THE SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING
The New York Times and other left-liberal organs of the mainstream media delight in blaming the Church, and especially Pope Benedict XVI for all the ills of the Third World. The Pope’s condemnation of the elitist choice of condoms as the solution to the problem of AIDS, poverty and human population problems is the club of choice with which the left-liberals assault the Pope and the Church.
Combine that tactic with the left-liberal accusation that the Church is insensitive to ecological problems and their propaganda machine wages war on all Christians and the Catholic Church in particular.
It is expecting too much that left-liberals will read Pope Benedict’s third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, but hopefully the profound teaching of the Pope on the subject of the world’s ecology, among all the other important subjects of the Encyclical, will persuade all those of good will that the Church has something important to say on these subjects.
Here is a excerpt (Nos. 49, 50 & 51) from the Encyclical:
49. ….There is a pressing moral need for renewed solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries and those that are highly industrialized. The technologically advanced societies can and must lower their domestic energy consumption, either through an evolution in manufacturing methods or through greater ecological sensitivity among their citizens. ….
50. This responsibility is a global one, for it is concerned not just with energy but with the whole of creation, which must not be bequeathed to future generations depleted of its resources. Human beings legitimately exercise a responsible stewardship over nature, in order to protect it, to enjoy its fruits and to cultivate it in new ways, with the assistance of advanced technologies, so that it can worthily accommodate and feed the world’s population. On this earth there is room for everyone: here the entire human family must find the resources to live with dignity, through the help of nature itself — God’s gift to his children — and through hard work and creativity. At the same time we must recognize our grave duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it. This means being committed to making joint decisions “after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying”. Let us hope that the international community and individual governments will succeed in countering harmful ways of treating the environment. It is likewise incumbent upon the competent authorities to make every effort to ensure that the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations: the protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate obliges all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet. One of the greatest challenges facing the economy is to achieve the most efficient use — not abuse — of natural resources, based on a realization that the notion of “efficiency” is not value-free.
51. The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself, and vice versa. This invites contemporary society to a serious review of its life-style, which, in many parts of the world, is prone to hedonism and consumerism, regardless of their harmful consequences. What is needed is an effective shift in mentality which can lead to the adoption of new life-styles “in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments”. Every violation of solidarity and civic friendship harms the environment, just as environmental deterioration in turn upsets relations in society. Nature, especially in our time, is so integrated into the dynamics of society and culture that by now it hardly constitutes an independent variable. Desertification and the decline in productivity in some agricultural areas are also the result of impoverishment and underdevelopment among their inhabitants. When incentives are offered for their economic and cultural development, nature itself is protected. Moreover, how many natural resources are squandered by wars! Peace in and among peoples would also provide greater protection for nature. The hoarding of resources, especially water, can generate serious conflicts among the peoples involved. Peaceful agreement about the use of resources can protect nature and, at the same time, the well-being of the societies concerned.
The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction. There is need for what might be called a human ecology, correctly understood. The deterioration of nature is in fact closely connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when “human ecology” is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits. Just as human virtues are interrelated, such that the weakening of one places others at risk, so the ecological system is based on respect for a plan that affects both the health of society and its good relationship with nature.
In order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society.
THE ECOPALYPSE, 96 MONTHS AWAY?
By Mark Steyn
The Bulletin, United Kingdom
Friday, July 10, 2009
According to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,
we only have 96 months left to save the planet.
I’m impressed. 96 months. Not 95. Not 97. July 2017.
Put it in your diary.
Usually the warm-mongers stick to the same old drone
that we only have ten years left to save the planet.
Nice round number.
Al Gore said we only have ten years left
three-and-a-half years ago, which makes him technically more of a pessimist
than the Prince of Wales.
Al’s betting Armageddon kicks in January 2016 – unless he’s just peddling glib generalities. And, alas, even a prophet of the ecopalypse as precise as His Royal Highness is sometimes prone to this airy-fairy ten-year shtick: in April, Prince Charles predicted that the red squirrel would be extinct “within ten years”, which suggests that, while it may be curtains for man and all his wretched works come summer of 2017, the poor doomed red squirrel will have the best part of two years to frolic and gambol on a ruined landscape.
So, unless you’re a squirrel, don’t start any long books in 95 months’ time, because time is running out! “Time is running out to deal with climate change,” said Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace in 2006. “Ten years ago, we thought we had a lot of time.”
Really? Ten years ago, we had a lot of time? Funny, that’s not the way I remember it. (“Time is running out for the climate,” said Chris Rose of Greenpeace in 1997.) So what’s to blame for this eternally looming rendezvous with the iceberg of apocalypse? As the British newspaper The Independent reported;
“Capitalism and consumerism have brought the world to the brink of economic and environmental collapse, the Prince of Wales has warned… And in a searing indictment on capitalist society, Charles said we can no longer afford consumerism and that the ‘age of convenience’ was over.”
He then got in his limo and was driven to his other palace.
It takes a prince, heir to the thrones of Britain and Canada and Australia, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea and a bunch of other places, to tell it like it is: You pampered consumerists are ruining the joint. In the old days, we didn’t have these kinds of problems.
But then Mr and Mrs Peasant start remodeling the hovel, adding a rec room and indoor plumbing, replacing the emaciated old nag with a Honda Civic and driving to the mall in it, and next thing you know instead of just having an extra yard of mead every Boxing Day at the local tavern and adding a couple more pustules to the escutcheon with the local trollop they begin taking vacations in Florida.
When it was just medieval dukes swanking about like that, the planet worked fine: That was “sustainable” consumerism. But now the masses want in. And, once you do that, there goes the global neighborhood.
By contrast, as an example of an exemplary environmentalist, the Prince hailed his forebear, King Henry VIII. True, he had a lot of wives, but he did dramatically reduce Anne Boleyn’s carbon footprint.
I always enjoy it when the masks slips and the warm-mongers explicitly demand we adopt a massive Poverty Expansion Program to save the planet. “I don’t think a lot of electricity is a good thing,” said Gar Smith of San Francisco’s Earth Island Institute a few years back.
“I have seen villages in Africa that had vibrant culture and great communities that were disrupted and destroyed by the introduction of electricity,” he continued, regretting that African peasants “who used to spend their days and evenings in the streets playing music on their own instruments and sewing clothing for their neighbors on foot-pedal powered sewing machines” are now slumped in front of “Desperate Housewives” reruns all day long.
One assumes Gar Smith is sincere in his fetishization of bucolic African poverty,with its vibrantly rampant disease and charmingly unspoilt life expectancy in the mid-forties. But when an hereditary prince starts attacking capitalism and pining for the days when a benign sovereign knew what was best for the masses he gives the real game away.
Capitalism is liberating: You’re born a peasant but you don’t have to die one. You can work hard and get a nice place in the suburbs. If you were a 19th century Russian peasant and you got to Ellis Island, you’d be living in a tenement on the Lower East Side, but your kids would get an education and move uptown, and your grandkids would be doctors and accountants in Westchester County.
And your great-grandchild would be a Harvard-educated environmental activist demanding an end to all this electricity and indoor toilets.
Environmentalism opposes that kind of mobility. It seeks to return us to the age of kings when the masses are restrained by a privileged elite. Sometimes they will be hereditary monarchs, such as the Prince of Wales. Sometimes they will be merely the gilded princelings of the government apparatus – Barack Obama, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi. In the old days, they were endowed with absolute authority by God.
Today, they’re endowed by Mother Nature, empowered by Gaia to act on her behalf. But the object remains control – to constrain you in a million ways, most of which would never have occurred to Henry VIII, who, unlike the new cap-&-trade bill, was entirely indifferent as to whether your hovel was “energy efficient”. The old rationale for absolute monarchy – Divine Right – is a tough sell in a democratic age. But the new rationale – Gaia’s Right – has proved surprisingly plausible.
Beginning with FDR, wily statists justified the massive expansion of federal power under ever more elastic definitions of the commerce clause. For Obama-era control freaks, the environment and health care are the commerce clause supersized. They establish the pretext for the regulation of everything: If the government is obligated to cure you of illness, it has an interest in preventing you getting ill in the first place – by regulating what you eat, how you live, the choices you make from the moment you get up in the morning.
Likewise, if everything you do impacts “the environment”, then the environment is an all-purpose umbrella for regulating everything you do. It’s the most convenient and romantic justification for what the title of Paul Rahe’s new book rightly identifies as “Soft Despotism”.
The good news is that, at this week’s G8 summit, America’s allies would commit only to the fuzziest and most meaningless of environmental goals. Europe has been hit far harder by the economic downturn. When your unemployment rate is 17 per cent (as in Spain), “unsustainable growth” is no longer your most pressing problem.
The environmental cult is itself a product of what the Prince calls the “Age of Convenience”: it’s what you worry about it when you don’t have to worry about jobs or falling house prices or collapsed retirement accounts. Today, as European prime ministers are beginning to figure out, a strategic goal of making things worse when they’re already worse is a much tougher sell.
Mark Steyn is a syndicated columnist.