Father Booth’s Weekly Reflection

Ignorant, Stupid, and Wicked

We are stewards of the planet for God’s sake, our own sake, for the sake of future generations, and for the sake of the universe. God has made the earth for us and entrusted us with it. So we are to occupy, subdue, and tend the planet for God’s sake – it is His after all – and for our own sake. For our own sake in the sense of here and now, but also with respect to the past and to the future. Concern for the future is a no-brainer. It might not be obvious that we ought to respect the past, but we did not get where we are today all by ourselves. Our success and progress depend on our forebears who were hardly perfect. Man was ignorant, capable of great stupidity, and prone to evil. Thousands of years of man enslaving man is testimony to our stupidity and wickedness. That we thought the earth was the center of the universe is evidence of our ignorance, but then again we have forgotten much that our ancestors knew, such as how to be self-sufficient. Take away running water, electricity, and modern transportation, we would be in a world of hurt. Our stupidity has hardly been cured, for example, since growing number of people believe that we can create and declare our own genders, something more obviously wrong than thinking the earth was the center of the universe. Our wickedness is manifest in the fact that slavery is alive and well today with so sign of disappearing. Morally speaking, to condemn those who lived long ago for not thinking like we do is foolishness. Those long dead and those yet to be born have ample evidence to convict us of ignorance, stupidity, and wickedness.

In any case, one of the reasons for preserving the planet, one of the motivations for the early environmental movement, was that intelligent life gives meaning to the universe. This is evident even to atheists. When or if mankind ceases to be, it is quite possible that the only intelligent life in the galaxy or even the universe will also cease to be. Intelligent life is the crown jewel of the universe even apart from faith. From a faith perspective, this is reflected in what God said when He finished creating all that is. God declared everything good upon its creation, but He said it was very good (Gen 1:31) when He created man. So, surely it should be obvious to believer and unbeliever alike that preserving the environment is critical to preserving mankind and that preserving mankind is a moral imperative.

In the last twenty-five years or so, however, there has been a shift in the impetus of environmentalism. It has gone from saving the planet in order to preserve the human race’s future to saving the planet in order to preserve the planet. Another way to put it is that saving the planet was once for the sake of man but it is increasingly about saving the planet in spite of man. For example, several governments are actively seeking to reduce the amount of fertilizer used on crops. Thirty-percent reductions have been proposed in Canada and in Europe for the sake of reducing greenhouse gasses. First of all, agriculture actively pulls CO2 out of the atmosphere resulting in a reduction of greenhouse gasses. This is what plants do. This is why people have been promoting the planting of trees. Yet smaller crops resulting from less fertilizer mean less CO2 removed from the air. It also means less food. Less food means fewer people. Similarly, we have been adding ethanol to our gasoline, mandated by the government in 2005 and 2007, to reduce CO2 emissions partially because agriculture removes CO2 from the air and partially because gasohol (supposedly) produces less CO2 when burned by our cars. Nearly 40% of our corn, almost 6 billion bushels, goes to making alcohol for our gas. That much corn could potentially feed 700 million people every year. Both mandated fertilizer reductions and gasohol production pit the environment directly against the feeding of people.

We are currently facing a food crisis that will only worsen. Famine is expected by the United Nations, who have warned about an unprecedented global food crisis in 2022 and expects things to worsen in 2023. Part of this is due to the war in Ukraine, due to droughts, and due to economic inflation caused by half-witted politicians. How will gasohol and fertilizer restrictions help?

If we choose to save the planet at the expense of people, perhaps in the hundreds of millions, suffering from famine and starvation, how could past or future generations not call us ignorant, stupid, and wicked?

—Fr Booth