William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

#LaudatoSi Thoughts

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I’ll have more later, including a piece at The Stream. Still teaching.

The fake controversy of the “broken embargo” is now at an end and we have the final text.

An atheist and lover of “population control” and holder of the preposterously unscientific belief that only one billion people are “sustainable“, or whatever, helped announce the encyclical because, hey, why not?

I found Para 124 fascinating:

…According to the biblical account of creation, God placed man and woman in the garden he had created (cf. Gen 2:15) not only to preserve it (“keep”) but also to make it fruitful (“till”). Labourers and craftsmen thus “maintain the fabric of the world” (Sir 38:34). Developing the created world in a prudent way is the best way of caring for it, as this means that we ourselves become the instrument used by God to bring out the potential which he himself inscribed in things: “The Lord created medicines out of the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them” (Sir 38:4).

The NIV has Gen 9:7 as “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” Other translations are similar. Douay-Rheims is telling: “But increase you and multiply, and go upon the earth, and fill it.”

As I’ve written elsewhere, God evidently likes people, likes having them about. But environmentalists don’t like people, and always prefer fewer of them. How many of those who call mankind a “cancer on the Earth” are atheists, I wonder. I’ll have much more to say about this later.

How to live is a more than welcome subject Laudato tackles. Ye Olde Statistician pointed me to David Warren’s thoughts on the encyclical, with which I am in agreement.

We lack an appreciation for beauty, in God’s handiwork, and for our own. To my mind (which conducts the government of this website), this is the key “environmental problem.” We live like pigs. Catholic efforts should be directed to curing us of swinish behaviour. The Good and the True are likewise of crucial importance, but without this discernment of the Beautiful, they twist and float out of our reach.

Nor will any categorical imperative help us here, encased, for instance, in the instruction to “think globally, act locally.” We have not the ability to think things through on the planetary scale: only God can do that (or whatever angels are in His confidence). We must therefore “think locally,” too, and sound thinking comes from obedience to the conscience implanted in our hearts, by God directly. Conversely, to “act globally” is wickedly absurd.

“Consumerism” is an ugly thing. Think about it. The Consumer! sounds like a 50s sci-fi movie about a giant beast with gaping maw that relentlessly eats all in its path and is only destroyed by a small town coming together under the leadership of the sheriff. There’d even be scenes of people praying in a church. Here’s Laudato para 172:

For poor countries, the priorities must be to eliminate extreme poverty and to promote the social development of their people. At the same time, they need to acknowledge the scandalous level of consumption in some privileged sectors of their population and to combat corruption more effectively.

They are likewise bound to develop less polluting forms of energy production, but to do so they require the help of countries which have experienced great growth at the cost of the ongoing pollution of the planet. Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies which allow developing countries access to technology transfer, technical assistance and financial resources, but in a way which respects their concrete situations, since “the compatibility of [infrastructures] with the context for which they have been designed is not always adequately assessed”.[128] The costs of this would be low, compared to the risks of climate change. In any event, these are primarily ethical decisions, rooted in solidarity between all peoples.

Those first two sentences are spot on. But the last reads like an internal EPA memo written by a dedicated staffer. Was that a call for technological innovation? How else can we have workable or efficient or reliable solar power? Is this science as holiness? Or scientism? Warren, and I, think the latter.

The opposite of consumerist materialism is not socialism.

Other articles: 11 Things You Probably Won’t Hear About Pope Francis’ Encyclical, How to Argue About Climate Change with Your Panicked Liberal Friends.

12 Comments

  1. My lack of knowledge of Catholicism is showing again–had to look up “Sir”.

    Radical environmentalists prefer those who disagree with them are removed from the planet. It’s not actually people they don’t like, it’s being told they’re wrong. As long as you worship the same God and see the world the same way, it’s fine. Since the number of people who think like radical environmentalists is small, it results in the destruction of the human race to make these individuals secure and happy (assuming they are capable of being happy…..)

    I definitely agree the goal should be to “cure swinish behaviour”. People have little respect for nature, especially if it requires sacrifice or work.

    Less polluting forms of electricity will not get people out of poverty (because they don’t work any better than the current methods poor people use and require rich people and countries to manufacture them—if the rich are all wrong, who’s going to manufacture the equipment?), so again, swinish behaviour on the part of the environmentalists, not the rest of the people. The cost of climate change cannot be assessed since no one can see the future. (Or is this a claim that God told the Pope what the future would be, rather than science, because that’s not the gist of the piece?)

  2. An atheist … helped announce the encyclical

    … Atheism and Catholicism come to an understanding.

    They missed that “Biblical Proportions” event in Ghostbusters

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3ZOKDmorj0

  3. Extend the previous clip (Very apropos):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfVcvyxLj-s

    (Horrible things will happen if we don’t act now
    The precautionary principle in play
    PLUS a Cardinal affirms the whole thing)

  4. His Holiness The Pope needs to read this:

    https://mises.org/library/wealth-must-be-created-we-can-give-it-poor

    “As I’ve written elsewhere, God evidently likes people, likes having them about. But environmentalists don’t like people, and always prefer fewer of them.”

    Maybe they have been mislead by the incident with Noah and the Ark.

  5. As I see it, the only thing we Catholics can do to mitigate the effect of this encyclical is to comment on articles and such that praise it, as for example the lead article in National Catholic Register, Laudato Si: The Cheers and the Challenges. (the URL for National Catholic Register is
    http://ncregister.com ).

  6. Sander van der Wal

    June 18, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Errr, didn’t God created the entiere Universe, and not just the tiny planet people are currently living on?

  7. George Weigel has an interesting article which puts “Laudato Si” in a broader context… See
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/419933/parsing-popes-ecology-encyclical-its-about-lot-more-climate-change-george-weigel
    The article is such that I may actually read the whole encyclical . Weigel suggests, and I hope he’s correct, that it’s much more than an endorsement of AGW.

  8. Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies which allow developing countries access to technology transfer…

    Hm. Nutz ‘n boltz here. Are we supposed to teach this in RCIA? If so, I quit.

    I’m sorry, but I’m skeptical (call me a “denier”!) even George Weigel can put lipstick on that pig.

    Fr Bergoglio should look back at the mote in his own eye before he moved to Rome. This doesn’t look like a promising solar panel market to me.

  9. I’ve been googling about the authority of Papal Encyclicals and found the following, which is disturbing:
    “Although encyclicals are not the normal medium through which the Pope would issue an infallible statement (although he could), the teaching contained in the encyclical represents a part of the ordinary magisterium of the Church held by the Holy Father and therefore commands respect and assent. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council asserted clearly the role of the Pope as the “supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful” (#25). Even though the teaching may not be formally declared infallible, Vatican II exhorted that “his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and sincere assent be given to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention…” and that “loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given…” to the teaching.”
    Any Catholics have thoughts about this? My wife said, pungently as usual, the above is good bureaucraticese, which leaves enough loopholes so that one can disagree. (Or, as she put, there’s a fine Italian hand at work there.)
    The only time the Pope is supposed to be infallible is on matters of faith and morals–is belief in AGW a question of morality? The Warmists would have it so.

  10. Here’s another comment from “The Catholic Encyclopedia” (newadvent.com)

    “As for the binding force of these documents it is generally admitted that the mere fact that the pope should have given to any of his utterances the form of an encyclical does not necessarily constitute it an ex-cathedra pronouncement and invest it with infallible authority.”

  11. “The costs of this would be low, compared to the risks of climate change. In any event, these are primarily ethical decisions, rooted in solidarity between all peoples.”

    Without knowing what the risks are (probabilities) you can’t compare costs. If you don’t know the costs, and don’t understand the risks, then it is not possible to make an ethical decision. Rational decisions cannot be made based on fear or populist fads.

  12. “Less polluting forms of electricity will not get people out of poverty …”

    Near zero pollution electricity producing power plants have existed for more than 40 years. It is only in places such as China and other parts of the third world where the technology has not been implemented, where pollution problems exist. If you want to reduce pollution and help the less well off, fund the implementation of scrubber and other technologies in power plants. But of course, this is not about practical outcomes or solutions.

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