We are a dumb species. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.
In most action movies, humans figure things out. In Independence Day, we downloaded a virus onto the alien ship, the thing exploded, we survived. In Terminator, John Connor stops the unstoppable machine. In Rocky III, Mr. T loses. Again, we always figure this stuff out because (hey!) together we can accomplish anything we put our minds to and blah and blah and double blah.
Truth is, it’s all nonsense. In the real world, we behave like morons. Crazy people start shooting up schools—we loosen gun laws. A drought destroys California—leaders insist we keep sprinkling away. Banks know borrowers can’t possibly pay off loans—here’s even more money! We’re presented with hard science, we ignore the information in favor of hunches and gut feelings and ancient religious dogma that—99.9 percent of the time—makes no real sense. Were Independence Day real, humans wouldn’t be downloading viruses. Nope, we’d all be darting toward the pretty blue light.
I bring all this up because I just read a story in the New York Times about Pope Francis’ “highly anticipated, highly controversial encyclical on the environment,” which is scheduled to drop tomorrow. The document is easily the most important statement a religious organization has yet to make on climate change, and Francis and Co. insist earth needs to start taking fossil fuels and global warming seriously. According to the Times, this could have a profound impact on how people think about the climate change threat.
Which is just, well, f-cking bonkers.
Climate experts couldn’t be any more clear about this problem. I mean, it’s been reported, then reported again and again and again and again. Water levels and temperatures are rising. Ice is melting. There are 8,001 awful things happening that can be directly linked to human-caused climate change. The only people debating this information seem to be Rush Limbaugh’s immediate family members and the world’s other far-right Republicans (oh, and the six scientists they know and love). Otherwise, climate change is fact. Not a mere possibility. Fact, fact, fact. We are in big trouble.
But that wasn’t enough. Nope, humanity needs the urgings of a non-scientist in a robe and yarmulke. Because the Pope says to care, we care. Am I missing something here, or have we gone completely nuts?
Jed: “You worried about climate change? NASA says it’s really bad.”
Mel: “NASA? Why would I trust them? Bunch o’ greedy communists.”
Bob: “The Pope says it’s a problem, too.”
Ed: “Time to get down to business.”
Oh, one thing I love even more. There are two Catholics running for the GOP presidential nomination, and neither one believes in humans impacting climate change. One, Marco Rubio, reacted to the looming encyclical by (wisely) saying nothing. Jeb Bush, on the other hand, uttered these interesting words: “I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope. And I’d like to see what he says as it relates to climate change and how that connects to these broader, deeper issues before I pass judgment. But I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.”
Hmm … so you don’t accept climate information from popes, and you don’t accept climate information from scientists.
Who, exactly, is Jeb Bush receiving information from?
I’m guessing this guy.