How Fox News Covered Pope Francis' Action On Climate Change

Skepticism, Fearmongering, And Comparison To “Widespread Population Control”

Pope francis climate

Fox News reported on Pope Francis' upcoming action on climate change by promoting climate change denial and suggesting that the pope is aligning with “extremists who favor widespread population control and wealth redistribution.”

While many Catholics praised Pope Francis' recent announcement that he will publish an encyclical -- a papal letter sent to all the bishops in the Catholic Church -- on climate change, Fox News responded by stoking fears and promoting climate change denial. Fox News correspondent Doug McKelway reported on the December 30 edition of Special Report that the move will be “aligning [Pope Francis] with some church enemies,” including “a few environmental extremists who favor widespread population control and wealth redistribution.” The segment also featured climate “skeptic” Marc Morano -- who is paid by an industry-funded group to run the climate change-denying website --  to falsely claim that there has been “no global warming” for “almost two decades”:

But acting on climate change already has widespread support among Catholics. The pope's move comes after senior bishops from around the globe called on the world's governments to phase out fossil fuels completely in order to “protect frontline communities suffering from the impacts of climate change.” Christian leaders have been promoting climate action for many years, citing its disproportionate impacts on the poor as a main concern. In 2006, the Evangelical Climate Initiative urged members of the church to act on climate change because it “hit[s] the poor the hardest”:

Poor nations and poor individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats. The consequences of global warming will therefore hit the poor the hardest, in part because those areas likely to be significantly affected first are in the poorest regions of the world. Millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors.


Christians must care about climate change because we are called to love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and to protect and care for the least of these as though each was Jesus Christ himself (Mt. 22:34-40; Mt. 7:12; Mt. 25:31-46).

Christians, noting the fact that most of the climate change problem is human induced, are reminded that when God made humanity he commissioned us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures. Climate change is the latest evidence of our failure to exercise proper stewardship, and constitutes a critical opportunity for us to do better (Gen. 1:26-28).

McKelway also warned that the pope's action may equate the scientific consensus on climate change with a religion. On the December 30 edition of Happening Now, McKelway claimed that the climate change encyclical “may play well into the hands of skeptics who've long seen global warming fears as almost religious in its fervor, with biblical themes of a pristine Eden-like planet tarnished by man, followed by a loss of grace and a coming doomsday.”

Conservative media persistently erode trust in scientists by likening climate change to a "religion" ad nauseum. By doing so, they implicitly frame climate change skeptics as “brave dissidents against an oppressive set of beliefs.”

McKelway was fired from his previous job reporting for ABC's Washington, D.C. affiliate, for getting into a “shouting match” with his boss over his faulty criticism of “far left environmental groups” in a piece recycling the false claim that President Obama received campaign money from BP. He was hired at Fox News soon afterwards, a move in line with the network's trend of hiring media figures let go over controversy.