Sources I have seen indicate that the papal encyclical on climate change will issue on Thursday, that is, tomorrow. Maybe it's not yet a completely done deal, but at this point any chance of heading this off looks more or less hopeless.
On Monday the Italian newspaper L'Espresso published a leaked version of the encyclical. Translations of at least substantial sections have appeared on several websites; for example, wattsupwiththat has some large chunks of translation.
I have read some substantial parts of this, and I just can't get my head around what the thinking could possibly be. Pope Francis: There are at least a billion people in the world today who don't have electricity. There are more like two to three billion who are living in what can only be called energy poverty, at least by any standard that would be considered tolerable in America -- unreliable or intermittent electricity, no or limited heat or air conditioning, no refrigeration or other way to preserve food, no mechanized transportation, no mechanized farm equipment, and so forth. Are these people allowed to get out of their poverty like you have and like most everyone in the West has, or are they condemned to getting forcibly excluded by bureaucratic whim from getting access to affordable and readily available energy? What is your answer?
So here's the closest thing I can find to his answer:
Climate change is a global problem with serious environmental implications, social, economic, and political distribution, area and are one of the main current challenges for humanity. Impacts heavier probably will fall in the coming decades on developing countries. Many poor people living in particularly affected by phenomena related to heating, and their livelihoods depend heavily from nature reserves and by so-called ecosystem services, such as agriculture, fisheries and forestry. They have no other financial resources and other resources that enable them to adapt to climate impacts or deal with catastrophic situations, and have little access to social services and protection.
Now the translation here is clearly terrible -- it's not possible for the Pope or his people to be as incoherent as this sounds. But really, no amount of allowances for bad translation can make this anywhere near coherent. Could you really be saying that because "Impacts [of climate change] heavier probably will fall in the coming decades on developing countries" and because "[m]any poor people . . . their livelihoods depend heavily from nature reserves and by so-called ecosystem services . . .," therefore international bureaucrats should be empowered to prevent these poor people from getting access to the cheapest access to electricity, heating, and transportation and thereby escaping their poverty? I am one hundred percent certain that, of the three billion or so people in question here, not one single one of them, if given the choice, would give up access to real and cheap electricity because of what you claim as some hypothetical and speculative future damage to "so-called ecosystem services," whatever that means.
Here and there in the text, some lip service is paid to the idea of looking out for the poor. But somehow when the Pope tries to apply that concept to the real world, he weighs actual real poverty reduction -- like access to electricity or to an automobile -- at zero, and puts huge weight on things like avoiding ecosystem damage, or slowing rising seas. And what, pray tell, is the actual evidence that ecosystems will be healthier, or sea level rise slower, if we are all forced to use energy that is five or ten times more expensive than the cheapest available, with the poorest priced out of energy entirely? Can't you open your eyes and look around? In the United States and Europe, we have power plants everywhere, and we pay exquisite attention to having healthy ecosystems and a clean environment. Compare that to dirt poor Haiti, where they have next-to-no access to energy, the hills have been denuded of forests and the ecosystems are in collapse. How does it possibly help the poor of Haiti to force them to have ridiculously expensive intermittent electricity from windmills instead of building a few coal plants?
And then we have the usual play to guilt:
For poor countries, the priority should be the eradication of poverty and social development of their inhabitants; at the same time the scandalous level of consumption of certain privileged sectors of their population must be considered and better counter corruption.
Well, I have been to the Vatican palaces. If you are accusing me and my peers of a "scandalous level of consumption," I can assure you that we are a few orders of magnitude of consumption below that of the Vatican. And I'm not accusing you of anything inappropriate. You and your predecessors have brought magnificent architecture and art to the world, for the enjoyment of multitudes. Can others do the same?
If you had asked me whether it would be possible for the international Left to enlist the Pope in the campaign to keep the poor poor, I would have said that such a thing would just not be possible. But then, I just don't understand the socialist delusion.