Catholics and Earth Day

Filtering what comes through ‘mainstream’ media is good for one’s mental and spiritual clarity these days. I try to avoid television, but caught a bit of the headlines last week sort of by accident (on CNN, I think it was). Joe Biden plans to cut ‘carbon emissions’ – that ill-defined hydra – by 30-50% by 2030. Hmm. A man on a mission.

Of course, he chose this fifty-first anniversary of ‘Earth Day’ to announce his bold ambition at a virtual ‘Climate Summit’, with the quixotic goal to be reached by the sixtieth. The keynote speaker was none other than the cadaverous, sometime-presidential candidate, now ‘climate envoy’, John Kerry, whose speech garnered about 25 viewers in total, in a planet estimated to hold seven billion. So much for capturing the zeitgeist.

‘Earth Day’, first officially celebrated on this day in 1970, with its roots in the nascent environmentalist movement, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the exaggerated effects of DDT and everything else, back-to-the-landers, hippies reacting against the bourgeois mentality of their (to their jaded eyes) stultified, suburban post-War upbringing, and so on. There was no global warming back then – in fact, the fear, if anything, was just such a return to another ice age.

It is a day I normally don’t mark, as an ideologically motivated celebration – see Biden, above, as exhibit A. That said, I do very much believe in a ‘Catholic ecology’ and stewardship – all in its proper order, in the right way. To paraphrase Christ, the Earth was made for Man, not Man for the Earth, and the purpose of life here is not to maintain this planetary ‘spaceship’ for as long as possible, before, as the late Stephen Hawking suggested, finding a way to populate other planets. No, the form of this world is passing away, and will end at some point in the future chosen beforehand in the mystery of God’s will, when these heavens and this Earth will be dissolved, and we will all be judged on our faith in the truths of the one, true God and His Church; on our hope in what endures and is of perennial value; and, most of all, our love, charity, for the same God, and our fellow human beings.

Everything else, as Saint Paul says, is dross, if not used for these ends, and especially if goes contrary to them.

We do believe that a proper care for this beautiful planet is part of that love for God and neighbour – for who wants to live in a polluted, smog-infested garbage dump, a la much of industrialized China? We can all do our own part – keep our local environment as clean and even presentable as we might. In my own numerous forays into the great outdoors, I often pick up garbage. But the cleanliness of the Earth is not for its own sake, but so that it may be enjoyed by humans throughout our generations in a rightly ordered way.

As the Catechism (#338) succinctly puts it:

God created everything for man.

And (#343): Man is the summit of the Creator’s work

The environmentalists (I’m not sure what term to give them – perhaps neo-Manicheans?) not only reject, this truth, but their anti-human ideology prompts them not only to see ‘nature’ as good for its own sake, but their fellow humans as a metastasizing cancer in the very protoplasm of Gaia. One can almost feel their schadenfreude that draconian Covid restrictions have stopped most of the planes, trains and automobiles, along with factories and mines and machines –  the whole ‘carbon-belching’ economy at a standstill. Fish are even returning to the canals of Venice, and wolves roaming the suburbs of cities, as nature reasserts its dominion.

Oh, they think, to have a world without all those messy, carbon-emitting humans! Or, perhaps, just a few of them. One wonders what ‘few’ they have in mind – the ‘environmentally conscious’ set with their sprawling mansions and Godzilla-sized carbon footprints, jetting to climate conferences – or, at least they used to – at various exotic locales? Was it not the recently deceased Prince Philip – God rest his soul – who once mused in a gaffe that may represent the deeper thoughts of the globalist ‘elites’, that he’d like to be reincarnated as a deadly virus to reduce the world’s population, so that other creatures might have a chance?

I just wonder what it would be like to be reincarnated in an animal whose species had been so reduced in numbers than it was in danger of extinction. What would be its feelings toward the human species whose population explosion had denied it somewhere to exist… I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus, but that is perhaps going too far.

Pope Francis in Laudato Si has repeated the traditional doctrine that Man is the summit of creation, even if we may demur in his own Earth Day address that the planet is ‘at its limit’. At its limit for what, one might ask? God have provided plenty for us humans, if we but expend the industry and ingenuity to release the potential in His abundant creative work.

One also wonders what might be the real agenda behind Senator Cortez’ unhinged ‘Green-Plan’, which would almost destroy what we know as ‘free market society’, perhaps even abolish private property, and freedom itself. As Our Lady of Fatima warned, without our repentance and metanoia, the errors of Communism – a secular messianism, the very religion of antichrist – would spread around the world, and we’re seeing more evidence of that prophecy with each passing day.

On a hopeful note, we know that the victory is not his, nor theirs, in the end. We are made for a far more glorious homeland than this Earth, as beautiful as it is, and as beautiful as we should maintain it.    So, if your vocation be to marriage and family, go forth and multiply, so that many persons made in God’s image might enjoy this beautiful, God-given world, before an eternity with the same God in beatitude.

As Pope Gregory the Great warns in a sermon, from last Sunday’s Office of Readings: We don’t want to end up like the foolish traveller who is so distracted by the pleasant meadows through which he is passing that he forgets where he is going.