How Dare He? Climate Change Skeptics Freak Out Over The Pope’s Visit

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Among the various hot-button issues Pope Francis will likely touch during his visit to the United States, his call for a “bold cultural revolution” to tackle climate change has struck a particular nerve among those who deny that climate change is a man-made and disastrous phenomenon.

Since the pope released a widely-acclaimed encyclical on the matter in June, climate deniers have chastised that the pope should “stay with his job,” as Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) put it earlier this summer. The freakout has reached a fever pitch now that Francis is expected to bring up the issue in the remarks he has planned in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. They say that Francis has been hoodwinked by “climate alarmists,” that he has engaged in “fact-free flamboyance” and that he is choosing to “to act and talk like a leftist politician.”

Stay In Your Lane, Your Holiness!

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has made perhaps the strongest statement, vowing to boycott the Pope’s address to Congress having read it would be about climate change, which Gosar said “is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies.”

“If the Pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line,” Gosar wrote in a Townhall op-ed last week. “But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.”

“If the Pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change then he can do so in his personal time,” he continued.

He and other climate deniers suggest that Pope Francis leading the church away from Catholic doctrine.

A leader at the Heartland Institute — a Chicago-based think-tank that has sponsored various climate denialism events — compared the pope’s concerns about climate change to pagan festivals held in the Middle Ages.

“What is environmentalism but nature worship?” said Heartland Institute marketing director Gene Koprowski, at a press conference last week ahead of the Pope’s visit.

“I’m wondering, as a scholar, if pagan forms are returning to the church this day,” he said. “I think that if we have a pope who doesn’t view things in the orthodox manner, we’re going to be having forms returning to religion that are not orthodox.”

Joining Koprowski at the Heartland event was Philadelphia radio host and Daily News columnist Dom Giordano, who called Francis “potentially a dangerous figure, given his celebrity and his holiness.”

“The pope does seem to be enamored with solutions that are not pro-American in the slightest,” Giordano said, according to Philly.com.

His Excellency Has Been Duped!

Another argument being pushed by climate deniers ahead of the papal visit is that Pope Francis has been misinformed about climate change, and, as George Will put it, is engaging “fact-free flamboyance.”

“As the world spurns his church’s teachings about abortion, contraception, divorce, same-sex marriage and other matters, Francis jauntily makes his church congruent with the secular religion of ‘sustainability,’” Will wrote last week.

“Because this is hostile to growth, it fits Francis’s seeming sympathy for medieval stasis, when his church ruled the roost, economic growth was essentially nonexistent and life expectancy was around 30,” he went on, arguing that “Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.”

At the Federalist, Cato fellow Craig D. Idso wrote, “Contrary to what Pope Francis says, fossil fuels are good for the poor and the Earth.”

“But are the pope’s concerns over potential global warming based upon the best available science? Or are they significantly overinflated?” Isdo asked.

Meanwhile, weather forecaster and global warming doubter Joe Bastardi posted a “quick note” at the Patriot Post including two charts he “would ask the pope to look at.”

“I won’t go any further except to say I can’t believe his excellency, if exposed to this, would not at the very least question the positions he has adopted,” Bastardi wrote. “It is my hope while he is here that he at least glances at other information such as this.”

Yeah, But What About Islam!?!

An easy pivot for conservatives is to denounce the Pope for focusing on climate change rather than other causes more aligned with the religious right.

“Take on Islam, then talk to me,” Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade said last week.

“He blames us and money for what’s going on in the Middle East,” he went on. “He says that global warming — we’ve got to do more to have global warming — we’ve doing more than anybody else. Get on China, show some courage.”

Noting concerns about ISIS and the Iran deal, Paul Driessen wrote on a climate blog disdainfully, “So naturally, President Obama, Pope Francis, the European Commission, United Nations, and many poor countries are obsessed with – climate change!”

“It’s insanity on steroids. The alarmist assertions are absurd,” Driessen, author of “Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death,” continued.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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