A Moral Issue?

I just finished reading a message that Pope John Paul gave back in 1990. It was titled, “Peace with God the Creator, and Peace with all His Creation.” It was a very good theological as well as practical look at the issue of an ecological crisis. He covered many different aspects. He covered the fact that all mankind have a responsibility to God’s creation. He covered the fact the each government, nation or state has a responsibility to the land that they reign over. He also covered the fact that as human beings we have a global responsibility. All governments and all peoples have a need to band together to face the ecological crisis we face.
It is now 18 years later. When the former Pope gave this message I was 8 years old. At that age I don’t think I ever new much about any ecological crisis. I remember some people talking about recycling and I remember my public elementary school making a big deal about earth day and taking care of our planet. What is somewhat disturbing to me is that I don’t ever remember my private Christian elementary school ever addressing earth day. At the public school I went to they made a whole day of planting a tree and learning how to separate recyclables, but the Christian elementary school I attended a few years later never addressed the day once. 18 years after Pope John Paul II gave this message I’m afraid to say that it must have fallen on deaf ears.
I have a lingering question in my mind after reading this message. Is this a moral crisis? Is the ecological crisis one that somehow demands some kind of action? If that action is not taken, are we somehow held morally responsible? This seems like a complex question, for it has many different types of responses and can be dealt with on many different levels, but I’m going to try to keep it simple for the purpose of this article.
First, Does this crisis require some sort of action? I’m kind of cheating at this point. There is a question to ask before this. The true first question is, is there an true ecological crisis? I’m going to operate with the assumption that there is. I know that there is a lot of debate over this and I’m not willing to get into all of that at this moment, so just go along with me that there is an ecological crisis and I will address that question in a later entry.
So does this crisis require action? I believe that it does. First we must realize that there are possible actions. According to the most recent scientific findings around the globe there seems to be a majority consensus that we have not come to the “point of no return” as for as global warming is concerned. This means that we can change the course of this ecological crisis. 18 years after the Pope gave this message and there is still hope for us to change. The action is simple. Anything that reduces greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. There are several ways we can do this and I really want to address many of them in later entries. Now we are required to carry out this action to stop this global crisis. Humans are the primary contributing factor to the release of greenhouse gases so we must also be the primary means of change to stop this. We are now required to act if we are to stop this ecological crisis.
So now we get to the real question. If we do not act and stop this, are we acting immoral? I would argue that we are. If we do not act we are causing the oppression, suffering and even death of an unknown number of all nature including human beings. This is immoral. If we cause the suffering and death of others whether present or future we are being an oppressing force. I am reminded of a quote by C. S. Lewis. “What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.”
Based upon the one fact of what we are doing to others causes it to be a moral issue. I believe there is much more to this but I also promised to try to keep this simple. The Pope also believed this to be a moral issue. In fact, he ended this message by making that idea very clear to all.

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