Some think climate change talk is a political ploy; Pope wants to save the planet and the human race

Those who decry environmentalism as a ploy by political liberals to gain power are also often those who seem to align themselves with conservative and evangelical religious groups. And that seems strange in that one would think that religious people would want to protect the earth that God created.

But they have things to explain away all that. For one thing some still deny there is climate change (beyond the normal historical pattern). They also claim I suppose that God takes care of everything and that if you believe in the Lord then you are free to use the resources he has given you to your heart’s desire. Actually I think some evangelicals think greed is good, as long as you say your prayers in a good Christian manner.

At any rate, now the world-wide leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has come out with a call to save the earth from climate change, which he says is a result of man’s activity, along with natural phenomenon.

For my part I have to put my trust in the scientific community, and as far as I know, the consensus is that man is the primary cause of climate change. But we can do something about that and not totally give up our way of life I feel certain.

But we do have to look past immediate gain, immediate profits, and think long range. Capitalism may not be good at that, and yet it is capable of it I am sure. And maybe capitalism is better to handle things in that it can respond to changing demand and conditions much quicker than ridged forms of socialistic planned economies.

And while I don’t think we need to go back to the old days (and which time period would we pick?), it does seem to me we have gotten a little carried away, to say the least, with our technology. In the name of making life easier and producing more, we have speeded up our existence to such a pace we have a hard time keeping up mentally, physically, and financially.

And I think that here is something in my own life somewhat related to all of this:

When I was a little boy we used to visit a relative’s farm. It was a sort of bucolic paradise in my little eyes. In the early visits the relative was still operating a small-scale dairy — the product not for fresh milk, but for cheese and butter. The dried manure from the cows was a natural fertilizer that was spread over the pasture and fields that might also be planted to corn, or alfalfa, cut for hay. Water was still plentiful in the area. At an earlier time one had to simply sink a pipe into the ground for an artesian well, and the water would flow. Many of the farms were relatively small, 60, 40, even 20 acres.

Fast forward: the land is now rented out to a neighbor who has a much larger operation (and to survive economically larger is necessary).

Those who live on the small farm now buy bottled water in town to drink, fearing the water table has been polluted by chemicals used for fertilizer and pesticides and fungicides. On a recent visit there I saw a strange space-age-looking tractor applying some kind of spray and another more standard-looking tractor with chemical tanks on the back applying chemical of some type.

Most of the farms have been consolidated into larger acreages.

Right now California is in a major several-year drought. Some of the neighbors there are ratting on each other for over-use of water.

Things were not quite the Garden of Eden I saw in my mind’s eye even when I visited there as a young boy no doubt.

But to some extent now the area seems to have an almost industrial character rather than that of rural farmland.

To me, this is not progress, or if it is then progress has an ugly side.

It is said big agriculture is needed to feed an ever-expanding world population. Actually in many countries big agriculture has turned common people from those who could sustain themselves on small plots of land to desperate people crowded into big cities.

The United States has also pushed agriculture exports from our agribusiness sector that in some cases have pushed out small farmers in third-world countries, or so I read.

Now I would not at all propose that our government outlaw big agriculture but on the other hand it could not do so much to encourage it in the way of subsidies, cheap water, and help from public universities. On that last one I mean to say farm advisors or county agents from those universities put most of their effort into helping big farmers. When my relative changed from raising dairy cows to sheep he said he could not get much help from the farm advisors. They were more interested in big operations.

(This was some time ago, perhaps the attitude of farm advisors or county agents has changed. I don’t know.)

There is a renewed interest in sustainable agriculture and buying foodstuffs produced closer to home. I would not suggest we do away entirely with our present way of doing things, shipping the same kinds of food back and forth, some passing each other moving in opposite directions on the highways, but food grown locally on a smaller scale is a nice alternative.

I did not mean to pick on agriculture in general or big agriculture. I have a place close to my heart for it. I have actually been associated with it, big and small, much of my life and made my living thanks to big agriculture.

But imagine, living out on the land and being afraid to drink the water from your own well.


For the record, I am not Catholic. But I find it interesting that some climate change deniers say things like the Pope ought to stick to religion and stay away from science and economics (and I think that is in his own faith). Does that mean what is discussed in church, such as being thankful to God for what he has given us and being good stewards of God’s gifts, is just some fantasy we listen to on Sunday and then go about doing everything we can to chase the almighty dollar the rest of the time?

I should stop here, but I will add that even if it were to be proven that much or most of our climate problems are part of a natural change in conditions, we know that man’s activity also has a major effect (to deny that is to deny the obvious). So it is incumbent upon us to do what we can to address the issue on both moral and practical grounds.

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