What Should the Pope’s Ecology Encyclical Say?

There has been some discussion of news reports that Pope Francis plans to write an encyclical letter on ecology and the environment. In anticipation of a possible papal letter on those subjects, two recent articles struck my attention.

Robb Willer, in the New York Times opines that one reason for the divergent political responses over how to handle environmental issues is moral: “[w]here liberals view environmental issues as matters of right or wrong, conservatives generally do not.” He also argues that, absent that moral factor, one lacks the critical mass necessary and sufficient to jumpstart political action. When facing a complex and costly problem such as those environmental issues pose, the temptation towards inertia will prevail absent some moral catalyst to action.

Michael Peppard, over at Commonweal, thinks he has a preview of what Pope Francis might say in his encyclical. He draws on a speech on “integral ecology” recently given at Maynooth by Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council Justitia et pax.

Given the chance that such an encyclical may be in the offing, this author would like to offer some reflections.

Peppard thinks, from Turkson’s text, that the Pope may formulate his document by framing an “integral ecology,” drawing on the recent Magisterium of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. After first doing this, he would then move to specific issues.

That could be a critical, make-or-break point for the reception of the letter. Papal teaching sets a direction for the Church, a direction for the faithful to shape their vision. No encyclical should be cherry picked for temporary political alliances, e.g., by putting emphasis on prudential judgments about concrete solutions to specific issues such as climate change, at the expense of a more holistic vision. The encyclical should provide a holistic view of how to look at ecology and environmental issues from a Christian anthropological standpoint.

Willer’s text suggests to this author that a certain segment of society is prone to make ecology a religion and, while that group is generally averse to morals in the public square, they readily do a volte face when it comes to investing environmental issues with moral significance. “We found that conservatives were less likely than liberals to describe pro-environmental efforts in moral terms, or to pass moral judgment on someone who behaved in an environmentally unfriendly way, for example, by not recycling.”

To put it mildly, the moral question of what to do with your empty Coke can is a consideration quite remote from the central doctrines of the faith. Because environmentalism has acquired a quasi-religious, often pantheistic, character in some circles, it seems imperative that any encyclical on the environment necessarily articulate a Christian perspective of the overall question, consistent with the Christian vision of man’s place in the universe as imago Dei, responsible for, part of, yet qualitatively different from all other creation.

I stress these elements—responsible for, part of, yet qualitatively different from the rest of creation—because I recall the barbaric conclusions of South African philosopher David Benatar—once upon a time expounded in the Times’ pages (by Peter Singer, of course). Benatar, in his book Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence mulls, among other things, that the extinction of humanity would not necessarily be a bad thing for the planet. While joining forces to address responsibility for creation, no Catholic environmental action could accept the notion that the extinction of humans—“the one creation God wanted for himself” as St. John Paul II, quoting Vatican II, constantly reminded us—is in any way a “good” for creation.

Clear articulation of an “integral theology” that sees man as part of creation but still a qualitatively different part of it is imperative. It needs to be explained, taught, and catechized. Absent that, this writer fears that the Church may often find herself co-opted into projects whose ultimate consequences are alien to a Catholic vision of a humane world. There will be a temptation—as in some strains of ecumenism—to shortcut the heavy lifting of addressing doctrinal disagreement by rushing towards the “practical” (e.g., something practical to do, like intercommunion, before we even agree on what the Eucharist is). Absent a common why we are doing what we are doing, the what may lead us where, in the end, we do not and should not want to go.

An ecology encyclical should also not disconnect ecology from the family. Antipathy to the human in general often finds concrete expression in antipathy to the family, especially children. It is also a paradox that so many “green” advocates who will pay quadruple the price to swallow a free range egg or organic spinach seem also capable of digesting the gross environmental assault on the human body through chemical suppression of the very natural human good of … fertility. Man and woman are naturally fertile, and the artificial, externally induced hormonal alteration (often carried out long term) of one’s endocrine system to eliminate natural fertility is a fundamental contradiction. This is also part of ecology.

Given the presence of a significant anti-human crowd in the environmental movement—those convinced that the way to eliminate human problems is to eliminate humans—these family aspects of “living with nature and creation” ought not to be omitted from the letter, especially because they might be “controversial” or rather “a matter of sexual ethics.” They are very much at the heart of an integral—and humane—ecology.

Articulation of the moral cause for the environment is imperative, and it can be done. Catholic theology has the resources to build an “integral ecology” true to the Genesis vision of man as creature, as imago Dei, and as vice regent of creation. But it is also a stretch from there to mandating “moral causes” in pursuit of political agendas or to ascribing “moral judgment” to what I did this afternoon to my Coke can.

Editor’s note: In the image above, Pope Francis is enlisted, perhaps unenthusiastically (given his expression), in a South American anti-fracking campaign.

John M. Grondelski

By

John M. Grondelski (Ph.D., Fordham) is former associate dean of the School of Theology, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ. All views expressed herein are exclusively his own.

  • St JD George

    How about leading with we should be conservative with and good stewards of God’s gifts, then finishing with being honest and not worshiping at the alter of false green idols.

  • AcceptingReality

    He could start by saying that man made global climate change, which used to be global warming, which used to be the coming glacier, is a hoax devised to be used a political football.

    • The trouble is, I can look at a local mountain and see it happening. I am a climate change skeptic though- I am skeptical that it is man made and I join one of the founders of Greenpeace in being skeptical that it is a dire crisis rather than an opportunity to grow more food.

  • 1crappie2

    This pope has expressed confidence in the “science” of climate change, which ought to concern all Catholics who believe that neither reason nor true factual science can be left out of any environmental instruction to the faithful.
    The last thing the recently disoriented faithful need from this pope is more lack of clarity and frankly, this Catholic, watching this once vibrant Church crumble from within while being attacked openly from outside, wonders deeply why salvation–which is the Church’s mission– has been relegated to the back burner in favor of quasi-political issues including a concept of questionable stewardship that involves potential political hoaxes such as anthropomorphic climate change (global warming) birthed in the very political UN.
    Must we now move to wondering of the moral aspects of St Joseph’s choices as he spent his life cutting down God’s precious trees in order to continue his carpentry work?

    • Thomas J. Hennigan

      The “science” of climate change hogwash, a hoax, as politicians give lot so moneyto researches and there is thus a great incentive to come up with the results the politicians like to hear. It is to be hoped that Pope Francis will do a bit more homework on the matter than what he has done on the Islamic jihad issue, where he is simply wrong, as it is obvious that he has no notion of what he Quran and other Islamic sources actually say. If he goes down that road, what he will achieve is a loss of prestige for the voice of the Church in the matter of ecology.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    “A certain cobbler had found fault with the shoes of a figure in one of Apelles’ paintings. Not wishing to disregard the advice of an expert, Apelles corrected the mistake. The cobbler, flattered, went on to criticize the shape of a figure’s legs. This was too much for Apelles. ‘Cobbler, stick to your last!’.

  • Murray

    On the matter of that wistful editor’s note above, it seems that the Holy Father was a more than willing participant in the photo-op. In January, Maureen Mullarkey provided the essential (and entirely unsurprising) background to the incident [my emphases in bold]:

    That meeting between Francis and Solanas, on November 11, 2013, had been scheduled for months. It was the culmination of a Vatican conference on “environmental crimes” with Argentine activists. Federal prosecutor Gustavo Gomez participated. When discussions ended, Francis’ invited Solanas and Gomez into his apartment for a private audience and closing photo-op. A cameraman and sound technician accompanied. There was nothing casual about it.[…]

    The film ran while the pope sorted through the T-shirts and held them up to the camera: “Say No to Fracking” and “Water Is Worth More than Gold.” That done, image-conscious Francis selected the wall he wanted to pose against while he delivered a homilette. It is a disquieting, rambling bit of stagecraft.

    • fredx2

      How would Maureen Mulllarkey know what went on at the meeting? Was she there? And note that although those activists specifically came to the meeting to get Francis to declare that certain things were “environmental crimes” he has not done anything of the sort. The uncomfortable look on the Pope’s face says volumes.

      • Murray

        Still whistling past the graveyard, eh Fred?

        • St JD George

          Thanks for confirming my fears about him on this Murray – I was inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt up until now, admittedly out of ignorance and compassion.
          In all honesty, there is a legitimate conversation to be had about developing alternate energy sources for the future, protecting the environment, and that a totalitarian one size fits all approach is incompetent. Unfortunately, a new green religion has been spawned from all this nonsense and the disciples who follow wish to crucify all “deniers”. If it weren’t so sad it would be funny and you could write a book about man’s insanity and worship of false God’s.

        • GG

          Hehehehe. The truth hurts.

      • Murray
        • Nel

          I thought it was an incoherent ramble, but that when he did make some kind of point – we are disposing of the young and the old; we have a disposable culture; young people need meaningful work; we need a sense of belonging – he didn’t say anything objectionable. He didn’t have any particular point; his rhetoric isn’t clear and coherent. But he didn’t say anything ‘wrong.’

          As for the T-shirts, I don’t really see the problem with him holding up the one saying that water is more precious than gold. I can see the point of that: you can live a very long time without gold – even 24 carat gold – but you can’t live long without water, especially clean water.

          I don’t know what the aim of the two guests was, but if they wanted him to condemn global warming or fracking – I didn’t see him do that (granted, I had the sound off at the beginning, but that was before the Holy Father started talking).

          As for him deciding what wall to be filmed against – the charitable view is that he has been in a number of such situations and knows that a simple backdrop is best for the person doing the filming. It was, after all, a plain, white wall. It’s not like he was trying to find a place where they’d film him from his ‘best side’ or that he chose some kind of self-flattering backdrop.

          All in all, while I’m not impressed by any of this – he seems to be rambling like the elderly often do – I don’t see anything ‘bad’ in anything he said, or anything non-Catholic. No particular substance, but nothing scary.

          • Murray

            Well, let’s try to focus here, precisely in the manner that the Holy Father doesn’t in that video.

            The absurd claim was made that the Holy Father was duped or somehow unhappy to be holding up political t-shirts in front of snapping cameras, of his own free will. In fact, the video shows him going through the table of agitprop and holding up at least two t-shirts to be photographed with.

            Here is the transcript from that scene [starting at 1:11]:

            Pope Francis, holding up a WATER WORTH MORE THAN GOLD t-shirt as the cameras flash: You are happy with this. Super.
            Off-camera voice: You do not know how much it means, arriving to Famatinas with such a photo
            Pope Francis, apparently in a winking tone: Someone will get upset.

            Nobody duped him. He wasn’t being naive. To the contrary, Pope Francis was in full control of the situation: he clearly meant to endorse their various causes. Why do the Holy Father’s defenders consistently need to insult him by implying that he’s stupid, or blind to the clear implication of his freely chosen actions, or doesn’t know what cameras are for?

    • Nel

      I find a contradiction between ‘stagecraft’ – which by definition is carefully ‘crafted’ – and ‘rambling.’ I heard the rambling; I didn’t see anything of ‘stagecraft’ on the Holy Father’s side when it comes to something as simple as saying, ‘Let’s stand over here to film this part.’

      If there’s any ‘craft’ going on in this video, it’s in the editing. Watch very carefully. The Holy Father picks up a shirt that says, ‘Water is more precious than gold.’ He seems to agree with the slogan, and the film carries on with him happily holding up that shirt. This is around 1:27. But then the editor does something quite strange. We stop seeing a video stream, and we go to still pictures of the HF holding up the ‘No Fracking’ T-shirt. You get three snapshots, instead of a film: HF holding the ‘Water is more precious’ shirt; then snapshot of him bending over the ‘No Fracking’ shirt, then another snapshot – in which he is NOT smiling – while holding up the ‘No Fracking’ shirt, before they return to the video stream of him once again holding the ‘Water is more precious than gold’ shirt.

      I’ve looked at it several times, and it looks like they spliced in the picture with the ‘No Fracking’ shirt and deliberately cut out the ‘live action’ of the Holy Father picking up the shirt. Why? It’s possible that he said something the producers of this video don’t want people to hear. Why do we get real video of him smiling and happily holding up the ‘water’ shirt but then the ‘fracking’ shirt thing has to be spliced in – in still shots, no audio of what’s being said then – before going back to where we were, with the HF holding up the ‘water’ shirt.

      I think if there’s any ‘craft’ going on, it’s with whoever edited this film and chose that particular place to put in some still photos where we DO NOT get the HF’s actions, words, and facial expressions except in one carefully chosen image with that picture.

      I think he was used there – and that we’ll never know what he actually said or how he felt about the Fracking t-shirt because it was edited out.

      • Murray

        Wow.

  • fredx2

    In the articles I have seen, it is claimed the Pope will focus on a “human ecology”. What this means is anyone’s guess, but hopefully it means that we need to not only care for the natural world, but we have to help out those who are suffering as a result of natural changes in the climate.

    If the Pope goes the other way and tells us all to abide by the nonsensical science being put out by UN bodies such as the IPCC, then he merely shows that he is a bit of a lightweight, and he merely diminishes his credibility.

  • JP

    There’s an economic dimension to all of this Climate Change nonsense. To illustrate the insanity, just follow the history of the ethanol industry – especially recent history. And no, President Obama didn’t have anything to do with it. But 2 Republicans did – Rep Fred Upton and former President Bush. Bush famously gave a speech which scolded Americans and their addiction to fossil fuels. And in 2005, as a a follow up, he ordered that ethanol be added in greater and greater amounts to our gasoline and diesel supplies. This had an immediate impact on corn, wheat, and soy bean prices. Oil prices, which had been on the rise since 2002, continued to spike upwards. And because of new EPA mandates, the price of corn and beans spiked upwards as well. The results were predictable. In 2007, food riots broke out in Latin America as a protest to the doubling of the price of corn meal. Two years later, the Arab Spring began as food riots in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. The poor were made to starve so upper middle class Americans could feel good about themselves.

    There are First World problems and there Third World problems. The Pope evidently is concerned with First World problems. The Pope, as move to show solidarity with the poor, should demand the US end its ethanol mandates.

  • Objectivetruth

    I don’t get it. What they now call climate change” they called “global warming” until they realized that most of the world was freezing up. And if the world’s climate is naturally changing, what do they want us to do about it? And it’s mostly liberal/Hollywood elites screaming about climate change. I get a kick out of it, especially when they fly around in private jets and have multiple 30,000 sq. ft. houses with the carbon footprint of a tyrannosaurus Rex. In the drought in California, they’re calling out the mansions in Hollywood and Beverly Hills who are still watering their lawn everyday and filling their 40,000 gallon swimming pools. Hypocrisy.

    • 90Lew90

      Bah! The decadent “elites”. Unless you’re completely stupid, climate change and our roll in it is not hard to grasp. You don’t have to be in an elite to get it, and I don’t think nature could have screamed it louder in the past few years. If you want to talk about “elites”, I’m sure you’re quite well to do in comparison with a lot of the global south. I’m quite sure you’re not getting baked, soaked or frozen every year, and you’re probably not getting sucked up in twisters. Comfortable, are we? You said something about hypocrisy…

      • Objectivetruth

        ” I don’t think nature could have screamed it louder in the past few years.”

        Oh….great!! The world’s top climatologist has come to our site! What’s your solution there, Sparky! Tell us……how are you such an expert?

        • 90Lew90

          As I said, it’s not that hard to grasp. You don’t need to be an expert. The data and the explanations for them are easily accessible. Then it’s over to you.

          • Objectivetruth

            Your solutions, smart guy?

            • 90Lew90

              Do your own homework. Or is reading too elitist?

              • Objectivetruth

                Then that’d be my solutions. Non answer. But of course, you have no solutions. Just sewage.

                • 90Lew90

                  The consensus view of the experts is, as I said, accessible. Unless you are utterly stupid. Go and access it. All the information you need is at your fingertips. Off you go now.

                  • Objectivetruth

                    It’s adorable how you “up vote” your own postings! Simply adorable!

      • GG

        They have medication for you now.

        • 90Lew90

          What would they have me medicated for?

      • LarryCicero

        How does one roll in it? Completely stupid.

        • 90Lew90

          Another typo. I guess they come from typing a lot. Not a challenge to the actual point made. What can I say? It’s almost midnight here and I’ve had a few drinks.

          • Guest

            Define a few drinks.

    • guest

      “I don’t get it”?

      “Climate change”/”global warming” means that the entire globe is slowly warming because of the retention of man-generated Carbon Dioxide (CO2) across the globe – which in turn – together the retention in the oceans of both heat and CO2 – is resulting in incidences of MORE INTENSE cyclones, tornadoes, etc, and
      produces EXTREMES OF CLIMATE (HOTTER summers and COLDER winters).

      EXTREMES of climate in general (hotter summers, colder winters) pose problems of lack of water, dying vegetation and crops, widespread of death of animal life and bees (BTW bee-keepers are now ALREADY trying to keep up with demands for “bee-renting” for cross-pollination of crops in many parts or the world).

      This means it is a fore-WARNING that wide-spread FAMINE is not far away.,

      The extra CO2 in the oceans also causes de-calcification of shell-fish and fish
      scales on fish, leaving them more vulnerable to larger fish, in turn leaving
      large areas of seas de-popululated of marine life, in turn meaning starvation
      for people relying on fish for their sustenance.

      The above are just a FEW examples of the results of “climate change” we are experiencing already!

      We as Christians, have ALWAYS been in the fore-front of protection of God’s creation – precisely because we see it as God’s providence and that mankind has an OBLIGATION for it to be cherished and protected.

      It is also our duty to make known to large corporations that they do not have the permission to be “gung-ho” in their irresponsible greed and to be only accountable to their “investors” — that they have a serious obligation to the entire population of the world (and to the generations following) … to keep the world as pristine as possible. AND that God DOES exist and that they are answerable to God for their actions.

      • doomsdae

        This is not “Global Warming” but, Global WarNing!” The Earth has been heating up and cooling down for centuries. What we are experiencing is a WARNING from above for the sins being committed here below. It’s in the bible, saints, mystics and the Blessed Mother have prophesied this time we are in, for the past century or two. This has “nothing” to do w/Global Warning, you also have drunk the Obama & Francis cool-aide…….

      • Objectivetruth

        And the laptop/iPad you’re using to type this rant was manufactured by using cheap Chinese labor in factories powered by coal. I’ll guess that most of the items and furniture in the room you’re currently using was manufactured the same way using Asian coal powered energy.

        So what’s your move? Give me your specific action steps? Because I see a lot of finger waggling and lecturing by people that aren’t about to give up their death grip on their iPhones or remote controls for their Samsung 50 inch flat screens anytime soon.

      • Thomas J. Hennigan

        You take as Gospel the phoney “science” behind the global warming/climate change campaign. The fact is that what we now have for some 13 years is global cooling. Weren’t the last few winters in North America unseasonably cold? Of course the global warming freaks said that the extreme cold was due to , guess what? GLOBAL WARMING. Don’t laguht, It’s true.

  • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

    I have no doubt that the impending ecology encyclical will be diametrically opposed to David Benatar’s suggestion that the demise of humanity could benefit the planet. It will be adamantly pro-life and, more particularly, pro-human life. It will put the human person front and center and will address the relationship between environmental problems and poverty.

    If you’re an average Californian, your response to the worst drought in 1,200 years is probably to re-landscape your front lawn with water wise, low maintenance plants, fire your illegal immigrant gardener, and research the state of the art desalination plant that will soon be opening in Carlsbad. You will probably keep your swimming pool, although you might replace the attractive fountain near your front door with an artsy cactus garden. If you’re very poor and living in East Africa, your response to drought is more likely to be that you and your children die slowly and horribly in the resulting famine.

    The Holy Father himself has said that he would like to “promote a culture of solidarity” in addressing environmental issues. The poor and marginalized, too often out of sight and out of mind, will likely be the focus of a “renewed Christian culture” that cares for people by, in part, caring for nature.

    • JP

      The drought is no worse than the drought California went through in the mid to late 1970s. The difference is that there are an additional 20 million people living in California. California also dumps 1.5 trillion gallons of water annually into San Francisco Bay to accommodate the Delta Smelt. Much of California water supply is subsidized. A resident of San Diego (which is surrounded by desert) pays close to the same rate as someone in Chicago (which sits adjacent to one of the largest supplies of fresh water in the world). Something isn’t right.

      When missionaries arrived in California some 350-400 years ago, the LA and San Diego areas were large oasis sitting next to deserts. The area east and south of San Francisco was pretty much desert scrub land. As far as geology goes, California is a semi-arid region which naturally sees droughts lasting as long as 200 years.

      • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

        There’s a good article up at Geophysical Research Letters (Vol. 41, Issue 24, pages 9017-9023, 28 December 2014) that shows the current California drought is the most severe in the past 1,200 years and is driven by reduced precipitation and record high temperatures. Large parts of California, which were once scrubland, have been abundantly fertile for generations because they are irrigated by rivers dependent on the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which has been in decline, The Central Valley is considered the “breadbasket of the nation” and produces a significant percentage of this nation’s food. These changes appear to be the “new normal” and will require all of us to adapt and mitigate. As Catholics, the social justice imperative of helping those disproportionately affected is obviously very powerful.

        There’s an interesting article on water and Catholic social theology at http://dailytheology.org/2014/03/22/water-and-catholic-social-teaching/

        • climatologist

          Nonsense. just like the Texas drought of 2012 was to be permenent and now has vanished, this too will pass. The driest winters in California were 1975/76 and 1976/77 and after a dry start to 1977/78, heavy rains followed and the drought ended. The unwise policies pushed by elites and eco radicals that JP mentioned – pumping water into San Francisco Bay is an excellent example of this.GRL used to be a reliable Journal but the society has become corrupted.

          • Objectivetruth

            For political reasons, the liberal left views and measures changes in the weather and climate in terms of years. When in actuality, nature measures climate change in terms of millenniums. The earth is a billion years old. We don’t measure changes in it in because there’s a presidential election coming.

          • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

            Your information is incorrect. If you look at the precipitation graph at http://www.weatherwest.com/archives/tag/california-driest-year, you will see that 2013 was drier than the mid-1970s. In addition, 2014 was the warmest year on record in California (as well as globally.) Heat, as well as reduced precipitation, is contributing to the drought in the west. I’m most interested in hearing your refutation of the GRL article I referenced.

            • Asmondius

              ‘2014 was the warmest year on record in California’
              .
              And exactly how far back does then ‘record’ go, please?

              • 90Lew90

                It’s striking that when you write more then five words in a row you make an absolute idiot of yourself.

                • Asmondius

                  You can haunt my posts all day long but I’m still not going to the Prom with you.

                  • 90Lew90

                    Thank god for that.

                • Objectivetruth

                  When you have no reasonable, logical intelligent response always call the person an “idiot.”

                  • 90Lew90

                    Responding reasonably to Asmondius is a waste of time. I suspect the same might be the case with you.

                • LarryCicero

                  “more then”…says the idiot.

                  • 90Lew90

                    A typo. Touche. Indeed.

              • GG

                Stop asking intelligent questions. It confuses the propagsndists.

              • LarryCicero

                Well, from what he says, it, the record, must go back at least 1200 years. He also states, twice, that drought is driven by a lack of precipitation. Who’d of thunk it?

                • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                  Not only relatively low precipitation but record heat.

            • climatologist

              Sorry your wrong. Globally 2014 was was barely the 7th warmest since 1979 in the satellite data sets which has been not manipulated and which provide full global coverage and not just at cities and airports with UHI contamination. There has been no warming for 18.4 years globally. The northeast US has cooled at a rate of 1.5F/decade for 20 years in JFM and 2014/15 was the coldest in the entire record back to 1895 for the 10 northeast states.

              As for the mountains (northern Sierra) where CA gets most of its water (that which isn’t dumped into SF Bay because of green insomnia over the poor smelt) shows the 2013/14 water years ranked 8th.
              http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/precip1/8STATIONHIST

        • JP

          According to the Western Region Climate website, the current drought is only the third worst in its 124 year history of keeping stats. The driest year was 1924 (40% of normal). And the driest 30 year period was 1910-1940. The Western Region uses actually measurements and not proxy data.

          • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

            The difference is that 1924 was not especially warm, while 2014 was the warmest on record in California (also in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, and globally.) Also, of course, the current California drought has been going on for three years now, while 1924 was a single year anomaly. California’s average temperature for 2014 was 4.1°F above the 20th century average! It is this heat, as well as relatively low precipitation, that is making the drought so severe. The record heat is causing soil dryness, evaporation, and diminished snowpack in the Sierras.
            http://climatenexus.org/2014-putting-hottest-year-ever-perspective

            • JP

              I’m not sure what any of that has to do with the issue at hand. California, from a geological point of view cannot naturally sustain a population of 40 million people. California is a semi-arid region which sits adjacent to inland deserts. This drought is small and short lived compared to other droughts that have occurred in the Far West. The fact that 40 million people can live there is a testament to Man’s genius.

              There is nothing unique to California’s weather or climate, and I’m not sure what Pope Francis can say other than the obvious.

              • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                You might want to do a little more research about California and its water issues. Parts of California, particularly the north and the Sierras, home to the annual “frozen reservoir” of snowpack, are water rich. These areas in part provide water to the dry San Joaquin Valley and usually irrigate it so richly that the area is known as “the bread basket of the world.” Since 80% of the state’s water is typically used for agriculture and the fertile Central Valley produces more food than the population of California alone can eat, it is easy to see that the state could, under normal circumstances, support many more than 40 million people. However, this year the early April snowpack is at its lowest level ever recorded — 9% of average. The early April 2014 snowpack was at its second lowest level ever recorded — at slightly less than 25% of average.

                But if you go back to my original post, my point was not that Californians, other than poor farm laborers, are likely to suffer terribly. Entrepreneurial California will no doubt have the money and the expertise to develop innovative desalination and water recycling plants. Rather, I was reflecting on the terrible suffering of the extreme poor in, for example, Somalia, when their homelands are afflicted by drought. I expect the Holy Father’s upcoming encyclical will address the needs of such people and the social justice issues surrounding them.

  • Vinny

    “…Church may often find herself co-opted into projects whose ultimate consequences are alien to a Catholic vision of a humane world.” It does now and it will continue since any truthful reporting is not mainstream.

  • jimbo_jones

    Here in SoCal we’ve been having a bit of a drought. Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown told us we ought to have shorter showers.

    That’s the problem with the prevailing “leftist” view on the environment. It’s pessimistic, atavistic, primitive, and anti-human.

    Their first thought in resolving environmental problems is to screw us over. They want to take from us one of the simplest and greatest pleasures in life – the shower. What’s better than a quick shower to wake you up in the morning? A nice shower to warm your bones in the winter? A shower to wash away the stale sweat after a long day out in the world?
    But no, no more showers for you.
    (Of course, as the article correctly points out, the ultimate conclusion of the prevailing leftist “environmentalist” logic is – no more children for you. How vile!)

    Here are at least 4 solutions to the California water crisis that can be implemented with a bit of political will:
    1) Since most of the water in California is used for agriculture, shift some of the Californian agriculture to Louisiana and Florida, which are basically large swamps. Agriculture is not an excessively profitable enterprise, or we wouldn’t have the term “Banana republic.” California has Hollywood and Silicon Valley. It can afford to lose some portion of its agriculture.
    2) Qaddafi’s Libya was a barbaric wasteland 50 years ago and has become a barbaric wasteland once more in the wake of the Colonel’s tragic demise. And yet, just before Killery killed the guy, he was making a bona fide river to irrigate Libya. Yep – it was one of the greatest engineering projects in the world. It was called “the Great Man-Made River.” The idea was to dig to one of them aquifers and get the water from there.
    If Qaddafi could do it, California can do it.

    3) If we can have oil pipelines, we can have water pipelines. Make a pipe to Washington State and British Columbia. Plenty of water up there.
    4) If the guys at Silicon Valley are so smart and benevolent, let them figure out how to cheaply process ocean water into drinking water.

    These solutions are all achievable. They are positive, pro-human, pro-labor, and pro-mother nature. A sane green policy should adopt an optimistic can-do mentality.

  • Vinny

    I’ve noticed that many Crisis essays usually have twenty to, maybe, fifty comments except when the issue is something homosexual, then it goes to near 200.

    • eallen

      Evidently, there is more to discuss on that topic.

    • Asmondius

      Chalk it up to the pro-homo infiltrators and trolls.
      .
      They elicit a lot of back and forth.

  • Asmondius

    Among the articles left behind by Pope Emeritus Benedict, Pope Francis found an old VCR tape copy of ‘Soylent Green’.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    Popes have more than 15 minutes worth of fame. Yet, still, why isn’t Francis using his fae time at the U.N. (and his invitation to address Congress) to set off the alarms of the persecution of Christians, and, equally, the railroading of our society by the Queer Theorists

    Much aware of the few remarks he has said regarding these two items. But they were put out without thunderclaps – which the “ecology” address will certainly have in abundance.

    The bloody slaughter of Christians and the bludgeoning of sex, as set by and in Creation, to is too in the face to ignore – even the pope’s.

    Environmentalism the Religion (like Queerdom the Religion) is just too damn fashionable!

    [From the BANKRUPT Diocese of Stockton, the Mother Lode]

    • 90Lew90

      Someone mentioned medication being available.

  • 90Lew90

    What an elaborate word salad it takes to say that while it’s cool to care about the planet we live on and all, we should do anything but stop breeding so much to protect it, even though we could correctly be called a plague on the earth at this point. But then, who cares about the end of the world? Jesus will be back and the boring numbskulls will all be beamed up, for it is written. Or something. Contemptible, mealy-mouthed guff.

    • LarryCicero

      Well,well… an atheist global warming troll. Any chance you’re a homosexual? Today’s trifecta for a liberal.

      • 90Lew90

        Any chance you’re a fat, spoilt American who likes to call himself “Christian”? I bear no ill will, but I can’t deny that I think the lesson America has coming to it has been well earned. The band on Titanic springs to mind.

        • LarryCicero

          Ahh… an anti- American. Trifecta.

          • ForChristAlone

            “spoilt” He’s a Brit LC. The word must have gone out across the pond.

            • LarryCicero

              “the lesson America has coming to it has been well earned.” And an atheist who believes in karma.

  • M.J.A.

    http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-at-audience-children-are-greatest-ble – here is Holy Father’s blessing and desire to see lives blessed with children ( true, he might grieve and desire that parents would show stewardship of passions and responsibility , in choosing to be so. )

    Scripture , esp. Old Testament, shows the intricate connection between environment and what is in human hearts ; thus, the Holy Father’s interest in this area very well connected with his responsible role , in the overall Fatherly role for the family , which is a good thing too , since the impact of same , the grievings in prayers that go with same ,the movement in hearts from same , can be powerful to do away with what thwarts Godly wisdom , which is possibly a huge factor , in projects that ought to be , are not getting done and the author is right , in bringing it to the attention , how greed and idolatry of all sorts pollutes the land ,can dry it up to make same as waste lands !

    http://www.thedivinemercy.org/news/story.php?NID=5159

    – a testimony on how The Lord keeps His promises and the ‘miraculous’ ( for the ‘less believing ‘ ) protection offered , during Hurricane Sandy ; he very well likely might have been owner of a good and upright heart and as in the management of the environment , managing the internal ones is what makes human lives so worthwhile , true to its eternal calling of taking up the place, vacated by the fallen angels; may be the more and sooner, the better and Our Father knows very well how much resources we need , not for idolatry but to be used in His wisdom !
    May St.Francis smile upon the lands that need to bloom !

    • 90Lew90

      Would you like a tissue?

  • bonaventure

    Whatever the encyclical will say, Francis looks VERY uncomfortable holding that t-shirt.

    • 90Lew90

      It should say “No child-f**king”

      • bonaventure

        You are rightly speaking about the 80%+ of homosexuals who abuse boys and teenage youth under the guise of the priesthood. The very ones whom liberal bishops have encouraged.

      • Objectivetruth

        *Yawn*

        You get wifi there in solitary confinement? You’ve been good, kept your cell clean, laptop privileges. Good for you!

    • FreemenRtrue

      no, he knows both the characters with him very well. They are radical environmentalists. You don’t get a picture with the pope by accident. Give it a try.

  • Clearly the Church sees regulation of a woman’s hormonal cycle as “artificial” and contradictory to ecology because of it’s effect on contraception. I am a bit concerned, however, as “ecology” itself simply means the study of organisms and how they are interrelated and interconnected. It is not a study of morals nor ethics. I would hope the term does not get misused.

    Further, I fear that in the zeal to regulate who may and who may not artificially and externally regulate their hormones, the Church does not also choose to stop those who may have bodies that do not adequately produce hormones that match their receptors. To do so would put such people in considerable discomfort at no moral gain. This would include post-menopausal women and people born with mixed-sex-development conditions. It would also include many women who medically need to regulate their hormones for reasons that have nothing to do with contraception. I fear the Church and Pople, while the ultimate authority on matters of a spiritual nature, may not be equally qualified to make medical decisions.

    • Abby

      I doubt this will be the case – after all, insulin is a hormone, that diabetics need to survive. Medical treatment and elective therapy are on a spectrum, and sinful varieties of these are really on the severe end. Ie, it’s not about using the hormones in birth control, which are licitly used in many occasions, but about using them to sterilize the martial embrace, or to kill a child in the womb. Quite different than licit hormone therapy to alleviate a medical condition. “Be not afraid.”

  • doomsdae

    Pope Francis needs to worry about the countless of Catholic souls going to hell since he got elected. He’s done nothing but promote his liberal agenda and liberal Catholics are buying into his social beliefs like Sodomy, the environment and now giving the “thumbs up” to Obama for his stance on the Nuke for Iran.

  • Guest

    “Who am I to Judge”

  • ForChristAlone

    He’s a Pope, not an scientist. And not even a very good Pope at that. It will be reading that I am certain to ignore (like most of what he says).

  • accelerator

    “Articulation of the moral cause for the environment is imperative…”
    Oh, please.

  • Abby

    Excellent article! My husband and I are very excited for this encyclical. In the past almost two years, we’ve been reevaluating how we act as stewards of creation, and as responsible consumers. We care first about farmers and workers who make products. Are they small, vocational minded local farmers, or some man at a feedlot whose job it is to mechanically slaughter 100 cows a day (what kind of life is that?)? Are they well paid, fulfilled tradesmen, or slave labor abroad in dangerous working conditions, separated from their families? Second, we care about the well being of animals God has entrusted to our stewardship. “Free range” and “grass/forest fed” animals live outdoor lives as God meant them to, and aren’t separated from their babies, forced to live standing in their feces, etc. Third, we care about plants and the environment, such as the impact pesticides have on the soil health (affecting us who eat from it) and runoff sludge from feedlots and industrial farms, which affects our water supply.

    Basically what I’m saying, is that Catholics might want to consider the effect that large scale farming and animal raising has on their local communities and on the individuals involved. People who decry centralized, imposing federal government are oddly fine with centralized, cheapest-at-the-cost-of-animal-and-human-welfare food. We’re upset about hormone levels from birth control affecting our water, but not about waste and pesticide runoff from farms and feedlots affecting the same water? I don’t understand.

    We choose to eat local food grown and raised by farmers we rub elbows with in our community. Whether the Holy Father’s encyclical will touch on these issues, we’ll see. In the meantime, we are planning on evangelizing secular friends we meet who pursue a similar eating lifestyle as us. Hopefully they will see us as different and more joyful somehow, and want that for themselves too 🙂 Maybe they will see that many of their tendencies ultimately point to a stewardship of creation that God planted in their souls in the beginning of time. Perhaps…

  • ranger01

    Expect more ambiguous Jesuit-speak mixed with his usual UN praising socialist nuances.
    The upcoming encyclical is the opinion of an amateur scientist and a complete waste of time.
    Meanwhile the beheadings and church burnings continue. Really, you couldn’t make this stuff up. Then, of course, there’s Kasper.

  • FreemenRtrue

    The CO2 ploy is a proven scam. There is no scientific evidence of any kind that CO2 causes significant global warming. There is scientific evidence that increased CO2

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