Think how much smaller your carbon “footprint” would be!
But enough hilarity. It’s important to understand groups like the Global Catholic Climate Movement because we’re going to be hearing a lot more from them after Pope Francis releases his promised ecological encyclical.
Encyclical? A device used by popes to offer advice that need be contemplated most seriously but which do not establish dogma. Catholics must be extremely careful when disagreeing with an encyclical, giving these documents the benefit of most doubt. The rare exceptions are when encyclical content wanders into subjects which are not areas of Church expertise. Like whether climate model forecasts are any good and, if not, should their predictions be heeded. Nobody knows whether Pope Francis will head that direction, but it is doubtful.
Anyway, what gets me is how some Catholic groups award themselves authority they do not possess, and write on such things as “Catholic Teachings and Statements on Climate Change and Creation Stewardship“. There are no Catholic teachings, in the sense of dogma or required beliefs, on global warming, though plenty of Catholics, including popes, have made remarks on these subjects.
For instance, the GCCM quotes from Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate, but it puts ellipses into some strange places. The GCCM starts “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole…” with the ellipsis theirs. Here is the remainder of the original paragraph which the GCCM skipped:
When nature, including the human being, is viewed as the result of mere chance or evolutionary determinism, our sense of responsibility wanes. In nature, the believer recognizes the wonderful result of God’s creative activity, which we may use responsibly to satisfy our legitimate needs, material or otherwise, while respecting the intrinsic balance of creation. If this vision is lost, we end up either considering nature an untouchable taboo or, on the contrary, abusing it. Neither attitude is consonant with the Christian vision of nature as the fruit of God’s creation.
This strikes an agreeable balance: and the rest of the encyclical is as subtle an analysis, which in no way can used to justify a monolithic, powerful world government regulating every possible aspect of human life. Yet some folks anxious for more governmental control are hungry for any kind of support they can glean.
For instance, the GCCM blames, as many ignorant of how the climate works, typhoon Haiyan (which struck the PI) on global warming. They say, the “impacts of extreme weather on the vulnerable and marginalized become clear”. Clear? How? Only the press and activists say things like this. You don’t get it from models, which in any case are busted, nor from observations. False information mistakenly called “science” is passed around and believed implicitly because the false information is consonant with the desires of many. Is that how science is supposed to work?
The GCCM says “we recognize that conversations about the climate crisis have historically been more about intellectual arguments than about the profound spiritual and moral implications of our failure to care for God’s creation.” They are about intellectual arguments because that is how we decide whether we even need to worry about the moral implications of global warming. If the level of global warming is intellectually determined to be trivial, or the positive benefits of an atmosphere richer in carbon dioxide outweigh the negatives of slightly northern hemisphere warmer winter nights, then we need do nothing.
Strike that. One thing we can do is to stop turning our food into fuel for guilt-ridden spoiled Westerners. It’s because corn is turned into fashionable “lifestyle” go-juice that food prices increase. We in the States can mostly afford it—except the price increases swell the ever-growing food stamp roles, which, in turn because somebody has to pay for this largess, increases the number of the less well off. Food-as-fuel makes it economically tempting for the poor in other countries to carve out more jungle to grow crops with which to feed their families.
On these subjects, false dichotomies premised on falsities abound. Example? “Global warming is a crisis, therefore the only solution is larger government.” That’s bad enough, but to pretend a saying like that is a “Catholic teaching” and must therefore not be doubted is disturbing.
We didn’t do much today, but over the next couple of months, we’ll have to look at these groups more closely.
1Incidentally, what a nice blog theme they have. And thanks to Pewsitter where I learned about this group.