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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

President Obama and future generations

Photo: Barack Obama

President Obama gave an important speech today at Georgetown University about climate change and his administration’s plan to deal with it.

Coincidentally, as he spoke I was at the first of a three-day workshop on incorporating climate-change science into government policy—an activity I am involved with as my office is seeking climate-change vulnerability assessments for Rhode Island’s expensive wastewater treatment infrastructure.

Having now read the president’s plan, I wasn’t surprised to find the steps being proposed. They include good steps, and necessary ones. As the president noted in announcing the plan:
The 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years.  Last year, temperatures in some areas of the ocean reached record highs, and ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record—faster than most models had predicted it would.  These are facts. 
Now, we know that no single weather event is caused solely by climate change.  Droughts and fires and floods, they go back to ancient times.  But we also know that in a world that’s warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet.  The fact that sea level in New York, in New York Harbor, are now a foot higher than a century ago -- that didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it certainly contributed to the destruction that left large parts of our mightiest city dark and underwater.
The president continued to outline the realities of what science is (overwhelmingly) showing us—which you can read about here and here, or spend four minutes with this video.

I wish the administration well in its efforts to deal with a changing climate—just as I hope for the best for my agency’s similar work, as well as the work of many other nations, states, and municipalities, not to mention private industries.

Moreover, I very much appreciate the president’s statement to the young people gathered before him that he refuses “to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.” And I stand to applaud his words that “[a]s a president, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act”—because we do need to act—now, profoundly, and with great wisdom.

And yet I must ask: What of those "future generations" who will not be allowed their birth? What of the pro-abortion policies of the president, his administration, and a good many members of his party in Congress—as well as a few folks from the opposite side of the isle, too?

Here we consider the wisdom of the pope emeritus, who provided the words at the top of this blog: that our duties toward the environment are linked to our duties toward the human person. “It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment, and damages society."

Concern over the impacts of climate change seems strange if one also accepts that the intentional killing of unborn children is acceptable and should be encouraged with tax payer funding.

Photo: Barack Obama

As for the president’s climate-change plan, it will certainly be too much for some and not enough for others but for the Catholic ecologist it is hypocritical. Seeking to protect future generations from current policies and technologies is certainly the job of the state. But, more importantly, so is rejecting that we can eliminate members of future generations because we refuse to acknowledge their humanity.

In comparing his climate change call-to-arms with President Kennedy’s challenge to send a man to the moon, President Obama said that “[o]ur progress here will be measured differently—in crises averted, in a planet preserved.  But can we imagine a more worthy goal?”

Yes, I can: A culture of life would be infinitely more worthy. Saving the lives of babies would be a good start.

The president went on: “For while we may not live to see the full realization of our ambition, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that the world we leave to our children will be better off for what we did.”

Whose children? Which ones will benefit from a world “better off” and which ones will have their lifeless, mangled bodies sent to medical waste disposal facilities?

Finally, after some 6,200 words, the president ended with a wish that I share deeply:

“God bless you. God bless the United States of America.”

Yes, may God bless us—and forgive us. But if I may, I would suggest this ending be added to the president’s speech:
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

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