It's time for Catholics to become an essential part of the global warming solution
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The United Nations is reporting that as climate warms, poverty will grow. Meanwhile, the Church reminds that any solution to global warming must comply with the social doctrine of the Church and respect all life.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body established with reporting on climate change and its anticipated impacts, we must slash greenhouse emissions to zero or face four degrees Celsius of warming within the next century.
The impacts of such warming would fall hardest on the poor and disenfranchised, according to the report. People in first world nations would suffer the least as they would be best insulated against the impacts.
The report already points to receding glaciers, thinning ice, changes in migratory patterns and shifts in the flora and fauna found in many areas as evidence of climate change. The report also states that the past 30 years have been the hottest in modern history.
Climate change skeptics argue that temperatures are actually cooling, not warming however the long term trend remains solidly upwards, even if the rate of change has leveled somewhat. Still, the last decade has been the hottest on record, even in spite of epic cold snaps in across the Eastern US, which ironically, are likely a direct product of global warming.
Measurements of the Earth's overall heat content show that the planet is absorbing more energy than it is losing to space, which is a dangerous trend, even if the models are not as detailed as skeptics would prefer.
Worst of all, the climate is changing at a rapid pace, leading to mass extinctions around the globe and the collapse of food stocks. Fishing grounds have shifted and some have collapsed. Migratory patterns have changed, and biologists have made it plain that the Earth is now in the midst of the sixth greatest mass-extinction event in planetary history. Anthropogenic climate change has much to do with this. There are no observed natural explanations for what is happening.
However, if humans are guilty then how should they compensate for their impact on the environment? The radical left has plenty of solutions, however those solutions tend to involve draconian policies including population controls and these ideas are at their core, immoral and unacceptable. They are literally non-solutions that replace the tyranny of bad climate with the tyranny of bad men.
Even if population were capped at 7 billion, it would not stop the slide into global warming, for that problem began at least a century ago when the human population was much smaller.
The only solution is to follow Catholic social doctrine and to find a Catholic way of being green.
The Vatican recognizes that global warming is a threat that falls disproportionately on the poor. As humans, granted dominion over the Earth by God, we have the responsibility of caring for Creation and to serve as stewards of the gifts God has granted to all humanity. And those gifts are not just for a few elect, but for all people.
As Pope Francis said during a general audience last May, "Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude."
Pope Francis is preparing an encyclical on the environment that should give Catholics some direction on this issue. In the meantime, the social doctrine is the best guide we have for deciding how to deal with this problem.
It is easy to say that we have to reduce human carbon emissions to zero, but it is much more difficult to decide precisely how to manage this. And since our industrial society is addicted to carbon-based fuels, is this even a realistic possibility? Do reasonable alternatives exist? And most importantly, can we manage a safe transition to a better economy in such a way that we do not trample the rights and dignity of the individual human person, including both the born and the unborn?
With the latest report from the IPCC in hand, and a whopping 97 percent peer-reviewed, scientific consensus that climate change is real and is being accelerated beyond natural variability by human activity, the question is essentially settled. However, the question of what do about it remains a hotbed of contention.
Yet, now is precisely the time for the Church to enter the discussion, before it is shut out of policy input completely, along with just consideration and respect for the human persons.
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