August 04, 2008

Environmentally Speaking

Let's assume that the environmentalist agenda is correct. That man is the cause of global warming and that the elimination of fossil fuels will prevent the dire apocalpytic scenerios that I heard from a friend and family member over the weekend, i.e.:
  • The coral reef is degrading rapidly due to pollution. This will cause the plankton & other parts of the lowest level of the sea's food chain to die, which will ripple up until the oceans become lifeless.

  • As Greenland glaciers melt due to global warming, this will cause a massive influx of cold water into the Gulf Stream thereby bringing about a new Ice Age.
  • My impression is that scientists disagree on these matters and so the layman is forced to put his faith in this scientist or that scientist (which defeats the whole purpose of science), but I read one scientist say that it's too late anyway and that even if tomorrow we ended fossil fuel usage that it wouldn't matter. But for the sake of argument let's assume that we can reverse it.

    So my interlocutor said that we need to fix the problem (where "we" is collective humanity) by eliminating use of fossil fuels. His despair was heartfelt inasumuch as he admitted the hopelessness of the situation. It seems to me that successful implementation of the environmentalist's agenda would require either one-world totalitarianism or a sudden across-the-board increase in virtue in the world, where virtue is defined as deferring present pleasure in order to prevent future pain. I'm not sure which is less likely. In a thousand different ways we know that virtue is not humanity's strong suit, and those in China and India have economies just now tasting the first fruits of industrialization so that would take a heckuva lot of virtue. (Again, this assumes everyone believes the threat is real and believes that we can reverse the damage.)

    My interest in this is primarily the parallels between the environmentalist who despairs of saving the earth and the Christian who despairs of saving his soul. In both cases the means is wrong; the environmentalist relies on humanity - even while spurning humanity by saying there are too many of us - to save the earth but deep down knows the futility of that, while the Christian sees his own continual attempts at increasing virtue and is tempted to feel the same. In both cases there has to be a recognition that only God can save us. Human futility is no excuse for inaction since there is no futility with God since He can do the impossible, which is why the gospel Sunday about the five loaves and two fish is so illustrative.

    The earth warrior and the soul warrior will meet only at God because humans and creation are so intertwined and both the earth and the soul were created by God. As St. Paul wrote: "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." It's likely that the restoration of the earth and our individual soul will occur in the next life and next Creation.

    UPDATE: I probably should've said in this post that I'm not personally concerned about the apocalyptic scenerios posted above, but I did feel sympathy for my weekend visitor, who is. Steven Riddle comments:
    Coral reefs grow where they grow because nothing else does...Other than being home to a great many sea animals, they contribute relatively little to the balance of the oceans. What is critical there is estuarine environments, and I can only see ocean level rises as potentially good for estuaries...

    [And] given that we are coming out of one of the coldest periods in Earth history, one would expect that temperature would be on the rise, greenhouse or no greenhouse.

    Rather like the anecdotal coment/asteroid that could at any moment crash into Earth, it's one of those things we need to learn to live with. God's way of keeping us humble.

    UPDATE II: Good 'un from Dylan:
    The best environmental slog I've seen came on the t-shirt of some guy riding the # 77 bus along Mass. Ave. :
    SAVE THIS PLANET
    It's the only one that has beer.

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