Why All Christians Should Heed Pope Francis’ Call to “Care for Our Common Home” | The BioLogos Forum


(system) #1

Yesterday saw the release of “Laudato Si’,” an encyclical letter from Pope Francis. Although the massive document provides counsel on many contemporary issues, its primary focus is the worldwide ecological crisis caused by modern human activity. It explicitly affirms the reality of human-induced climate change, and urges Christians to move beyond debating the causes to stopping the damage. Today, we feature a response by world-renowned climate scientist and evangelical Christian Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, along with her colleague Dr. Ed Maurer. Look next week for further thoughts by the BioLogos staff as well as scholars in our community.

For more than a century now, arguments over science and faith have been dominated by origins. Today, though, another issue has become prominent. Climate change—specifically, the issue of whether human emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are altering the planet’s climate—is an important contemporary topic at the intersection of science and faith.

As of the last midterm elections, climate change was the most politically polarized issue in the United States. It didn’t just trump other scientific issues: it beat out immigration, gun control, and even abortion on where Republicans and Democrats are most divided.

Make no mistake: the political divide is real, and runs deep. Climate change is a tragedy of the commons, which means that individual actions, while essential, will never achieve a sufficient solution. Collective action is required, and collective action typically implies government policy. For many, anything that smacks of government interference is anathema. And it’s true—policy choices are, and should be, highly political. The reality of the science, however, should not be.

What does this have to do with our faith?

Opponents of the reality and severity of human-induced climate change often link their skepticism to their faith. “The climate of the globe has been fluctuating since God created it,” or “our climate will continue to change because of the way God formed the earth,” and “man will not destroy this earth,” politicians tell us. Similar messages echo through the media, and even filter down to our pulpits, Catholic and Protestant alike.

At the same time, increasing numbers of Christian leaders are speaking out forcefully regarding the moral imperative to act. This week, Pope Francis released an encyclical—a formal document with a very significant weight of authority meant usually to define the boundaries of the debate —on climate change and the environment. The encyclical is titled “Laudato Si’,” which means “Praise Be to You,” and is subtitled “On the care for our common home.”

The Pope is not alone; the 2006 Evangelical Climate Initiative, the 2011 National Association of Evangelicals report, “Loving the Least of These,” and the 2013 letter from 200 evangelical scientists to Congress all state in clear and unmistakable terms that the basis for caring about climate change is nothing less than love—a fundamental Christian value espoused by any believer from any denomination.

So whom should we believe? As scientists, we know the importance of evidence; whether revealed through God’s written word or through creation. There is nothing in the Bible that says human-induced climate change isn’t possible. And there is plenty in creation that tells us that it is.

The idea that humans can disrupt the natural carbon cycle and alter the climate through digging massive amounts of coal, oil, and gas out of the ground and burning them is based on simple concepts in radiative transfer and physical chemistry that have been well established for over 150 years. French scientist Joseph Fourier was the first to identify the natural blanket of heat-trapping gases that wraps our planet, keeping it nearly 30oC or 60oF warmer than a black body would be. The Irish chemist Tyndall demonstrated how human activities – specifically coal mining – were releasing gases that artificially thickened this blanket. Swedish chemist Arrhenius built the first climate model in 1890. After two years of hand calculations, his estimates of how much the world would warm if carbon dioxide levels doubled or tripled due to fossil fuel use were remarkably close to what our most powerful supercomputers tell us today. The long history of climate science is the foundation for today’s consensus: over 97% of climate scientists and over 99% of the climate science literature agrees that the more carbon we burn, the thicker our atmosphere’s blanket of heat-trapping gases becomes, and the more the planet warms.

For each of us as individuals, though, the last symptom we’ll notice is global warming. What we’ll notice are the other, more local symptoms of climate change: warmer winters, increasing risk of heat waves and heavy precipitation, stronger hurricanes and droughts, and many other aspects of local climate described in detail in the U.S. National Climate Assessment. Of course, natural weather patterns continue to affect us from day to day and year to year; but over climate timescales (the average of 20-30 years), the planet is warming and our weather patterns are changing. Because emitted carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for decades to a century, future generations will experience even more intense changes than we already do today.

Why do we care about climate change? For a long time, the face of climate change has been the polar bear – or Al Gore. As scientists who study the impacts of climate change every day, though, this is not why we—Katharine and Ed—care about climate change. For us, the face of climate change is the California farmer, wondering where his water will come from for this year’s crops; the Bangladeshi refugee, whose land was flooded by sea level rise and has no where to go and no way to support her family; or the Alaska Native whose entire community has become uninhabitable due to thawing permafrost and melting sea ice. And this relates directly to our faith.

No matter what Christian denomination we come from (Ed attends a Catholic church, Katharine a nondenominational Protestant one), we all agree on the greatest commandments: love God and love others, especially the marginalized and vulnerable, as ourselves (Matthew 25:37-40). The apostle Paul takes it even further: walk in love as Christ loved us (Ephesians 5:2), with a sacrificial love that considers others not just on par, but above ourselves. Today, with our neighbors here at home and on the other side of the world feeling the impacts from climate change, our faith speaks directly to the need to acknowledge the reality of this issue and to do something about it.

This is why the Pope’s unprecedented encyclical on climate change matters so much. It makes a moral call for action based on the fundamental premises of the Christian faith – premises so fundamental that we can all, and must all, agree.

The encyclical emphasizes the need for transformation on a personal and societal level. As summarized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in its recent document Climate Change and the Common Good, during the 20th and 21st century the "three billion poorest people continue to have only a minimal role in the global warming [carbon] pollution, yet are certain to suffer the worst consequences of unabated climate change."

What are the responses the encyclical proposes? First and foremost, all nations must focus on a rapid transition to renewable energy sources, and prepare the most vulnerable people to adapt to inevitable changes while meeting their energy needs sustainably. The encyclical recognizes that we must find ways to protect and conserve the living fabric of the world on which we depend. This demands a reorientation of our relationship with our environment and each other.

As summarized by Cardinal Turkson in his recent address at the Vatican summit “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity,” the solutions cannot be merely technical, but must be grounded in morality and measured by human well-being. The encyclical recognizes the need for innovative technological solutions, such as energy storage and energy efficiency of buildings. More broadly than this, however, our response must "integrate questions of justice ... so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor." We need political leadership to guide us as we redirect our technological and economic systems from a single-minded "view to profit" to work toward a future that is "healthier, more human, more social, more integral." Bound up with solving the climate crisis is a need for "healing all fundamental human relationships." One way this should be expressed is with developed countries not only reducing their non-renewable energy consumption, but "assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development." The responses posed in the encyclical can be intimidating, including a conversion of hearts and minds, habits and lifestyles, structures and institutions. At the same time this is hopeful, calling us toward reshaping our relationships, with each other and the environment, to reflect the deep compassion that is at the core of our faith.

As scientists and Christians, what does this mean? In this world, there is only really one thing we Christians are called to do: to fearlessly express Christ’s love to others. In the case of climate change, how do we express this love? Through acknowledging the reality of the issue; supporting action to help others who are being harmed now, today, and in the future; and taking our responsibility to care for God’s creation seriously.

Notes


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blog/why-all-christians-should-heed-pope-francis-call-to-care-for-our-common-hom

(Lonnie E Schubert) #4

No, the global warming alarmism is the new version of young-earth fanaticism. It is shameful to reference the SS website. The money machine around global warming alarmism has corrupted it. It will be decades before it can be trusted.

For rational discussion on this topic, go to http://wattsupwiththat.com/. Mr. Watts is a much better Christian example, in my opinion.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #5

Genesis 1:26-28 (KJV)
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Question of the human role in ecology is a question of origins. Right in Genesis 1 we have God giving humans the power and mandate to subdue or control the earth and have dominion over it. It does not say destroy the earth or overpopulate the earth. It says populate the earth and control it as God’s viceroy, as one created in God’s Image.

While I agree with what the Pope has said and glad that he said it, I am enough of a Protestant to say that we should not need him to tell us what to do, because the Bible is very clear about this. The problem with many Protestants is that they confuse the Truth of the Bible with the truth of a particular theology which has become an ideology or idol.

I will continue to argue for the integration of ecology and evolution as the only clear way to understand science and God’s Creation theologically through the Logos…


(Merv Bitikofer) #7

I am glad to see the Pope calling this social/economic justice issue to a higher priority in our attentions. It is a powerful statement that the poorest of our world who have contributed the least overall harm, nevertheless bear the brunt of the consequences. It is an indictment on the BAU attitude in which we are all complicit here in the U.S. and in many other nations as well.

Thanks for this article of acknowledgment, and may the conversations bear good fruit.


#9

I loathe hysteria of any kind and it’s this latest round of hysteria that causes me to be skeptical of the whole enterprise (like all hysterias). Personally, I would rather see the Pope deal with real moral evils like all the Christians being slaughtered around the world. Has he been leading any sort of fight against such cruelty?

but "assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development.

How? All developed countries that are pointing their fingers at poorer countries and what they ought to do, have all become developed because of fossil fuels. Now we are telling them they shouldn’t use it. These countries need to get rid of their tyrants. They need to develop industry and give their citizens a reason to wake up in the morning. Give them jobs. Give them hope. People can’t be troubled with forecasts about possibilities in 50-100 years from now when their countries are falling apart now.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #10

@Hanan
I heard a parable of sorts once in which a rescuer, be it a person or a group, was praised for their noble activity of helping drowning people get out of a river. And while few would question the excellence of throwing life-lines to those who desperately need them, one could be excused for eventually asking “you know … should some of us be heading upsteam to see who or what it is that is causing all these people to get caught in the river?”

So while we certainly should be attending to the welfare of our brothers and sisters (and neighbors beyond!) in desperate places like Syria, we also are obligated to attend to how our lifestyles in affluent nations cause and sustain these unhealthy economies and propped puppet dictatorships that guarantee a continued increase in poverty, desperation, and violence. Our addiction for oil that you think to export as the continued “solution” is the very appetite that (like drugs from Latin America) creates unsustainable and violent cultures with powerful elites that will always oppress the poor.

Thinking we can “rescue” them by teaching/enabling them to be more like us is like passengers on the deck of an already listing Titanic feeling sorry for the folks bobbing up and down in small lifeboats in rough seas, thinking we should help them up onto our dry, even if somewhat tilting deck. We need to be changing our lifestyles, not exporting what we already know to be unsustainable to others as well.

If realizing this is “hysteria”, then I hope for you sake and mine, and especially for our grandchildren, that we have a whole lot more “hysteria” than we’ve seen so far.

But such pejorative terms are better not used at all here, since in this context they are no more than a code word for “those who don’t agree with me.” I don’t think you are insane or hysterical, Hanan, but have a very level head on your shoulders. And so do those, who with equally level heads, discern a need for a change in course.


#11

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


(GJDS) #12

It is helpful when discussing complicated issues (such as climate change, the environment, and poverty) to try and identify the matters that are of concern to people in general, and see what the science may say. The scientific data is clear on Greenhouse gases and the correlation between the use of fossil fuels and their concentrations in the global atmosphere. Measurements have been made over prolonged periods, and the increases in concentration over these periods correlate well with increases in industrial activity based on fossil fuels. The difficulty stems from trying to quantify and predict (with acceptable accuracy) the impact of these increases on climate, ocean currents, ice melts and so on. Qualitative agreement relating to the Greenhouse effect and gases in the atmosphere is established. The impact of horrific pollution in cities is well documented and attested by ill health suffered by millions of people.

As is so often the case, politicising these issues results in a polarisation of opinion and activities that ultimately are not helpful; the penultimate approach to addressing the environmental problems is to improve the efficiency of power generation and distribution, while simultaneously improving the efficiency of end-users, and lowering the costs of using power. This can be done, and such technology should be provided to developing nations, to enable them to improve their standard of living. This would result in improvements on broad fronts, including environmental. It is not difficult to quantify the environmental and economic benefits that can be obtained if the appropriate measures are taken. Unfortunately, the practice is to support hugely inefficient (and old, unreliable) power plant, for developing nations, and seek to obtain a massive return for new efficient plant for developed nations. The end result is increasing pollution, poor economic outcomes, with the obvious environmental and social problems we currently face on a global scale.


#13

@Mervin_Bitikofer

Merv, when you say we are addicted to oil, it connotes an action that ought not exist (or never should have). I do not know what “addiction” to oil means. Everything we use on a day to day basis exists either from polymers made from oil or brought to our stores by oil. There is no exception. There are always talks about finding something viable. Fine. Go ahead. In the meantime, we can’t bankrupt the West. Because if you do, we all suffer and all poverty stricken nations will suffer to.

In the meantime, the only people using code words are the progressive Left. It is THEY that demean anyone that does not agree with that and agree with the policies they wish to see.


#14

The end result is increasing pollution, poor economic outcomes, with the obvious environmental and social problems we currently face on a global scale.

There is no such as a problem free world and yet sustaining economic independence would be a great help to nations, it would not create new problems. The problems of tyrants in the world has nothing to do with oil or anything else. It has to do with their backward moral compass. It is THAT that I wish the Pope discussed: Degradation of Moral character, which is the chief need for religion, not to expound progressive policies.


#15

Hello. I found this group after reading Dr. Francis Collins’ excellent book, “The Language of God”. I loved this book because it provided something which I could share with my atheist friends who claimed that evolution proved the nonexistence of God. I was so happy that my argument to them, on the improbability of the very complex DNA molecule happening by chance over a long period of time.
I hope that Dr. Collins will (or maybe already has) writes textbooks for school children.
Now to my point. The first article that I read on this site, “Why All Christians Should Heed Pope Francis’ Call to “Care for Our Common Home”, really bothered me. I am really tired of hearing that the “science is settled” and we should all except the whole concept of human-caused global warming coupled with the disastrous consequences of not reacting to carbon emissions. I recently read a great article on the Wall Street Journal about this subject. Here is a scientist who, like Dr. Francis, expressed my opinion perfectly.

“Climate Change”, formerly known as “Global Warming” until the data didn’t show warming for the last 18 years (that is until NOAA revised its numbers) seems to be more of a religion than a scientific theory to be proven. When politicians, media, and now the Pope, force upon us the notion that “the science is settled”, it should make any good scientist cringe. This is because that statement directly conflicts with the scientific method. Instead, we are told that if we don’t “believe” in this stated “fact”, then we are “deniers”. To me, to be called a denier means that one is either stupid, ignorant, or just plain lying. So I take offense to this as I am skeptical of the big picture.
I can accept that the global average temperature may have risen 0.08 deg C. over the past century. I can even accept that our industrialization has played a part in that. What I do not accept is a group of scientists and politicians (which the Pope seems to be acting like now) can tell us that we all need to drastically change our lifestyles, and accept a larger, more powerful central government. The Pope called for a one-word government more powerful than the UN! Doesn’t this scare anyone here? Do you all believe in the “end-days” prophecies of the Bible?
I would be very happy to hear your thoughts on this. I am new to this group and trying to understand just what you all believe in. Also, I am not a scientist but am an educated engineer and love to read science stuff. Thank you.


(Jim Lock) #16

@climateskeptic I’m glad you found our little group. :slight_smile:

I hope what you find is a wide collection of experiences and positions all seeking to understand the Word and Creation just a little bit better. At least, that’s how I approach my time here. Some will argue the science, others will argue the less out of conviction and more what they percieve as an overreach, others will bring a philosophical bent to the discussion, and still others (Social Science majors like myself) take interest in the cultural and contextual world of early Genesis. While BioLogos has a Mission Statement, I don’t think you’ll ever find a coherent set of beliefs amongst us lowly commenters.

As to the post, I’m not sure I saw anything that I would construe as a call for a ‘one-world government.’ Perhaps I missed it while I was reading (had an upset baby on my lap), but I didn’t see it.

Respectfully,
Jim


(GJDS) #17

@Hanan

I am not sure I understand your comment. The call for moral character and social justice is a constant one made by the Pope and all other major religious leaders. The specific point in this area is to understand that we are facing environmental problems, and solving them requires action from science and technology, AND social/political action, especially policy that leads to greater efficiencies in using power from all sources, with concurrent economic benefits derived from new and economically better plant and equipment. It is this broad approach that is encouraged and articulated by Pope Francis and all major leaders worldwide. I am not advocating doing away with fossil fuels - I am advocating policies that enable good economics with the use of less and less fuel to obtain more power in a cheaper way - and the developed world should encourage the developing world along this path.


#18

Thank you for your response. I had read about the reference to a world government before the formal release of the Encyclical. Here is an article on that.

But I just looked at the released document and couldn’t find “world government” in my searches. It is a rather large document. But, I did find 7 references to “government” which praise “international” government.

“We cannot fail to praise the commitment of international agencies and civil society organizations which draw public
attention to these issues and offer critical cooperation, employing legitimate means of pressure, to ensure that each government carries out its proper and inalienable responsibility to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources, without capitulating to spurious local or international interests.” p. 28

“Given this situation, it is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions,
with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions. As Benedict XVI has affirmed in continuity with the social teaching of the Church: “To manage the global
economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to …” p. 128

Well, I think that 2nd on clinches it so I won’t bother with more.

In my original post, I meant to also say that for any scientist to say they have a full comprehension and understanding of this beautiful, huge (relative to us tiny beings), and complex Earth, that God gave us, must be delusional. Meteorologists (weather “forecasters”) cannot even predict the weather tomorrow, let alone 50-100 years from now. Yes, we have supercomputers with enormous calculating capacities. But all computer generated models have so far failed to predict the weather. Remember, in the 70’s, it was global cooling.
There are just too many factors to consider. In mathematics it is called chaos. As many of you probably know, a butterfly in China can cause a hurricane in Mexico. So I just don’t believe anyone who says this is a certainty. Let alone a certainty that we can effect.
The people who want control over the populous, and the media who support them, will have us all believe that there are more hurricanes, more tornadoes, more droughts, more flooding, etc… But the facts do not support the claims. But of course, every time there is some kind of weather event, it must be global warming… er, climate change. Well, the climate is always changing and always has.
Please do not read me wrong. I am all for a clean environment, clean air, clean water, helping the developing nations and especially helping poor innocent people from suffering. I just don’t think we need to turn our world upside-down to do this. I do not think that the U.S. economy, still struggling after years of liberal tax, environmental regulations, and spending, should be further destroyed by agreeing to world treaties that limit our freedom to use our resources. How about pushing China to curb their smog (which comes across the Pacific to here), and stopping Brazil’s burning of the rain forest, before ruining our economy? I do appreciate the Pope’s comments on deforestation and other horrendous acts. But I do not appreciate the forced acceptance of “climate change” and “sustained development”. I have read the U.N.'s “Agenda 21” (formulated, ironically in Brazil in 1991, with Pres. Bush Sr.). Agenda 21 and “sustained development” require a population reduction to less than 1 billion people. One must ask, how will they make that happen?
The central federal government in D.C. has already intruded on so many citizen’s and state’s rights. What will happen when there is a central government in Belgium (or wherever) that does not respect our national constitution? It is already happening. Every day that I read the news it is like reading from the book of Revelation. Not even to mention the moral decay of our society.


#19

Sorry, but I just got to reading your full comment. I agree with you completely and hope my posts only reinforced your thoughts. Especially about the left trying to shut down the conversation. That is what has bothered me the most. Even if we all agree on where it is at now, it is and will always be changing. The data is not perfect, and I do not believe that even 1% of the so-called scientists who claim it is settled, have actually analyzed the raw data.
I do appreciate this group and love the discussion. Look forward to reading and discussing more.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #20

@Hanan

Sorry I’ve been away from these conversations so much and too engaged elsewhere to leave timely replies.

But in response to your query about my word choice in stating that we are “addicted” to oil, I do stand by that comparison. And you are right to note that virtually everything we do is petro-driven --either made from the stuff (plastics) but also fueled by it. I’m not in favor of the economic collapse that would ensue if we were suddenly deprived of all use --nobody, except maybe a terrorist group wants that. But I am in favor of weaning back as much as we can so that we don’t have a collapse later when this finite resource gets to economically and ecologically expensive to keep chasing. We’re already looking to harder to reach places like ocean floors or formerly protected nature preserves to keep the drug coming. Now that we’ve tasted the lavishly wasteful lifestyles that quick use of eon’s worth of past solar energy has enabled for us, we are loath to let that go. So as I see it we have a basic choice. We can try to voluntarily (even if somewhat painfully at times) back off our addiction to this candy of the last few centuries. Or we can continue with business as usual until reality intrudes for us with even more painful collapses. I’m all in favor of finding those alternative energy sources that are much more sustainable. But meanwhile an obvious (and painless) big part of our solution is already staring us in the face: just use less. Turn the computer off for the night; ease back on thermostat regulation; and ride a bike for real (and not just for recreation). There are many things we can begin to do that go along way towards cutting back.

My dad (and many of those who retained at least some cultural memory of the depression) would (and did) adopt many of these philosophies, not because of any science, but because it was (and still is) the right and Christian way to live. He was a conservative back when being conservative actually meant something. He conserved. I know that word has other meanings now–some of them probably legitimate. But I don’t mine co-opting it for one of the better facets from its past that is now largely abandoned. Nor do I think it inappropriate to use the word “addiction” with all of its negative connotations towards our profligate consumption. Because that, unlike legitimate needs such as air, water, food, community, love, etc. is something humanity has spent most of its history doing without. We may feel like we can’t anymore, but I think we all know in our hearts that we are deluding ourselves on that score.

Yes, we may get another temporary rescue by something like “cold fusion” which always seems to be projected about 30 years in the future. We have a global warming problem now — just imagine what would ensue if we could turn the oceans into energy! I just don’t see technology rescuing us from ourselves. Certainly, nothing good will come without us reclaiming command over technology/science rather than being enslaved by it.


#21

Though I know you were responding to an earlier response, I have to say that I agree with most of what you say.
My problem is with the government expansion, and media bias, to force this “devastating” circumstance on us. That we need the government to intervene, and more than that, we need a more central, global, government to tell us how to take care of the Earth, is what really sets me back. My point is that the science is not settled, as it usually never is, especially on a theory as big as this is, and we should not let this force us to accept a totalitarian state which is what the world is becoming.


(Robert J. Kurland, Ph.D.) #22

One aspect of the controversy about mitigating pollution and the “carbon footprint” is to be aware of unintended harmful effects on the poor of the world. For example, the use of corn to supply ethanol as a fuel additive has greatly increased food costs. Other effects are given by Andrew Montford in his publication Unintended Consequences of Climate Change Policy.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #23

@climateskeptic

As I think you must be hinting at with the scare quotes around “devastating”, I don’t think lifestyle changes need be thought of in those terms – at least not if we can be self-disciplined rather than have the limitations imposed on us from without by government … or (much worse yet) by nature itself. But realistically, how much of this self-discipline do any of us actually do unless we are prodded externally?

How settled would science need to be on such things before you would be willing to act? And if it were, do you think it appropriate for democratic government to take steps? Who else would take action? I do agree that science is never totally settled about anything. But I’m also guessing that those who won’t acknowledge any settled science about AGW now, will probably never ever in their lifetimes see anything that would cause them to change their views on it no matter how much more compelling the body of data could become. There would always be some doubt about something to be found somewhere, which is why I think it productive to inquire after their real motivations for their chosen positions. And you have provided some of that I think by mentioning your concerns about government.

So where you see prudence by minimizing government, I see prudence in minimizing non-renewable energy consumption. I don’t doubt there are many good reasons to be suspicious of growing governmental influences. Do we agree that most sober, stewardship-minded individuals should have no problem with the latter? And where I am willing to embrace the former as a welcome, probably even necessary agency towards accomplishing the latter, you see totalitarian doom with increasing governmental regulation. Whereas (whether naively or not) I don’ t harbor that same fear of all things government.

Not that I see governments as all good or all efficient by any means (I’m an Anabaptist after all)! So yes, I acknowledge that big government does bring many problems. In fact it may well be that the only institutions that can screw up our world worse than big government are the large corporate and private enterprises that run our world otherwise. When I countenance the relentlessly profit-driven activities of multinational corporations, the comparatively bumbling regulatory agencies that would throw up some checks and balances seem a much less malevolent specter to me. At least they have some possibility of having public good as their aim. Corporations have no such motivation, and any CEO that would fail in his/her duties to hold only stockholder profit as the highest good, must be fired and replaced by another CEO who will. So there is little chance that any large corporation will ever do anything with the positive welfare of future generations in mind unless it happens by fortuitous accident, or by some renegade CEO before they get replaced, or because for a time, good policy just happens to be profitable (such as building wind-turbine blades). Smaller privately owned enterprises could possibly escape that narrow-minded focus, at least until they either become like or get swallowed by their less scrupulous corporate competitors.

I know all this sounds like an anti-capitalism tirade. So I should end this by clarifying that I’m not necessarily against capitalism. It’s unregulated capitalism that I find to be particularly insane. And to have that regulation, one does need a government with at least some teeth.


#24

Actually, I did not phrase that correctly. I meant to refer to the “devastation” that global warming alarmists are trying to scare everyone with in order to gain more control of the world population.