That Pope: What an environmental radical!
Listen to what that preposterous priest just said. He breathlessly claims he’s “concerned about the negative consequences for humanity and for all creation resulting from the degradation of some basic natural resources such as water, air, and land, brought about by an economic and technological progress which does not recognize and take into account its limits.”
Yes, that John Paul II was quite an eco-leftist, technophobe, and doomsday prophet. No, wait a second. He wasn’t, of course. Yet he published a Common Declaration on Environmental Ethics with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew back on June 10, 2002, just 13 years ago. His successor, Benedict XVI, preached along the same lines. And his successor, Pope Francis, earlier today released his environmental encyclical to great acclaim by the global Left and their acolytes in the mainstream media.
Well, not quite universal hallelujahs. The National Catholic Reporter quotes Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor and longtime global warming alarm activist Michael E. Mann as saying although the consensus among the climate alarmist friends he has communicated with is that the pope “got the science right,” Mann is disappointed at the pontiff’s “overly conservative” approach. Some people are never satisfied.
On the whole, however, the MSM have hailed the pope’s statement with breathless excitement. They have not suddenly gotten religion, of course, but are simply using the pontiff for their own advocacy efforts. For decades they ignored or ridiculed the doings of conservative popes, but when a Jesuit liberal from Argentina was elected pontiff, they suddenly started kissing his ring.
As it is so difficult, takes incredible skill, and is quite time-consuming to do a Web search of the words “the Pope” and “the environment” for the writings and sermons of the past few popes, the MSM has no context for understanding the current pontiff’s teachings on ecology.
Church insiders have a much better awareness of that context, which any reporter could easily find out by, I don’t know, calling some of them on the telephone. Or even just reading what they write. The Jesuit publication America: The National Catholic Review this morning published a story on the “Top Ten Takeaways from ‘Laudato Si’,” the pope’s new encyclical, or teaching letter. In English, the title translates as “Praised Be You.”
Takeaway number one for the Jesuit editors is the “the spiritual perspective is now part of the discussion on the environment.”
Wait, that’s it? That’s the primary thing the pope accomplished with this encyclical? You mean he didn’t decree specific levels of reductions in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, call on the Swiss Guard to rein in Big Oil, and demand the Torquemada treatment for the Koch brothers? Yes, that’s right.
“With this new encyclical, the language of faith enters the discussion, clearly, decisively, and systematically,” writes James Martin, S.J., in the America analysis.
The New York Times, by contrast, states the pope “used the encyclical… to highlight the crisis posed by climate change. He placed most of the blame on fossil fuels and human activity while warning of an ‘unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequence for all of us’ if swift action is not taken.” Unlike the America analysis, the Times story dwells on politics, and its reference to Catholic theologians is used strictly to make the gobsmacking claim “environmental concern” should be “at the center of Christian faith.” None of that fussy resurrection stuff for them.
A big part of this, of course, is agenda marketing. The media and the rest of the global Left view the environment as their top concern, even though poll after poll shows regular Americans consider climate change to be the least important problem there is. The pope’s words are useful to the Left today, and so they embrace them.
To be sure, there are some things in the pope’s environmental encyclical that will make reasonable conservatives and libertarians cringe. The pope argues manmade, catastrophic climate change is real, and he claims it “disproportionately” affects the world’s poor. In fact, the very opposite is true: Efforts to stop global warming ensure the 1.3 billion people without electricity today will stay that way and be joined by many others. Francis is also now on the record as being a non-fan of fossil fuels. That’s bad science, but then again, the pope is not a scientist. He’s a cleric, surrounded by true environmental believers, many of whom are what the Church used to call unbelievers.
The encyclical fails to give proper attention to the increasing concern for what is called “energy poverty.” Green environmental policies adopted in Europe have driven up electric bills to unprecedented levels. Many English, Germans, and Irish are paying what amounts to a second mortgage of several hundred dollars a month for expensive energy generated by windmills, solar panels, and other “renewables,” according to anguished reports in liberal publications such as the Guardian and the Independent. People of limited means in these wealthy countries are being forced to go hungry or die of excess cold so big businesses can make billions of dollars on state-subsidized renewables programs. The pope, alas, is silent on that “disproportionate effect” on the poor.
The best news here is that the pope says no to carbon credits and carbon tax credit trading, a key liberal obsession for years. Al Gore was probably on the phone with his portfolio manager in Dubai at 1 a.m. Eastern time today, dumping some of his vast green equity holdings. The encyclical also strongly rebukes abortion and dismisses arguments for population control as a proper response or viable solution to global poverty. The New York Times story saves these elements for a single paragraph at the end of their long love letter to the pope, clearly hoping nobody will read that part.
Reading the encyclical itself provides a feeling of relief for those who saw the purported “leaked draft” this week. That leak turned out to be a major tactical miscue by the alarmists, as the church has revoked the press credentials of the journalist who broke the leak story in Rome, and is now seeking criminal prosecution of the insider who disclosed the document. Now that’s true environmental justice.