Human Negligence Fostering Global Warming

By Friar Odongo Nicholas Weke, OFMConv

Pope John Paul II, in his Encyclical Faith and Reason, proclaims that faith and reason are like two wings that work together to reach the absolute truth. They work together in that, neither faith nor reason precedes the other. Faith directs reason to reach the absolute truth.[1] Therefore, it will be biased to talk about the universe, particularly the earth, without reconciling Faith and Reason (Theology and Philosophy).

God created the world and all in it and saw that it was good. He created man in his likeness to take care of all other creatures.[2] Because we men are corrupt, we have failed in this responsibility. It is evident because currently, we live in a world full of different challenges and threats to human life. Our world today is full of environmental, social, political, and financial problems. These problems primarily, arise from human activities, in the process of striving to find his or her essence. As Sartre states, “Existence precedes essence.”[3] We exist naturally to create our essence which is not predefined. This leads us to the question, who is a human being?

Philosophically we understand human beings as an impossible possibility that cannot be fully comprehended through natural reason.[4] However, in the impossibility of human beings, man can be explored to some extent. In this process of studying human beings, we come to the realization that man has a free will that is naturally endowed giving him or her – ontological freedom. Though this freedom is not generally accepted in the political domain, it is an entity of man. Sartre asserts that “human beings are free but everywhere in chains.” Though man is free, he or she has to be responsible.[5] Therefore, in all our actions guided by free will, we should take full responsibility for the consequences.

Responsibility entails self-consciousness and awareness. Human beings should be fully conscious of their actions and project the consequences that might come with them. This is why Aristotle stated that human beings should not be controlled by the appetite but by the intellect.[6] Intellect gives us the capacity to reason and project the consequences of our actions. This is because ideally, man in his or her transcendental nature, should struggle to go beyond his or her corporeal actions.[7] Corporeal actions are mainly appetitive. These actions include the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and overpopulation among others in fulfilling the daily needs of the flesh. These activities, for example, the burning of fossil fuels emits CO2 to the atmosphere which in turn destroys the ozone layer.[8] As a result, there will be direct sunlight radiation on the surface of the earth leading to global warming. Additionally, trees, through photosynthesis, consume CO2 from the atmosphere which in turn helps to sustain the ozone layer to prevent direct radiation. Therefore, the lack of forest conservation gradually leads to global warming.

Furthermore, in the study of human beings, we also realize that man is a transcendental being, that is, in the material nature, man strives to go beyond the limits of time, space, and history through the intellect – the spiritual part of man.[9] Intellect is superior to the appetites of the body and controls them thus giving man the capacity to reason and judge actions. To this end, man can evaluate the consequences of an action before acting to come up with a proper reasonable judgment.  If human beings could put this into play, they would realize the need for environmental conservation. Similarly, they will come to realize the problem caused by unexamined actions and how those actions affect the present and future generations.

Finally, it is worth noting that, there is an urgent need for environmental education and campaigns to awaken people who are unaware of the benefits of environmental conservation. Mass actions like debates on global warming should be promoted and encouraged at all levels. Institutions should take full responsibility for promoting such public awareness. Besides all these, writing habits on climate change should be encouraged and supported in all institutions to help in promoting environmental care. Remember, it is my duty, it is your duty, it is our duty to ensure that the environment is taken good care of at all costs.

[1] Pope John II, Encyclical Letter: Fides Et Ratio, (Rome: Paulines Publication, 1998), 1.

[2] Jerusalem Bible, Genesis 1:1-2:15.

[3] Samuel Enoch Stumpf, James Fieser, Socrates to Sartre and Beyond: History of Philosophy, (McGraw Hill              Education, 2012), 476.

[4] M. Heidegger, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics,, Silva, Genova 1962, 275-276.

[5] Stumpf, Socrates to Sartre, 477.

[6] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, (North Chelmsford: Courier Corporation, 2012), 21.

[7] N. Abhagnano, Introduzione al/’esistentialismo (Introduction to Existentiallism), (11 Saggintorc: Milan 1968), 29.

[8] Ronald C. Kramer, Carbon criminals, climate crimes, (New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University Press,        2020), 27-33.

[9] N. Abhagnano, Introduzione al/’esistentialismo (Introduction to Existentiallism), 29.

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