Koch Group Sends Envoy To Rome To Convince Pope To Shut Up About Climate Change

In the clearest example yet of the stunning hubris of American conservative movement, a think tank backed by the Koch brothers says it will send a group of right-wing “scientists” (let’s use that term loosely here) to convince Pope Francis that his stance on climate change (i.e. that it exists and it is deeply troubling) is both scientifically wrong, but also biblically so.

You read that right: A group of wealthy energy industry businessmen think they can preach the gospel of climate denialism to the pope. This should be fun to watch.

The pope caught the ire of the libertarian-leaning Heartland Institute when the Vatican announced that he would be holding meetings with United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon and other experts to discuss what policymakers and religious leaders can do to better combat the worst effects of climate change. Heartland Institute’s subsequent freak out was captured in the hurriedly released statement announcing they would be sending their own experts to the meeting to intervene.

The Vatican’s summit features two men – Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, and Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs – who refuse to acknowledge the abundant data showing human greenhouse gas emissions are not causing a climate crisis and there is no need for a radical reordering of global economies that will cause massive reductions in human freedom and prosperity.

They definitely wouldn’t like a “radical reordering of global economies” because the current status quo suits their backers – billionaire chemical magnates and potential Disney villains Charles and David Koch – just fine.

The group alleges that the pope is being “misled” by experts at the United Nations who have “proven unworthy.” Instead, they say the pope should listen to their guys – shills paid directly by oil and gas companies to find data that supports the dubious premise that pouring millions of tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere does nothing at all. In fact, it’s God’s will to pollute, damn it!

“Humans are not causing a climate crisis on God’s Green Earth – in fact, they are fulfilling their Biblical duty to protect and use it for the benefit of humanity,” declared Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast.” Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate.”

Unfortunately for the Kochs, it doesn’t appear that Pope Francis is going to be easily persuaded. As Raw Story points out, this summer the pope is expected to publish a landmark encyclical letter that will largely focus on environmental issues. If his previous statements on the issue are any indication, the letter will likely mention climate change and the effects it has had on impoverished, vulnerable people. With the weight (both spiritual and political) of his station behind him, the pope has the opportunity to do a lot of good by calling on nations to address the issue. It’s no wonder polluters like the Kochs are not happy.

With his foray into climate change, we can expect the conservative movement to further attempt to undermine the pope’s image. For decades, conservatives have had a self-declared monopoly on speaking for the religious in America, but Pope Francis has them stymied. Much to the frustration of Republican lawmakers, the pope has been forcefully advocating for a back-to-the-basics form of Christianity that focuses on Jesus’ teachings on compassion and charity.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of money in peace and love, so Republicans who want to balance their sanctimonious holier-than-thou condescension with ample profits for corporations and the wealthy who bankroll them have had to awkwardly pretend that the pope just doesn’t “get it.” This has led to some confusing mixed messages, including – most hilariously – Fox News running an all-out hit piece on the Holy See.

If you never thought you’d see the day, then you just never realized just what gods these conservatives were worshiping all these years. Hint: They’re rectangular, green, and have the faces of several dead presidents.

Feature image via Catholic Church of England and Wales/Flickr