Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Pope on climate change

There seems to be a lot of joy in the climate change community that the Pope of the actual Roman Catholic Church has issued an encyclical calling on the faithful to get serious about global warming.  Considering the incredible damage that right-wing Catholics have visited on the Democratic Party, the Supreme Court, public education, and a realistic discussion of end-of-life medical decisions, etc. in the last 45 years here in USA, it should not be especially surprising that the rest of us would jump for joy at any sign of enlightenment in that viciously dangerous and corrupt organization.  There's even an appropriate passage in the Bible that explains the celebration.
12. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13. And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.  Matthew 18
The Catholic Church has an abundance of institutional flaws:
  • A highly stratified bureaucracy with WAY too many layers.  This ensures that nothing meaningful ever gets done. It also means that corruption is easy and effective.
  • A clergy that is selected from a group of people who promise to refrain from normal human reproductive activity.  The Catholics claim this leads to virtue.  Mostly it leads to some really sick behavior.  And here in Minnesota, the legal claims piling up from all the perversion will financially handcuff the organization for decades.
  • A belief set that leads to property management that can only be called "conspicuous waste on steroids."  The Catholics are probably proud of their grossly overbuilt houses of worship.  The rest of us are disgusted.
And then there's the biggie.  In order to sustain a corrupt organization shot through with scandals like rampant child abuse, it is highly advantageous to keep the sheep in the dark.  For a long time, Catholics brutally murdered people who did things like translate the Bible into languages people could read (Tyndale) or explained the virtues of skepticism (Bruno).  They threatened to torture a world-class astronomer for wanting to explain the cosmos (Galileo).  Before the Reformation, all the leading world-class universities were in strongholds of Catholicism like Italy.  By the time the Counter-Reformation reached peak madness, all the great universities of Europe were in the Protestant lands.  This is something that has not changed—no matter how proud the Catholics are of their schools.  Not surprisingly, making war on human knowledge has its consequences—the most obvious is economic under-development.

So it is not really surprising that the chief cleric of an organization with a 500-year history of promoting ignorance has produced a document on climate change that is pretty lame.  There are a few good things in there but overall, a party platform of, say, the Social Democrats in Denmark in 1991, probably had a much more nuanced understanding of climate change and its implications than the Pope's encyclical.  In fact, MOST of the Pope's document isn't really about climate change at all.

What is most disappointing is that the Catholic Church actually could do something about climate change if they would take a little responsibility for their own actions instead of pointing fingers.
  • The Pope is a man whose carbon footprint is ENORMOUS. It is probably bigger than all but (maybe) a thousand people on earth. Does he outline a plan for how he’s going to reduce his own “sins” against the planet? (Are you kidding?)
  • The Catholic Church has thousands of extremely energy-wasting buildings that are used but a few hours per week. Does our Pope suggest how his institution can address this problem? (Nope!)
  • The biggest problem facing the planet is a population explosion that has left us with over 7.2 BILLION people—all who would join the western middle classes in a heartbeat and the energy consumption that requires. And what does our Pope have to say about population control? (Crickets!) In fact, the Catholic position on population control is so backwards, it makes their positions on pedophilia look positively enlightened by comparison.
Since the Catholic Church claims some association with Christianity, the quote from Matthew about cleaning up your own act before worrying about your neighbor's should apply.  I mean, the Church isn't going to develop new solar cells or energy-efficient transportation systems so that's the least they could do.
3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.  Matthew 7

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