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Global Warming and Catholics

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jul 22, 2007

By now it is a commonplace of counter-cultural reporting that concern about global warming is as much the latest secularist crisis of salvation as it is anything else. Should Catholics be concerned about it, one way or another?

While the scientific community is generally agreed that the globe is in a warming trend, scientists are sharply divided on whether human activity is a significant contributor to this trend. Many believe that the most consistent interpretation of the evidence is that we are simply experiencing the kind of cyclical change that has been going on for as along as we can read the records of the earth. There have long been well-documented mini-cycles as well as major cycles that take about 1500 years to complete. Moreover, it is highly likely that the cooling portions of these cycles have been far harder on humanity than the warming portions.

When you balance the conflicting evidence against the recurring pattern of alarmism which has been characteristic of secularists over the past fifty years or so, one has to wonder. I can still remember when the population bomb went off and the religion of tiny families was born, from which we have slipped into no families at all. And in the 1970’s “everybody” was convinced we were heading for a new ice age. The fear-mongering concerning global warming comes from the same crowd, a crowd with unfortunately wide representation in the media and, therefore, in politics. This crowd is currently busy attempting to eliminate all contrary evidence and opposing opinion from the mainstream media, academia and political life.

Catholics, of course, are as free to analyze the evidence as anyone else, and can reach their own conclusions. If we become convinced that contemporary human behavior should be changed to contribute to a solution to global warming, we will have the support of a long Catholic tradition of material detachment, responsible stewardship, and concern for the poor. And if we become convinced that the only real concern is the behavior of wealthy secularists who like to usurp the role of savior, then we will still have the support of a long tradition of material detachment, responsible stewardship, and concern for the poor.

Meanwhile, perhaps we can also take consolation from the fact that nobody is willing to pay for the astronomically expensive policies proposed by the demagogues. And surely we ought to recognize (and oppose) a preferential option for the rich in those proposals that would enable the very wealthy Al Gores of the world to buy “global warming credits”, in effect paying a fee to continue living as if they don’t really care about the planet. If we’re facing a crisis, let’s face it like Catholics. And if we’re not, let’s face that like Catholics too. Have I mentioned material detachment, responsible stewardship and concern for the poor?

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