Catholics and “the Energy Problem” | William L. Patenaude | Catholic World Report
The moral implications of the world’s energy problem make the Church’s engagement on the subject indispensable.
When a coalition of United States scientists issued the most recent draft of its National Climate Assessment, it captured the attention of environmental regulators like me. Two weeks later, the United States Environmental Protection Agency briefed hundreds of researchers and policy-makers about findings from more than two dozen climate indicators.
Both the National Climate Assessment and EPA’s indicators provide more than 1,000 pages of science and significant online resources that show trends (mostly negative, but some positive) that align with anthropogenic climate-change models—trends in increasing temperatures; drought in some places while, in others, wetter, stronger, and more frequent storms; changes in agricultural yields; sea-level rise, and other disruptions to the status quo.
My professional concerns relate to the impact of storms and rising sea levels on water-pollution control infrastructure. As a Catholic, however, these concerns are illuminated by my faith. This influences my reaction to mounting evidence and professional observations of the impacts of a changing world—and this makes me wonder what we as believers can do about it.
Certainly, the topic of human-induced climate change brings debate. This is especially true among my Catholic brothers and sisters who view the topic as a Trojan horse that hides radical left-wing agendas (which it sometimes can). But given pontifical statements on the importance of ecology and the seriousness with which organs in the Church—like the Pontifical Academy of Sciences—consider the subject, there is a growing responsibility for the faithful to look closely at what science is showing, as well as to consider the moral implications of what’s happening, who it’s happening to, and the causes thereof.
When governments and environmental advocates consider climate change, they do so in one of two ways: adaptation (which means learning how to live with whatever happens) and mitigation (which seeks to reduce the causes of what’s changing). While these categories are ultimately linked, in practice they are quite separate.