Extreme weather, ocean acidification, habitat loss, rapid glacial melt, and pollution-who is to blame? On one extreme we have Lynn White who proposes that we can assign blame, and to him it’s not that complicated-Judeo-Christians. Paganism was replaced by Christianity during and before the middle ages. This loss of this fundamental belief in nature possessing spirits and existing on an equal level as humans has a very profound effect on the world. The first and most important is that scientists from the 13th century and all the way to Newton claimed to have religious motivation for their works. This is a very shaky claim because we know that people will say almost anything to be safe and accepted. Humans learn this early in life when just trying to make friends and be accepted as children. Mr. White’s argument rests tenuously on this claim, but to give him a fighting chance we’ll accept it. If that is true we need to look deeper and analyze what it is that Christians think about nature. Through the science and technology that Christians enlightened the world with we would think that they think they are above nature and believe we can exploit the world for solely our own grains. Lynn White gives reason to this by quoting the Bible which says that God gave humans dominion over the world and, therefore, elevating us above nature. This would seem to have the effect of humans losing sight of how interconnected we are with nature resulting in its exploitation. In the end he made his argument and the world has moved on, not caring who is to blame but still continuing on in the same way as before.
Just as a coin has two sides we have one of the biggest religious figures alive today weighing in on climate change- Pope Francis. He makes many of the same points Lynn White makes about our world and its current situation, but he comes with a different field of expertise. If he was arguing against the claims of Lynn White it would come down to the fact that, “an inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world.” The end. Nonetheless, that is not the point that Pope Francis is making. What I like about his book, Laudato Si, is that it not only brings up the issues that we are facing today in terms of climate change, but he also gives us advice on how we can overcome these challenges which, in my opinion, is the most important step in resolving an issue. It seems that too many times people just complain about an issue, but have to real solution or means of addressing the problem they have.
However, in the end they both reach the same conclusion- and to quote Pope Francis, the Earth is turning into “an immense pile of filth” and humans are the ones to blame.