Previously, we talked about the effects of alarmism on the public reaction to global warming.
Of course, if the information presented in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth is actually true, and in the next 50 years large portions of the earth will be engulfed in a 20-foot rise in sea levels, then drastic action becomes a reasonable response.
The problems with Gore’s presentation are numerous. In the most recent report of the International Panel on Climate Change (2007 Summary for Policy Makers), the worst sea-level predictions involve a rise just under two feet, with the average resting somewhere at just under or over a foot, over the next 100 years. This is a significant but not unmanageable increase.
Likewise, while there is some evidence that tropical storms may be increased by climate change, An Inconvenient Truth relies on the age-old trick of taking the most severe and best-remembered disasters of the past few years, and associating them with global warming — often when there is little or no evidence of a connection.
Some pundits are quick to point out such flaws and failings, but their own approach has its problems. They tend to place the issue in the context of the rights and needs of “hard-working American families” who, according to such disinterested parties as Exxon/Mobil, have “earned the right” to leave lights on around the house at night and drive gas-guzzling SUVs.
The Vatican brought us back to the reality of the issue. Our treatment of the environment is a matter of charity, of the dignity of the human person, of the negative effects of greed and of alienation from God, and of the need to put aside narrow self-interest for the sake of the universal good.
The Holy See pointed out to the United Nations that “poor nations and sectors of society are particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences of climate change, due to lesser resources and capacity to mitigate their effects and adapt to altered surroundings.”
This leaves Western nations with a tremendous responsibility.
Even if the most skeptical libertarian observers are right, and human effect on climate change is negligible, we still ought to treat our environment with respect. As Msgr. Pietro Parolin of the Holy See made clear in his address at a U.N. climate change event this September, “It has been unsettling to note how some commentators have said that we should actually exploit our world to the full, with little or no heed to the consequences, using a world view supposedly based on faith. ... This is a fundamentally reckless approach.”
Benedict XVI, in a September 2007 letter to the Patriarch of Alexandria, noted that, “While it is true that industrializing countries are not morally free to repeat the past errors of others, by recklessly continuing to damage the environment, it is also the case that highly industrialized countries must share ‘clean technologies’ and ensure that their own markets do not sustain demand for goods whose very production contributes to the proliferation of pollution.”
On the other hand, we are threatened by an “inhuman ecology” that holds up the earth as the only good and sees humanity as a threat that must be controlled and limited. The pressures to enact global legislation regarding climate change are growing.
Both the United Nations and the pundits who oppose it are abuzz with the possibility of global taxation — whether in the form of a direct carbon tax, a tax on fossil fuels or a tax on air travel. The United Nations, as the largest currently existing global body, would most likely be the beneficiary and administrator of any such plan, and would likely use the monies levied to fund U.N. “development” projects, and to reduce humanity’s “carbon footprint.”
The United Nations is at the forefront of many anti-population measures. Nearly every branch, from its Children’s Fund to its AIDS committee to its council on Discrimination Against Women, has been extensively involved in promoting sterilization, birth control and abortion. With major environmental groups already talking about population control as a significant, if not primary, measure to be used in the campaign against global warming, we can expect the United Nations to use anti-life measures to carry out its environmental goals.
This is why we North Americans must pressure our governments to voluntarily undertake meaningful legislation to reduce carbon emissions.
Many countries in the European Union have already implemented such policies, as have some poorer nations, like Brazil. It has been proven that environmental responsibility does not necessitate economic collapse, and many of the necessary technologies already exist.
North American countries must adopt these policies or risk being saddled with increasing pressures to put the matter in the hands of an unelected global body with a long history of destroying unborn children in the name of development and peace.
Of course most of us are not politicians, and do not sit on the boards of major corporations. So in the next installment week we will look at the individual responsibilities of the ordinary citizen.
Melinda Selmys is a staff writer at VulgataMagazine.org.