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BY The Editors
Warming Up to People
are meeting in Copenhagen this week to seek consensus on a United Nations
climate-change treaty. Their goal is to reduce “carbon emissions” and alleviate
the harmful effects of greenhouse gases.
But since the last major world
confab on the environment, in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, environmentalists more and
more have been going beyond the still-disputed idea that man-made greenhouse
gases are killing the planet: Some seem to want to limit the number of people
themselves allegedly producing those gases.
The latest example comes from an
agency that is one of the “United Nations Partners on Climate Change” listed on
the official website for the Copenhagen conference: the United Nations
A month before Copenhagen, the U.N.
Population Fund released its annual “State of the World Population Report,”
linking efforts to promote “sustainable development” and affect “climate
change” to its “reproductive rights” agenda.
The report asserts that achieving
“universal access to reproductive health” would both contribute to declines in
fertility and “help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the long run.” It calls
upon nations to “fully fund family-planning services and contraceptive
This sort of thinking is more and
more in the air. In August, the London School of Economics released a study
recommending more “family planning” as a primary method of reducing the world’s
“carbon footprint.” And in October, New York Times
environmental issues reporter Andrew Revkin said that some people have recently
proposed that there be carbon credits for having fewer kids. He himself
proposed getting carbon credits “for having a one-child family when you could
have had two or three.”
The attitude that people themselves
are the problem has actually been around for quite some time. In A.D. 200, the
philosopher Tertullian warned, “We are burdensome to the world, the resources
are scarcely adequate for us. … Already nature does not sustain us.”
Nineteenth-century mathematician Thomas Malthus warned of severe food shortages
if too many more people were born. And in 1971, Paul Ehrlich wrote in The
Population Bomb that “hundreds of millions of people will starve to
death” as a result of overpopulation. All of them have regarded human beings
largely as consumers — “another mouth to feed” — rather than resources
The Church, however, continues to
see people as the world’s most important resource — not merely mouths to feed.
About a dozen years ago, the late Father Richard John Neuhaus spoke about how
the world was changed by man’s ability to turn a simple resource — sand — into
silicon chips. Without man, he argued, sand would remain sand. But with man and
his God-given ability to reason and invent, a grain of sand brought about the
Human ingenuity is finding new ways
of harnessing renewable energy and to even use the things that could harm us to
our benefit. Chinese entrepreneurs, for example, have found ways to reuse the
carbon dioxide that allegedly is contributing to the Earth’s warming.
In fact, perhaps no nation-state has
done a better job at making itself less dependent on fossil fuels than the
Vatican, where a large solar-power generator produces energy estimated at
300,000 kilowatt-hours a year. Don’t take our word on that. Listen to Mark
Hopkins, director of the U.N. Foundation’s energy-policy program. In June,
Hopkins said that Vatican engineers are doing an impressive job trying to cut
Vatican City’s dependency on fossil fuels.
“Conceivably, Vatican City could
become the first state to be powered by renewable” energy and become the first
carbon-neutral nation in the world, he said.
It must always be remembered that,
far more than people being the source of the world’s problems, they have the
potential of finding solutions. Environmentalism must never place the welfare
of the planet over the welfare of man.
advertisement released Dec. 1, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
features a nude woman grasping a large crucifix that barely obscures her chest
and private parts. It bears the slogan “Be an Angel for Animals: Always Adopt,
Despite the aim to get people to
protect dogs from cruelty — a noble goal when pursued appropriately — the ad
backfires in myriad ways, but here are a few:
First, it trivializes and mocks
Christianity, juxtaposing the sacred (a cross on which the Savior of the world
hangs) against the profane (a centerfold model in a seductive pose). Second, it
offends and marginalizes women because it robs the female body of its inherent
dignity, making it something to be gawked at.
Before Thanksgiving, another ad
showed the same model topless and in a provocative pose holding a rosary. She
attempted to articulate her own theology of the body after another topless
photo session, “I think worrying about going topless in a photo shoot or film
is really ridiculous. And the fact is, Pope John Paul said since we were born
naked, it is art, and it’s just showing a beautiful body that God created.”
Pope John Paul II actually said (May
6, 1981), “But there are also works of art … which arouse objection in the
sphere of man’s personal sensitivity … because of the quality or way of its
reproduction, portrayal or artistic representation. … He becomes an object of
‘enjoyment,’ intended for the satisfaction of concupiscence itself. This is
contrary to the dignity of man.”
The ad rendered its primary goal of
saving dogs and cats secondary to shocking people. And, judging by the negative
response to the ad, many people have been shocked into focusing on the One
depicted hanging on the cross — the real reason for the season.