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Abortion and eco issues like climate change bring different threats to human life. But that doesn't mean we can't engage both.

There have been almost forty million abortions in the world so far this year. Today there will have been about 100,000.

Put more accurately, globally some forty million people were killed in their mother’s wombs, as is the case every year. 100,000 of them were killed today.

The direct death of a child at the hands of an abortionist is an event that is easy to tabulate—quantitatively and morally. An unborn child is always an innocent, and their deaths add digits to the numbers cited above.

Ecologically induced deaths can be equally easy to count and consider when the cause is tangible, like toxin exposure. More generally, however, environmental causes of death are not so easily known, especially for issues like climate change.

Even with the best available science, it is impossible to calculate which individuals died this year that would not otherwise have been killed in, say, droughts or storms worsened by climate change. Such uncertainty is one of the reasons why comparing abortion and climate change is so unhelpful.

Dr. Dana L. Dillon, a moral theologian and Assistant Professor of Theology at Providence College, told Catholic Ecology that the issues of abortion and climate change should...

When it's all said and done, America's future greatness requires embracing renewables

December 2016

The election of Donald Trump came at a critical time in global efforts to reign in emissions from the burning of fuels like oil, gas, and coal — emissions that, among other ills, turn up the planet’s natural ability to trap the sun’s heat.

Trump, the candidate, was clear that he didn’t support promises by the Obama administration to cut the United States’ contributions of these emissions.

After his election Trump tasked Myron Ebell, a longtime critic of climate science and advocacy, to oversee the transition of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Trump has since nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a staunch critic of that federal agency, to lead it.

All this has Catholic and secular eco-advocates more than a little worried.

I would be happy with some other choice for the top job at the EPA. But even if Pruitt’s nomination is approved by the Senate, will the president-elect continue his hard line against past climate change policy?

Probably not.

Major global industries are already anticipating and building the infrastructure for a post-fossil fuel world. The benefits to businesses of tapping into renewable energy sources — like solar and wind — are already changing...

Eco-advocates (and regulators) are worried and angry. But there is room for hope.

By now you know the picks: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (above) for the US Environmental Agency; Texas governor Rick Perry for Energy; and Exxon Mobil Corp. Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State.

These names have the eco-advocacy and regulatory world shaking with fury, fear, or both. In the faith world there’s talk of letters and petitions to implore Donald Trump to change his mind, especially with regard to Scott Pruitt as the potential head of EPA. Pruitt, as you may know, has been suing that agency and is generally seen by eco-advocates as a foe of clean water and air.

Anthony Strawa, a researcher at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and speaker on climate change, told Catholic Ecology that his worry was not simply about policy or politics, but about people.

“Air and water pollution have dramatic impacts on human health,” he said. “In California alone 18,000 premature deaths and $250 million in medical expenses are attributed to air pollution.”

He noted that five of the six federal criterion air pollutants are predominantly caused by the burning of fossil fuels and that studies have shown that pollution sources tend to be located near poor...

When there is no cure, there is always charity and the grace of God

There is no test for Parkinson ’s disease. My mother’s neurologist made that clear early on. There is nothing to look for in the blood, no measurement of one’s nervous system, no device or probe to determine if the disease is present or if it is not.

Rather, doctors look for its effects: telltale tremors, changes in the ability to walk, and in other motor skills. And when they find these signs and issue their diagnosis, the doctors tell you that the condition will only worsen, and that there is no cure.

As I watch my mom succumb to the disabilities of this disease, I'm reminded of the telltale signs of how another mother—our planet and its ecosystems—is failing, and how there may be no cure. Our planet’s natural systems are weakening as they are ravaged ever again by the choices of fallen human beings, who too often do not know how to take only what is necessary, and no more.

Of late we Catholic ecologists have been busy following the calls of every pontiff that has reigned in the 21st century. We have entered the public square and demanded the protection of creation’s natural environments, and the human beings...

Urges creation of “a cultural model” to address climate change

Pope Francis did not mince words on Monday when he addressed a plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences gathered at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The meeting of leading scientists (including the eminent Stephen Hawking) from diverse disciplines hopes to explore how scientific developments can help (or at least not hinder) the human condition and our environment.

According to Pablo Canziani, an atmospheric scientist who worked with then-Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, the pontiff used his address to encourage the scientific community to see itself as a change agent in creating the language and expectations needed to protect the dignity and viability of all life on Earth.

While such gatherings and topics are common for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the pontiff’s strong words expressed growing concerns by many about the rate of ecological damage from current economic, business, and consumption models—and the lifestyles thereof.

In short, Pope Francis is running out of patience.

“It has now become essential,” the Holy Father said, “to create, with your cooperation, a normative system that includes inviolable limits and ensures the protection of ecosystems, before the new forms of power deriving from the techno-economic model...

Follows successors in connecting climate with poverty, life

As the world's eco-community, especially those of us here in the States, struggles with what to make of Donald Trump's election to the United States Presidency, Pope Francis has sent his thoughts to the ongoing Conference of Parties climate talks in Morocco.

As one would expect from the Successor of Saint Peter, the Holy Father chooses to focus on the "the ethical and social aspects" of tackling climate change, rather than strictly the technical and economic. Pope Francis's message echoes many of the same concerns of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who issued a similar (although somewhat stronger) statement two weeks ago.

The entire statement from Pope Francis is on the Vatican website and follows below.


“The current situation of environmental degradation, closely connected to the human, ethical and social degradation that unfortunately we experience every day, calls upon all of us, each with his or her own role and competences, and leads us to meet here with a renewed sense of awareness and responsibility.

The Kingdom of Morocco hosts the COP22 a few days after the entry in force of the Paris Agreement, adopted less than a year ago. Its adoption represents the important...

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.