So there you have it. The climate debate is over. Or it is, provided you accept that the highest authority of the human race is Pope Francis.
The long-awaited papal encyclical "Laudato Si" is now officially published, and it says pretty much what it had been expected to say. Planet Earth is described as "like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us".
Our sister/mother with whom we cohabit and embrace is under terrible threat from greenhouse gases:
We are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events ... Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming ...
Most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.
There are a lot of people – around a third of Britons*, for instance – who say they believe that, though not so many who are genuinely willing to give up their cars, regular washing, central heating, healthcare, foreign travel etc. The Pope also suggests that it's very unfair that the world's poor mostly don't have any of those things - but like most other concerned eco-advocates, he is unwilling to admit the inconvenient truth that we will need huge amounts of non-renewable energy if the poor are ever to get a taste of the good life. This will be the more so if the world's population continues to rise ... which makes the Pope's position on contraception perhaps a little uncomfortable too.
The Vicar of Christ on Earth has a lot of other stuff to assert as well. For instance:
In the first creation account in the Book of Genesis, God’s plan includes creating humanity. After the creation of man and woman, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen 1:31). The Bible teaches that every man and woman is created out of love and made in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26) ...
A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable ...
The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world. Otherwise, human beings will always try to impose their own laws and interests on reality.
And there's this:
Concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?
The Pope's going to be a pretty strange and uncomfortable anti-abortion bedfellow for a lot of standard left-wing climate activists, then. He'll be the sort of friend you really don't want for a lot of other people, too, as he has a lot of harsh words for market economics among other things.
And you have to remember that it's Catholic doctrine that all of this – no abortions, no contraception, an all-powerful Christian God who owns the world and who created the universe – this is all pretty much the unarguable Word of God delivered through his (not her) senior representative on Earth.
An earlier Pope made it pretty plain that encyclicals like this one aren't just discussion documents:
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent ... if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter ... cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion ...
So it's open and shut, for good Catholics who accept that the Pope is the supreme authority governing the human race. For them the climate debate is now over: the Supreme Pontiff's words demand their consent.
For anyone else ... maybe not so much. ®
*Naughty Britons ever since the time of King Henry VIII haven't been very good about accepting that the Pope is boss of the world, of course.