LETTER: A moral imperative on climate change

York Dispatch

The pope in Rome just pointed out that it is our duty to care for the Earth. He says we should live in respect of nature, in cooperation with it. He points out our moral imperative to address climate change.

An earlier resident of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, declared in his Meditations, Book V on laying in a warm bed on a cold morning, "Or have I been made for this, to lie in the bed-clothes and keep myself warm? ... Do you not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put in order their several parts of the universe? And are you unwilling to do the work of a human being, and do you not make haste to do that which is according to your nature?"

Pope Francis is dipping into a very deep well, recognizing we are just another part of the universe. This goes back through Classical Stoicism at least to Socrates.

In Book II Marcus declares, "The soul does violence to itself when it turns away from any man, or even moves towards him with the intention of injuring, such as are the souls of those who are angry. ... For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away."

To continue our violence against our own home by keeping greenhouse gas pollution free is to define ourselves as a tumor or abscess upon the universe, to paraphrase Marcus. Carbon pollution should be priced as the garbage it is, recognizing the universe has no garbage can.


York City