 | #8

    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.

  9. Tim Macknay
    March 17th, 2011 at 11:00 | #9

    Is Leo Lane Tony G?

  10. Keith
    March 17th, 2011 at 11:09 | #10

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

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

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

  12. Alphonse
    March 17th, 2011 at 13:21 | #12

    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.

  13. may
    March 17th, 2011 at 14:22 | #13

    @AndrewD
    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.

  14. Douglas Clifford
    March 17th, 2011 at 15:32 | #14

    @Freelander
    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.

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

    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.

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

    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.

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

    @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.”
    @AndrewD
    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).

  18. Jill Rush
    March 19th, 2011 at 00:17 | #18

    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.

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

    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.

  20. Jill Rush
    March 19th, 2011 at 08:11 | #20

    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.

  21. Donald Oats
    March 19th, 2011 at 09:43 | #21

    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…

  22. may
    March 19th, 2011 at 15:46 | #22

    @AndrewD

    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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