Koch-backed group sending 'real scientists' to school Pope Francis about 'Biblical duty' to pollute
Pope Francis (AFP)

A Koch-backed think tank plans to send climate change deniers to Rome in hopes of convincing Pope Francis not to support United Nations action on the environment.

The libertarian Heartland Institute -- perhaps best known for working alongside cigarette manufacturers to question the dangers of second-hand smoke -- will host a workshop featuring two “real scientists” Tuesday in Rome ahead of a Vatican summit on the environment, although the group neglected to identify its scientists.

Pope Francis plans to issue an encyclical letter this summer that will address environmental issues, and very likely climate change -- which could make the issue a moral and religious concern for Christians worldwide.

The Vatican summit will feature UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs – who the conservative group complained ignore “abundant data showing human greenhouse gas emissions are not causing a climate crisis.”

They said proposed international regulations on airborne pollutants would amount to “a radical reordering of global economies that will cause massive reductions in human freedom and prosperity.”

“The Holy Father is being misled by ‘experts’ at the United Nations who have proven unworthy of his trust,” said Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute. “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. 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.”

He called on anyone with “open ears” to fulfill their moral duty to seek the truth on climate change – which 97 percent of scientists agree is likely the result of human activities.

“The science is not settled, and global warming is not a crisis,” Bast said. “The world’s poor will suffer horribly if reliable energy – the engine of prosperity and a better life – is made more expensive and less reliable by the decree of global planners.”