Green Religion Goes to Rio
Did you know that there’s going to be an “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro this week? If not, don’t despair—there are more than 7 billion other people who didn’t either. Apparently national leaders are going to
hit the beach jaw at one another about savin’ the planet and stuff. Whatever. Since they can’t attend, noted climatologists Olav Fykse Tveit of the World Council of Churches and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople sent their two cents along in letters. A few highlights, first from Geneva:
To our fellow human beings gathered to carry out our common responsibility for our common future,
“We write with a sense of urgency. The earth is in peril. Our only home is in plain jeopardy. For the very first time in the history of creation, certain life support systems of the planet are being destroyed by human actions”. These could be words for today, but were part of the letter to the churches written by participants of a WCC meeting in Baixada Fluminense during the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED or Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992.
Amazing how nothing has changed since 1992. No pseudo-science or ideological agendas have been outed, no contrary evidence has been forthcoming, no experts in the field have called BS. Nope, the last twenty years never even happened.
Unfortunately, the situation has not improved in these last twenty years. On the contrary, scientific reports have shown that we are in an even more dangerous situation. Our children are asking why we have not been able to achieve more in these 20 years. And WCC member churches from various regions have consistently reported that vulnerable communities are already experiencing the negative effects of climate change and environmental degradation while poverty and inequity continue to be a major challenge. We are accountable to our Creator for what we have done and what we have not done for the one creation.
Global temperatures haven’t risen since the turn of the century, but we’re “in an even more dangerous situation.” That’s correct, if only because the mindless alarmism of people like Tveit has actually gotten a hearing in some political quarters.
Last year the WCC’s International Ecumenical Peace Convocation held in Kingston, Jamaica, addressed violence in its various manifestations. The Ecumenical Call for Just Peace clearly states that “human beings are to respect and protect creation. But greed at many levels, self-centeredness and a belief in unlimited growth have brought exploitation and destruction on the earth and its creatures. The cries of the poor and vulnerable echo in the groans of the earth. Excessive consumption of fossil fuels and other limited resources is doing violence to people and the planet. Climate change as a consequence of human lifestyles poses a global threat to just peace. Global warming, the rise of sea levels and the increasing frequency and intensity of droughts and floods affect especially the most vulnerable populations in the world.” Being aware how poverty, ecological crisis and violence are intertwined, justice and peace criteria should permeate the contents of a green economy, one of the main themes at UNCSD2012, which should be based in principles such as sustainability, dignity, equity, sufficiency, inclusion and resilience, dismantling and abandoning a “greed economy” to move into a sharing economy for the survival of all, rich and poor, and taking our responsibility for future generations. The present situation does not allow us to irresponsibly continue with business as usual. We must find a just peace with the earth and one another.
So the answer to global warming (or whatever it is we’re supposed to be hysterical about these days) is…socialism. Coming from the WCC, that’s certainly an original idea. All in response to a series of cliches that are mind-numbing in their refusal to deal with reality (“the cries of the poor and vulnerable echo in the groans of the earth”—saints preserve us from religious liberals with keyboards). I think you get the General Secretary’s point: “blah, blah, justice, blah, redistribution, blah, blah, sustainability, blah, blah, blah, MORE GOVERNMENT CONTROL OF EVERYTHING!!!”
His All-Holiness takes this approach:
Beloved friends, it is with great joy that we greet those gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit. However, the joy of our paternal greeting must be tempered with sobriety because of the utmost sensitivity surrounding this Summit and the urgent need to deliver action on its goals. Your efforts to address the issues are crucial for the health of the world’s ecosystems and the millions of people who depend upon them.
Over the next several days, world leaders will face the challenge of correcting the forces that degrade our planet’s air, land, and waters, while establishing a new course towards a green economy. This is not just an admirable goal; it is an essential correction to the world’s intractable problems, moving toward the eradication of poverty and the rejuvenation of the natural environment.
Paradoxically, the goals of the Earth Summit are all attainable and affordable.
That’s really all you need to hear. The actual experiences of countries such as Spain and Germany, not to mention the U.S., with regard to “green energy” are simply wished away. Despite the repeated failures of green energy production, much less the “green economy” to contribute anything of substance beyond job losses and increasing debt, the EP is sure that green will be the color of the Kingdom of God, resulting in an “eradication of poverty” no less. Truly there are few things more embarrassing than when church leaders transpose eschatology into politics, especially utopian politics.
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