Posts tagged with: Environmental ethics

Blog author: bwalker
Friday, July 24, 2015

With Pope Francis at the Helm, World’s Mayors Pledge to Fight Climate Change
Nadia Prupis, EcoWatch

At the Vatican on Tuesday, mayors from around the globe pledged to fight climate change and help the world’s poor deal with the effects of a warming planet, an oath that came during a two-day conference with Pope Francis—himself a dedicated climate activist.

Vatican newspaper: ‘Red-hot Earth’

The front page of the July 24 edition of L’Osservatore Romano featured an article on “still more alarming data on the overheating of the Earth.” The article, entitled “Red-hot Earth,” cited a new report from the National Centers for Environmental Information of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report found that “the first six months of 2015 comprised the warmest such period on record across the world’s land and ocean surfaces.”

Catholics from the Phillippines could raise 10 million signatures for Pope’s climate petition
Cat DiStasio, inhabitat

The Philippines is the world’s third largest Catholic country and the largest in Asia, and it’s also been the site of numerous natural disasters in recent years. Church leaders there are on board with the conclusions Pope Francis laid out in his historic climate change encyclical last month, which pointed to human action as the root cause of global warming. Catholic leaders in the Philippines have promised to raise 10 million signatures—half of the goal—on a petition to be presented to global political leaders at their climate summit in Paris this fall.

Pope pushing hard on climate change
Timothy Spangler, The Orange County Register

Pope Francis made headlines this week at a Vatican conference for the world’s mayors and governors. He linked the challenges caused by climate change to the increase in human trafficking that has been plaguing Europe in recent years. The pontiff is showing little sign of allowing his campaign against environmental disaster to fizzle out. He explicitly placed his hopes on the United Nations to provide leadership on these important humanitarian issues.


Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Melville House Is Publishing Pope Francis’ “Call to Action” Encyclical on Climate Change
Steve Duffy, Flavorwire

Independent Brooklyn publisher Melville House has acquired the rights to be the first secular publisher of Pope Francis’ climate change encyclical: On Care for Our Common Home. The volume focuses on the fates of poorer nations, should current greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. It comes at an apt time, with the crucial UN climate talks (where leaders will try to reach a new global agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gases) due in Paris this December.

Civil Society Leaders Praise Pope’s Climate Encyclical
Eunsun Cho, World Policy Blog

Many major faith traditions are increasingly focusing on the issue of climate change. As an interfaith global movement for climate action, Our Voices recently organized Multi-Faith Emerging Leaders Convergence and an interfaith climate change march, which involved a diverse representation of major faith traditions and civic movements around the world. Father Fletcher, Coordinator of Our Voices and Executive Director of GreenFaith, a U.S.-based think tank for religion and ecology, expressed, “Fighting climate change is fighting poverty and injustice. All of us share the encyclical´s impatience at the lack of progress in the UN climate negotiations. Decisive action is needed now, we urge world leaders not to miss the opportunity at the next negotiations in Paris in December.”

Prominent Christians: Pope’s Climate Change Stance Harms Not Helps Poor
Donna Rachel Edmunds, Breitbart

Two prominent Christian peers have rejected the Pope’s recent encyclical on climate change as backwards and more likely to increase not reduce poverty. They accuse the Pope of falling foul of thinking on climate change that hankers for a time before the Industrial Revolution which campaigners paint as simpler and easier, but was in fact more brutal and painful.


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.”


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
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Matt Ridley on Climate Change
Russ Roberts, Library of Economics and Liberty

Science writer and author Matt Ridley discusses climate change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Based on his reading of the scientific evidence, Ridley describes himself as a “lukewarmer.” While Ridley agrees that humans have made the climate warmer, he argues that the impact is small or positive over some temperature ranges and regions. He rejects the catastrophic scenarios that some say are sufficiently likely to justify dramatic policy responses, and he reflects on the challenges of staking out an unpopular position on a contentious policy issue.

Pope in US to meet with homeless, prisoners and immigrants
Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope Francis will meet with homeless people, immigrants and prisoners during his upcoming trip to Cuba and the United States. He’ll also preside over a meeting about religious liberty – a major issue for the U.S. Catholic Church in the wake of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision.

Dalai Lama Endorses Pope Francis’s Encyclical on Climate Change
Cole Mellino, EcoWatch

The Tibetan spiritual leader also spoke about the need to end war, calling the concept of war “outdated.” The Dalai Lama said we need to shift our focus to launch a global effort to tackle climate change. “Countries think about their own national interest rather than global interests and that needs to change because the environment is a global issue.”

Thousands Take to Rome’s Streets to Echo Pope Francis’ Call for Climate Action Thousands Take to Rome’s Streets to Echo Pope Francis’ Call for Climate Action
Hoda Baraka,

The celebratory march was animated by a musical band, a climate choir and colourful public artwork designed by artists from Italy and other countries, whose work played a major role in the People’s Climate March in New York City last September. Among the artwork was a 75-meter sign in the shape of a green leaf, with verses from Scripture which speak to God’s care for creation and for the poor.


Creation Heart ManBeginning today, Acton is offering its first monograph on Eastern Orthodox Christian social thought at no cost through Amazon Kindle. Through Tues., Nov. 12, you can get your free digital copy of Creation and the Heart of Man: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on Environmentalism (Acton Institute, 2013). The print edition, which runs 91 pages, will be available later this month through the Acton Book Shop for $6. When the free eBook offer expires, Creation and the Heart of Man will be priced at $2.99 for the Kindle reader and free reading apps.

A summary of Creation and the Heart of Man:

Rooted in the Tradition of the Orthodox Church and its teaching on the relationship between God, humanity, and all creation, Fr. Michael Butler and Prof. Andrew Morriss offer a new contribution to Orthodox environmental theology. Too often policy recommendations from theologians and Church authorities have taken the form of pontifications, obscuring many important economic and public policy realities. The authors establish a framework for responsible engagement with environmental issues undergirded not only by Church teaching but also by sound economic analysis. Creation and the Heart of Man uniquely takes the discussion of Orthodox environmental ethics from abstract principles to thoughtful interaction with the concrete, sensitive to the inviolability of human dignity, the plight of the poor, and our common destiny of communion with God.


In the current issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality (14.1), Brian K. Strow and Claudia W. Strow challenge the economic impact of our definition of society in their article, “Social Choice: The Neighborhood Effect.” It occurred to me that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew implicitly challenges our definition of society on a different, though similar, level than Strow and Strow.  Strow and Strow analyze the changing results of economic utility functions based upon one’s definition of human society. In his book Encountering the Mystery (2008), His All-Holiness, however, broadens our definition of society not merely on the basis of relationship, geography, or voluntary associations, but on the basis of ontological groupings. This is not to say that he would equate a human child and a dog (or a dog and a flower, for that matter), but that, for the Patriarch, society includes the entire ontological hierarchy of all creation.

This perspective produces interesting results. For example, one may examine the case in recent years when Canada was still paying the state of Michigan to put Canadian trash in its landfills. Financially, Michigan was benefiting from the deal, but environmentally Canada succeeded in minimizing its trash and retaining unused landfill capacity. Economically, both can be considered capital, but they improve the respective societies in differing ways. The financial benefit of Michigan was purely a human benefit, whereas the environmental benefit of Canada benefited humans, animals, plants, air, and soil alike, even if only on a marginal level. As a country, rather than a state, Canada’s definition of society was not only broader in terms of humanity (whether relationally, geographically, or associatively), but also in terms of all creation.

However, as Strow and Strow’s analysis shows, if one were to expand the definition of society to the whole world, Canada did not succeed in producing any environmental benefit (the quantity of total world trash was not diminished at all, only geographically relocated). However, Michigan’s financial gain may have redistributed wealth in a way that still (again marginally) improved the world as a whole (raising per capita income, perhaps), while globally having an indifferent effect upon the environment.

The challenge of His All-Holiness Bartholomew, I believe, is to define society as broadly as possible, not only in terms of relationship, geography, or association, moving from individual to family to state to country to the world, but also moving from particular (one human) to group (family, state, or country) to species (all humanity) to genus (all animals or even all living things) to most general genus (all creation), to use classical categories. If one seeks to find a final say in the Patriarch’s work with regards to the relationship between economics and ecology, one may have many criticisms. However, if one takes his work as a starting point of discussion toward a Christian synthesis between these two disciplines, I believe one finds fertile ground for cultivating a productive engagement of economics and ecology on a global basis with such a cosmic view of society.

The Patriarch’s book Encountering the Mystery is published by Doubleday Religion and can be purchased at Amazon. The scope of the book is far broader than the subject at hand, but chapter VI, “The Wonder of Creation,” addresses his view of the relationship between economics and ecology from an Orthodox Christian perspective in detail. Additionally, his many talks, letters, and encyclicals related to environmentalism can be found here.

For more on Orthodoxy and Environmentalism, Very Rev. Fr. Michael Butler taught a session at this year’s Acton University, which can be accessed here.

For more on the ecological relationship of humanity to creation as a whole from a Christian perspective, see also Benjamin B. Philips, “A Creature among Creatures or Lord of Creation?” in the Symposium section of the current issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality.

You can subscribe to the Journal of Markets & Morality here.