When President Donald Trump signed his executive order rolling back previous U.S. climate change commitments, he said it was his latest step “to create American jobs, … ending the theft of prosperity.” In light of Catholic teaching, Trump’s plan is theft of a different sort — it takes from the world’s most vulnerable, the poor and future generations. And it relies on strategies bereft of facts.
The administration says it wants to create jobs, and that’s commendable. Yet to do so it intends to revive the coal industry, which has lost jobs primarily to automation and the glut of cheap natural gas from fracking. Deregulation won’t change these realities. Meanwhile, according to a new report, solar and wind industries are creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy.
We cannot be “cafeteria Catholics” when it comes to the environment; the faithful must contest plans to dramatically diminish environmental protections. This is not about fuzzy feelings toward polar bears but a mandate to protect our planet and the poor, who disproportionally are affected by climate changes. “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political,” Pope Francis writes in “Laudato Si’.”
The U.S. bishops said Trump’s order doesn’t offer a “sufficient plan for ensuring proper care for people and creation.” Cardinal Peter Turkson, a top Vatican official, said he hopes U.S. bishops and others will continue to raise their voices and persuade Trump to change his position.
Here in Oregon, we must be among those voices protesting a strategy at odds with effective job creation and the heart of church teaching.