This is an excellent review from the Wanderer Newspaper.
In his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, Pope Francis, after pointing to a “very solid scientific consensus” indicating that “we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system,” added that there are “certain environmental issues where it is not easy to achieve a broad consensus” and that the “Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. I want to encourage an honest and open debate, so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good.”
It would be out of line for me to raise suspicions about the sincerity of the Pope’s recommendation for an honest debate on this matter. I can’t read his mind. My problem is that Laudato Si reads as if it is in agreement with Al Gore’s contention that global warming is “settled science” — and therefore not a proper topic for the “honest and open debate” that the Pope is calling for.
Is it unfair of me to say that? Consider the reaction to the encyclical from two of its most ardent supporters, Commonweal and the Jesuits’ America. These publications praise Laudato Si precisely because they are convinced it did not shrink from making the case that man-made climate change is settled science requiring a national and international political call to action.
America’s editorial on July 6 praises Laudato Si for bringing religion “decisively” into the “climate change debate,” for its “deep critique of the global capitalist system and, perhaps most radically, of the absolutist notion of private property,” for its conclusion that it “will be impossible to sustain life on this planet if we all expect to live according to the dictates of first-world consumer culture.”
America’s editors praise the encyclical for pointing out the evil of making the poor pay “the price for” the “ecological malfeasance” of the industrial powers, as well as the threat to the “abundant species that inhabit this planet” because of mankind’s obsession with technology and economic growth.
In turn, Commonweal praises Francis for bringing the influence of the Church to bear, in the words of the encyclical, in support of the “very solid scientific consensus” that supports the reality of global warming caused by “the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, and others) released mainly as a result of human activity,” all of which has made the “Earth, our home, look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
Rather than warn Francis of exceeding his authority by venturing into scientific and economic theory, Commonweal’s editors urge the Pope to call for the developed nations of the world to bear “the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources” by standing firmly behind those who favor “cap-and-trade legislation” to achieve that end.
Nothing in Laudato Si, or anything I have read coming from the Vatican since its release, leads me to think that Rome has objections to the conclusions that America and Commonweal have drawn from the encyclical. Quite the contrary.
Which leads me to ask what Rome’s reaction would be to the column by Steve Mosher in the July 5 edition of the New York Post. Would the Pope agree that Catholics should be free to cite Mosher’s findings as part of the “honest and open debate” over Laudato Si? Or are we, as a matter of faith and morals, obliged to side with America and Commonweal, in opposition to Mosher?
Mosher calls our attention to the encyclical’s claim that we are now in an “environmental crisis,” with the “the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air, and in all forms of life.” Also to its contention that the planet faces a “serious problem” because of the “the quality of water available to the poor,” which is “constantly diminishing.”
Mosher’s objection is that “according to the Millennium Development Goals 2014 Report, ‘Access to an improved drinking water source became a reality for 2.3 billion people’ over the past 20 years. This United Nations report rightly celebrates the fact that its target of halving the proportion of people without access to an improved drinking water source was achieved in 2010, five years ahead of schedule.”
What about Laudato Si’s concern over “the loss of biodiversity, brought on by human beings killing off other species at an alarming rate…the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity.”
Mosher writes that “the evidence does not support this claim. While many species have seen their natural habitats reduced, the Convention on Biological Diversity set a goal of setting aside 17 percent of global terrestrial areas and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020 as nature preserves. The good news is that such preserves currently include some 14.6 percent of the earth’s land surface area and 9.7 percent of its coastal marine areas. This means we are already very close to achieving our internationally agreed upon goal of protecting biodiversity and reducing anthropogenic species extinction in this way.”
In other words, “There is no need for panic.”
Retrieved July 27, 2015 from http://thewandererpress.com/frontpage/honest-and-open-debate-on-laudato-si/#more-11100