The problem of climate change – not what you think

Last Sunday I wrote about the light and the dark in the ‘progress’ that the industrial revolution has brought us. I would say the balance came out rather on the dark side. This led me to conclude with a question someone might ask me: “What is your point, Father? Surely you don’t mean to suggest that we throw out all of our modern advances and start living like our ancestors of three hundred years ago?”

No, that is not my point. In many ways, for better or for worse, we are stuck with the industrial/technological world we have built. Nevertheless, we need to stop being bound by the slavish way of thinking that continues to insist that things are better this way, that this has truly been progress, even if now we could hardly live without it.

Further, I have been writing about the relation between human work and the environment. It is impossible to do so without recognizing the way that industrialization has radically changed that relationship and that the change has not necessarily been for the better.

The whole environmental movement has, to one degree or another recognized this fact. The environmental movement has been born precisely as a reaction to the dark side of industrialization. Nevertheless, precisely because it lacks the overarching view that the Christian faith can offer, the movement as a whole has been flailing in the dark. It recognizes that there is a problem but does altogether grasp the origins of the problem.

As far as I can tell the environmental movement tends to be driven by two basic views: there is the extreme of a neo-pagan rejection of the whole industrial enterprise, together with its scientific underpinnings; then there is the scientific study of eco-systems and biomes. In actuality there seems to be a fair bit of overlap between the two viewpoints; both viewpoints tend to reduce the whole of reality to the natural world. The neo-pagan view will likely see man as more of a predator, while the scientific view will focus on how man can harmonize with the environment and even harness the environment in ‘sustainable ways’ for his own benefit. The neo-pagan view will tend towards attention getting movements of protest; the scientific view will propose systems of control. Neo-paganism tends towards anarchy; science, as a ruling force, tends towards control. The more anarchy prevails, the more forced control becomes necessary.

We could consider this in relation to the question of climate-change. In this matter, I don’t have sufficient knowledge or expertise to have a definite opinion one way or another, but I can see questions and problems.

First, I have two general questions: are we really capable of determining and achieving an ideal global temperature? Would it be wise to try?

I would suggest that the answer to these questions is ‘no’, but at the same time, while it is not openly stated, I think that behind much of the climate-change movement there is a hidden presupposition that the answer is ‘yes’. Truly, whether or not we can make an impact on the climate, only God can control it.

Next are two questions specific to global warming. If global warming is taking place will that, in the long run, be detrimental to human life or beneficial? If it is taking place and will be detrimental, is it actually in our power to do anything about it?

That last question is key, since I have never really encountered a serious argument about it being possible to do anything more than slow global warming. Even that would seem to require massive coordinated government intervention – such as have taken place in response to the pandemic – that put immense amounts of power into the hands of politicians, bureaucrats, and experts whom we have little reason to trust. Even then we would have little assurance that the measures taken would actually work.

Just as we have seen the pandemic bring out the totalitarian tendencies in experts, governors, and mayors, the one sure thing about a serious campaign against global warming is that it would be a path to totalitarianism.

We have seen, in the last six months, that a concerted effort on the part of government and media succeeded in instilling such a degree of panic in a large part of the population that they meekly surrendered their 1st amendment rights to religion and assembly, without any protest, without any legislative action, but merely accepting executive decrees. As for the right to free speech, increasingly the tech giants are insuring that dissenting voices will not be heard.

There can really be little doubt that the same government and media forces that have given us the Covid regime would like to establish a climate-control regime of similar urgency and proportions.

Even though global-warming is regarded as a ‘social justice’ issue, none of this really has to do with true social justice.

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Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.