SCOTUS Has No Problem Aborting The Future Of The Earth

SCOTUS Has No Problem Aborting The Future Of The Earth June 30, 2022

Mr. Kjetil Ree: Supreme Court Building / Wikimedia Commons

Climate change is real, and, unless we do something to fix it, the harm it is going to cause the world is also real. If we do not get our collective act together,  parts of the world, if not the whole world, will be uninhabitable in the future. Due, in part, to what we can see happening already, we can only imagine the kind of suffering climate change will bring to the future of humanity, before humanity finds itself going extinct (sharing the fate of many other species which climate change will destroy). For, it is clear to those who study the effects of climate change, what climate change brings to the world is mass destruction.  We must take into consideration our responsibility to the earth, its current inhabitants, but also its future. And yet, those who lust after the things of the earth, those who lust for power and control so as to satisfy all they should every want to do to the earth and what is on it, want to make sure nothing gets in the way of their perverse desires. In its decision on West Virginia vs the EPA, the Supreme Court, without much surprise, has made it clear that they are free to do as they wish, to rape the earth and abort future generations, and the EPA can do nothing to stop them because SCOTUS said Congress did not give them that power   (justified, as usual, with a poor hermeneutic which ignores different ways such power can be read and understood by what Congress gave).

We are called to be stewards of the earth. We are to work for the common good, which means, of course, not only to preserve it, but to build it up, to make sure things are better for future generations. We are responsible for those who come after us, and our actions must take their needs into consideration:

The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. Since the world has been given to us, we can no longer view reality in a purely utilitarian way, in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us. The Portuguese bishops have called upon us to acknowledge this obligation of justice: “The environment is part of a logic of receptivity. It is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next”. An integral ecology is marked by this broader vision. [1]

Sadly, we can see that we are not doing our part. We are ignoring our responsibility to the future. The Supreme Court, which in theory, is meant to work for and promote justice by preserving and protecting the common good has undermined justice by its rejection of our responsibility to the world. Its decision demonstrates how far the current justices are from executing their office with integrity. The justices who formed the majority for the decision show they do not care for justice. They have no problem with people suffering. Even today, it is clear, there is great suffering going on as a result of climate change. It is killing people. And yet, what we see today is mild in comparison to what is to come if we do not do something to heal the damage we have caused the earth and put a stop to climate change. Every year, we are dealing with more and more extreme weather events thanks to climate change. Now, every heat has its connection with climate change.  And, it should not be surprising, those most adversely affected by climate change are the poor, the vulnerable, and children, because all of them will have to face those effects sooner than those who use their wealth to hide themselves from the world and the damage which they have done to it. Future generations, those who are not yet born, are going to find themselves living in worsening environmental conditions; indeed, children, infants, and those who are not yet born  are being adversely affected by climate change, as a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated:

The fetus, infant, and child are uniquely vulnerable to climate-related environmental impacts and air pollution owing to a host of biologic and behavioral factors. The speed of development and the elaborate developmental programming during these stages confer high susceptibility to disruption by toxic chemicals and other stressors. In addition, the biologic defense mechanisms for detoxifying chemicals, repairing DNA damage, and providing immune protection are immature in the infant and child, thus heightening their vulnerability to psychosocial stress and physical toxicants,[2]

If anyone says they care about life, if they say they care about the unborn, and do nothing to stop climate change, they show how shallow, if not false, their claim actually is. To celebrate a decision by the Supreme Court which destroys the government’s ability to work for and protect, not only the common good, but the most common good necessary for life to be viable on earth, is to celebrate death and destruction. To promote life, we need to denounce this decision and recognize our place on this earth does not give us a right to destroy it and its future. If we don’t do anything, the future is bleak, but, as we can change, we still have a chance to heal the damage we have done and build a better future. This will happen if we truly care for and value life. Thus, Pope Francis says we will not be abandoned by God if we repent and change our ways, if we come together to take care of the earth:

The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.[3]

We need each other; we need to work with each other, and promote what is good and true. We must no longer let private interests lead us to our own destruction. We must take our work seriously; we must recognize that the foundations of our society, of our very existence, is at stake:

We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good. When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment. [4]

The Supreme Court’s decision does what many on the right have wanted, which is, to weaken the power and authority of the federal government and its agencies to do what is necessary to preserve the common good. Without such power, the destruction of the earth can continue unabated. It is clear, those who are empowered by this decision do not care what will happen in the future. They don’t even care what happens today so long as they are not the ones suffering. They are as barbaric as they come. Pope Francis is right. So long as the environment continues to be destroyed, we will find more and more disasters facing us, and more and more people fighting each other for the limited resources which remain. The newest decision threatens the future of humanity. By allowing the earth be destroyed, by making sure that the EPA doesn’t have the power it needs to promote the care of the earth, the justices who claimed to care for the unborn have proven they don’t, for they have no problem with the rich and powerful aborting future generations of the earth.

[1] Pope Francis, Laudato si’. Vatican translation. ¶159.

[2][2]  Frederica Perera and Kari Nadeau, “Climate Change, Fossil-Fuel Pollution, and Children’s Health” in The New England Journal of Medicine (6-16-2022).

[3] Pope Francis, Laudato si’, ¶13.

[4] Pope Francis, Laudato si’. Vatican translation. ¶229.


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