Why Pope Francis Will Say Saving The Planet is ‘a Moral and Religious Imperative’

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims at th end of his weekly open-air general audience on September 4, 2013 in St.Peters square at the Vatican. The pontiff asked for a big turnout at a Vatican vigil on Saturday for peace in Syria and thanked the world's faithful and non-believers for their …

Sooner or later, like Chelsea meeting Manchester City, there had to be a Papal Encylical on Global Warming. After all, ecology and Rome are the two main religions of the Western World. We already know the main thrust of what Pope Francis will say: that saving the planet Earth, is ‘a moral and religious imperative’.

The Pope is certainly not going to attack the theology of Warmism, which for many is a religious dogma, towards which His Holiness must show the kind of respect that the Vatican has always shown secular entities, such as the Hapsburgs or the British Empire. Passing fads, mental or royal, come and go. Rome endures regardless, in large part by not treading unnecessarily on the corns of other people’s sensibilities.

Corns and humbug usually abound where ecology and self-interest collide. On Earth Day last week, President Obama warned of the damage done to the Florida Everglades by global warming, when in fact far more harm had been done by US national or local government: namely, Washington-subsidised sugar-cane farmers, state-authorised residential house-building and the US Corps of Engineers. But he’s as likely to insult any of those in a vital swing state as he would admit to Michelle’s taste in S & M.

It was Florida’s own Bishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, who said of the encyclical, that it had “gone to the translators, so it’s at the end of its birthing process.

“That’s the way bishops talk these days, daddy-oh, and unless we reverse our ways, no doubt the world will be at the start of its deathing process – and the sooner the better, if the price we pay for its survival is the anthem for the annual Earth Day, set to Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy.’

Joyful joyful we adore our Earth in all its wonderment

Simple gifts of nature that all join into a paradise

Now we must resolve to protect her

Show her our love throughout all time

With our gentle hand and touch

We make our home a newborn world

Now we must resolve to protect her

Show her our love throughout all time

We make our home a new-born world

This palsied paean to all life – including, presumably – the anopheles mosquito, penile warts, rectal cancer and menopausal halitosis – is best enjoyed when sung by deaf-mutes at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Climate change activists are ecstatic about the Pope’s intentions. “He, along with the Dalai Lama and a few rock stars, are the most popular people on the planet right now,” said Mary Evelyn Tucker, director of the amazingly named Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University. The only word missing there is ‘Wow’. How splendid that the incumbent of the Holy See is compared with the leader of a small bean-eating sect on a Nepalese hillside and some rock musicians he’s never heard of.

No matter. It’s fair to assume that the Encyclical will be pitched at a slightly higher level, and will probably target the official villains of the ecological movement: multinationals, oil companies, gas-guzzling cars, hamburger-munching & wind-breaking westerners. Unlikely to be high in the list of the world’s villains will be the subsistence farmers of the three As – Asia, Africa and Latin America, who destroy millions of acres of carbon-dioxide consuming broadleaf trees every year.

For Africa in particular, the complete destruction of the environment is being hastened by sex. The population of sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow from 926 million people today to nearly 2.2 billion people by 2050. Such unsustainable demographics should spell ruin. It doesn’t because of western aid and medicine. No lessons are learnt: the society responsible for such ecological degradation, rather than being crippled, is instead rewarded with medicine and protein and survival, with more such destruction to follow. Until finally, there’s nothing left to destroy, at which point it’s probably time to up sticks and head for Europe, with a hey and a ho and hey nonny no.

The Toyota Prius, as silent as a milkfloat, is delightful technology, but in global-ecological terms is probably as effective as its medieval equivalent, a very costly indulgence. Saving Africa is the key to saving the world, and this will be impossible unless Africans stop reproducing like aphids. And with Robert Mugabe president of both the African Union AND the Southern African Community, meaningful initiatives to reduce Africa’s population-growth will probably coincide with the opening of Burundi’s first Hadron Collider.

Ghana’s Cardinal Turkson says the core message of the encyclical is that global economic inequality is inextricably linked to climate change, and that the poorest are disproportionately affected by global warming. Yes, and disproportionately responsible for damaging what remains of the world’s rainforests: but no-one will say that, and no-one has the least idea how to stop Africans destroying their own continent.

Of course the Pope is unlikely to criticise Africa, the Catholic Church’s great growth area. However, he is a Jesuit and so will probably not confine himself to the meaningless vapidities which characterise so much eco-speak.

What should the developed world do to halt climate change? Is that even the right question? For climate change is the only climatic constant. Did not tobacco once grow in Warwickshire and ice once cover Britain? If global warming is solar-caused, and it’s largely ideology that says it isn’t, mankind’s attempts to reverse it might, at best, be rather like the heroic Mrs Partington and her mop the night of the great south-western gales, or at worst, do catastrophic damage to the world’s economy. And who invariably suffers worst in an economic downturn? Africa.

Pope Francis is far shrewder than those green-warriors give him credit for. However, the mob demands a clarion cry for a simple eco-crusade. The mob also demanded a papal endorsement of the Pill, and got Humanae Vitae instead. Modern popes generally don’t do crusades. They do subtlety, which – it’s a fair guess – will probably be lost on both the half-witted green commentariat and the full-blooded African corpus cavernosa.