Many have rightly lauded Pope Francis’ encyclical concerning the environment, Laudato si. However, many of those doing so view the encyclical as a crucial document, not for its defense of life, family, and the impoverished but for its utility in furthering their environmentalist agenda.
For example, repeatedly mentioning the “environmental crisis””and stating “the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air, and in all forms of life” (¶ 2), Pope Francis provides environmentalists a motherlode of propaganda soundbites as well as rhetorical ammunition to make an appeal to papal authority in support of their agenda. Unfortunately, although this appeal represents the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority,” that won’t matter much.
The President of the Population Research Institute and the author of Population Control: Real Costs and Illusory Benefits, Steven Mosher, has carefully considered Laudato si and asks over at the New York Post: “Do the Pope and I live on the same planet?”
Answering his question, Mosher argues that the encyclical’s pessimistic tone neglects the much of the progress that’s already been achieved in caring for both the environment and the poor. He writes:
Many of its strong claims about the dire state of the world don’t take into account positive change reported even in UN documents, which themselves tend to magnify environmental and other global problems as a fundraising ploy.
In this regard, Mosher cites this discrepancy concerning the issues of: water (¶ 27-31); loss of biodiversity (¶ 32-42); decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society (¶ 43-47); and, global inequality (¶ 48-52). In sum:
…a dismal tone of environmental “apocalypse now” pervades the entire document, as when it breathlessly proclaims that: “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or distain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth….our contemporary lifestyle [is] unsustainable …” (¶ 161).
Mosher correctly argues that problem isn’t Pope Francis but the so-called environmental “experts” who were hand-selected by the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. One of those experts, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who assisted in drafting the encyclical, happens to be a member of the Club of Rome, a global think tank. In 1972, the group issued the now-discredited “The Limits to Growth” study which famously predicted the world would run out of “nonrenewable resources” in the 1980s and 1990s, and that environmental, economic, and societal collapse would follow.
“In selecting Schellnhuber,” Mosher asserts, “[Archbishop Sanchez Sorondo] might as well have turned the manuscript over to a fundraising copywriter for the Environmental Defense Fund.”
The truth concerning the scriptural injunction to cultivate, rule, and care for the environment is ill-served when ideology—in this case, the ideology of those who worship at the altar of environmentalism—and its propaganda are selected to provide the substantive foundation for the argument.
Where Laudato si promotes that truth, it’s a fine document for serious reflection and action. Where Laudato si veers from that truth, the encyclical can easily be hijacked by environmentalists and their propagandists.
To read Steven Mosher’s article in the New York Post, click on the following link:
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