In the opening few pages of the Pope’s hot-off-the-press Encyclical on the Environment you’ll find a case being made that humans beings are out to destroy the planet.
“This sister (Earth) now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.”
It goes on, “This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.”
The encyclical literally makes it sound like Earth has been reduced to a Wall~E-ish trash heap and that most of us are about the business of seeking out opportunities to kill, steal, and lay waste to the planet wherever possible! But is this really the way things are? How many people have you ever met who, upon seeing a photograph of a mountain, an ocean, or an animal feel an urge to kill, pollute, or destroy what they are seeing? Nobody!
Likewise, how many people have you ever met who, upon seeing a photograph of trash in a stream, a mudslide, or a poacher standing on the dead back of one of the world’s last black rhinos haven’t felt at least a little bit concerned about the environmental irresponsibility they are seeing? Everyone!
Sure, there are folks out there who probably would rather emit a little more toxin into the air or squirt a few more drops of chemicals onto a crop instead of comply with cleaner, more expensive environmental regulations. But why do hundreds of millions of people like to visit national parks every year? Why are billions of dollars spent on camping, outdoor gear, and movies about nature? People simply love the world God made! It’s amazing, wonderful, and beautiful, isn’t it?
That’s why I can’t help but chuckle at the environmentally abusive way Pope Francis views “every living person on this planet.” Doug Bandow well-puts-it on his post over at the Acton Institute’s Power Blog. He writes,
“There remain serious environmental problems, to be sure, but Laudato Si presumes rather than proves crisis is the norm: ‘we can see signs that things are now reaching a breaking point,’ evident not only in “large-scale natural disasters” (which actually are not occurring more frequently), but also ‘social and even financial crises’ (which have no obvious relation to the environment). The Pontiff appears to be looking at a very different world when he declares that ‘The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.’ That is not what I see when I look out my window.”
There is indeed much content worth contesting in this environmental encyclical. But there were also points made that were good and right. I’ll point out some of the positive stuff in another post.