Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Care for God's Creation

Per a suggestion from a reader of the blog, I am looking to the USCCB document, Faithful Citizenship, as I study President Bush's social vision in light of Catholic social teachings. I want to make clear that I feel Faithful Citizenship equates, whether purposely or not, issues like protecting the environment with issues concerning the defense of life. That is an unfortunate mistake, because if we do not defend life first and foremost, then environmental and other issues will not matter. In fact the Holy Father tied these two issues together in his World Day of Peace message in 1990. He wrote, "The most profound and serious indication of the moral implications underlying the ecological problem is the lack of RESPECT FOR LIFE." I have taken four key points from Faithful Citizenship to show how President Bush meets the standards of caring for God creation as laid out by the Church. Much of the information about the president's proposals and actions below come from the Bush-Cheney '04 site.

Our stewardship of the Earth is a form of participation in God's act of creating and sustaining the world

The president has worked to improve the nations air quality through his Clear Skies legislation which "would dramatically improve air quality by reducing power plants' emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and mercury by approximately 70 percent over the next 15 years, more than any other clean air initiative. This historic proposal will bring cleaner air to Americans faster, more reliably, and more cost-effectively than under current law." He has also worked to improve the quality of our waters and wetlands. For example he signed the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 into law. which authorizes the cleaning up of pollution and contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes. And he has promoted land conservation with such ideas as Healthy Forest Initiatives which is helping restore the health and vitality of forests and rangelands, and helping reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires. This is benefiting communities and wildlife habitats.

Reasonable and effective initiatives are required for energy conservation and the development of alternate, renewable, and clean-energy resources

President Bush has proposed a comprehensive national energy plan to upgrade the nation's electrical grid, promote energy efficiency, increase domestic energy production, and provide enhanced conservation efforts, all while protecting the environment. The President has also called for tax incentives totaling $4.1 billion through 2009 to spur the use of clean, renewable energy, and energy-efficient technologies, such as hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, residential solar heating systems, renewable energy produced from landfill gas, wind, or biomass, and efficient combined heat and power systems. The Hydrogen Fuel Initiative and the FreedomCAR Partnership will provide $1.7 billion over five years to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells, a hydrogen infrastructure, and advanced automobile technologies that emit no air pollutants or greenhouse gases. And for the first time in a decade, the Administration raised Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for SUVs, vans and pick-up trucks. Reforms are also underway that will save more fuel while protecting consumer safety and American jobs.
Seriously address global climate change

Seriously address global climate change

President Bush has pushed a growth oriented approach to global climate change which has committed our country to reduce the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to economic output, or greenhouse gas intensity, by 18 percent by 2012. The President's FY 2005 budget includes nearly $2 billion for the Federal scientific research program on global climate change, focused on reducing significant uncertainties in climate science, improving global climate observing systems, and developing resources to support policymaking and resource management.

United States should lead the developed nations in contributing to the sustainable development of poorer nations and greater justice in sharing the burden of environmental neglect and recovery

The following three initiatives are examples of the president's desire to address development of poor nations and to deal environmental problems in these developing countries. The United States' "Water for the Poor" Initiative aims to expand access to clean water and sanitation services, improve watershed management, and increase the efficiency of water use in industrial and agricultural activities. The Clean Energy Initiative seeks to provide millions of people with new access to energy services, increase the efficiency of energy use, and significantly reduce readily preventable deaths and respiratory illnesses associated with motor vehicle and indoor air pollution. The Congo Basin Forest Partnership initiative will promote economic development, alleviate poverty, improve governance and conserve natural resources in six Central African countries -- Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Republic of Congo. The United States intends to invest up to $53 million over the next four years to support sustainable forest management and a network of national parks and protected areas, and to assist local communities, matched by contributions from international environmental organizations, host governments, G-8 nations, the European Union and the private sector. The United States is taking a lead, as it should has the richest nation on Earth, on these issues.


Some may argue that the president's proposals and actions here do not go far enough. I ask, how far does Catholic social doctrine say "the state" must go? The president's views here operate within the framework of Catholic social teachings on the environment. These teachings remind us we must "show our respect" for God's creation. How we do that is left up to us. We can debate how far to go, but to suggest the president's policies contravene these teachings is to fail to understand them.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm not sure where you're pulling those bolded points from. If you go here: http://www.usccb.org/bishops/catholicsinpoliticallife.htm
, you'll see the statement released titled, Catholics for Political Life (unless I mistake me for another blog reader?).

Anyhoo, I do like to breath clean air and drink good water. Bush don't like the EPA; the EPA don't like Bush:

http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=the_bush_administration_s_environmental_record

If you think Bush has been a good steward to the Earth, yer saying black is white. Why did Christine Whitman quit the EPA back in 2003? Go here to find out:

http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/05/21/whitman.resigns/

I don't know how important breathing clean air and drinking less polluted water is, when compared with killing embryos or killing Iraqis. If we go with sheer numbers, I'd say that more people suffer and die from environmental baddies than do from abortions or from being in Iraq. Though, the exact amount of suffering and shortened lifespans that occur from living in/near pollution is kinda hard to quantify. I can't make a clear qualitative call- perhaps that's why the USCCB leaves it up the their constitutency to decide. In any case, I wouldn't go around learned circles proclaiming, 'Bush is a good environmental President', for I fear you might be laughed out of the room.

4:36 AM  

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