The National Catholic Review
Doug Demeo
Catholic universities can make a difference through divestment.

Catholic colleges and universities have a long and storied history of providing full scholarships and affordable higher education to low income, minority and immigrant students. In addition, they continue to fulfill their mission to develop the whole person (cura personalis) by linking liberal arts and professional studies to critical moral thought, promoting retreats, building faith-centered community service and justice programs and more. But today there are key issues that challenge the fidelity of Catholic colleges and universities to their core mission. John R. Wilcox, emeritus professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, has made a compelling case in these pages that there is an urgent need to address the “erosion” of the “Catholicity” of Catholic colleges and universities (Am. 9/6/13). He argues that the best way to do this is through the creation of “mission communities” on Catholic campuses. Primarily, their call would be to “play a prophetic role, at times ‘speaking truth to power’” for the purpose of “keeping Catholicity vital in all areas of [institutional] life.”

Professor Wilcox offers several examples of how Catholic mission communities might work to maintain and strengthen the Catholic character of colleges and universities. The investment and management of Catholic universities’ financial endowments is one such area in which a new “living endowment” could preserve and promote Catholic mission. In particular, he suggests that mission communities would “offer reviews of college policy and strategic planning and foster a palpable Catholic culture as shaped by the religious heritage of the founders.” While it would be interesting to examine more fully the issues, practices and value perceptions of “mission-based” investing at Catholic institutions, the singularly urgent issue of climate change—and the powerful momentum that has been growing within the fossil fuel divestment movement—deserves attention in this moment.

Considering the strength of Catholic teaching on climate change and ethical investing, the divestiture of stocks and bonds from fossil fuel corporations taking place in a growing number of secular and non-Catholic religious organizations is bringing Catholic higher education—which, with a few exceptions, has been largely absent from the national conversation—to a crossroads of mission. At this critical junction of institutional integrity, mission communities could play an important role in helping university administrators and trustees to envision a new way of being faithful to Catholic mission and to grasp the prophetic (and arguably financial) urgency of divesting from fossil fuel corporations.

The Catholic Church accepts that human actions like burning fossil fuels have a negative impact on the earth’s climate, and it understands that the effects of climate change raise crucial ethical issues as to how we tend to God’s creation. In his message for the World Day of Peace in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted the “urgent moral need for a new solidarity…in the face of signs of a growing [ecological] crisis which it would be irresponsible not to take seriously.” He called for “strengthening the linkage between combatting climate change and overcoming poverty.” At the same time, scientists warn that our planet is rapidly reaching a level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that will likely cause permanent, accelerating climate change. As described in numerous scientific reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a vast majority of climate scientists agree that humanity can emit only 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050 if it is to avoid a catastrophic level of climate change. Yet, the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations still plan to burn the 2,796 gigatons of carbon dioxide in their reserves, a business strategy that would result in levels of human suffering and ecological degradation unmatched in human history.

In order to address the systemic causes of climate change, an increasingly global array of religious groups, colleges and cities are moving to divest from fossil fuel corporations in order to diminish their political and economic influence. Some are also pursuing reinvestment in clean technology and energy efficiency initiatives within their own facilities and holdings. The movement has been spearheaded by the Go Fossil Free campaign, which calls on institutions to “immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies, and divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years.”

While the divestment campaign’s ostensible goal is to decrease the value of fossil fuel corporations’ stocks, it carries deeper implications. The campaign’s proponents recognize that the political process has failed to produce a legislative response to the grave threat represented by climate change, largely because of the outsized influence of the fossil fuel lobby. Campaigners believe that divestment represents a way to turn public opinion against this lobby. At a time when there is no prospect for climate legislation, the fossil fuel divestment movement seeks to rekindle debate on a critical moral issue and to create an environment in which genuine solutions become possible.

In that light, this campaign resembles past divestment campaigns, like the anti-apartheid efforts of the 1980s, in which impassioned divestment debates in educational, governmental and religious institutions played a vital role in undermining the legitimacy of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Through a similar approach, the fossil fuel divestment campaign seeks to redraw society’s collective moral boundaries by asserting that institutions with a moral or educational mission should no longer profit from the fossil fuel industry. Its primary method is to force a morally challenging debate about the long-term impacts of climate change, the entrenched power of the fossil fuel industry and the incompatibility of these with a thriving future for humanity and the wider community of life.

To date, the divestment movement is supported by several faith communities, including the national United Church of Christ, the Anglican Diocese of Wellington, New Zealand, the Episcopal Dioceses of Olympia in Washington State and Massachusetts, individual Lutheran and Unitarian churches in the United States and GreenFaith, an interfaith alliance devoted to environmental stewardship, where I am a fellow. On the Catholic side, the Franciscan Action Network recently made the bold decision to join the movement and is encouraging Franciscan colleges and universities to support growing student and faculty activism for divestment, which is already occurring on several Jesuit campuses.

Corporate Responsibility

In its statement “Economic Justice for All” (1986), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops points out that while economic markets can encourage beneficial economic development, markets alone do not “automatically produce justice” that protects the common good of all people, to which our climate is unmistakably linked, especially with respect to the poorest among us. The church therefore insists that when economic activity in free markets damages the common good, free markets must be circumscribed by “ethical norms” grounded in Catholic teaching. Thus, the U.S. bishops’ document “Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines” urges investors to draw on “the values, directions and criteria which guide its financial choices from the Gospel, universal church teaching and Conference statements.”

In “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” (1990), Pope John Paul II insisted that in order to remain faithful to the church, “Catholic ideals, attitudes and principles [must] penetrate and inform university activities” across all areas of an institution. This necessarily includes the investment and management of a Catholic university’s endowment. Given the magnitude of the climate crisis, as well as other destructive impacts of fossil fuel extraction, such as mountaintop removal and groundwater contamination, Catholic university administrations should at the very least enter into the fossil fuel debate. Some, like the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.—my alma mater—have taken steps in this direction.

The Duties of Justice

In response to the claim that Catholic institutions should divest from fossil fuel holdings in order to uphold their Catholic mission, at least three rebuttals can be anticipated—and refuted.

First, college and university administrators and trustees might argue that the best way for Catholic institutions to address climate change is to focus on reducing their own carbon footprints. Although such direct activities to alleviate injustices are important and commendable, the U.S. bishops point out that their program The Two Feet of Love in Action calls for micro-level actions coupled with macro-level efforts (i.e., social justice) to address the systemic dynamics that cause and perpetuate what John Paul II, in “On Social Concerns” (1987), called structures of sin. Pope Pius XI cautioned in “Divini Redemptoris” (1937) that “no one [should] attempt with trifling charitable donations to exempt himself from the great duties imposed by justice.” Since fossil fuel corporations are at the heart of the systemic perpetuation of climate change, Catholic institutions should take steps to divest from fossil fuel companies even as they continue to reduce their own carbon footprints and remain faithful to their mission at large.

A second possible argument against fossil fuel divestment is that this activity may compromise institutional endeavors (like scholarships and facilities expansion) by restricting endowment growth. This is essentially an appeal to fiduciary responsibility. In response, it should first be mentioned that the highly-respected Chronicle of Higher Education reports that divesting from fossil fuel companies is unlikely to harm the endowments of colleges and universities. Many other financial studies likewise argue the fiduciary responsibility of divestment, given the looming prospects of “stranded assets” or a “carbon bubble”—meaning the future of fossil fuels is highly tenuous, at best. But even if fossil fuel divestment were to restrict endowment growth, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that for a given action the “end does not justify the means” (No. 1753). In reference to Catholic colleges and universities, the end of institutional advancement does not justify investment in fossil fuel companies that profoundly contradict Catholic teaching. This is especially true when the quality of the future of graduating students is at stake—a big reason why more of our students are raising their voices on behalf of divestment.

A third argument is that socially responsible investment, rather than divestment, is the best way to mitigate climate change from an equity ownership perspective. Socially responsible investing, as described by Christian Brothers Investment Services Inc., a leader in Catholic S.R.I., involves shareholder advocacy and “a multi-strategy approach—stock screening, proxy voting, corporate dialogues and shareholder resolutions.”

While S.R.I. has achieved notable successes with respect to influencing corporate behavior, two points should be highlighted about S.R.I. and the fossil fuel industry. First, scientists say that fossil fuel corporations must keep 80 percent of their carbon reserves in the ground in order to keep climate change from causing runaway harm. For all intents and purposes, this means that oil companies will have to stop drilling for oil and coal companies will have to stop mining coal. These activities are the principal ways that fossil fuel companies make their profits, and shareholder advocacy is unlikely to effect changes to core corporate practices to the degree required to reverse the most unthinkable effects of climate change.

Furthermore, S.R.I. in fact recognizes a role for “screening companies from our investment portfolios,” as Christian Brothers Investment Services says. This means that even investors actively committed to corporate engagement and advocacy sometimes acknowledge that circumstances may justify or even require the refusal to invest in a company or companies in order to remain faithful to Catholic teaching. Conscious of the way fossil fuel corporations manifestly undermine Catholic teaching by fostering climate change for profit, fossil fuel corporations are a prime example of companies (not unlike manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction) in which Catholic mission requires the use of such “avoidance screens.”

Although fossil fuel divestment is a crucial tool to address climate change, this strategy alone is an insufficient response to climate change for the Christian community. Local, national and global leaders as well as the U.S. bishops have advocated that responses to climate change must provide transitional and adaptation funding. Additionally, divestment must be accompanied by the type of reinvestment in clean energy technologies advocated by GreenFaith’s campaign Divest and Reinvest Now.

While climate change and endowment investment are both complex issues demanding careful thought, Catholic mission requires that financial returns not foster or exacerbate climate change. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells his followers: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (6:24).

Climate change has brought Catholic colleges and universities that invest in fossil fuel corporations to a moral crossroads. These institutions must now decide whether they will prioritize the integrity of their mission or the status quo of their investments in fossil fuels. Climate change shows the two to be mutually exclusive.

One of the most important ways that mission communities can preserve and promote Catholic fidelity at colleges and universities is to advocate that administrators and trustees divest their endowments from an industry whose essential practices blatantly contradict and undermine the teachings and mission of the Catholic Church.

Doug Demeo, a fellow with GreenFaith, an interfaith coalition for the environment, is an adviser on socially responsible investments.

Comments

J Cabaniss | 4/30/2014 - 9:18am

removed

J Cabaniss | 4/19/2014 - 9:33am

These assertions were made in this article:
"Considering the strength of Catholic teaching on climate change...
The Catholic Church accepts that human actions like burning fossil fuels have a negative impact on the earth’s climate..."

The problem is that neither of these claims is true and it is strange that anyone would believe otherwise. This is a scientific debate about which the church says nothing, which is exactly what we should all want and expect. If AGW (ACC?) is true then we have a moral obligation to act to mitigate the harmful effects, but this begs the (scientific) question: is it true?

I find the science behind the claims unconvincing, but I also recognize that my personal opinion of the science involved is irrelevant...just like the church's opinion - assuming she had one.

Fletcher Harper | 4/29/2014 - 11:15pm

It is one thing to dispute the scientific consensus regarding climate change and/or disagree with the Catholic Church’s acceptance of it. It is quite another thing, however, to deny the indisputable fact that the Church has explicitly and repeatedly accepted the reality of anthropogenic climate change, and called on people of faith and goodwill to respond as such.

On its website, the USCCB-endorsed Catholic Climate Covenant has published dozens of quotes and resources about the Church’s authentic teaching on climate change. These quotes and resources come from Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Saint John Paul II, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and international Catholic bishops’ conferences, and leave no doubt that the Church accepts the reality of anthropogenic climate change: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/catholic-teachings/

J Cabaniss | 4/30/2014 - 9:18am

I think you have misread your own source. No generic assertion about the need to be good stewards of the environment (which is what most of your reference was about) is relevant to the issue since the question is not whether we should care for the environment but whether CO2 emissions are in fact harming it.

I did read your citation and some of the references it provided and they led me to a statement issued by the USCCB which included this: As Catholic bishops, we make no independent judgment on the plausibility of "global warming." Right, this is exactly what you would expect them to say: this is a scientific issue about which the church offers no opinion. Which, coincidentally, is just what I asserted.

Fletcher Harper | 4/30/2014 - 3:22pm

J Cabaniss, the very next line after that which you quote declares: "Rather, we accept the consensus findings of so many scientists and the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a basis for continued research and prudent action." In addition, Saint John Paul II asserted that "The gradual depletion of the ozone layer and the related "greenhouse effect"has now reached crisis proportions as a consequence of industrial growth, massive urban concentrations and vastly increased energy needs" (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/messages/peace/documents/...). So as I initially said: you can disagree with the Church's authentic teaching on climate change, but you cannot deny that the Church has in fact pronounced this teaching.

Carlos Orozco | 4/19/2014 - 9:33am

Wow. Few issues like the theology of "global warming" can stir up emotions so much.

Richard Savage | 4/16/2014 - 10:59am

Editor/Moderator: I resent your hypocritical removal of my previous remarks. I have a Ph.D. in meteorology and a graduate minor in electrical engineering. My dissertation research was in radiative transfer, which includes the "greenhouse effect."
The greenhouse effect - which is overwhelmingly due to water vapor (H2O), NOT carbon dioxide (CO2), merely slows the escape of Earth's IR radiation to space. It's entirely a passive process, which adds no energy to the system. Like the insulation in the roof of a house, it doesn't do any warming.
The shortsighted attempt to substitute windmills and solar cells for real energy sources will merely make worse the poverty and misery that are due to lack of electricity. The pagan Indians and the atheistic Chinese know better than foolish idealogues like Mr. Demeo and the editors of America.

Fletcher Harper | 4/29/2014 - 11:17pm

Dr. Savage is obviously skeptical about the science of anthropogenic climate change. His vehemence, however, does not change the reality that “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities,” as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) observes: http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus

Given this, it seems that the best response to Mr. Savage and other climate science skeptics continues to be from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environmen...

“In facing climate change, what we already know requires a response; it cannot be easily dismissed. Significant levels of scientific consensus—even in a situation with less than full certainty, where the consequences of not acting are serious—justifies, indeed can obligate, our taking action intended to avert potential dangers. In other words, if enough evidence indicates that the present course of action could jeopardize humankind's well-being, prudence dictates taking mitigating or preventative action.”

J Cosgrove | 4/16/2014 - 4:17pm

I noticed your comment had disappeared. Some of the editors will remove comments or prevent them from posting if they do not like the content. It has happened to me several times over the years.

Tim Reidy | 4/23/2014 - 9:52am

We do not remove comments because we do not like them. There are many comments with which we disagree. We remove them because they are uncharitable or use offensive language. Thankfully, we do not have to exercise this prerogative very often.

Richard Savage | 4/16/2014 - 5:38pm

Thanks for your encouragement. Thanks also to the editor who permitted my newer comment to be posted.

Stanley Kopacz | 4/22/2014 - 9:13am

I'm sure that America will retain your comments if they don't contain the personal invective of the original. I found your 1970's paper on microwave scattering from hydrometeors. "Water droplets" for the unwashed? Do you have any references to anything of yours more specific to your assertion that the absorption lines of CO2 are narrow and more saturated? My interactions will be slow due to a crisis of an elderly member of the family and the buck stops here.

Joseph J Dunn | 4/15/2014 - 5:22pm

While I am a firm proponent of using financial power to advance social causes, I question the rationale of Mr. Demeo's proposed divestment campaign, for several reasons.

Divestment (in this case, of investments in fossil fuel corporations) may make the endowment trustees or others in the university community feel better, convinced that the profits they consider ill-gotten no longer conflict with their mission. But endowments, even when acting in concert, rarely hold enough shares of any one corporation to support the assumption that divestment will either materially effect the stock price, or change the oil (or coal, etc) company into something else. For the same reason, buying a few shares of stock in order to establish standing for a shareholder proposal is rarely effective in bringing the kind of major change that Demeo seeks. By all means, the mission and values of the institution should be part of the investment decisions. But we should be realistic in assessing the effects.

Assuming for the moment that fossil fuels are causing "global warming" or "climate change", let us first recall that the fossil fuels we use today are replacements for whale oil and wood, substitutions made when whales and wood were becoming less available, more expensive, and presented their own hazards. Demeo avoids mentioning that the "clean technology and energy efficiency" initiatives on campus or more broadly in society are not able to meet the world's current energy needs, now or in the foreseeable future. Changing the fossil fuel mix (e.g., change heavy trucks from diesel to natural gas) has merit. Solar, wind and geothermal are helpful. Conservation is always desirable. Individuals and institutions have far more financial power to effect these changes by our choices as consumers, and are key to challenging Demeo's "entrenched power of the fossil fuel industry." But the role of divestment/reinvestment in these changes will be minimal.

South Africa's apartheid policies were amenable to divestment and boycott because an alternative--an end to discrimination--was readily available. Where is the current or near-term alternative to fossil fuels?

Again, I agree with the use of financial pressures to accomplish social progress, and in some cases the right financial tools can be effective. In other cases, we fail to recognize more powerful financial strategies to accomplish the goals. And in some cases, mistakes have caused real misery. Let us carefully evaluate the options and realistically assess potential outcomes.

Stanley Kopacz | 4/16/2014 - 12:21am

The most effective short term action is conservation. While progress has been made with insulation and improvements in the internal combustion engine, standards for gas efficiency were fought while giant McMansions that heat large volumes of unoccupied air were built. Surely, standards for implementing passive solar in homes could have been imposed. The people who could benefit most from improved efficiency are the poor. Anything that reduces their use of fossil fuel and utilities will be replacing ongoing subsidy with one time cost and maybe produce jobs in the process. As for replacing fossil fuel with renewables, probably can't be done without improvement of efficiency. But the solution space for renewables is, in my estimation, much larger than for fossil fuel engines, and exploitation has only just begun. Even if we stick with fossil fuels, dirty, polluting, and climate changing, it isn't your grandma's sweet crude. Even coal seams are becoming less rich and we're using more and more expensive methods to extract these fuels. We can no longer pretend that these problems will disappear by themselves. Then there is the "P" word. Population has to be levelled off and perhaps reduced on this life boat.

Joseph J Dunn | 4/17/2014 - 11:53am

Mr. Kopacz-
We agree that conservation, more efficient vehicles, and more energy-efficient buildings help reduce fossil fuel use. But for reasons cited above I disagree with Mr. Demeo's main proposition, that disinvestment would challenge what he calls the "outsized influence of the fossil fuel lobby" and result in a combination of measures that eliminate, or even substantially reduce, dependence on fossil fuels. Even with recent progress and the possibilities you highlight, there is no plan that has been published, even conceptually, wherein fossil fuels are not needed by most of the earth's population. So, what benefit is derived from disinvestment? You hint at a much more powerful financial lever, which is consumers deciding to buy more efficient vehicles, houses, appliances, etc. I agree. The quest for customer dollars, euros, etc., keeps hundreds of companies, large and small, old and new, focused on products that let all of us be more energy efficient. I think it makes sense for all of us, and our institutions, to understand the likely results of our actions, and focus our time and money where real progress can be made.

Stanley Kopacz | 4/22/2014 - 9:45am

I mostly see the fossil fuels idolization as a failure of imagination. There is no doubt that we cannot support the automobile culture or the suburbanized sprawl population. The bottom line is physics and ecology cannot support it indefinitely. We may not have an extravagant lifestyle in the future but we can have a civilized one, or such is my hope. The irrational herd instincts of the market and economics do not have the capability to foresee and forestall global consequences. As for disinvestment, I have no money invested in stocks, at least directly. I would prefer to put my money in a more moral area like drugs or prostitution. Fossil fuel companies have always used corruption and state compliance to obtain their goals. One example being the overthrow by the CIA of a democratically elected president in Iran in the 1950's. They pollute not only large bodies of water but also bodies politic.

E.Patrick Mosman | 4/17/2014 - 10:48am

Mr. Kopacz,
"Population has to be levelled off and perhaps reduced on this life boat."
What are you proposing, forced contraception and abortion, a crash course in reviving eugenics as proposed by Margret Sanger and practiced by the Nazis or something worse in the name of saving the world from a non-event "global warming"?

Stanley Kopacz | 4/22/2014 - 9:22am

I stated the various methods or occurrences that would solve the problem. I have not proposed forcing anything. That is your projection onto me. The only method I have practiced is the barrier method, maintaining a barrier of air between my genitalia and that of the female sex, or any sex, for that matter. Works rather well though it makes for a very grumpy person not willing to take nonsense from aggressive conservatives. At this late part of my life, I'm glad I have no offspring because, in thirty years, they might be eating other people's offspring, perhaps yours,

Mike Van Vranken | 4/15/2014 - 3:22pm

Because the Church teaches nothing about our moral stewardship of the universe, it has allowed the issue to become political rather than moral. God said the earth and everything in it is his. That's the conversation starter. How do we treat the earth based on that statement, not on some very unreliable political statement? If we are really serious about being good stewards of the environment, let's teach why it is our stewardship responsibility. Let's not continue to recirculate scare tactics and expect any changes in behavior. Why does the Church always want politician to handle things? It's never worked!

E.Patrick Mosman | 4/13/2014 - 6:10pm

For Mr Demeo assuming you monitor the comments,
So what is the absolute ideal climate for the whole earth( maximum and minimum temperatures by locations, how many hurricanes,cyclones, tornados and their strengths and how many floods, droughts and their locations, the ideal surface and deep water ocean temperatures and the speed and variability of the jet streams both hemispheres ), and the ideal minimum and maximum CO2 content of the atmosphere? Who will and how will these decisions be made and, more importantly, how and who would enforce them as the earth's distance from the sun, it's precession it's tilt and wobble plus the sun's activity have significant if not a controlling effect on the earth's ever changing climate?
Who will take over from God's "Mother Nature" as "Master of the Universe" ?

Stanley Kopacz | 4/15/2014 - 11:40pm

It is well established that greenhouse gases are responsible for maintaining the most of the earth's surface at a temperature conducive to life. Of course, there are several factors. You refer to the Milancovic cycles which are linked to the start and end of ice ages. And of course, the sun has it's own cycles superimposed on the gradual increase of its output, a slow rising ramp similar to the slow rise in greenhouse forcing with the rise of CO2. Just because these other factors affect global temperature doesn't mean that CO2 DOESN'T. Just because one can get lung cancer from asbestos, genetics, air pollution, doesn't mean that smoking cigarettes doesn't. As for the proper level of CO2, I'd say something closer to the level at which human civilization emerged. It's something like maintaining the temperature of your body. After all, what is the difference between 98.6°F and 106°F? A lousy 7.4°F and brain damage.

E.Patrick Mosman | 4/17/2014 - 10:23am

The following is an excerpt from a 2008 letter to Dr.Trenberth and the New York Times science editor:
"For years the IPCC's policy summary report has incessently drummed into the public domain the doom and gloom scenario that a short-term warming phase is the result of human activity that has increased CO2 in the atmosphere and disaster must follow as the night follows the day. This conclusion is based almost entirely on computer generated results that predicted or forecast future climate events based on human created climate models. The current "pause"or 'cool phase' is being attributed to natural variability which the IPCC computer models failed to predict as the forecasts have been predicting the continued warming phase due to increasng CO2.
Over the last 10,000 years, the CO2 level has varied, but only within a 40 PPM range, at most. Then the industrial age comes along, and CO2 Increases in the range of 100 PPM. During this time the temperatures cycled between the warm period of the1930s to the cool period of the 1970 to the warm periods of the 1990s and now a predicted cool period for the early 2000s. All the while CO2 is increasing. Is CO2 the cause or the effect?
The role that a presumed variable plays in any process can be deduced by holdng it constant while other variables are allowed to increase or decrease. And then allowing the presumed variable to increase or decrease while observing its effect on the process,ie climate change. If the earth's climate is considered a process then the effect of CO2 can be studied as follows:
Assuming that CO2 level effects the climate process then for 10,000 years CO2 had been essentially constant while the earth underwent at least four or possible more major climatic shifts between extreme cold, little ice ages, warm and extreme warm periods.
Next during the last few years the CO2 level has increased, approximately 100ppm total, while the mean average global temperature has remained relatively constant for the last 10 years(now 17 years), no increase but a recent slight decrease signaling a coming cool phase as CO2 continues to increase.
Any scientist or process engineer reviewing such results would conclude that the CO2 level has no or very little effect on the earth's cyclical climate change.
Since the global temperature peaked in 1998 according to recent observations and now some computer projections forecast a cooling phase, could the IPCC's model projections be wrong? I have raised the following question with a number of GW alarmist, including Al Gore, Joe Romm and even the Royal Society without a response. Perhaps you can provide answers.
Question1
-has any projection used by the IPCC or other GW advocates forecasted, predicted or otherwise foreseen a cooling period or a little ice age in the future?
Question 2
-could any of the current computer models used by the IPCC with their climate theories, complex assumptions, complex climate models and positive feedback loops forecast, predict, or foresee a cooling period or litttle ice age in the future?
Question 3
-since a rather steady state CO2 content had little or no effect on the earth’s cyclical climate for 10,000 years and the recent warming trend has moderated since 1998 while the atmospheric CO2 increased are the repeated iterations of the computer models falsifying the role of CO2 in the earth’s climate? As repeated iterations of the Mandelbrot set equation drives the results to infinity or zero,it is possible that the GW computer simulations drive the result to ever higher temperatures just by how the assumptions on the CO2 effect are designed, weighted and looped , isn’t it.
The following is an additional question:
If natural variability causes a cooling phase in the face of increasing CO2 levels why isn't it also true that natural variability is causing warming periods as CO2 levels increase?

Stanley Kopacz | 4/22/2014 - 10:00am

Do a linear regression over the last sixty years and stop bothering me with noise. There's an upward trend on which is superimposed smaller variations. Mandelbrot set, for goodness sake. What's next, Gödel's theorem? Greenhouse gas catastrophes in the past have caused snowball events and heat events leading to mass extinction. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Water vapor is a powerful greenhouse gas but it is also a feedback. CO2 released from the oceans by Milancovic cycle heating apparently amplifies global warming to get us out of ice ages. Computer models are used all the time. If the Europeans could predict that westward jag of hurricane Sandy days before, I'd say computer modeling is getting pretty good. Computer modeling saves lives. It's not hocus pocus but an elaborate representation of complex physical processes.

E.Patrick Mosman | 4/12/2014 - 10:54am

"The Catholic Church accepts that human actions like burning fossil fuels have a negative impact on the earth’s climate, and it understands that the effects of climate change raise crucial ethical issues as to how we tend to God’s creation. " Where's the Science?
In the not too distant past Catholic Church accepted and taught that the earth was the center of the universe despite scientific evidence that it was wrong. Now ”the earth hasn’t warmed in 16 years”. is a statement by the head of the IPCC in 2013 . Mr Phil Jones head of the infamous Climategate British CRU also made the same statement and added that he had no explanation for the pause.
Mr. Demeo appears to be echoing President Obama who gave a speech with no scientific facts to support his "blame CO2" for global warming and extreme weather. The President also referred to CO2 as a pollutant, toxin, the cause of sickness and our local democratic member of the House even called CO2 a carcinogen. According to the President and science challenged AGW alarmist CO2 is today's Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. The 97% percent of "scientist" stand silent, silence signifies assent, to these outrageous claims that are the factless basis for Obama's war on CO2.
The head of the IPCC confirms that there has been no global warming for the last now 17 years as CO2 had a slight increase. Mr Phil Jones head of the infamous Climategate British CRU also made the same statement and added that he had no explanation for the pause.
Does that confirm that higher CO2 content causes a pause in or may reduce warming?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/201...
http://www.forbes.com/sites/la...
Dr. John R.Christy University of Alabama gave a presentation recently
that rebuts Obama's less than scientifically honest claims about extreme
weather and Dr.Christy's charts can be found here:
http://www.globalwarming.org/w...
The text is here;
http://www.globalwarming.org/w...

Dr. Trenberth(NASA/NOAA) "The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t." in an email to the Climategate cabal.
Some say that "Trenberth was complaining about an accounting problem." In order for this to be an "accounting " problem Trenberth has to assume that warming is continuing even though orbiting and land based temperature records failed to show increased temperatures for 10 years or so at the time, now 17 years.. So for years these measuring devices were showing a warming trend but suddenly they stopped and Trenberth describes this as a travesty(travesty a false, absurd, or distorted representation of something). and you describe it as an accounting problem. Why this sudden lack of faith in the temperature collection systems that formed the basis for the AGW scare?

Others including Dr Trenberth have claimed "that “missing heat” has been pretty well accounted for in the oceans"
So the increased warming failed to affect the earth's land masses but did increase the heat in the oceans.
How did that happen and what exactly did the ARGO monitors show before and after corrections were applied. You might recall that the original ARGO data showed a slight cooling in 2006 which was widely published by Dr.Willis of NOAA until he saw the light(peer presure?) and "corrected" the data to show a slight warming. No doubt such correction are still being applied.

The only real debate on AGW took place at the Oxford Union in 2010 and global warming supporters lost. Lord Monckton and his team won
wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/24...
Since then any mention of a debate sends Al Gore into hiding and the
so-called AGW scientists scurrying back to their ivory towers or tax
payer funded government offices.crying the debate is over to prepare
another “peer reviewed”(by colleagues, friends or even relatives)
Chicken Little “The sky is falling” doom and gloom scenario for world
disaster.
So again "Where is the Science?

Stanley Kopacz | 4/16/2014 - 12:00am

You take a short period of time and make it more important than that last 100 years. You use the natural short term variations superimposed by things like El Nino and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation to say that CO2 is no longer doing what CO2 does. I don't buy it.

E.Patrick Mosman | 4/17/2014 - 5:48pm

El Nino cyclical weather pattern was known to the Incas of what is now Peru at least 500 years ago as it was named "El Nino" by the Spanish conquistadors at that time. Under 'El Nino' conditions fishing was seriously effected. Its opposite weather condition, more recently named "La Nina"(first use 1988), was known but not named as it was considered normal for that area. Today 'El Nino' and 'La Nina' are used as excuses or scapegoats for computer projection failures by GW alarmists.

After McIntyre pointed out that NASA/NOAA had reported incorrect temperature for the 2000-2006 years, in 2007 NASA published revised temperature data which showed the following:
* Only 4 of the top 10 warmest years occurred in the past 10 years (1998, 1999, 2006).
* Out of the top 10 warmest years half occurred before 1940, 1934 was the warmest.
* The years 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004 were cooler than the year 1900.
* 1996 was actually cooler than average.
* 1921 was the third warmest year in recorded history (behind 1934 and 1998)
Today after NASAadjustments none of the 1930s are in the top ten warmest years..
Global warming is man-made, behind closed doors by tax-payer funded government employees.

Another NASA/Hansen adjustment, this time the whole country of Iceland was secretly warmed up.
http://newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=5070
Icelandic officials rejected the "adjusted" warmer temperatures out of hand.

Richard Savage | 4/16/2014 - 11:09am

Mr. Kopacz seems to have a short memory, like other climate change alarmists. He forgets that world temperatures went down from 1945 to 1976, while CO2 increased tremendously in the postwar recovery. I was a graduate student (Ph.D., meteorology) in the early 1970's; I was very aware of the controversy - in which most climatologists agreed we were headed into a Little Ice Age. TIME, Newsweek and the CIA agreed.
The recent 17 year lack of warming - acknowledged by the IPCC, NOAA and NASA - is not a minor "pause". It's the scientific falsification of the crackpot theory of global warming caused by CO2.
Get out of the way of the poor, Demeo and Kopacz. They need cheap electricity to warm their homes, cook their food, and substitute for muscles in doing their work. Stop working them to death.

Stanley Kopacz | 4/22/2014 - 10:09am

With natural gas replacing natural gas in the US, the coal boys have to find new markets. Increasing dependency of Africans on US supplied coal is one way to increase demand. With drought laden Africa, it would be interesting to see how they cool their big power plants, no doubt to be built by loans from the IMF, debt enslaving the Africans even more. If steampunk enthusiasts like yourself think its so great for the poor, you should found and fund charities out of your own pocket to build them. Looking at the limited amount of coal in Africa, I'd say you're pushing a kind of drug dependency.

JOHN WALTON MR | 4/11/2014 - 6:43pm

When it was written "lux vita et vita nostra" -- meant light from fire!

This article is exempla par gratia of the low standards of intellectual inquiry of the gaya worshipping Catholic hegemon.

Stanley Kopacz | 4/15/2014 - 11:51pm

You caricature people you disagree with. How about Catholics who believe in stewardship?

MARK POTTER | 4/11/2014 - 1:36pm

This is a thoughtful and passionate argument. Thank you!

I do think that one aspect of SRI that is not given enough attention in your argument is engagement with the companies through shareholder advocacy -- through dialogue and resolutions, if necessary. Indeed, this may be a particularly Ignatian way to approach the fossil fuel companies who have a responsibility to listen to their shareholders/stakeholders. The Jesuits have been participating in this kind of corporate engagement for several decades through the National Jesuit Committee on Investment Responsibility, which works closely with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. In the spirit of Ignatius and the early Jesuits, we have a responsibility to "learn the language" of communities that are different from us -- and to engage them in a mutual conversation about values and truth in language that both sides can understand.

Divestment without first trying to engage would seem to sever the possibilities for meaningful relationship. However, divestment could very well turn out to be the action that faith requires if we cannot identify common values and a mutually agreeable way of proceeding to preserve them.

Jeff Abood | 4/11/2014 - 1:06pm

These are excellent points in support of the divestment issues, whether they were in Apartheid South Africa, Big Oil or Israeli settlement products, like Sodastream.

THOMAS FARRELLY | 4/11/2014 - 12:43pm

May we assume that "administrators and trustees" who divest will stop using fossil fuels in their personal lives?
e.g. driving, heating, flying, using most public transportation. Inconvenient, but then they won't want to "contradict and undermine the teachings and mission of the Catholic Church".

Stanley Kopacz | 4/15/2014 - 11:47pm

I use fossil fuels, as little as possible. I drive a Prius but hope to someday eschew the use of cars altogether. But I have to change where and how I live. But even, then, more could be done with enough collective action and infrastructure change. The individual is limited in what they can individually do. Of course, I can always reduce my carbon footprint to zero by killing myself, if that would please you.

Richard Savage | 4/16/2014 - 5:35pm

I'm entirely satisfied if collectivist alarmists like you stop killing people who live in poverty. Millions of small children in the Third World die each year of pulmonary disease, resulting from indoor cooking fires of wood and dung.
There isn't any crisis due to "global warming." The crisis - which you and Demeo are making worse - is the suffering and early death of innocent people who lack reliable electricity.
Do whatever you please with your Prius and the rest of your sanctimonious nonsense, as long as you stop hurting others.

Stanley Kopacz | 4/22/2014 - 11:21am

I tried to be civil above. Finally got to the bottom personal attack. You come into a forum and do your skunk spray routine rather well. Well, America magazine, Doc Savage here won. I've too many personal things to do than to try to teach some pompous Ph.D. the manners his mommy failed to instill in him. Your credentials aren't nearly good enough to counter the climatologists. Talking to you is like mud wrestling with a mass of you know what.