Benjamin Wiker is Professor of Political Science, Director of Human Life Studies, and Senior Fellow of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University. His newest book is In Defense of Nature: the Catholic Unity of Environmental, Economic, and Moral Ecology. His website is www.benjaminwiker.com.
Many Catholics dismiss the whole Global Warming brouhaha as a kind of intellectual and moral scam—and for serious reasons.
First, Global Warming enthusiasts tend to be sexual revolution enthusiasts as well. When I went online to look for images of “tree-hugging” for a previous article, “Why Jesus Wants You To Hug Trees,” I found, much to my unsurprise, photos of de-clothed women hugging trees. That captures, in a flash, the problem with the Left. It can’t seem to detach its obsession with the environment, from its obsession with sexual libertinism. That obviously makes Catholics morally queasy, and so it should.
Second, Global Warming enthusiasts tend to scream (often vulgarly), rather than allow for there to be any serious debate about Global Warming. It’s not just that no one is permitted to disagree. You can’t even bring up any ambiguity or complexity without being branded as a human heretic ripe for recycling (not burning, as it would be environmentally destructive).
Third, Global Warming enthusiasts seem, all too often, to be hypocritical, jetting about to conferences all over the globe, using up a whole lot of petroleum-based energy in doing so.
I understand all of that. But I’d like to make the case for Catholics learning more about the Global Warming debate, rather than dismissing it; in fact, becoming more knowledgeable about the possibility of Global Warming than the enthusiasts themselves.
NOTE: I did not say that Catholics need to become Global Warming enthusiasts, but that they need to become much more knowledgeable about the possibility of Global Warming. Why?
First, because—like it or not—Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato si’ did throw at least some of his weight behind the Global Warming cause, stating that “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.” He was not, much to the chagrin of the Left, declaring an infallible doctrine. But his statements must be taken with the utmost seriousness by the faithful because he, as the pope, has made them in his considered judgment.
But second, as a way to get the Left to understand the damage caused by the Sexual Revolution. Let’s see how.
When I began to study the whole Global Warming debate I soon noticed something very interesting: the kind of argument the Left is making about Global Warming is the kind of argument Catholics can make against the Sexual Revolution.
Both assert that the order of nature is delicate (in the latter case, the natural human sexual order), and that human hubris in search of ever greater pleasure, comfort, and convenience can destroy or significantly harm that delicate natural order. One is pointing to the delicate order of Earth’s atmosphere; the other, to the delicacy the human sexual order. Both assert that even slight deviations from the right order can have unforeseen, catastrophic effects.
Think about it. The Global Warming debate boils down to one thing, the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Too little CO2 would mean an Earth that’s too cold for us, and too much would yield an uninhabitable hothouse.
But for all the fuss being made about it, the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere now is amazingly small, about .04%.
Not 4%, but 4 one-hundredths of one percent (or 400 parts per million, ppm).
About 150 years ago, before the Industrial Revolution kicked in, the amount of CO2 was around .028% (or 280 ppm). That very, very small increase in atmospheric CO2 during this period is a signal, so the Left argues, of impending destruction to the environment caused by greater emissions of carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution.
Note what kind of argument is being made here. The Left is saying (correctly) that we can’t run roughshod over the delicate and complex order of nature and expect that we will avoid negative results. It seems an act of hubris to think that we can understand the full effects of something so significant as the Industrial Revolution, given the small amount of time we’ve been running this “experiment.”
But the very same point must be made about such “experiments” as the Sexual Revolution. If the Left understands that unprecedented human-made activity since 1860 could have drastic ill effects in regard to the environment with a very slight deviation in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, then it ought to take a much more serious and sobering look at the possibility that the unprecedented, human-made changes in sexuality since 1960 can have even more drastic ill effects on human nature and human society given the much greater extent of the sexual deviation.
If that could happen, we just might cool down the global sexual revolution a few degrees—or more.