Catholics and Climate Change

Climate change is real! Earth's natural greenhouse effect was observed as early as the 1860’s by physicist John Tyndall. Glaciers are observed to be retreating all around the world. The Northwest Passage opened up to ships without an icebreaker escort for the first time in history in 2007. Human carbon emissions are higher than ever.

What was your reaction when you read that? Did you feel disgust or anger that I would give evidence of climate change? Or on the other hand, were you happy that climate change can be so positively proven?

Well whatever it was, hold on to your emotion because it is important.

Do you know what I think isn't important? Whether or not you believe in climate change.

If you clicked on this article hoping for a definitive answer or a conclusive argument to support your position on the topic, I’m afraid you will leave disappointed. Besides, if you were searching for the answer in a blog post written by some teenager whose knowledge of climate change is limited to Google searches and documentaries, you’re on the wrong path.

What interests me is why some people are so vehemently against even considering the possibility of climate change that they get angry hearing anyone take that standpoint.

I personally lean towards the opinion that people can and have altered the climate through emission of greenhouse gases. (I am not sure how catastrophic the consequences of changing the climate can be, but it seems pretty logical that the effects would be serious.) Some of the greatest scientific minds of our time have devoted their lives to this study, and the majority has concluded that it is probably true.

I have no reason to believe that all of them are part of some nefarious scheme to trick the masses. The evidence they give seems reasonable and backed by data, and in fact you can do a simple experiment at home to demonstrate the greenhouse effect. I’m sure there are arguments against global warming, but it seems like many skeptics ignore good evidence supporting it.

As Catholics, I don't think it's important whether or not we agree with global warming, but what I think should be a concern is the way we approach a new idea or argument. I think one of the main reasons people are so vehemently against climate change is because of its link to liberal politics. But we have to be very careful here: a valid argument can be made by a person or organization that we do not support. Similarly, not all views held by Catholics are automatically right (we are not talking about matters of faith or morals here).

When confronted with an opinion different than our own, we should always look at the evidence and make our judgement off that and not its affiliation with a person or organization we dislike. Honestly, it doesn’t matter where the truth comes from; if it is true then it will fit in the Catholic viewpoint. And if evidence shows that something you have long held to be true is in fact questionable or even false, then it might be time just to eat a slice of humble pie and admit that you’re wrong.

There are so many new ideas out there which can be adopted by Catholics if we are open enough to realise that sometimes profound truths can come from unlikely sources. Of course we ought to realize that while always keeping in mind the wise words of G.K. Chesterton: “Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”

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