Posts tagged with: environment

Blog author: bwalker
Friday, July 10, 2015

The Pope tries to keep a diplomatic face as he receives a gift from the Bolivian president… a crucifix featuring Jesus nailed to the Communist symbol of a hammer and sickle
Flora Drury, The Daily Mail

As crucifixes go, the one with Jesus nailed to the Communist symbol handed to Pope Francis during his meeting with the Bolivian President was unusual at best, blasphemous at worse. But the Pope did his very best to keep his face neutral as he was handed the gift by Evo Morales during a trip to the country on Wednesday. But the hammer and sickle crucifix wasn’t just an example of bad taste: in fact, the gift was a politically-charged offering in a country which has been trying to separate itself from the church.

Unbridled capitalism is the ‘dung of the devil’, says Pope Francis

Pope Francis has urged the downtrodden to change the world economic order, denouncing a “new colonialism” by agencies that impose austerity programs and calling for the poor to have the “sacred rights” of labor, lodging and land. In one of the longest, most passionate and sweeping speeches of his pontificate, the Argentine-born pope used his visit to Bolivia to ask forgiveness for the sins committed by the Roman Catholic church in its treatment of native Americans during what he called the “so-called conquest of America”.

Jerry Brown will visit Vatican for climate change talks with Pope Francis
David Siders, The Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown, a longtime champion of environmental causes and a one-time seminarian, will travel to Vatican City this month to meet with Pope Francis and attend a gathering of local officials on climate change and human trafficking. The trip, announced Thursday, comes as Brown intensifies efforts to coalesce support for carbon reduction policies ahead of global climate talks in Paris in December. He warned government officials at a climate summit in Toronto on Wednesday that the world is heading toward “total unsustainability and ecological collapse” if it fails to reduce emissions.

A thoughtful conversation about the Pope’s Encyclical
Joel Makower, GreenBiz

Contrary to this conventional opinion, the Encyclical’s influence is limited by several important factors. First, it was published too late to affect policy decisions of the most influential national climate negotiators. Many areas of agreement have already been achieved, and delegates will be guided by more tangible and secular national and economic interests as they attempt to resolve the remaining issues.


Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, July 9, 2015

Laudato Si’ ignores real gains for the environment and the poor
Steven Mosher, LifeSite News

But having carefully read through Laudato Si, I am amazed at how pessimistic it is about the current state of the world and mankind, leaving out much of the great progress we have made in both care for the environment and the poor. Many of its strong claims about the dire state of the world don’t take into account positive change reported even in UN documents, which themselves tend to magnify environmental and other global problems as a fundraising ploy.

In Andes, Pope’s Ecological Line Faces Resistance
John Otis and Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal

Pope Francis faced a delicate mission in his first major speech on global warming on Tuesday: how to balance his advocacy for a new model of development with a poor region’s yearning to exploit its natural resources. The pontiff, on the first leg of a three-country Andean trip, emphasized in a speech the themes of his papal encyclical blaming global warming on human activity, saying mankind must take steps to reverse it.

True to his encyclical, Pope Francis’ travels for global change in a world of debt, drought
Anne-Gerard Flynn, MassLive

When the Vatican released Pope Francis encyclical letter, “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home” on June 18, the 184-page document on capitalism, consumerism and human-induced climate change made global headlines. It combines, in a remarkably readable framework, information from a variety of disciplines to address what Francis calls “the present ecological crisis. In it, Francis seeks to advance a moral premise for sustainable development that exploits neither the Earth nor the humans that inhabit it.

Francis on climate change: ‘We can no longer turn our backs on reality’

The pope has said he wanted the encyclical to influence a United Nations climate change summit in Paris in December and has now effectively taken his campaign to convince governments on the road. In September he takes his message to the United States and the United Nations.


Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, July 8, 2015

In Calling on Government, the Pope Underestimates Power of the Market
Doug Bandow, Conservative HQ

Perhaps most disappointing is how the Pope seemingly views capitalism, and especially property rights, as enemies of a better, cleaner world. Yet most environmental problems reflect the absence of markets and property rights, the “externalities,” in economist-speak, which impact others.

“We Can No Longer Turn Our Backs On Mother Earth” – To Educators, Francis Teaches His Eco-cyclical
Rocco Palmo, Whispers in the Loggia

Nineteen days after his Eco-cyclical was published to no shortage of spin, hype and polarized contention, in his speech tonight to Ecuador’s community of teachers at the country’s pontifical university, the Pope made his first extensive remarks on Laudato Si’, becoming his definitive statement to date on the text.

Pope Francis, environmentalists, and economists on human stewardship of the Earth
Benjamin Zycher, American Enterprise Institute

In short: Francis makes clear his view that people are assets rather than liabilities, criticizing those who view “men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited” (¶60). And: “demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development” (¶50). That is a stance diametrically opposed to the dominant view within the mainstream environmental movement that global population growth is the central driver of environmental degradation and that, therefore, people are harmful on net, or at least on the margin. Accordingly, the encyclical is clear, even if Francis fails to recognize it, in its implicit support for the late Julian Simon’s view that human inventiveness and ingenuity — people — are the “ultimate resource,” expanding true resource availability and the wealth that increases both the social demand for environmental quality and the resources needed to achieve it.

The Pope Would Approve: Innovation At Loyola University Chicago Stems From Sustainability
Karis Hustad, Chicago Inno

Here in Chicago, one Catholic university not only heard the Pope’s call to action on climate change, but had already hit the ground running.”It’s in our wheelhouse, this idea of raising awareness on environmental issues and then calling for action,” said Nancy Tuchman, director of Loyola University Chicago’s Institute for Environmental Sustainability (IES). “It not only reinforces what we do, it has encouraged us to go farther.”


Lake Karachay, Russia, often referred to as the most polluted lake on Earth

Lake Karachay, Russia, often referred to as the most polluted lake on Earth

At The Federalist, a round-table discussion brought up several issues regarding the encyclical, Laudato Si’. A quick reading of the discussion sees several themes emerge: the pope shouldn’t be writing about science, this encyclical comes down too heavily against free markets, and that modernity has much to offer in the way of solving humanity’s many problems.

Now, if free markets and capitalism are really to blame for pollution, it would stand to reason that those would be the countries with the worst ecological problems. That is not the case.

On the contrary, the management of the environment in communist countries has been and continues to be much worse than in capitalist ones. For example, Richard Fuller, president of the environmental non-profit Blacksmith Institute once identified the former Soviet Union as having “by far and away the worst problems…” when it comes to environmental protection and land use.


Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Do the Pope and I live on the same planet?
Steven W. Mosher, New York Post

It is perhaps no coincidence that Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a radical environmentalist who had a part in drafting the encyclical, is a member of the Club of Rome. Schellnhuber was apparently selected for this role by Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Experts Debunk The Coal Industry’s “Energy Poverty” Argument Against The Pope’s Climate Action
Denise Robbins, Media Matters

Fossil fuel advocates are criticizing Pope Francis’ recent climate encyclical, claiming his call to phase out fossil fuels will harm the poor by preventing access to electricity and keeping them in “energy poverty.” But fossil fuels are not economically viable in most of the communities that suffer from a lack of electricity, and on-the-ground experts have explained that distributed renewable energy sources are often a more effective way to lift the world’s impoverished — who will be most affected by the adverse impacts of climate change — out of energy poverty.

Pope Francis’s Climate Warmup Act
Barbie Latza Nadeau, The Daily Beast

With new allies like Naomi Klein and a tour of his Latin home turf, the pope is clearly getting ready to face off with Republican deniers and Big Oil during his U.S. visit in September.

Science and Religion Collaborate; Pope’s Encyclical Asserts Imperative Need to Halt Climate Change
Felix Balthasar, NewsMaine

Nonetheless, it is important to comprehend that Pope Francis intends to raise public awareness about the forthcoming perils in case the indispensible precautions are not taken now; it very effectively goes beyond religion and addresses the entire global population to adopt ‘changes in lifestyle, production and consumption’.


Blog author: bwalker
Friday, July 3, 2015

Enviros That Supported The Pope’s Encyclical Tout Abortion To Solve Global Warming
Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller

Here’s some irony for you. The same environmentalists that fervently supported the Pope’s call for global governance over the climate and oceans are also pushing explicitly anti-Catholic policies to fight global warming: more access to contraceptives and abortion.The Sierra Club was just one of many environmental groups that supported the Pope’s call to address man-made global warming. When Pope Francis published his encyclical in June, they issued a strong statement of support for the Bishop of Rome’s call to action.

Vatican considers divesting from fossil fuels
Timothy Cama, The Hill

Max Hohenberg, spokesman for the Vatican’s bank, told the newspaper the issue is largely irrelevant, because about 95 percent of the bank’s investments are in government bonds, so “there isn’t much to divest.”

The Amazing Vanishing Climate Change Fund!
The American Interest

But these announcements are not a cure-all for the problems that threaten to bedevil the climate summit. Conspicuously absent from all of these announcements were any concrete contributions to a proposed $100 billion fund intended to assist the world’s poorer countries in coping with climate change. As it’s currently sketched out, the developed world would pay into this massive fund annually, and that money would go towards helping the developing world mitigate and adapt to climate change. But as Bloomberg reports, little progress has been made towards seeing this policy realized:

How the Pope Is Revving up Climate Action in LA’s Most Polluted Neighborhood
Jasmine Aguilera, Moyers & Company

After the June 18 release of “Laudato Si,” Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and humanity’s responsibility to protect it, young Catholics decided to host a rally to spread awareness of climate change’s effect on the poor, particularly Latinos in Southern California. Some Catholics are hopeful that events like this, inspired by the encyclical, will spread and lead to a new emphasis on climate action within the faith.

Pope Francis Heads to Iowa to Press Republicans on Marriage Climate
Breitbart News

“You see a lot of coalitions of Catholics and evangelicals working on the life issue together,” Scheffler said. “You could lose some Catholics to this. Some priests buy into that whole social justice, income distribution thing. But not all of them.”


Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pope got some wrong, a little right
Doug Bandow, National View

The Vatican’s new papal encyclical on the environment is a highly political discussion of the theology of the environment. Pope Francis mixes heartfelt concern for ecology with an often limited or confused understanding of the problem of pollution and the meaning of markets. Despite his commitment to environmental values, the pope acknowledges that “this rediscovery of nature can never be at the cost of the freedom and responsibility of human beings.” Nevertheless, humanity’s obligation for the environment is complex and the pope discusses ecological values in the context of economic development and care for the poor.

What Pope Francis gets right–and wrong–about climate change
W. David Montgomery, Fox News

The poor in wealthy countries, however, will suffer additionally from the efforts Pope Francis proposes to limit emissions, as the price of energy rises against their small and sometimes shrinking incomes. This will be particularly true in the United States if regulations like the Environmental Protection Agency’s draconian new rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants are implemented, because they effectively knock out use of the least costly sources of electricity.

St. Francis of Assisi: The Inspiration for the Pope’s Encyclical On Climate Change
Kit Kennedy, National Resources Defense Council

Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical on climate change has rightly received broad attention worldwide for its forceful message that action on climate change is necessary to protect the world’s poor. But little has been written about the important Medieval Church figure who provides both the title and much of the inspiration for the Encyclical (which is a papal letter to Catholics and all people of goodwill worldwide). That is St. Francis of Assisi, the 12th century friar and preacher whose name and style Pope Francis adopted when he became Pontiff. St. Francis’ song “Canticle of the Creatures,” praising God for the beauty of nature, provides the title of the Encyclical – “Laudato Si” – meaning “praised be to you” in St. Francis’ native Umbrian. And St. Francis is also the direct source for much of the Encyclical’s spirit and message.

The Best And Worst Media Interviews With Climate-Denying Presidential Candidate
Kevin Kalhoefer, Media Matters

CNN’s Jake Tapper has offered an instructive example of how to address presidential candidates’ climate denial during his interviews with real estate mogul Donald Trump and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). On the June 28 edition of CNN’s State of the Union, Tapper responded to Trump’s declaration that he is “not a huge believer in the global warming phenomenon” by telling Trump that “the overwhelming majority of scientists say it’s real and it’s man-made.”


Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Debate: Has the world improved in the last 60 years?
Max Roser

At the Oxford Martin School I debated with Anders Sandberg from Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute and Robert Walker from the University’s Social Policy department whether we achieved to build a better world.

Programme of the Pope’s trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations
Vatican Information Service

The Pope will depart from Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 10 a.m. on Saturday 19 September and is expected to arrive at 4.05 p.m. in Havana, Cuba, where the welcome ceremony will take place. On Sunday 20 September he will celebrate Holy Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana and will pay a courtesy visit to the president of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers of the Republic in the Palace of the Revolution. Later he will celebrate Vespers in the Cathedral with priests, men and women religious, and seminarians, and will subsequently greet the young in the Fr. Felix Varela Cultural Centre.

The Theological Mind of Laudato Si’
Eduardo Echeverra, Homiletic & Pastoral Review

In this article, I consciously refrain from considering the parts of Pope Francis’s new Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’ (hereafter LS) that have been the most contentiously received, namely: his views of a free market system, the nature and extent of the ecological crisis, the science of climate change, Francis’s alleged anti-modernism, and apocalyptic view of history, and so forth. I am concerned that the reception of this encyclical threatens to miss the forest for the trees, as it were. Hence, my approach to the encyclical is to consider the theological mind that informs its framework.

Vatican hosts conference on ‘the imperative to change course’ on the environment
Catholic World News

“The COP21 conference for climate change (Paris, 30 November to 11 December 2015) will be crucial in identifying strong solutions for climate change,” stated Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, whose remarks were read out at the conference. “The political dimension needs to re-establish democratic control over the economy and finance, that is, over the basic choices made by human societies.”

Cardinal Turkson addresses UN meeting on climate change
Vatican Radio

The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, conveyed the greetings and encouragement of Pope Francis, and drew attention to the new Papal encyclical on ecology, Laudato si’. Listen to the full address by Cardinal Turkson:


Coal power plant Datteln 2 Crop1Today at The Federalist I explore “Why Big Oil Wants A Carbon Tax.” Perhaps such advocacy isn’t just made out of a sense of global citizenship and environmental stewardship.

On the surface such advocacy may seem counter-intuitive. Why on earth, other than out of selfless benevolence, would a firm (or group of firms) advocate for higher taxes on their products? But on reflection, it makes some sense, and the reasoning is similar to why an online retailer like Amazon might be in favor of the collection of sales tax at the state level.

As Adam Smith famously put it, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

Companies are often happy to raise prices if it hurts their competition or provides them with a competitive advantage. And in the case of carbon taxes, it’s important to recognize that not all fossil fuels are equally carbon-intensive, just as not all renewable sources are equally sustainable and resilient.

This is one of the economic realities that I wish Pope Francis had recognized more clearly in Laudato Si’, although I may have more to say about this later. For now, David Brooks expresses a similar desire in his column, “Fracking and the Franciscans.”

Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, reacts to the recent encyclical from an evangelical perspective:

The climate change issue is portrayed by the activists as being a moral issue and they put themselves forward as defenders of the oppressed and the poor around the world.  But, in fact, it is the poor, especially the extreme poor, who are the most arguably in need of increased access to what, at this point, only fossil fuels can provide.

See his full statement in the video below: