Catholic educational institutions teach the peer-reviewed science about climate change


….and follow the lead of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which includes scientists who have helped write the IPCC Assessments. Thus it’s no surprise that paleoclimatologist Michael Mann was asked to address the student body at Bishop O’Connell High School, a very large Catholic high school in Arlington,Virginia. It appears that Dr. Mann is more representative of the thinking of the Catholic Church about climate science than is the cultish Rick Santorum or the Inquisitor Ken Cuccinelli.

Re-posted from The Legend of Pine Ridge:

Climate Scientist Dr. Michael Mann Addresses Bishop O’Connell High School

On Friday, March 16, 2012, the famous paleoclimatologist Dr. Michael Mann spoke to all the students and faculty at Bishop O’Connell High School, a very large Catholic high school in Arlington,VA. Dr. Mann explained the science of climate change and the possible consequences of not addressing the problem. He showed pictures from his book Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming.

The students, who are studying climate change in science, asked a lot of questions that impressed Dr. Mann. The science teachers were really proud of the thoughtful questions the kids asked.

The Ecology Club all had their pictures taken with Dr. Mann. They were smiling like they were standing next to a rock star!

Just so everyone knows, Catholic educational institutions teach the peer-reviewed science about climate change and follow the lead of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which includes scientists who have helped write the IPCC Assessments.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Intervention by the Holy See at the Meeting of the UN General Assembly Debating on the Theme: “Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and the World At Work” (New York, 11 – 12 February 2008)

Re-posted from the Bishop O’Connell High School website (underlining added):

Students Engage in Climate Discussion

Posted 03/16/2012 03:08PM

At a special assembly this morning, students at Bishop O’Connell had the opportunity to engage in a discussion on climate change with Dr. Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. In 2007, he and hundreds of climate scientists from all over the world won a Nobel Prize for their work as part of a United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Dr. Mann was introduced by Principal Joseph Vorbach who set the stage by referring to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences and their interests in international research efforts in the area of long-term climate changes. “Of particular note to the Vatican,” Dr. Vorbach remarked, “are the socio-economic effects that could impact the poorest and most vulnerable in the world.”

Dr. Mann began his discussion with a historical perspective. “Scientists have been collecting data on climate trends for more than 100 years,” he said. “This isn’t anything new.”

“What is relatively new in our lifetime is the global interest and engagement on the potential effects of an upward trend in average temperatures around the world,” he added.

Dr. Mann made a point to tell the students that the work he and his colleagues are doing is not to “predict” global climate trends, but rather to “project” how the trend could continue given different future scenarios. Students were introduced to some of the natural and human factors around the world that may contribute to rising temperatures, and some of the ways that society could be impacted by these changes over the next century.

With extra time for questions at the end of the presentation, students asked questions about his research and methods. One student asked how researchers are able to differentiate between simply correlation of factors and real cause and effect. Others asked not only about how to make changes for the future, but about the possibility of reversing some of the effects that are apparent already today. There were still hands up in the air when it was time to wrap up the discussion and head back to class.

“We were thrilled that our students could participate in this discussion today,” said President Katy Prebble. “Our hope is that these opportunities help them get their arms around the importance of being stewards of God’s creation and begin thinking about their personal role in their generation’s future.”

While passing through the Washington, DC, area, Dr. Mann also gave a well-attended and well-received talk at the legendary Politics & Prose Bookstore  on March 15 on his new book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.

Earlier posts:
Stephen Schneider and the millennial generation

“When we stumble onto those moments of wonder when we have pushed back the frontier of human knowledge, Steve is smiling. Whenever we find Steve’s courage to stand up to the forces of unreason, Steve is cheering. And whenever we open our office doors and our lives to students, guide them, mentor them, and teach them, Steve will be smiling.”

Virginia Supreme Court tosses out AG Cuccinelli inquisition on Michael Mann

“The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” – and a skirmish with denialists on Amazon


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7 Responses to Catholic educational institutions teach the peer-reviewed science about climate change

  1. Michael MacCracken says:

    Even before the Pontifical Academy statement was the statement adopted UNANIMOUSLY by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops USCCB). It can be found at

    Following a meeting on climate change and religion convened by the AAAS Committee on a Dialogue Between Science and Religion in 1999, where I gave the science talk, the staff of the USCCB asked if I would serve as science advisor on their preparation of a statement on climate change. (A link to the meeting can be found at Though not a Catholic, I agreed, and ended up reviewing each of the 30-some drafts. I actually thought it came out pretty well — and still holds up as a strong moral statement on climate change that makes good sense for all, not just Catholics.

  2. sailrick says:

    The ‘skeptics’ must be tearing their hair out over this one

  3. Snapple says:

    Thank you for this article and the comment by Michael McCracken.

    Some day, the students will understand how Dr. Mann made it possible for them to continue to study peer-reviewed climate science when they go to state universities in Virgina. Teachers in Catholic schools can just say that we go with the peer-reviewed science, because that’s what the Pontifical Academy of Sciences recommends, but in public schools the denialists sometimes hire lawyers to intimidate school administrators and teachers.

  4. Snapple says:

    Last week, the great and much maligned climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann also appeared on the Kremlin-financed Russia Today (3-17-12) English-language satellite TV. This channel is part of the Russian government’s RIA Novosti news agency. In the past, Russia Today has hosted climate change denialists and has trashed real climate scientists. Perhaps the party line has changed.

    I didn’t have any problems with what the renowned Dr. Michael Mann said about climate change, and I thought that it was great that he was able to appear on Russia Today (RT); but I thought some facts should have been acknowledged by Russia Today. I have a problem with pointing the finger only at Americans, Western denialist politicians such as Senator Inhofe, and the denialist Heartland Institute, as the program’s host did.

    The RT host Mr. Hartman told the truth, but it was only a half-truth: he failed to mention that his employer Russia Today has often provided a platform for climate change denialists such as Lord Monckton, John O’Sullivan, Piers Corbyn, and Pat Michaels. Some really old Russian scientists have been trotted out on Russia Today, but not young Russian climate scientists–as far as I can tell….more

    Hope you read the full post and the links.

    • Rick - Climate Science Watch says:

      I did not see this interview with Dr. Mann, and I haven’t been closely attuned to the RT network (formerly Russia Today), so can’t evaluate how they have covered climate science in the past. However, my understanding is that Dr. Mann’s interview was on the Thom Hartmann program. My understanding is that Hartmann is an editorially independent talk show host with a substantial audience (probably the largest in progressive left-of-center talk radio), who appears on multiple radio, cable, satellite, and online networks in the US and internationally, including now one of his programs that is aired on RT as well as other outlets. A general article on his role, and on his programs, is here:

      He has been around for some time. My understanding is that recently he made a contractual deal with RT to use their Washington DC studio facility to record his program The Big Picture. This is summarized here:

      The text includes this:
      “The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann is an American TV talk/news show owned, hosted and produced by political commentator and radio host Thom Hartmann, and Hartmann’s production company (which also produces his radio show), Mythical Research, Inc., and is represented by WYD Media, Inc. The Big Picture started in 2008 in Portland, Oregon, as a half-hour TV show and was originally syndicated exclusively on Free Speech TV.

      “Over the next few years, more community TV stations and cable systems picked it up, and Hartmann moved to Washington, DC, taking both his radio show and The Big Picture with him. With that move, he expanded the show to an hour, and also licensed the show to RT, partially in exchange for use of their television studios and facilities. While the show carries the RT bug, it is entirely owned by Hartmann’s company, which has contractual editorial control over the program. The editorial staff of the show are employees of Hartmann’s company, while the TV production staff work for RT.

      “The show is now recorded and broadcast live by RT America, the Washington, D.C.-based affiliate of RT with a presence on both over-the-air and cable TV systems in many major American cities, and also syndicated by Free Speech TV and carried nationwide on both Dish Network channel 9415, Direct TV Channel 358, and on local Public-access television stations across the country.[1]. From January 17th 2012 RT’s international English-language channel started to broadcast it worldwide in over 100 countries.

      “As with his overall political stance and his talk radio program, The Big Picture leans to the left-of-center in American politics and primarily focuses on American topics while featuring many debates with conservative personalities.”

      So, he is not a Kremlin agent, he is an independent progressive. I expect his views on climate science would be in accord with the mainstream science community, though I haven’t been following his work. Maybe that would help explain how his coverage of climate science might differ from other material that has been presented on RT.

      More generally, I think international TV news and commentary should be evaluated on its merits without simplistic stereotyping by sponsor. For example, I think many would agree that Al Jazeera English TV has done an excellent job, with real journalism, in covering a wide range of international events (including climate change issues). Not without its own biases, but compare with Fox. Spend some time watching (on cable or online) how the many reporters worldwide on Al Jazeera English cover stories, especially at the grassroots in the developing countries (without the celebrity news anchor star system), and listen to the expertise of the analysts they bring on (contrasted with the typical gang of parochially US-minded pundits we get saturated with on the US networks), the international rather than narrowly US-centric focus, the 24/7 non-commercial coverage. Then go back and contrast with CNN and its endless preoccupation with Romney vs. Santorum and the like, if you can get past the commercials.

      I saw one discussion on RT recently that ran circles intellectually around what we likely would have seen on CNN, if CNN had even covered the story. This is not a defense of any inappropriate slant that RT might have in how it covers stories, but just remember that the US 24-hour news networks (CNN, MSNBC, Fox) are all heavily slanted in a US-centric and pro-US view of the world, and are all dependent for funding on US corporate interests. That may be comfortable for US viewers, and maybe almost invisible because so taken for granted, but it doesn’t necessarily make for good, independent journalism, especially on international issues.

  5. Snapple says:

    Your site promotes integrity in the use of climate science in government.
    It doesn’t say what government.

    The program is on Russia Today. It has their logo.

    I criticize American AND Russian politicians and government agencies for their lies about the climate scientists. I have even criticized the FBI (the US government) for its ignorant white paper, which claims climate scientists who studied nuclear winter were duped by the KGB. Personally, I think the FBI was duped and wonder how this white paper slipped by.

    Inhofe, Heartland, Morano, Cuccinelli and the Russian government media ALL spread the SAME climategate falsehoods about the scientists.

    Should we only criticize American politicians when Russian government agencies are spreading the same propaganda?

    The FBI also spreads falsehoods about climate science. I tell them, but they would rather listen to some KGB defector’s vague allegations in a journalist’s book than to American climate scientists. The FBI didn’t retract their white paper yet. Russia Today is doing a good thing to host Dr. Mann, but I don’t have amnesia about how they spread the Climategate propaganda.

    Maybe you climate scientists don’t know what the FBI (the US government) says about the scientists who studied nuclear winter. I am sure you will understand it even better than I do, but I have read scholars on the history of the nuclear winter debate, and the FBI account is ridiculous.

  6. Snapple says:

    I don’t disagree with what Mr. Hartman said, but I do say that he gave a partial picture when he only criticized American officials and American denialist organizations. These organizations deserve criticism, but so do the Russian government’s media agencies.

    If Mr. Hartmann is totally free on RT, then he should be free to do a follow-up program that criticizes the Russian government’s media agencies RT and RIA Novosti for spreading the Climategate propaganda.

    I actually think that the Russians could really get some respect if they came clean about their role in spreading Climategate propaganda. I would respect that a lot. After all, they are the leaders of a world power, not a Virginia Tea Party.

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