Pope Francis - blows it, in one paragraph of his encyclical.
Pope Francis' encyclical (Laudato Si) on global warming and the care of the Earth, has much to commend it. As a teaching document (predicated on the Church's 'Magisterium' or teaching office) it is unique in holding all humans to account to care for the Earth. The Pope, in the 183 page document, writes:
"The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth"
Yes, indeed it is! One doesn't have to look far to see that, whether viewing waste pits in Delhi or immense refuse and garbage piles in U.S. dumps or fracking -devastated lands. He also clearly targets the consumptive capitalist economic system, i.e.:
"Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain. As a result, whatever is fragile is defenseless before the interests of the deified market which is the only rule"
Totally nailing the Neolberal imperative, now prepped to metastasize even further if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is passed, by hook or more likely, crook.
The Pope also defines the scientific aspect:
"A very solid scientific consensus indicate we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system, contributing to a constant rise in sea level and an increase in extreme weather events."
"A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, etc.) released mainly as a result of human activity."
Having called out humans as prime culprits, the Pope goes on to assert:
"Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming, or at least the human causes which aggravate it."
All very well and good, except that in one small paragraph the Pope effectively drops the proverbial 'turd' into the punch bowl. Must we suck it up? Must we ignore it? I believe the answer is 'no' to the first and 'yes' to the second.
This is the paragraph that all the Pope's green cheerleaders - including Bill Maher last night - appear to have missed. For those who may have missed it, let me highlight it below in the context of the Pope's observation of the "two extremes":
"At one extreme we find those who doggedly uphold the myth of progress and tell us that ecological problems will solve themselves simply with the application of new technology without any need for ethical considerations or deep change.
At the other extreme are those who view men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited."
But here is where his logic breaks down, and indeed, the thrust of the encyclical is muted and effectively all its exhortations rendered empty. Because, in fact, human population IS the biggest contributor to global warming, climate change, e.g.
As I noted therein:
At the root of all the problems, including fouled water, polluted air and soil, melting glaciers, severe crowding - not to mention mass panic migrations (such as claimed over 850 lives this week) is overpopulation. And showing a highlight graphic, e.g.
The Pope, by his "extremist at the other end" reference, appears totally oblivious to this, which also means he doesn't truly grasp global warming in the sense of its human inputs. More people = more energy needed, for toys, cars, consumption (even at minimal levels) as well as for keeping cool or warm...in other words more CO2 generated, no matter how you cut it.
So, the pontiff has even failed miserably to understand that the energy industry, that's the biggest generator of CO2, extends far beyond merely its discovery and exploration aspects. It drives the global economy by powering the production and consumption of virtually all consumer goods. Each added human for which we are adjured to permit an "intervention" (i.e. individual consumption - whether of toys, food, cars or computers) inevitably increases its own carbon footprint in the process as well as humanity's on the planet. It is basic math, which seemingly escapes Frances.
It also escapes Wall St. Journal hacks like Holman W. Jenkins Jr. who, in his claptrap column today, referred to the "humanity haters" as the "gestalt of the Left and its totalitarian push" into global warming debates. Obviously, without even seeing a professional diagnosis, we can assert Holman is insane. If he can't even distinguish between humanity haters and excessive human numbers critics!
Worse, we are now informed of the shrinking water resources of our planet, That is the conclusion of a new study published by researchers at NASA, which drew on satellite data to quantify the stresses on aquifers. The researchers found that over the decade-long study of the 37 major aquifers worldwide, 21 experienced a depletion of their water supply. Especially alarming was the study’s finding that the Indus Basin aquifer, which supplies much of India’s water supply, has depleted rapidly.
All this coincides with an earlier State of the World study. In the ‘State of the World’ report (2000, pp. 46-47), it is noted that the ever increasing water deficits will likely spark “water wars” by 2025.As they note (p. 47):
“When a country’s renewable water supplies drop below 1,700 cubic meters per capita (what some analysts call the water stress level) it becomes difficult for the country to mobilize enough water to satisfy all the food, household, and industrial needs of its population"
The same 'State of the World’ report notes at present rates of decline and even without factoring in the worst global warming influences – the number of people living in water-stressed countries will rise from 470 million to 3 billion by 2025. More than a six-fold increase.
All this shows the Pope's "other extreme" remark is totally disingenuous and misplaced. You simply cannot - I repeat CAN NOT - regard additional humans in our overpopulated world as "benefits" or beneficial! Too much "life", in terms of the human population, can overtake and overburden a fragile world which can barely provide for all the people living on it as it is. On any given day nearly 1 billion are living on half or fewer calories than they need and it will only get worse with climate change ramping up. Not yet attended to is the scarcity of water.
More to the point, the existing mass of 7.3 billion humans is currently gobbling the equivalent of 1.6 Earths each year. This is clearly unsustainable and one of two things must happen: humans must cut their numbers radically - preferably by cutting birth rates, or those uncontrolled numbers will overwhelm the existing resources leading to mass starvation and destitution.
What will the Pope's solution be - if not mass birth control programs? Does he have plans for a new, giant ion space ship to carry the excess humans to other worlds? Does he have ideas by which to restore the planet's dwindling water sources? Can he change salt water to regular water without the enormous cost of desalination plants? Does he have the means or plan to feed the additional five billion humans (if no birth control is in the offing) due by 2100?
Does he have any plan to get rid of the excess CO2 they will generate?
Sadly, the Pope is too much a mental hostage to the "natural law" nonsense churned out in Church dogma. Nonsense that would value excess or surplus human lives at the expense of those who are already inhabiting the planet. In an infinite world, the presence of ever more humans would not be an issue, and perhaps such a world would also sport the reservoirs to absorb all the extra CO2. But we don't have such a world, but rather a finite one.
Which the Pope, to his credit, recognizes with one part of his brain, but sadly dismisses with the other. The part gutted by an antiquated theology and belief system we can no longer afford if serious about global warming.