Celia Deane-Drummond, a professor in theology at the University of Notre Dame, writes: Geologists claim that we are now living in the age of the “Anthropocene:” a new geological era where human domination of planet Earth is becoming indelibly written into the geological record.
Human actions are becoming slowly but surely crafted onto the material remains each generation leaves behind. The difference between climate changes that are taking place in our present century and those at the dawn of human existence is that humanity now is affecting and instigating such changes.
We are constructing our world to such an extent that we have lost sight of both our origins and our futures, caught up in the micro and macro politics of the everyday, feasting on the products of our own creations.
It is against the backdrop of the Anthropocene that Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical will be delivered on June 18. In it, the Pope will draw on the praise poem Canticle of the Creatures, which was first penned by the patron saint of ecologists, Saint Francis of Assisi.
Pope Francis will speak to the ambiguous loss in Western societies of knowing ourselves as creatures. The world that we inhabit may be dominated by human activity, but it is still God’s world first and foremost. Once we know that the Earth is a gift, this creates a different relationship with it compared with the Earth as material for our use.
But he will not romanticize the Earth. Instead, he will speak of the need for human responsibility. And there are likely to be three facets of that responsibility to act, especially on the part of richer, consumer-driven nations of the world.
- First, on behalf of the poor.
- Second, in building relationships of peace.
- Third, in service to creation.
The Earthly world is indeed our home but we have become estranged from it through our practices of domination. [Continue reading…]
Jeff Turrentine writes: Every now and then you come across a statement by a public official that is so ridiculous, so perfect in its unabashed wrongness, you have to read it a few times to fully appreciate it as a work of demagogic art.
My current favorite in this category comes courtesy of one Scott Weber, a member of the Park County School District #6 Board of Trustees in Cody, Wyoming. A couple of weeks ago, when he and his fellow board members were supposed to be voting on whether to purchase new textbooks and reading materials for the district, Weber put a stop to the vote by taking a bold stand in defense of climate denial, political cronyism, and intellectual closed-mindedness.
Here’s what he said about one of the reading materials the board was considering for purchase, as reported by the Casper Star-Tribune:
As a board member, I will not authorize any of the $300,000 allocated for this purchase to include supplemental booklets about “global whining.” … Our Wyoming schools are largely funded by coal, oil, natural gas, mining, ranching, etc. This junk science is against community and state standards.
This junk science is against community and state standards. Stop for a moment and give that sentence the attention it deserves. For thousands of years, going back to Aristotle, humanity’s greatest minds have sought to safeguard the precepts of the scientific method by keeping them away from the corrupting influence of political culture. Defending the integrity of science from powerful people is what got Galileo imprisoned. And yet, 400 years later, here we are: watching a public official tasked with guiding the educational trajectories of his community’s children rail against the accepted science on climate change—because its conclusions threaten to undermine the local political culture. [Continue reading…]