Tag: Environalism

Of Energy and Slavery


Democratic candidates are demonizing the energy industry–Bernie Sanders even called for the criminal prosecution of fossil fuel executives–believing or at least implying that America uses fossil fuels only because it is to the benefit of these companies, never considering the vital service that these fuels provide to millions of Americans and indeed to the entire world…which reminds me of an earlier article and discussion.

Christopher Hayes, writing at The Nation in 2014, asserted a connection between human slavery–in particular, human slavery as practiced in the US prior to 1865–and the use of fossil fuels. Specifically, he argues that the reluctance of energy companies and their investors to lose the financial value of their fossil-fuel assets is directly analogous to the reluctance of pre-Civil-War southern slaveholders to lose the financial value of their human “property.”He also asserts that environmentalists attacking the use of fossil fuels are in a moral and tactical position similar to that of the pre-war Abolitionists.

His article reminded me of a few things.

Laudato Si and a Pope in Tune with the Spirit of the Times



Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote that “The Church aims, not at making a show, but at doing a work. She regards this world, and all that is in it, as a mere shadow, as dust and ashes, compared with the value of one single soul.” Pope Francis, in a sense, would agree. In March, for example, he said in a homily that “the style of the good God is not to produce a spectacle: God acts in humility, in silence, in the little things.” Of course, the papacy is not a little thing, and so much of a pope’s activity inadvertently can become “spectacle.” Yet this pontificate has been anything but quiet.

From the pope riding in a Kia to colorful off-the-cuff remarks in interviews, Francis seems to relish the spotlight. Now the pope has written Laudato Si, an encyclical about “doing a work,” albeit a work to save this world.  After some time to consider Laudato Si, and to observe some responses to the document, we can better appreciate its significance for the Church going forward.

Environmental Imperialism


shutterstock_146843426The western Left has determined that people around the world must severely restrict their use of fossil fuels. Doing so would condemn billions of people to endless poverty. The “free” biomass fuels — wood, peat, and animal dung — that impoverished people in developing countries are forced to use exact terrible costs: the destruction of whole forests and jungles, loss of habitat and the attendant loss of flora and fauna, and respiratory problems and shortened lives from breathing smoke and fumes. As economist Deepak Lal stated in Poverty and Progress:

The greatest threat to the alleviation of the structural poverty of the Third World is the continuing campaign by western governments, egged on by some climate scientists and green activists, to curb greenhouse emissions… To put a limit on the use of fossil fuels without adequate economically viable alternatives is to condemn the Third World to perpetual structural poverty.

These “Green Imperialists” as Lal has called them, would deny billions of people the energy that has pulled the West out of poverty and that is essential to providing clean air and water, adequate lighting, communications, computer services, and life-saving medical care.

Francis, the (Misled) Humanist Environmentalist


shutterstock_195361532I started reading Laudato Si’ over the weekend; I’ve a long way to go, but I’m now reasonably familiar with some of the basic arguments Pope Francis makes in the early chapters.

One thing that leaped off the page is the world of difference between the pope’s views and those of the environmentalist left, especially of the Paul Ehrlich variety. This is hardly surprising. Where the latter sees humanity as a sentient blight on the world that needs to reduce its number to negligible sustainable levels, the pope begins with a concern for the welfare of human beings (particularly, the poor) and expresses concern that they’re bearing the brunt of our industrialist/consumerist culture while being denied their share of its benefits. If lefty environmentalism is anti-human, Francis’ environmentalism is decidedly humanist in the best (and very Catholic) sense of the word.

Again, it’s hardly surprising the leader of the oldest and largest Christian denomination is concerned with human well-being, particularly that of the poor. What’s frustrating, however, is Francis’s apparent blindness to the similarly-human-centric motivations of the many climate change skeptics, fossil-fuel apologists, and free marketeers that he lambasts. Over and over, the pope identifies these groups as the defenders of a short-term focused, get-mine-while-I-can “throwaway culture” that’s largely to blame for the world’s material suffering. He writes repeatedly about the need to “protect” Nature, without ever hinting how, in so many ways, She seems to have it in for us — and that we’re only able to fight back thanks to this technology.