Op-Ed: Religion, Electric Cars & Renewable Energy

JUN 17 2015 BY PEDER NORBY 102

Where Religion & Politics Cross Paths

Where Religion & Politics Cross Paths

Politics and religion are often said to be avoided topics in conversation with others, if you ever want to be invited to the party again.

Time to break that rule…

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on Peder’s blog. Check it out here.

With a flame retardant suit on, and with the knowledge that rough and tumble politics and political decisions are often written about in the context of EV’s and renewable energy, I’ll explore an ever increasing reason, why some are transitioning to a more efficient lifestyle, one that is largely unspoken and unwritten about.

Religious and spiritual beliefs.

There is a diverse multitude of reasons why folks transition to renewable energy and EVs: saving money, hi tech adopter, climate change, self reliance, energy saver, conservationist, stick it to the man, getting off oil, local air quality, a desire to not go to war over scarce resources and more.

You can now add religious beliefs to that list.

Solar On Church Roof

Solar On Church Roof

Most EV and renewable energy enthusiast posses some of the above reasons, but not all. Some are “spokes” motivated by a singular mission or belief, a singular force that drives them towards their choice. Some are “hubs” encompassing most or all of the reasons for their lifestyle choices.

The EV and Solar communities, (the two go together like chocolate and wine) generally are supportive of all the diverse reasons why folks make the decision to drive an EV and/or go solar. The EV and Solar communities possess an all encompassing “big tent” attitude that whatever the individual reason, whatever the motivation, the “decision” to go solar or drive a car with a plug is more important than the “personal reason” the decision is made.

Religious beliefs can also be accepted into that big tent with the knowledge that we all do not share every motivation including religion, for driving EV’s and or going solar.

Here are some observations on why I think it’s very important to talk about it, and why I think it will be a reason for many around the globe to make the decision to drive a car with a plug and power with renewables.

  • According to Wikipedia, 80% of Americans identify themselves as religious with Christianity being the largest belief by far. That’s a lot of potential future EV buyers!
  • On June 18th, 2015, Pope Francis will publish an encyclical regarding the environment and mankind’s relationship with nature. This will add a worldwide “morality dimension” to the scientific and political discussions about decarbonizing our planet. I believe this Papal Encyclical will be a very large consideration for many, and a huge driver of future EV sales.
  • Many churches and beliefs are divesting from fossil fuel including the Church of England and the World Council of Churches representing 590 million members in 150 countries.
  • This is a personal observation: In Southern California, more and more churches are putting solar PV on their roofs, with the desire to be better stewards of our planet. This decision is made with this stewardship desire as an equal or greater reason than the economic savings. I recently had a conversation with a gentleman that was on a church board representing 40 congregations in San Diego and Orange County, He enthusiastically reported to me that they recently voted to install Solar PV and electric vehicle charging infrastructure at all their church locations.
Pope Francis

Pope Francis

There are many great reasons to switch to electric transportation and renewable energy sources. Religious beliefs can now be added to that list. Our EV and Solar communities are quickly about to get a whole lot larger and more diverse.

Welcome to the club Pope Francis and welcome to all faiths, all parishioners and all houses of worship around the world!



Now is not the time to whisper in dark rooms to a few, Now its the time to raise our varied, collective, community voices as high as we can to as many as we can.

Electric transportation powered by renewable energy is the right choice.


As always, thanks for reading and I’m interested in hearing your thoughts in the comment section.

Categories: General


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102 Comments on "Op-Ed: Religion, Electric Cars & Renewable Energy"

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While it’s great to see some emphasis on the environmental stewardship aspect of Catholic belief, somehow going out and buying a new Model S doesn’t quite square with the Holy Father’s emphasis on the poor and simple living. Used Model 3 I guess?

Ken Sherman

How about just putting a few panels on your roof or buying a used Leaf, or iMeiv? You don’t have to spend six figures to help cut your footprint.

Alonso Perez

Exactly. I don’t think you can get a lot more modest (in an American context) than a used Leaf, and yet it is a great car if it fits your driving pattern.


Neither do reality shows about filthy rich pastors. But they exist, and I’m pretty sure they are religious too.

Mark Hovis

I see you your holy solar panels and raise you a holy EVSE….


Nice. I bet they get donations from atheists using that.


Depends on how you define “Enjoy”.


On Plugshare, I saw a church in East Lansing, Michigan with a 240V charger.


Ben Brown

Seriously… you have just upped my desire to drive from Kalamazoo to Lansing with my i-miev. (I have business to do there anyway.)

Some religious people believe creation is a trust of Love, much like someone trusting a precious child to you to care for and raise…or a great work of art, like the Mona Lisa.
Myself… I want to see those who believe that enough to put up a Level 2 charger. I’m curious about them.


I’m a little less convinced that the EV & Solar communities are “big tent”. Seems to me there have been a number of cases of someone or some product not being “electric” enough (Prius Plug-in Hybrid or Honda Accord Plug-in not being “electric enough”). That is not passing the EV communities purity test. I think the cause would be best served by embracing ANY change toward “more electric”.


The ire against the Prius plug-in and the Honda Accord plug-in is directed at Toyota and Honda, respectively. Not the people that buy those products.


LOL! That cross of solar panels is hilarious. They should have moved it over to the right more though to avoid the shadow from the steeple.


If they cared more about clean power generation over making a corporate logo featured on the roof, sure. 😉

What a waste of roof space. 🙁


I thought you believe in the same “corporation”…

Didn’t you stated that you believe in hell? Or was that another lie made up by you?


You’re easily confused, so let me clarify: The only thing that matters about hell– is that YOU believe in it.


Anon said:

“What a waste of roof space.”

Seems rather unkind, not to mention inaccurate, to label it a “waste” merely because the solar array isn’t quite optimally placed for maximum solar energy capture.


No, it’s a waste because the rest of the roof isn’t covered! 🙂

Scott Franco

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Great to see Pope Francis weighing in and as a catholic I take notice. One other telling thing going on mixing solar and politics is down in Florida. You have the tea party and tree huggers walking together to change the BS utility rules that is screwing residential solar. The momentum is building and at least in the case of solar the financial case is already positive which certainly helps.

David Murray

My experience here in the Bible Belt (Texas) is that Christianity and Republicans go together like peanut butter and jelly. And I realize I’m about to make a generalization that doesn’t always hold true, my experience is that most Republicans in my area are either on the fence or totally against EVs. And since most of those Republicans are also Christians, they tend to say things like “We don’t need to worry about protecting the environment. Jesus is going to come back any day now with the Rapture and fix everything.” (well, after the 7 years of tribulation) I often find the same people are against any sort of green energy, hybrids, solar panels, recycling, the EPA, fluorescent or LED light bulbs, etc.

Having said that… I did see a news story about some church over in Dallas that had like 20 some-odd Leafs in the parking lot, and one of them belongs to the pastor. So I that does give me some hope for humanity.


“We don’t need to worry about protecting the environment. Jesus is going to come back any day now with the Rapture and fix everything.””

Unfortunately, my Mormon co-workers said the same thing…


I find such thinking to be terrifying.


Yes, I agree with you on this.

It is very scary in fact.

I was telling him that he should have “preserve all God’s creation and the world that God created for him if he believes in God”. But I guess he has a different interpretation..



I’ve learned, sadly, that faith trumps reason all too often.


To me, that is the point of faith… just look at two teams competing in an event. Reason would believe that the team with a winning record would win. There are fans of the underdogs that have “faith” in their team to win. Faith goes against reason frequently.

John Hansen

Here in Wisconsin, I’ve never heard any Christian say anything like that, and they aren’t anti-EV either. That sounds more like a reflection on Texas than on Christians.


I agree. People finding excuses in their religion to justify the bad things they want to do isn’t “faith”. It’s justification.

And Christians, even fundamentalist Christians, don’t have any monopoly on that behavior, by any means.


I have been quite surprised at the attitude of many of the people that you would not think would be interested in EVs at all. My father in law would be the last person that I would have though that would be interested in EVs but I just found out he put 40 amp panels at his parking places at his house “just in case”.

Dave K.

Here in Atlanta we have considerable diversity in the EV community, personally I mostly vote Dem. and don’t attend church but many of our most active supporters are on the other side of one or both fences. I tell people “if you don’t accept one reason to like EVs and RE just pick another”, there are at least 6 or 7 like the article says.


Most Texans believe that only god can change the weather. The only way to get them interested in EVs is to appeal to their greed. I tell them they can “fill up” for the equivalent of a dollar a gallon. Unfortunately, the car salesmen aren’t even mentioning EVs or PHEVs to customers because they make more money off the gas burners.


Seems like you’re describing human nature, not any mindset unique to Texans.

Rex Wilson

Until 1980’s Catholic Church maintained that Earth is the center of solar system and Sun and planets revolve around it. Until this time, all the Pope’s were from Western Europe.

Then came Pope John Paul-2 from Poland (Eastern Europe) and he changed the Church’s position to accept that Sun is the center of Solar System.

Now comes the 1st Pope outside Europe and he is bold enough to acknowledge the man-made effect of Global Warming for the sake of billions of people in the developing world.

I truly appreciate this current Pope from Argentina.


Because no other popes spoke out about environmental stewardship: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2013/feb/12/pope-benedict-xvi-first-green-pontiff


Good point. For whatever reason, Pope Francis is being uniquely served up by the media as almost a liberal savior. And they’re eating it up like hot pizza.

In most liberal blogs, you will see posts like this:

“Wow, this is the first pope I really like. He actually seems to care about people.”, etc.

Bill Howland

Apparently the Catholic Church is still a bit slow regarding some things, – but there’s worse elsewhere.

In Galileo’s time, the Vatican said, “We don’t care what you see in your telescope, you must stop saying these things, and we’re taking away you and your telescope.”

Of course, here the Catholic Church disregarded the “forward thinking” Bible Book of Isaih 40:22, written in 732 BC of the “Circle of the Earth”, expanding on Job 26:7’s “Earth hangs on nothing”, both statements being accurate. It wasn’t until over a hundred years later that Pythagorus proved the earth was round.

In general, though, the situation is much worse today. Far from being only a single scientist being jailed, any scientist in ANY COUNTRY, including Mikael Gorbochev’s Soviet Union, Jailed scientists for stating Chernobyl would kill many Russians. (400,000 of the over 600,000 ‘Liquidators’ already have perished before their time).

Its much worse today than in Galileo’s time. And much less free speech. As french philosopher Voltaire stated,

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize”.


“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize”.

I’ve noticed there has been no criticism of Islam in this article. Only Christianity.


Well if you are not a fan of Islam, one of the strongest things one could do to reduce its influence is to get an EV and strongly push the transition to EVs. Without oil sales, the Saudis will lose their ability to push their Wahhabist propaganda around the globe.


I agree on the Saudis, but was thinking more about the oil-funded Nazi-ish atrocities being committed in Iraq, Syria etc. About 60 million people displaced. Genocide that’s in-progress seems more pressing than future climate-change. Yet the latter seems to receive more press and discussion.


LOL at climate change getting more coverage than ISIS. I wish. No, it is quite the opposite.

An American is more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by ISIS.

We Americans can NEVER solve ISIS. That ideological/theological issue that can never be solved with bombs. When we go there, we are viewed as infidel interlopers. The countries & people of that region need to solve that problem if they want to. We can help but we could never solve it ourselves.

Just look at Afghanistan. The British couldn’t win. The USSR couldn’t win. And we can’t win. Outsiders cannot fix deep-seated ideological/theological beliefs.


Exactly, but the Saudis have paid off most of our politicians so our so-called representatives do their bidding, not ours.


And you based that statement on the facts from….?


Rex Wilson said:

“Until 1980’s Catholic Church maintained that Earth is the center of solar system and Sun and planets revolve around it.”

Try 1820.

“In 1820, the Congregation of the Holy Office, with the pope’s approval, decreed that Catholic astronomer Giuseppe Settele was allowed to treat the earth’s motion as an established fact and removed any obstacle for Catholics to hold to the motion of the earth…” (source below)

It’s bad enough that the Roman Catholic Church denied the clear and irrefutable evidence of astronomical observations for two centuries; no need to exaggerate.



It always amuses me to read in a third-party publication, such as the New York Times in this case, what the Church believes and teaches. If you want to know what the Church teaches, why not go to the source?

If you want to know what really happened, I suggest you read the actual writings at the time of Galileo. This would include Galileo’s writings and those of his contemporary Pope. You will find they are quite different from the story being told by the NYT, and repeated by many of the commenters here.


I’m just saying, in 1992 they felt the need to say things like this:

“Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world’s structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture….”

—Pope John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano N. 44 (1264) – November 4, 1992

And there is also this of apologies, note 1992 and 2000 for Galileo.


Noted. Also noted is that the apology is for the legal action taken. It seems to me, for reasons I’ve already described below, that the legal actions were those of a man who was deeply offended by another man. The fact that the former was a man of authority in the Church says nothing about the teachings of the Church. Galileo was a rabble-rouser in presenting his theories. It wasn’t the theories so much as the approach he took which prompted the response. And that, in turn, does not justify the response.

So no, I disagree that “It took 350 years before they would admit Galileo was right”. It took 350 years before someone stood up and said that the response to Galileo’s rabble-rousing was wrong.

It’s worth pointing out that the Church never infallibly taught that the Sacred Scripture must be interpretted literally regarding the structure of the physical world. It may have been the preeminent thought for many centuries, but it was never required for Catholics to believe it.


An excellent summary, Brian.

Certainly there was a deep theological dispute between astronomers of the era and the Church’s official doctrine, but Galileo had an arrogant personality, including heavy use of sarcasm. His treatise explaining the evidence in favor of the heliocentric model of the Solar System, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, a treatise copied and distributed among the intelligentsia of the day, included quotes from Pope Urban VIII, but put them into the mouth of a fictional fool!

So yes, to some degree, the “persecution” of Galileo was a personal dispute between him and the Pope, and partly caused by Galileo’s own very public arrogance toward the Pope. Even still, it resulted only in house arrest; it’s not like the Inquisition tortured Galileo until he recanted, or burned him at the stake.

So let’s be clear: The fairly recent apologies, and rather belated pardon, by the Catholic Church regarding Galileo, have nothing to do with any remaining dispute with the heliocentric model of the Solar System. That has long passed. These apologies are about how Galileo himself was treated… and not about his ideas.

As futile as it is to argue religion on the internet, as a Catholic I feel compelled to defend the Church here. Your statement that the Church “maintained that Earth is the center of solar system” (sic) is false. The Church does NOT teach science. Science strives to understand the physical world. The Church teaches the spiritual, not physical, world. A Pope stating that it is OK for Catholics to believe something doesn’t mean that 1) the Church had previously denied it or 2) that the Church now teaches it as fact. It just means that it is not contrary to anything the Church does teach. Regarding Galileo – Bill, I recommend you re-read your history. The Church didn’t have a problem with disproving Geocentrism (which Galileo didn’t really do – even the ancient Greeks knew that idea was false). The Church had a problem when Galileo marched in and told them how to interpret Sacred Scripture. It was not the science, but his method of presenting it. He himself mocked the Pope and the Church, putting words in their mouths (which many to this day continue to repeat). Naturally the Pope was offended, and told him to stop.
Brian said: “The Church didn’t have a problem with disproving Geocentrism (which Galileo didn’t really do – even the ancient Greeks knew that idea was false).” The Catholic Church certainly did “have a problem” with Galileo claiming to have proved the heliocentric, Copernican model of the universe. That cannot reasonably be disputed. Quoting Wikipedia: “Galileo’s initial discoveries were met with opposition within the Catholic Church, and in 1616 the Inquisition declared heliocentrism to be formally heretical. Heliocentric books were banned and Galileo was ordered to refrain from holding, teaching or defending heliocentric ideas.” source: https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Galileo_affair And it’s at best an exaggeration to say the ancient Greeks “knew” the earth-centered model of the universe was wrong. It’s true that in the 3rd century B.C., Aristarchus proposed a heliocentric model, putting the known planets in correct order outward from the sun. But Aristotle and Ptolemy preferred the geocentric model. Altho it seems Aristarchus’ theory was accepted as a possibility by the ancient Greek philosophers as a whole, it does not seem to have been preferred by most. In the Renaissance, the 16th century, Copernicus presented a robust, mathematically supported heliocentric model. But even that was slow to catch on. Wikipedia says: “Scholars… Read more »
Bill Howland

I’m actually arguing your case more than you think. I don’t discount there may have been partial justification or expedience for how Galileo was treated. I was merely stating the end result.. Point being that TODAY, it is listed as something HORRIBLE that was done to him.

I’m talking proportion here. We have much less freedom today than Galileo had.

If you want a more modern example, the 1960’s-70’s protests against the Vietnam War wouldn’t happen today, or else would be far more deadly.

If it happened today, any groups would immediately be infiltrated and would be SWATTEAMED. And that’s only the stuff I can talk about.

As far as scientists today go, most work for the Defense Department directly or indirectly, and of course know on which side their bread is buttered.


The Pope’s essential point is you don’t foul your own nest. Since the industrial revolution humans have manifestly increased the pollution/destruction of this world.
We are currently probably 50 years behind where we need to be to curb some of the worst consequences that will and are resulting from humanities poor stewardship of the Earth.
Of course there will still be those denying human caused warming when all the glaciers are gone and their tar streets are melted goo. The true-believers on the other side of the coin.


“The Pope’s essential point is you don’t foul your own nest”

Not if your savior is going to come back and save you from the crappy nest that you ruined…


The lord commands that we be stewards of the earth, so if we break his commands, then we are sinners and will not be saved.
It’s very simple.


So that collective schizophrenia is actually a kind of competition to Alcor that want to save us from death by preserving our bodies until science can cure us of death.


It’s wonderful to see the current Pope embracing environmentalism, and bringing morality into the discussion of creating pollution and pouring massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

I’m not personally convinced a couple of degrees of global warming is anything worth worrying about, but there are enough other disastrous environmental effects from pollution and CO2 emissions (the latter is causing acidification of the oceans, and a rapid dieoff of a shocking number of species) that I think most people who don’t actually work for Big Oil will agree that we need to move as rapidly as possible towards “clean” energy sources, such as nuclear power and renewables.

Preach it, Pope Francis! Hallelujah!


A couple of degrees does not sound so worrysome untill you realize that the erth was only a couple of degrees colder during the last ice age.
Smal temperature diferancees when talking about erth total avrage temperature makes huge diferance to climet.

So a couple of degrees that way = 1000m ice cover.
A couple of degrees the other direction = ???


Exactly, when they discuss “degrees”, they mean on average. As in the average between Antarctica on a cold day and Death Valley on a hot day. Yeah, move that average one way or the other, and we’ve got problems.


Yes, And when Ted Cruz & Co. discuss temperature, they pick the warmest of the last 17 years (1998) and draw global policy conclusions, from a single “non-average” data point.


The last glaciation went down to 8K or so below today. It would probably take around 5K to start a new glaciation.


K? Kelvin?


Kalle said:

“A couple of degrees does not sound so worrysome untill you realize that the erth was only a couple of degrees colder during the last ice age.”

Nope. Far from it.

“There are long periods of time when the average global temperature was as much as 9 C degrees (16 F degrees) colder than now. These were ice ages.”



Renault Kangoo ZE
its quiet, good for prayer
and modest


What kind of world we live in where millions of oeople will not act on clear scientific evidence unless the pope tells them to?


People are busy with their lives and need a leader. I’m assuming you come here because it is interesting and a bit of a passion for you (me too). Most folks think solar costs an arm and a leg and EVs are either rich people toys or golf carts that take 20 hours to charge and need new batteries in 3 years.

It’s tough to believe most politicians and rarely do you find a true inspirational leader. The pope is the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people (weather folks live their faith is another topic). He’s someone a lot of people around the world trust and respect.

I don’t think it’s that awful regular folks need someone they trust to get them to think about environmental stewardship. Global warming models have been wrong a lot and then it turns into global climate change with people financially interested on both sides beating their chests. I find it easy to see why people just tune it out.


Uh . . . that would be humanity on planet Earth. We also have a bunch of nuts running around the deserts of the mid-East beheading people they feel to be infidels or Apostates.

Humanity continues to be ruled by a LOT of superstition.


While I am glad to see the current pope siding with science on this one issue (I suspect he supports birth control too, but will never say it) I expect that whomever is pope 100 years from now, when laying blame for ecological collapse, will blame the wrong people, citing some magical cause.


I think the Pope, and religion, will have a net negative effect on global CO2 simply because of all the people who “I’m not a scientist” applies, I can’t think of a better example.

The environmental community has already decided policy, plus solar, wind and efficiencies can do the job. Really? China and India won’t peak for years. If you believe this, or look at the way the EPA aims to measure “rate based” progress, you belong in a church, praying.


And unfortunately, most folks on here worship cars.


Yes … so true.

I will never, ever, forget the presentation Amory Lovins made my senior year of college regarding personal automobile use.

I can’t recreate the math, but he gave a great example of the total cost of operating automobiles not just our operating costs, but the manufacturing costs, the disposal costs, and road maintenance (he left pollution out of the equation, if I recall correctly). And when we consider these costs that we must pay for with our time … the average speed in a car that we perceive to be 30mph (give or take depending on your habits) goes down to about 5mph. – About the speed of a brisk walk … which would be a lot healthier.


Armory Lovins is great. He over-promises on things but he does present a lot of good ideas that need to be adopted.


If your comment is directed at me, I don’t see how my characterization of the parties central to CO2 suggests “car worship”? Especially where I suggest we aren’t moving fast enough.

If you are Catholic, and don’t like my take that the Pope would support going half as fast with CO2 reduction, if it meant twice as many jobs, or other forms of social good, well too bad. It doesn’t change my belief.


My comment was directed at the folks who populate car sites in general. Not surprising that people who spend lots of time thinking about cars are usually car-centric. A few, like me, obsess over them because we see them as a huge mistake, and a threat to civilization.

I see religion as a cultural invention, driven by our genes’ need keep us reproducing in the face of the reality existence.


The Catholic Church has a proud history of scientific achievements. It was a Catholic who created the scientific method itself. Our Pope is very open to science. A proper understanding of the physical creation only gives a deeper appreciation of the Creator. It also gives us an appreciation of what He put us in charge of. We didn’t create the earth, but we sure do have the power to destroy it.


“The Catholic Church has a proud history of scientific achievements. It was a Catholic who created the scientific method itself.”

Is this a statement or a religious belief?


Uh . . . the Pope *IS* a scientist. He’s a trained chemist with a degree. And he’s following the best established science.


The Encyclical is short on details, if this is true. Still, he’s the Pope, first, and I would count on him to land on the social side of solutions, rather than the scientific ones.

Solar panels are great, but of the 1,000Gt that cement >3 degrees F, we’ve already added another hundred. Renewables are going gang-busters, but U.S. CO2 emissions rose over the past two years. So, are they?

U.S. Bishops put this together:
Somehow, this document, which may have risen the policy ranks to PF, has a premise that small modular nuclear can’t be developed fast enough, by 2030, when PPM reaches 450. The truth is 4, of ~100, larger, cheaper, U.S. reactors shut down in just the past two years. Two more are on the brink, from even cheaper natural gas. A lack of U.S. policy which recognizes the CO2 they avoid, will probably close them.

If the Pope is a scientist, that only raises his personal moral imperative to become more detailed in his engagement. Energy dynamics are playing out in incredibly challenging ways, if we’re to avoid 1,000Gt as a globe.


Thanks, pjwood1.

It is a global tragedy of enormous proportions that most of the same people who are the most ardent activists promoting environmental concerns and advocating “green” tech, also bitterly oppose expansion of the one currently available tech which can reliably produce clean power, 24/7/365, rain or shine, virtually anywhere there is land.

And that technology is nuclear power.


Sorry, that statement is very misguided. Nuclear, while technically is a renewable energy and independent of consistent sunshine and wind, produces waste that cannot be safely stored over long time periods. And the risks of containing and controlling reactors (Chernoble, Three Mile Island, Fukashima, Etc) are a such a great danger, not only to all humanity but all life on the planet, that it cannot be environmentally friendly energy source.
Environmentalists see this as the reason to exclude Nuclear and not promote Nucular 🙂 energy.


As PPM reaches 450, and we continue replacing nuclear with coal and natural gas, I’m pretty confident the danger nuclear represents will be re-visited. Better policy solutions are possible, but they cross the line of theoretical, especially on a global basis.

When Bill McKibbin started 350.org, one of the side-effects of getting people thinking about finite CO2 limits was that they wouldn’t discriminate about what it was that caused, or avoided CO2. They’d simply start to focus on the CO2. We’re all compelled to deal with that math, no matter whether we think it is worth the risk of the more nuclear episodes, or not.

Environmentalists generally see, but don’t chose between poisons. The EPA’s plan, for about 1.6Gt of US electric sector emissions in 2030, proves it.

Car Guy

Although I’ve mentioned it before, it bears repeating here.

In Texas, I have chatted with several people who believe that god put enough oil to last until the rapture, so they don’t have to drive EVs. Apparently these people want to choke themselves with pollution until that time comes…


That is all so dumb that we should actually make a useful use for it.

What about Mosamars predicted the end of the world so we should all create a base on Mars to preserve humanity. I am pretty sure we could find at least a few Mosamartians.

That would be pretty useful to actually accomplish the very real need of the multiplanetary objective.

For the needed money jolt we could favor preaching to billionaires, which would help. Warren Buffet, Mosamars has a sacred message for you…

Of course after a while when the base is set and running you would have to tell them it was all false but you can just wait a few generations or just wait until their youth fuck off with it all and finally come by choosing science and logic instead.

At least the prime objective will have been met.

Mark Smolinski
I would love to agree with the gist of this article, but my experience, thus far, has shown me that there is VERY little spiritual component in environmental stewardship. In fact, I even directly got into a discussion trying to avert this mindset when someone, knowing that I was supportive of the environment, mentioned (over at the gm-volt forum) that ‘every environmentalist he knew was an atheist’. And I will continue my use of the Second Law of Thermodynamics to try and counter the atheistic mindset (the only way the universe can descend into complete randomness is that someone(s), functioning outside of our physical laws, set the whole thing in motion). Someone at my wife’s office probably summed it up best when she stated that God created the entire world for our pleasure. MUCH of evangelical Christianity, and probably even Christianity at large, truly believes that six 24 hour LITERAL days were used to create the entire universe. It does not matter to them when you point out that the SUN (the basis of a 24 hour day) did not exist until the FOURTH day of creation. And because they think of creation as an act literally measured in HOURS,… Read more »
Alonso Perez

Well, you could be kind and take “our” to mean sentient beings generally, not merely humans.

Also, a toy is bought for a child’s pleasure. That hardly means that the child should destroy it, or that parents will not be angry if he does.

“For your pleasure” does not mean “for your destruction”.

Mark Smolinski
The phrase ends up being more about the focus and not what we end up doing with the gift. In ‘The Great Invisible’ which aired on PBS on the 5th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, there is a poignant moment where a guided tour of a retired oil rig is given to a group of schoolchildren. The tour guide asks where oil comes from and the girl states that oil comes from fossils and the guide asks if she believes that. He states that some people believe that oil comes from fossils, but he chooses to believe that oil is a direct gift from God, just like solar, wind and all the rest, to be used at ‘our pleasure’. If you think that YOU are the center of the universe, then EVERYTHING in that universe is focused on what YOU are going to do with it. IT never exists as having a purpose for the creator INSTEAD of for you. In this way the atheist Ayn Rand and evangelical Christianity actually become bedfellows. The environment is a tool; nothing more. In the world of Ayn Rand, the native Americans deserved to be vacated from the lands because they were… Read more »

What I did find, in summary of the Encyclical, was a biblical, interpretive debate much like this. It came down to a man’s “domain” argument, for pleasure under God, versus a “till and keep” text. PF is trying to guide Catholic thought with the latter. “Keep” meaning preserve.

One searches pretty much in vain for any Biblical passages indicating “stewardship of the Earth” has anything to do with conservation. The Bible’s attitude towards stewardship has to do with humans having dominion over the Earth, not any responsibility for maintaining it. This can be summed up with the following: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” — Genesis 1:28 Unfortunately, here we run into the extremely conservative Catholic attitude that theology is immutable. The idea that any commandment, such as “Be fruitful and multiply”, has actually been fulfilled, is an anathema to Catholic doctrine. Even when humanity has multiplied to the extent of dangerously overpopulating the Earth, of using up resources far faster than the Earth can naturally replenish them, even when we are draining aquifers of water at such a rapid rate that wells are going dry in many places in the world… Even then, the Catholic Church stubbornly maintains an opposition to birth control, merely because of the… Read more »

flmark said:

“…the fact that the Bible discusses angels, Satan and Jesus as beings in existence, obviously from BEFORE ‘creation’…”

Apparently your Bible contains a lot that was omitted in my copy. [/snark]

Your rant about the supposed ignorance of Christians would be more convincing if, during that rant, you didn’t confuse mythology created in centuries following Jesus’ death with what’s actually in the Bible. It would also help if you didn’t label your misconceptions “fact”.

Here’s an actual fact: The Bible does not specify when the creation of angels occurred. Or Satan either, for that matter.

BTW — The smartest guy I ever knew personally was my step-father, who was a Protestant minister, with a doctorate in theology.

Mark Smolinski
It is written in Genesis…and you can ask any Jew, because the language is irrefutable in Hebrew, ‘Let US make men in OUR image’. [It doesn’t take a doctorate in anything to find this out] For the followers in alleged monotheism, this is a paradox of the highest order. It is also written that Jesus is described as ‘The only begotten son of God’ (a distinction that takes him WAY out of context, and probably origin, with ordinary men). Further, what ticked off the Pharisees, was in part, a statement by Christ that, ‘Before Abraham was born, I AM.’ Not only is he claiming an ancient birthdate with this statement, he is claiming deity…which takes us back to that Genesis statement. It doesn’t take a doctorate to put these strings together and EXPECT that Christ existed long before his earthly birth and was, most likely, there at the start of it all (‘US/OUR’). You’re the one who just got done stating that ‘Go forth and multiply’ probably no longer applies. I would not have expected such a literalist interpretation, when pieces of the Bible most definitely IMPLY that stuff was all there at moment zero. To describe what I wrote… Read more »

flmark: Interesting that a trained Astronomer with a PhD would remark that the planets were created for our own enjoyment. Having met several astronomers, that is the first comment like that which I have ever seen. Not disputing it, just saying that it really surprised me. The Vatican has its own astronomer, and I am certain that he does not subscribe to that view. As you suggest, it is highly egotistical and self centered. Most astronomers have a much larger view of the world (and the universe). I wonder if the person you know was an _amateur_ astronomer(many, many of whom have their own backyard observatories)and his PhD is in something else(like Ancient Greek, eg).

Bill Howland

Well, Genesis 1:1 says God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth…..

So the universe was initially created. All subsequent verses are from the earth’s perspective or view.

As far as environmental stuardship goes, Revelation 11:18 gives the cautionary warning that God will “destroy those destroyers of the earth.”


The “bad kind” of religious and political mixing is the use of the political power structure to enforce explicitly religious beliefs, creating an environment where those with different religious beliefs or identities are marginalized. However, expressing one’s values, as informed by their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), by how one votes is completely appropriate. So, if someone believes God wants them to protect the environment, and that protecting the environment means promoting solar and EVs, then it’s appropriate for them to push the government to promote solar and EVs. It only becomes a problem when they want to force people to believe in the same religion.

Scott Franco

Bzzzzzzzt!!! Nonsense. I am a global warming denying republican and I have TWO EVs.

No relationship.


Move on….

Bill Howland

Well Scott that first line you posted also used to apply to me, but with the geoengineering governments have going on, I can’t say that anymore. The issue is too complex to fully address in a short
paragraph here, and it has little to do with AL Gore, who is just making money.

Check out Geoengineeringwatch.Org and look at some of Dane Wigington’s material. It really is about a bunch of mad ‘scientists’.

But these guys are doing serious damage to the planet, and insouciant Americans don’t care enough about the issue to investigate it themselves.

I’m uncertain, but Fukushima (3/11/11) may be a big contributing factor, but there is no news coverage of this issue either, nor serious attempts to correct mankind’s worst industrial disaster. At least the soviet union threw 600,000 ‘Liquidators’ at Chernobyl when serious people realized they had a problem that had to be addressed.


Well Franco, you have to realize that you are HEAVILY in the minority of the GOP. Fox News has been on jihad against EVs ever since they came out.


The entire premise of this article is silly.


No, it is not silly AT ALL. It is hugely important.

A lot of people’s political and policy views are guided by their religion such that it affects the way they vote and the policies they want.

There is a bit split between the Christian Dominionists that think we can rape the earth and the Christian Stewards that say we must show stewardship to the environment. These days GOP is largely controlled by the dominionist branch. And the Pope just firmly planted his flag in the Stewardship side.

Hopefully, the Pope will have a lot of influence on Catholics (and others) bring them to the Stewardship side. Humanity may depend on it.


I wholly reject your argument. This is yet one more in a centuries old imperialist attitude to inject ones’ religious dogma into every facet of society, to further indoctrinate into their belief system.

Sometimes it’s done by the sword. Sometimes by the ballot box. Sometimes it’s about co-opting pagan holidays, or re-branding a new idea as “divine inspiration” but the goal is always the same. No escape from delusional supernatural thought, and insulting the true achievements of humanity to a gift from an ethereal being that has chosen to provide no physical proof of his existence.


Wow. This is certainly an outlandish premise.

All Republican+Catholics cannot be classified in this manner any more than any other co-level mashup of folks. The diatribes here against Texans (especially of the Rep+Cath persuasion) is pretty narrow-minded as well.

Texans are no different than other groupings of humans other than geography. Especially since most were imported instead of born here.

This whole thing is highly discriminatory not to mention plain wrong.

Bill Howland

I congratulate the Texas Legislature for recently not trusting the dictat of the “Imperial Wizards” of the Eccles building in Washington, D.C.