In response to what is called “The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation”, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis has issued a statement on the environment on Thursday.
We all want to protect our environment. But while his intentions and beliefs may be good, there were a couple parts in his statement that I find questionable. For example:
Global warming continues, due in part to human activity: 2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events.
However, global warming is actually not continuing. There has been a pause in the warming since the 1990’s.
Another section soon followed.
Examining our consciences, repentance and confession to our Father who is rich in mercy lead to a firm purpose of amendment. This in turn must translate into concrete ways of thinking and acting that are more respectful of creation. For example: “avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices”
My only objection with these examples of reducing the “carbon footprint” is that these are not just voluntary means. They are becoming MANDATES from the federal and state governments. The first example of avoiding the use of plastic is no longer just a suggestion. It has become a law. For example, California has become one of the first states to actually ban plastic bags. We can’t ever allow our civil liberties to be trampled, in the name of a good cause.
So following this logic, if the government successfully bans plastic, then what will stop them from outlawing those other examples listed, like water consumption, paper, and cooking? And dare I say it, will we have a federal government one day that will mandate carpooling? This is the problem. These voluntary acts start out as voluntary acts free from government coercion. However, over time, the government decides that they need to take the next step and start banning things.
Plus, the government is not always right. In fact, it is clear it has been more of a hassle if anything. Look at the EPA for example, where they dumped toxic chemicals into the Colorado River last year. This goes to show that government bureaucracies shouldn’t be the primary solution to fix our problems. While I agree with some parts of the pope’s statement and appreciate his concerns, we need to realize that placing bans is not always the best idea.