Laudato Si 34: Looking Past Affections, and Diagnosing Anthropocentrism

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

Pope Francis suggests we move past considerations of cuteness:

34. It may well disturb us to learn of the extinction of mammals or birds, since they are more visible. But the good functioning of ecosystems also requires fungi, algae, worms, insects, reptiles and an innumerable variety of microorganisms. Some less numerous species, although generally unseen, nonetheless play a critical role in maintaining the equilibrium of a particular place. Human beings must intervene when a geosystem reaches a critical state.

Why us? We have the awareness, and the beginnings of good science on ecology and how the natural environment works or fails for other life on Earth.

But nowadays, such intervention in nature has become more and more frequent. As a consequence, serious problems arise, leading to further interventions; human activity becomes ubiquitous, with all the risks which this entails. Often a vicious circle results, as human intervention to resolve a problem further aggravates the situation. For example, many birds and insects which disappear due to synthetic agrotoxins are helpful for agriculture: their disappearance will have to be compensated for by yet other techniques which may well prove harmful.

Gratitude for some who labor:

We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to (human)-made problems.

And yet not all enrich us:

But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.

An interesting and telling twist on anthropocentrism.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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