The problem with Environmentalism

All too often Catholics and other serious Christians get a bad rap as being “anti-environmentalist” which often gets translated as “anti-environment,” implying that we don’t care how we pollute the earth and destroy our environment.

This cannot be farther from the truth. Many Catholics, myself included, have a great love for the environment and understand our call to be good stewards of God’s creation. I (we) love the earth because God made it, He made it good, and He made it for us to live in, enjoy, and care for.

And it also cares for us. The earth is given us to provide us with what we need in terms of food, shelter, comfort, etc. All the basic necessities.

This is not meant to be a theological treatise on why good Christians should care for the environment. It is enough for the moment to say that we should. So why are so many good Catholics “anti-environmentalist” then? Because the environmentalist movement today has become something that places the good of the environment over and above the good of humanity. I was reminded of this by a recent column in our diocesan paper, The Catholic News & Herald, by Fr. Roger Landry.

In it, he speaks of a recent push at the Environmental Protection Agency to classify carbon-dioxide as a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is, of couse, the gas that we human beings exhale every time we take a breath. Fr. Landry writes:

Once carbon dioxide… is classified as a pollutant, human beings become
categorized as polluters just as much as coal-burning factories; then, just like such factories, human life can be regulated and even criminalized.

This thought probably seems outlandish to most readers, but they need to
know that it does not seem outlandish to many environmentalists.

Prior to the Copenhagen Summit, a British think tank, Optimum Population
Trust, launched a carbon dioxide offset scheme that encouraged summit
participants to counterbalance the amount of carbon dioxide of their flight by giving $7 to a “family planning” initiative to prevent the birth of one child in an African country.

Fr. Landrey goes on to relate that some environmentalists are also calling for all nations to impose China’s ruthless “one-child” policy on all their citizens. Other examples of this sort of thing are easy to find.

But I was most shocked and disheartened (and disgusted) to read of this nonsense “offset” scheme. It is perfectly appropriate, in the minds of these people, to justify our air travel, so long as we counterbalance the environmental consequences of the fuel we burn by “preventing the birth” of an African child. What would the African parents think of this, I wonder? Sorry, ma’am, you cannot have any more children because, well, our European diplomats simply must continue to fly around the globe to attend these summets, you know. Otherwise things just won’t get done. Important matters, you understand. Sorry about your family and all that, but well… we are more important now, aren’t we? What hubris! What arrogance! What a horror, to actually think that your air travel is worth the life of a child.

And I note the money would specifically be directed to preventing the birth of African children. Why not children in Europe? Or America? I suppose our children are not brown enough. Oh wait, I forgot we are now living in a “post-racist” society. We don’t think that way any more — or do we?

So for those of you wondering whether good Catholics should work to protect the environment, absolutely we should. But can we sign up for the whole environmentalist agenda? Absolutely not — and moral atrocities like this which are being advocated by environmentalist think tanks are the reason why.