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Heaven belongs to us all – the new papal encyclical

Filed under: — stefan @ 18 June 2015

Guest post by Brigitte Knopf

With his encyclical “Laudato Si” the Pope has written more than a moral appeal without obligation. He has presented a pioneering political analysis with great explosive power, which will probably determine the public debate on climate change, poverty and inequality for years to come. Thus, the encyclical is also highly relevant to me as a non-Catholic and non-believer; the implications of the encyclical are very apparent through the eyes of a secular person.

The core of the encyclical makes clear that global warming is a “global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods” (25 – where the numbers refer to the numbering in the encyclical). The reasons identified are mainly the current models of production and consumption (26). The encyclical emphasizes that the gravest effects of climate change and the increasing inequality are suffered by the poorest (48). Since we face a complex socio-ecological crisis, strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty (139). So far, however, governments have not found a solution for the over-exploitation of the global commons, such as atmosphere, oceans, and forests (169). Therefore, the encyclical focusses on actors, such as non-governmental organizations, cooperatives and intermediate groups (179) and calls for a dialogue between politics, science, business and religion.

The encyclical is, with 246 individual points, too extensive to be discussed in here in its entirety, but three aspects are particularly noteworthy:

  1. it is based unequivocally onthe scientific consensusthat global warmingis taking placeand that climate changeis man-made; itrejects thedenialof anthropogenicwarming;
  2. it unmasks the political and economic structures of power behind the climate change debate and stresses the importance of non-state actors in achieving change; and
  3. it defines the atmosphere and the environment as a common good rather than a “no man’s land”, available for anyone to pollute. This underlines that climate change is strongly related to the issues of justice and property rights.

1.     The Pope and science

The statements of the Pope concerning the scientific basis are in principle nothing new. The scientific consensus is recognized in the encyclical at the outset:

A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. […] A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases […] released mainly as a result of human activity (23).

Moreover, the Pope refers to the scientifically long-established fact that the use of fossil fuels and deforestation are the main causes of climate change (23).

What is now a commonplace in Europe is not uniformly accepted in the US. A turbulent debate surrounding the encyclical began even before its official publication. This is understandable, given that there are many in the US who still cast doubt on the scientific basis of climate change. Even Jeb Bush, the presidential candidate, does not deny climate change itself, but says that the human role in climate change is “convoluted“. Rick Santorum, also a Republican presidential candidate, has actually rejected the right of the Pope to comment on the scientific basis of climate change. There is no doubt that there will be a heated argument on this part of the encyclical especially in the US which will also frame the American debate on the future international climate agreement that is expected to be negotiated by the end of this year in Paris.

2.     The Pope and politics

Although the encyclical puts a focus on the poor it is not merely a moral scripture. It is also no ordinary appeal to governments to act. On the contrary, it explicitly states that international negotiations have so far not made significant progress (169) and accuses international politics of its weak response (54). In addition, the Pope unmasks in very clear terms the political interests of those who deny climate change and hinder mitigation:

Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change” (26).

While the Pope does not address governments as main actors, nor does he frame the climate problem only as the responsibility of each individual. Instead, the encyclical underlines the importance of collective actors such as cooperatives, non-governmental organizations and civil society (179).

However, the encyclical remains rather unspecific concerning concrete recommendations for action to prevent climate change and overcome poverty. The Pope does not comment on whether the 2°C temperature limit is adequate or whether 1.5°C would be more appropriate from the perspective of the poorest. Concerning energy sources, the Pope often refers to renewable energy (26, 164) and explicitly states that coal, oil and gas “needs to be progressively replaced without delay” (165). But he does not provide any further details on transformation scenarios or requirements for specific technologies. This is for good reason; it is not the task of the Pope to intervene in the detailed mechanics of politics. In this sense, the Pope also recognizes the different areas of competence of religion, politics and science.

3.     The Pope and the global commons

Much more important than the choice of energy sources is the question of ownership of the global commons. Here, the encyclical states:

The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all (23).

Several times the Pope refers to the common good and stresses that the “global commons” (174), such as the atmosphere, oceans, forests, and biosphere, belong to us all.

The encyclical thus implicitly describes the core problem of climate policy: we currently use the atmosphere as a disposal space. Everyone is allowed to pollute the atmosphere without paying for the negative externalities. Science has shown that we are limited to atmospheric emissions of around 1,000 GtCO2 in order not to exceed the 2 degree temperature limit (see Figure 1). However, substantial fossil resources are still stored in the ground, and these would give rise to emissions of about 15,000 GtCO2 due to combustion. If, due to climate policy, these fossil fuels may no longer be used, the resources would necessarily be devalued. The owners of coal, oil and gas would in fact be expropriated. In this context, the encyclical stresses the principle of “subordination of private property” (93-95, 156-158). This means that private property of fossil fuels can only be ethically justified if it serves the common good. Therefore, the devaluation of assets is not an unjustified disenfranchisement, but is legitimate because it serves the common good, namely the reduction of the risks and consequences of climate change.

Foto_3_zu_4_Carbon_Pricing_groß

Figure 1: The Global Commons and the fundamental problem of climate policy: there are still plenty of fossil resources in the ground, but only a limited disposal space in the atmosphere left. Data: Atmosphere: IPCC AR5 Synthesis Report, Table 2.2.; Resource: IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy, Figure 1.7. Source: Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC).

To frame the climate problem as a “global commons” problem has far reaching consequences. This became clear when the term was relegated by the governments from the main text into a footnote in the report of the IPCC Working Group III. Some countries feared legal and distributional consequences. If the atmosphere is accepted as being a global commons, this immediately raises the question of who owns the atmosphere and who is allowed to pollute it. The encyclical is very clear about this:

The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone (95).

Ownership thus goes hand in hand with a responsibility to take into account the principles of justice. The currently prevailing “law of the jungle”, causing the atmosphere to be overused in terms of the deposition of carbon ad infinitum, is thus de-legitimized by the Pope.

Implications for the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris

The encyclical is only expected to have an indirect effect on the UN climate change conference – but it will probably be long-lasting. Its timing may have a positive impact on the negotiations in Paris, but more importantly, it is timeless and emphasizes the fundamental question of solving the intertwined problems of climate change, poverty and inequality. Providing an answer to these questions is becoming globally ever more pressing. The encyclical does not address the governments directly but refers to a global “ecological movement” (166). For the Pope it is clear: without pressure from the public and from civic institutions there will be no progress (181).

With this analysis the encyclical describes a phenomenon that has now become global. While the nations of the G7 commit to decarbonization but do not agree on corresponding joint policy measures, there are many positive signs of movement in the climate carousel aside from the international climate negotiations: a new study by UNEP shows that a substantial contribution can be made to reduce emissions by cities and other subnational actors; the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund has decided to sell its coal investments and sends a strong signal for a global divestment strategy; and six large oil companies get together begging for pricing CO2 emissions.

Individual actions alone will achieve little, but together they can make a difference; they could well contribute to an international climate agreement serving as a foundation for the governance of the global commons.

The fact that the commons can indeed be successfully managed has already been proven at the local level: Elinor Ostrom has shown that communities can develop diverse institutional arrangements for managing the commons without overexploitation. For this finding, Ostrom was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in 2009. It is now time to show that the management of global commons is collectively possible.

Perhaps this is the overarching message of the encyclical: the fair management of the global commons is one of the most important tasks of the 21st century. This can only be successful if a large number of actors across different levels of governance, ranging from global, to regional and local, link up together. This convinces also me as an atheist: heaven belongs to us all.

Dr. Brigitte Knopf is Secretary General of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and an expert on European energy and climate policy and one of the Editors of the Book “Climate Change, Justice and Sustainability”. She is on Twitter as @BrigitteKnopf

Links

The encyclical in several languages on the Vatican website

Paper by climate scientist John Schellnhuber, presented at the Vatican press conference for the encyclical today

85 Responses to “Heaven belongs to us all – the new papal encyclical”

  1. 51
    Chris Korda says:

    For over thousand years the Catholic Church stood for empire, war, sexual repression and torture. To this day they’re still spreading ignorance, lies, and false hope while blithely encouraging rampant overpopulation in desperately poor countries, as others have pointed out. If Scientology proclaimed the scientific consensus on climate change would we celebrate them too?

  2. 52
    patrick says:

    @46 Mal Adapted: > freedom without responsibility is mere license.

    Exactly. Not only in your personal creed but in any foundational notion of rights, I think. A right is not exclusive of the responsibility taken in the exercise of the right.

    > enslavement to a neurotransmitter agonist

    Exactly. And sometimes an adrenal rush.

  3. 53

    “I find it very difficult to take the Vatican seriously about climate change when they are so opposed to stabilizing the human population.”

    – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/06/heaven-belongs-to-us-all-the-new-papal-encyclical/comment-page-1/#comment-633112

    A commonly made point, and one for which I have some sympathy.

    However, if the corollary is that (as is often also stated), the solution to the climate problem is controlling population, then no–the reality is that:

    1) We have maybe a couple of decades to achieve significant emissions reductions if we are to avoid the most dangerous levels of climate change, but

    2) The world’s demographic structure guarantees that population will continue to grow over that time–barring only an enormous growth in death rates.

    So, if we are to reach an acceptable solution of the climate crisis, it will *not* proceed from population control per se, however desirable the latter may be over the longer term.

  4. 54
    Russell says:

    Mal:‘ You are, of course, existentially free to define “liberty” otherwise, even to encompass enslavement to a neurotransmitter agonist.’

    How do audience and speaker oxytocin levels at Reality Project and Center for Environmental Journalism meetings compare?

  5. 55
    Mal Adapted says:

    freetoken:

    I find it very difficult to take the Vatican seriously about climate change when they are so opposed to stabilizing the human population.

    For me, the significance of the Pope’s pronouncement on climate change is that his devout followers do take him seriously. Those that haven’t accepted the reality of AGW and its potential to have serious consequences are now obligated to do so. Their numbers may shift the political center of gravity away from denial, making it easier to adopt effective mitigation policies.

  6. 56
    David Lewis says:

    The Pope Francis statement: “…it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.” that many criticize, is a quote from a 2004 statement of Catholic doctrine that itself says it got the quote from the the 1987 writings of Pope John Paul II.

    If the footnote is correct, i.e. it leads to “Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis” written by John Paul II, they are just using him as a source.

    John Paul II, from Rei Socialis: “Just as it is incorrect to say that such difficulties stem solely from demographic growth, neither is it proved that all demographic growth is incompatible with orderly development”.

    The 1987 John Paul II position seems tentative compared to this 2015 Pope Francis.

    That civilization had an existential planetary ecological problem was just beginning to dawn in 1987. By now, to quote Leonard Cohen, “everybody knows”.

    The Brundtland report, i.e. Our Common Future, had just come out in 1987. It was a plan to stabilize global population at ten billion. The 1987 Pope, John Paul II, seems to ask where is the proof that human population needs to be stabilized. This 2015 Pope knows the expansion can continue.

    Compare Brundtland’s title “Our Common Future”, to this Pope’s subtitle of his Encyclical, i.e. “On Care For Our Common Home”.

    Francis continues: “To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues”.

    We might say, to claim that human population can continue to expand forever is another way to refuse to face the issues.

    Now these high Catholic priests claim to mean something different when they use the word development as opposed to those promoting “sustainable development”, or those who advocate plain old rape and pillage and the devil take the hindmost development, but even so….

  7. 57
    zebra says:

    On the population question, note that US Catholics (church-going, not lapsed) do not follow the prohibition against artificial birth control.

    It is clear from experience that the best way to drive down birth rates is to reduce poverty, and educate and empower women. Sounds like that would be what happens if we follow the Pope’s suggestions.

  8. 58
    Mal Adapted says:

    Me: “You are, of course, existentially free to define ‘liberty’ otherwise, even to encompass enslavement to a neurotransmitter agonist.”

    Patrick: “Exactly. And sometimes an adrenal rush.”

    Russell: “How do audience and speaker oxytocin levels at Reality Project and Center for Environmental Journalism meetings compare?”

    Blog snark is hard to get right, apparently. I should have said “exogenous neurotransmitter agonist”, but I figured Russell, at least, would get it ;^(.

  9. 59
    Radge Havers says:

    CK @ ~ 51

    So what are you saying, that the Pope should shut-up about AGW and go back to burning heretics? That thar’s some no-nuance common scents.

  10. 60

    CK 51: For over thousand years the Catholic Church stood for empire, war, sexual repression and torture.

    BPL: Really? I suppose you can document that the Catholic Church “stood for” those things?

    I’m not a Catholic, but I dislike anti-Catholic prejudice.

  11. 61
    Alastair McDonald says:

    Zebra says “It is clear from experience that the best way to drive down birth rates is to reduce poverty, and educate and empower women”, but what is the cause and what is the effect? Is it not that the use of contraceptives has made the West rich. They no longer have large families which require resouces that consume all their disposable incomes.

    The Pope writes: “To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.” It seems to me that it is the Pope who is refusing to face the issue that population growth will only increase consumerism.

    Without the huge global population there would be no threat from carbon dioxide emissions and there would be no need to turn Amazonia into farmland. You could even have a few hundred people driving SUVs. It is the millions driving SUVs that is causing the problem and the billions requiring food that is destroying the environment.

  12. 62
    Keith Woollard says:

    Zebra at 57 – so your saying that if we should take notice of what the pope says because that will lead to people not taking notice of what the pope says???? Exactly why this post should never have gone up on RC

  13. 63
    zebra says:

    #62, #63

    We are all free to interpret what the Pope said, but I don’t see any contradiction to what I said.

    Subsistence farmers and even those slightly better off have “excess” children because they provide an economic benefit. For people with secure jobs, social security, and other benefits, children represent a cost. This is standard economics as far as I know.

    Likewise standard sociology tells us that empowered, educated, women choose to have fewer children. Do you actually think the vast majority of women who are not coerced want to be continuously pregnant in their prime reproductive years?

    Reducing consumerism=wealth inequality is a method of population control. Mitigating climate change by reducing fossil fuel consumption is likely to improve the living standards of the poor at little cost to the living standards of the wealthy.

  14. 64

    “…what is the cause and what is the effect? Is it not that the use of contraceptives has made the West rich. They no longer have large families which require resouces that consume all their disposable incomes.”

    – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/06/heaven-belongs-to-us-all-the-new-papal-encyclical/comment-page-2/#comment-633179

    Er, no. The ‘wealth explosion’ of the post-war ‘first world’ was coincident with the baby boom. Correlation isn’t causation, but where correlation is absolutely lacking, well…

  15. 65
    freetoken says:

    @Mal Adapted – “… the significance of the Pope’s pronouncement on climate change is that his devout followers do take him seriously. ”

    While there are probably Catholics in the world who will take the latest Papal directive seriously, if we look at those places in the world where today the per capita carbon emissions are the highest, as well as those places with the largest growth in CO2 emissions the past few years (China, India), the Catholic Church has little influence.

    And in the US I don’t see how the current deadlock in passing meaningful legislation will be affected by the latest Papal letter.

  16. 66
    Alastair McDonald says:

    Kevin,

    the baby boom did not result in larger families. It was just that the soldiers, who were all under 40 years old, returned home at the same time after serving abroad. As a result their wives could start or restart their families in the few years following it. In fact “In post-war England, birth rates were low (but fluctuating), death rates fairly low and population growth beginning to slow, particularly by the 1970s.” The 1970s followed on from the publication of “The Affluent Society” 1958, and Harold Macmillan pointing out that “most of our people have never had it so good”, 1957.

  17. 67

    #66–Contrariwise. In the US fertility rates rose in quasi-linear fashion from the early 1930s to the early 60s. During that time, economic well-being increased more or less in tandem. You can see that in the ‘Figure 1’ graph here–where the demographers also discuss the fact, as they put it, “in the United States and other developed countries, fertility tends to drop during periods of economic decline.”

    And actually, the pattern in England is not dissimilar, despite your anecdotes. See this publication, for instance:

    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_279934.pdf

  18. 68
    Nick Gotts says:

    “Without the huge global population there would be no threat from carbon dioxide emissions and there would be no need to turn Amazonia into farmland.” – Alastair McDonald@61

    Destruction of Amazonian forest, insofar as it is driven by agriculture, is primarily about meat and dairy production, either directly (ranching), or indirectly (growing soya to feed cattle). Little of the products will be going to those poor countries, primarily in Africa and the Indian subcontinent, where most population growth is now happening (Egypt is to some extent an exception). There is also increasing subsistence farming in the Amazon, but this very much follows the roads that are built to facilitate commercial agriculture and mining – and South American population growth rates are falling fast (total fertility rate i.e. children per woman, is now just above replacement level, and declining). Kevin McKinney is right: desireable as an end to population growth (and even some reduction) is in the medium term, it is not going to contribute significantly to mitigating climate change, at least in the crucial next few decades. Most of the growth is now among the poorest populations, who produce far less greenhouse gases than those in the rich, low-population-growth countries.

  19. 69
    Jerry Steffens says:

    The Pope’s words have made untenable views expressed by U.S. politicians who have attempted to use theological arguments to support their denial of anthropogenic climate change. An example is this statement by Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe:

    “man-made climate change is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people … The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what [God] is doing to the climate is … outrageous.”

    I think that most people, be they believers or not, would agree that in matters of faith, the Pope has somewhat more credibility than a politician whose idea of a rational discourse is the throwing of snowballs in the Senate chamber.

  20. 70
    Mal Adapted says:

    freetoken:

    And in the US I don’t see how the current deadlock in passing meaningful legislation will be affected by the latest Papal letter.

    You may be right, but in every election some Catholics will vote in obedience to the Pope, and politicians will count them. To the extent that politics is a numbers game, we (climate realists, that is) need every increment in our numbers we can get.

  21. 71
    Chris Dudley says:

    A passage in paragraph 23 of the English version of the Encyclical it goes: “Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space.”

    Fundamental error: “reflected” is not the right word. The reflected (scattered) portion returns to space. It is the absorbed and re-radiated portion that is involved in the greenhouse effect.

    We’ve discussed elsewhere how the blanket analogy is also misleading.

  22. 72

    I am not much in favour of religious interventions in science (Galileo …) but I see the right-wing assault on climate science as a form of religion, so I wonder how an authoritative religious assault on that position will be taken.

  23. 73
    William Flood says:

    The proper response to the Pope’s views on anything is best determined by visiting Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland.

  24. 74
  25. 75
    Carbomontanus says:

    A very good article indeed by Brigitte Knopf, the very best rewiew I have seen yet of Laudato si, that I have not red carefully through yet.

    A lot of the comments state and dicuss the categoric difference between science and religion, which to my recognition rather is what we call “old superstition” and the longtime cultural, mental and emotional, result of old and “alian”, ugly political propaganda (if you see what I mean…).

    The pope himself is clear enough. He is presumably religious but he is also a trained and inaugurated facultary chemist. He says that he is able to understand and to agree to the basics of modern climate research and its results. It apparently does not make any categoric schizma or conflict in his soul and thoughts.

    Remark that denialism thrives when science and religion(basic opinion) are repelling and fighting each other.

    Thus I will suggest to all and everyone who believe in any such conflict or categoric schizma even today and in our time, where we should know better, that they re- examine their very ideas and inaugurations and training both of science and religion, and try and get both of them rather in touch and in order so it can cooperate and work and live together quite healthy and normally like it ought to be, like the left and the right hand on the same body.

    Because we know that perverted or severely dammaged or inhibited or inferiour bodily organs may sit on the same body like the left and the right arm and hands, still not able to cooperate and work and lift and pull and push together.

    Faith without work is a dead faith. To my experience, that is just as true of science.

    Is that the problem? It does not work?

    It is true of arms and hands at least.

    Thus if that seems to be the case, do re- examine and look over your eventual science and religions(true basic feeling and opinions) quite carefully. May be one of them og both of them need to be reformed or restored or even cured?

  26. 76
    Russell says:

    69:
    “The Pope’s words have made untenable views expressed by U.S. politicians who have attempted to use theological arguments to support their denial of anthropogenic climate change. ‘

    Alas no– the outspoken Calvinists of the Dominionist movement regard the climate wars as a logical extension of the Thiry Years War. and seem to have converted at least one Catholic traditionalist to their view.

  27. 77

    So climate scientists have asserted serious political messages starting with Pres. Lyndon Johnson, then again to President Nixon (“Get back to me in 39 years”). In the last few decades, science has been progressively silenced and emasculated by insanely profitable carbon fuel interests (“Hey it’s free, right out of the ground, and after it’s sold, the combustion means we get to sell more and more, endlessly, till we run out”). The political battles are lost, and after decades of a PR war, scientists have lost the strong ethical voices it once heard in the 1960’s. And now, ethical academic political power seems barely visible.

    It is so nice of the Pope to restore a shred of moral outrage on this issue. In the last 5 years, from auditing six climate courses at the Univ of Washington, I witnessed great teaching, frosted with a shocking optimism bias. Students today seem to have tunnel vision, and arrive pre-crippled by student loans and weakened with well-targeted cultural misinformation. In the US today, political activism is never considered. Alas, faculty cannot teach revolt, because, after all, why add disruption to impending destabilization? Academia has all the information, but no direction, and very little potency. Like a poker player with all Aces, but no voice, and no chips. It desperately wants to find a different game, but it is unsure what that might be.

    Governments have failed to protect citizens from the rapacious, delusional, self-destruction of carbon capitalism. The game of the future now shifts from academic sciences to the churches. Across centuries, the Vatican has played the role of hospice ministry. Implied in the encyclical, is that if required, it stands ready to repeat what it knows so well.

    Moral responsibility now joins with physical accountability. The minimum unified political action is to move climate science into all aspects of policy and politics.

  28. 78
    patrick says:

    The timing of the papal letter is something everyone can appreciate, in the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

    There’s a Rabbinic leadership letter–ditto, the timing. At Glastonbury the Dalai Lama called the papal letter “very right” and “wonderful,” ditto.

    The Solar Impulse plane is now between Japan and Hawaii. The flight is streaming live–which takes guts. (Camera view may be inside cockpit or outside, depending.)

    http://www.solarimpulse.com/widget-rtw_wrapup

    https://twitter.com/solarimpulse?lang=en

    A few times a day updates are provided on altitude, state of charge, pilot health, oxygen, etc., relative to nominal plan. At about 2 am central I caught the evening update.

    It ended with: “Why are we doing this ?” The stated answer was, to call attention to the need for energy systems transformation, in the context of goals for 2050, following on the work of the IPCC.

  29. 79
    Chris Dudley says:

    Kevin (#53),

    Interestingly, the Pope says little about birth control in the Encyclical. He takes some swipes at the forced abortion crowd and complains about environmentalists who care about life not joining his pro life campaign. But it seems like he is not putting up much of a fuss about birth control per se.

  30. 80
    Chris Korda says:

    BPL 60: “I suppose you can document that the Catholic Church “stood for” [empire, war, sexual repression and torture]”

    It seems that you did not bother to follow any of the links I provided. Here they are again and with interest.

    Here are torture devices used by the Catholic Church. If you need more proof and have the stomach for it do a Google image search on “inquisition”. See also the Inquisition at WP e.g. “By 1256 inquisitors were given absolution if they used instruments of torture.”

    Regarding empire and war, for starters see the Holy Roman Empire, and the Crusades.

    Regarding sexual repression (not to mention misogyny), you could start with reproductive issues, e.g. “The Catholic Church is morally opposed to contraception and orgasmic acts outside of the context of marital intercourse. This belief dates back to the first centuries of Christianity.[116] Such acts are considered illicit mortal sins, with the belief that all licit sexual acts must be open to procreation.” Also see Catholic teachings on sexual morality, e.g. “Among what are considered sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, homosexual practices[7] and artificial contraception.[8] Procurement of abortion, in addition to being considered a grave sin, carries … the penalty of excommunication.”

    For the deviance that has inevitably resulted from such brutal sexual repression see e.g. Catholic Church sexual abuse cases.

    The primary business model of the Catholic Church is selling people the cruel false hope of life after death, along with many related fairy tales. The Catholic Church is now and has always been fundamentally committed to irrationality, and for this reason especially I find it deeply offensive that their pronouncements are being taken seriously on a science blog.

  31. 81

    We see insufficient evidence that Climate science has informed policy.

    Instead, climate science ruthlessly dictates policy. Civilization will decide how much to obey.

    Keeping in mind of course, that ‘Lessons not learned, will be repeated’.

  32. 82
    Russell says:

    50:
    Abraham Lincoln once sapiently remarked “What’s posterity ever done for us ?

    As non-existent persons are scarcely sapient, Hank can no more anticipate their views on liberty than secure their future consent to the consequences of present regulation.

  33. 83

    Korda: The Catholic Church is now and has always been fundamentally committed to irrationality, and for this reason especially I find it deeply offensive that their pronouncements are being taken seriously on a science blog.

    BPL: I find it deeply offensive that you drag your religious prejudices onto a serious blog of any kind.

    Nobody cares how much you hate Catholics. The subject of this thread is the Pope’s encyclical on climate change, which we find a positive thing.

  34. 84
    adam smith says:

    I agree with you that commons can indeed be successfully managed has already been proven at the local level. Nice post

  35. 85
    Eugene Wahl says:

    From the perspective of someone who has taught, written, and led workshops on creation spirituality and environmental ethics for 25 years, the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical is profoundly moving. As a member of the world-wide Anglican Communion, a train of thought that comes to me in response centers on the famous quote by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple:

    “It is in the sacramental view of the universe, both of its material and of its spiritual elements, that there is given hope of making human both politics and economics, and of making effectual both faith and love.” (Nature, Man, and God, Macmillan, 1934)

    This is one of the touch-stones of Anglican social concern, of which Temple was a profound expositor and leader in the first half of the 20th century. It seems to me that this quote could be extended to modern environmental concerns very readily, and with particular appropriateness in the context of Pope Francis’ encyclical. Here is an attempt that comes to me in this way:

    “It is in the sacramental view of the universe, both of its material and of its spiritual elements, that there is given hope of making human-honoring and earth-honoring both politics and economics, and of making effectual both faith and love — for the whole earth, all its creatures, and the entire human family.”

    It seems to me Pope Francis has done just this. I think Archbishop Temple would be proud of the Pope’s strength and his helping us to move beyond stalemate to HOPE for taking up our responsibilities to both the present and the future. Hope is perhaps what we most need at this juncture in history for how we will treat this “fragile earth, our island home”. (The Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal Church of the United States, 1979)

    John Macquarrie, Anglicanism’s most profound systematic theologian of the 20th century, may have best expressed our joint spiritual and material need for hope in an article celebrating the 100th anniversary of William Temple’s birth in 1981. (“William Temple: Philosopher, Theologian, Churchman”, in “The Experiment of Life: Science and Religion”, F. Kenneth Hare, ed., University of Toronto Press, 1981) Near the end of this majestic piece, Macquarrie notes a letter Temple wrote two years before his death in 1944, which gives us a window into the effect the existential bleakness of World War II had on his optimism for a proximate realization of “making effectual both faith and love”. Having set this tension, Macquarrie concludes with a ringing statement of the spiritual goal of faith and love made practical; a statement that is true for Temple’s time, for Macquarrie’s time in the seemingly endless “Cold War”, and for our time and struggles with accepting responsibility for the global commons, now and into the far future:

    “The hope that all things will be gathered up in God remains. For us, the world is even more fragmented than it was for him [Temple], but that is all the more reason why we should not lose his vision of a final wholeness.”