Michael Pascoe: George Pell-Style Cost of Climate Change Denial


There is no evidence that George Pell ever advocated burning those he considered heretics, but again, he was a traditionalist and a man of another century.

Which century is arguable, though the 17th would have been a good match given Cardinal Pell’s most arguable area of ​​stubborn ignorance – his inveterate climate denial.

The passion he devoted to promoting carbon dioxide and criticizing “neo-Marxist” environmental “cultists” would have been right at home in dragging Galileo before the Roman Inquisition, banning his book and forcing him to to deny that the earth revolved around the sun – clearly heresy.

That’s hardcore “conservatism” in any century.

And Cardinal Pell managed to the end to put his idea of ​​faith before science, not just in cowardly anonymous “memos”, but under his own name in the conservative strip, The spectatorwhich in Australia outbids the Murdochs The Australian as the cradle of persistent climate denial and the crazier end of the right-wing culture war.

Attacking the Catholic Synod of Bishops as a “poisonous nightmare”, Cardinal Pell – Tony Abbott’s nominee for canonization – added:

“The last two synods in Rome in 2023 and ’24 will have to clarify their teachings on moral matters, as the Relator (chief writer and manager) Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich made public the Church’s basic teachings on sexuality, on the grounds that they contradict with modern science.”

Ah, modern science – the work of the devil, to be sure.

Faith, not facts

Cardinal Pell apparently fancied himself a bit of a climate scientist when he made significant efforts to tackle climate change, actually doing damage by encouraging Mr Abbott’s efforts to pump out the carbon.

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The Lismore floods in February 2022 were just one of Australia’s flood disasters last year.

Faith can only be a matter of faith – an invisible, immeasurable, inner conviction.

Climate change, on the other hand, can be measured in a number of ways. Using degrees Celsius is the most obvious, but dollars are the most persuasive.

There are no Pellsian climate deniers in the insurance industry. There hasn’t been for many years as the dollar costs of climate change are counted.

Insurance industry counts the cost

The insurance bible for natural disaster costs is the annual review of Munich Re, one of the world’s largest insurance and reinsurance companies.

The 2019 report counted 820 natural disasters causing total losses of $150 billion, which was “broadly in line with the inflation-adjusted average over the past 30 years.”

Just three years later, the average over the past five years, adjusted for inflation, is $270 billion.

The score for 2022 was $270 billion, down from the very expensive $320 billion in 2021.

Munich Re was clear about the reasons.

According to the company’s chief climate scientist, Ernst Rauch, “When looking at the natural disaster numbers for 2022, two factors should be kept in mind. First, we are experiencing La Niña conditions for the third year in a row. This increases the likelihood of hurricanes in North America, flooding in Australia, droughts and heat waves in China, and heavier monsoon rains in parts of South Asia. At the same time, climate change tends towards more weather extremes, so that the effects sometimes complement each other.”

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Intriguingly, Munich Re is imposing higher costs on Australia’s 2022 floods than the federal government.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said last week that “models” showed that last year’s severe flooding cost the economy $5 billion. Munich Re estimates it was nearly double that of $9.5 billion ($6.6 billion).

Australia’s insured losses alone totaled $5.6 billion ($US3.9 billion), according to Munich Re.

(If it’s a choice between relying on Treasury modeling and insurance companies counting dollars, I support Munich Re.)

Former colleague Glenn Dyer has put the cost of the floods in a different context: it is Australia’s biggest ever financial disaster, easily surpassing the $5.3 billion cost of HIH Insurance’s collapse in 2001.

Mr Dyer wrote in Share Café that Munich Re’s report explains IAG’s announcement that it will have to take more of its insured risks this year.

Reinsurance costs are going up for all of our insurers.

And that means higher premiums for customers and greater risk for insurance companies.

There can be a big difference between total losses and insured losses, depending on the country where the disaster occurs and the type of disaster.

In some countries, people are chronically underinsured, while there is relative underinsurance for floods in every country.

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So while Pakistan’s floods caused a $15 billion loss last year, the insured losses were “minor” and didn’t earn a number on the Munich Re scorecard.

Australia’s flooding ranks fourth in the world for total losses, but we came second to Hurricane Ian’s $60 billion in US insured losses.

Cardinal George Pell gave part of his testimony to the royal commission via video from Rome.

The late Cardinal Pell’s science-denying faith won’t help any of us with the costs, but at least there’s no longer the danger of climate scientists or insurance company executives being burned at the stake.

Countless damage

Cardinal Pell’s other failures are not so easy to count.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recorded his failure to protect children from pedophile priests, but there is no Richter scale for the effect of his bullying Conservative certainty or his discomfort with and dismissal of women.

Perhaps Cardinal Pell’s best review was accidentally written by him when he was on his list Spectator allegiance to which he most clearly opposed:

“The ex-Anglicans among us are right to see the growing confusion, the attack on traditional morality and the inclusion of neo-Marxist jargon in the dialogue about exclusion, alienation, identity, marginalisation, the voiceless, LGBTQ and the displacement of Christians. notions of forgiveness, sin, sacrifice, healing, redemption. Why the silence about the afterlife of reward or punishment, about the four last things; death and judgment, heaven and hell?”

And don’t forget about that evil environmental cult.