In a new column in The Detroit News, I set authentic environmental stewardship against the goings-on at the recently concluded UN Copenhagen conference. A slightly longer version of this commentary will be published tomorrow in the weekly Acton News & Commentary. Merry Christmas to all!

The not-so-subtle politicizing of science revealed by the Climategate affair, along with the alarmist and at times downright silly antics of some proponents of environmentalism (a word that has acquired numerous shades of creedal commitment), ought not drive reasonable people to abandon a sense of moral and civil obligation for the care and well-being of the planet.

The world that surrounds us and all the creatures upon it have human beings as their protectors. The human family has a primordial calling to “care and tend the garden.”

The point of conjecture now, however, is often over whether this world is indeed a garden — to be cultivated and tended, with care, reason and even love — or whether, as some of those gathered at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen demonstrated last week, the world is best seen as a jungle, to be left wild, untouched by human hands and thereby preserved unsullied and uncontaminated.

In the vocabulary of too many environmentalists, humans appear as the greatest threat to creation, at times leaving the impression that the human family is the most unnatural thing in nature.

The world and the people who inhabit it are at the center of the concern and love celebrated at Christmas. The controlling anthropology of the Nativity says that the human person, created in the image of the Creator, and the environment humans live in, is of such importance to their Creator that He chose to insinuate Himself into this world so as to rectify the effects of the disorder of creation brought about by human rebellion against the natural order and their origin.

This anthropology and cosmology presupposes that the creation has a purpose and was designed by a rational mind that imbued it with meaning. Ask yourself, which provides more protection for the environment: this view of the natural world that contends the order of the universe reflects the intentionality of a Creator who, in turn entrusts beings created in His image to care for and bring forth from creation its flourishing through a kind of environmental stewardship; or, the belief that the world is a chance collision of inanimate material forces that somehow produced being with no intrinsic dignity much less an august vocation to tend and perfect creation?

If you can grasp the disparate approaches to life of these two ideas, then you can understand why the rejection of a secularism hostile to the transcendent is so critical, not merely for some kind of abstract “spiritual” reason, but for the concrete care of our world and for the construction of a civilization based not on some assemblage of facts, but on the meaning behind and underneath the facts.

Christmas is precisely that. In the narratives we will hear and read in our homes and in our churches, we will be reminded of a world of infinite value to God, created with love and care, and entrusted to the human family to be tended and brought to its proper fruition. This is the message of God’s entrance into human history in the form of a vulnerable baby, born at a particular time and in a particular place, through the agency of a particular woman. It is the story of the Word who created the world, and who was rejected by that world.

The incarnation of Christ in human form offers hope to all “who dwell in darkness and the power of death.” It is this belief that protects, sustains and gives meaning — to our environment, and to much, much more.

How sad that message did not seem to be heard in Copenhagen.

  • Roger McKinney

    Very nice! Thanks!

  • Roger McKinney

    Here’s another intereting take on Copenhagen: it was a continuing effort to boost the power of the UN. Sounds like more anti-Americanism.

    Copenhagen Wrap-up:

    “I have seen the future and it stinks!”
    I am only just back last night from the Copenhagen UN climate change conference, yet am convinced of the accuracy of my headline – an obvious parody of Lincoln Steffens’ famous 1921 declaration about the Soviet Union, “I have seen the future and it works. ” In this case, however, the future concerns (supposedly democratic) “global governance” and not the workers’ state. For make no mistake about it, Kenneth Andersen is correct. COP15 was only peripherally about “climate change” and almost entirely about UN hegemony.
    I know. I saw it with my own eyes. And it wasn’t for the first time. This was my second international UN conference in less than one year – the first being the so-called Durban Review Conference in Geneva that purported to review the “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa” of 2001. The latter was as much about real racism as the former was about real climate change. It was also – as will be recalled – something of a farce, with the appearance Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dominating the event as he spewed vitriolic anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Nevertheless, the UN declared the conference a success.
    It will say the same of Copenhagen, no doubt. At least the presence of the various despots (Chavez, Mugabe, the re-upped A-jad, etc.) was not as damaging this time. It was more of sideshow, compared to the true objective of COP15 – the cementing of UN bureaucratic power under the guise of CO2 regulation. That was why the Climategate revelations were particularly poorly timed for the United Nations. Yes, they were largely ignored or dismissed at press conferences, but they were an overwhelming presence about which many were aware. ( Flemming Rose – the illustrious cultural editor of Denmark’s Jyllands Posten – told me in an interview that these revelations were covered much more extensively in the European press than in the US.) Furthermore, rejecting Climategate as an assault on “settled science” is, of course, risible because the concept of settled science itself is tenuous at best, verging on an oxymoron. As a commenter noted on this site, Einstein upended the settled science of Newton and now Einstein is in question. Yet we are supposed to believe without question some unknown mediocrity at the IPCC because of “majority rule” [sic].
    Yes, it’s comical, but it’s quite worrisome, if you examine the true game afoot. Copenhagen was intended as an important advance toward world governance. On the face of it, it’s a beautiful idea. When I was younger, I was highly attracted to it. But my up-close-and-personal encounters with the UN have turned that attraction to near revulsion. It’s very clear that under global government – because of its size and natural inefficiencies – accountability is nigh on to impossible, transparency nothing but a distant dream, very often not even desired. In short, it’s 1984. And COP15 was just that – legions staring at world leaders on Jumbotrons as they blathered platitudes, while negotiations were conducted behind closed doors. (That’s bad enough in our Congress, but on a global scale…?)
    Well, now jet lag is setting in, so I’m going to shut down for the moment. But I will add that, perhaps fortuitously, my long voyage home (9 1/2 hours from Copenhagen to Atlanta, another 4 from Atlanta to LA) finally gave me ample undisturbed time to finish a book I had wanted to read for a long time – F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. How apropos it turned out to be. Hayek had a lot of this figured out in 1944. I recommend to all who haven’t taken the time. It’s just a sign of my own indoctrination that I had read Marx, Marcuse, Gramsci, etc., etc. first.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2009/12/20/copenhagen-wrap-up-i-have-seen-the-future-and-it-stinks/