Message to Pope Francis: Protect the Poor from Harmful Climate Policies

by E. Calvin Beisner, Guest Commentator |

BURKE, Va. (Christian Examiner) -- "Adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere isn't going to cause dangerous global warming, but it sure will enhance all life on earth—including human life, especially among the poor."

That is the message E. Calvin Beisner, founder and national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, will deliver in Rome Monday and Tuesday. He will build on "Protect the Poor: Ten Reasons to Oppose Harmful Climate Change Policies," a declaration the Cornwall Alliance issued last year, signed by hundreds of scholars and laymen.

On Tuesday the Pontifical Academy of Sciences will host the workshop "Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity," featuring U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs. They both persist in predicting dangerous global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

"CO2's impact on global temperature is real but so tiny as to be insignificant," says Beisner. "Trying to reduce our emissions will neither protect the earth nor dignify humanity."

Beisner is one of a group of experts on the science, economics, and ethics of climate change and climate policy who will hold a press conference at the Hotel Columbus Monday at 1 p.m. (7 a.m. Eastern Time) and deliver lectures at the Palazzo Cardinal Cesi Tuesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. (7 to 8:30 a.m. ET).

"The grave danger to the world, and especially to the poor, isn't global warming," he says, "but the poverty that would be induced or prolonged by policies meant to fight it."

Beisner says fears of dangerous, manmade warming rest solely on simulations by computer climate models. But on average the models simulate twice the warming observed over relevant periods, all simulate more warming than observed, and none simulated the complete absence of observed warming over the past 18 years or more.

"That means the models are wrong," he said. "Therefore they provide no rational basis to fear dangerous, manmade warming. And therefore they provide no rational basis for any policy to try to address it."

Beisner, a seminary professor of historical theology and social ethics when he founded the Cornwall Alliance in 2005, received the "Outstanding Spokesman on Faith, Science, and Stewardship Award" from the Heritage Foundation at the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change last year. He believes Christian ethics requires protecting the poor from harm, since they lack the means to protect themselves.

"Psalm 72 says it's a ruler's duty to shield the poor from oppression," he said. "Requiring the world to abandon the abundant, reliable, affordable energy provided by fossil fuels in the name of fighting global warming oppresses the poor. They desperately need that energy, and for now and the foreseeable future no other energy source can give it to them.

"Pope Francis, a long-time defender of the poor, needs to understand this before he issues a planned encyclical on the environment and climate change," Beisner added. "We and the climate scientists and other scholars meeting in Rome will do our best to make it clear."

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation is a network of theologians, scientists, economists, and other experts dedicated to promoting Biblical earth stewardship, economic development for the poor, and the proclamation and defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Media questions may be directed to Megan Toombs, Cornwall Alliance communications and outreach coordinator:, 423-827-8584 (mobile), 703-569-4653 (office).