Last week OpEdNews called readers' attention to a powerful but profoundly misleading video about climate change. In the name of progressiveness, compassion and love, it waves a white flag before anthropogenic climate disruption and invites its viewers to blissfully coast through to their inevitable evolutionary demise.
The film's resigned surrender contrasts sharply with the more hopeful, clear-eyed vision of Pope Francis and the faith-inspired program he suggests in his all-but-ignored eco-encyclical, Laudato Si'.
The stark difference between the two approaches illustrates the impotence of the secularized left before the world's most pressing problems. It also shows the potential power of Francis' faith perspective, which progressives ignore at their own (and the planet's) peril.
First of all, consider the film in question. The eight-minute piece is called "Edge of Extinction." It was produced and narrated by Guy McPherson, an evolutionary biologist whose webpage slogan is "Nature bats last. Passionately pursue a life of excellence."
McPherson's thesis is that "humanity is behaving exactly in accordance with its evolved genetic imperatives to survive, thrive and multiply today, regardless of the consequences tomorrow."
In other words, humanity is like other animal species. Its evolutionary short-sightedness has it rushing headlong towards its own inevitable extinction whose ultimate cause is "industrial civilization, the most violent set of living arrangements ever devised."
According to McPherson, this preordained inevitability means that we should all set aside anger and bitterness about human-caused climate change, replacing such unproductive emotions with "compassion and tolerance" presumably for climate change deniers. This, in turn, will confer peace of mind and a resultant "general happiness" as we glide towards extinction which, Mr. McPherson says will occur in 2025.
None of this is to say that it will be easy, the film continues. We'll witness the cataclysmic death of 7.5 million people. We'll run out of food, water, and fuel. The soil will become completely unproductive. The world's abandoned nuclear facilities will melt down catastrophically. Hospitals will be shuttered; disease will run rampant. There will be no first responders to rescue us. Many will commit suicide. Others will be murdered by the last remnants of the privileged still hanging on to their dwindling resources in their sweltering radiated bunkers.
Is that pessimistic enough for you?
It needn't be for three reasons: First of all, "humanity" has not actually made the decision in question. Secondly, as signaled by Pope Francis, there are clear alternatives. Third, while climate change deniers might deserve our compassion, they emphatically do not merit tolerance.
To begin with, "humanity" has certainly not decided "to survive, thrive and multiply today, regardless of the consequences tomorrow." In fact, only a sliver of the human race has done so; the rest are in complete resistance.
The sliver in question is a small part of the planet's richest 1% most of whom happen to live in the United States whose population comprises only 5% of the world's inhabitants. To put a finer point on it: the criminals in question have coalesced in the United States and in the Republican Party, identified by Noam Chomsky as the most dangerous organization in the history of the world. Republicans can be removed from office. (Remember that next November!)
Meanwhile, the rest of the world has other ideas as signaled in the nascent reforms of the Paris Climate Accord endorsed by nearly everyone in the world excluding the Republican leadership. Moreover, polls show that 61% of Americans--including 43 percent of Republicans--say climate change is a problem the government needs to tackle.
Secondly, there are simple, common-sense alternatives to the looming catastrophe. They have been outlined most compellingly by Pope Francis in Laudato Si' (LS). They include on the one hand, acts on the parts of individuals such as "avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or carpooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights. . ." as well as reducing the use of air conditioning (LS 55, 212).
On the other hand, Francis says that dealing with climate chaos requires action which national governments alone are capable of performing (38, 129). These include weening national populations from dependence on fossil fuels (165) as well as investment in high-speed railways, and renewable energy sources. National governments must also strictly regulate transnational corporate activity (38).