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Laudato si’ Study Guide: Chapter Three

Chapter Three
THE HUMAN ROOTS OF THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

(Technology: creativity and power; The globalization of the technocratic paradigm; The crisis and effects of modern anthropocentrism; Practical relativism; The need to protect employment; New biological technologies).

This chapter gives an analysis of the current situation, “so as to consider not only its symptoms but also its deepest causes,” in a dialogue with philosophy and the human sciences.

Reflections on technology are an initial focus of the chapter: the great contribution to the improvement of living conditions is acknowledged with gratitude. However it gives “those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world.”

It is precisely the mentality of technocratic domination that leads to the destruction of nature and the exploitation of people and the most vulnerable populations. “The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economics and political life,” keeping us from recognizing that “by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.”

“Modernity has been marked by an excessive anthropocentrism”: human beings no longer recognize their right place with respect to the world and take on a self-centered position, focused exclusively on themselves and on their own power. This results in a “use and throw away” logic that justifies every type of waste, environmental or human, that treats both the other and nature as simple objects and leads to a myriad of forms of domination. It is this mentality that leads to exploiting children, abandoning the elderly, forcing others into slavery and over-evaluating the capacity of the market to regulate itself, practising human trafficking, selling pelts of animals in danger of extinction and of “blood diamonds.” It is the same mentality as many mafias, of those involved in trafficking organs and drug trafficking and of throwing away unborn babies because they do not correspond to what the parents want.

In this light, the Encyclical addresses two crucial problems of today’s world. Above all work: “any approach to an integral ecology, which by definition does not exclude human beings, needs to take account of the value of labour,” because “to stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society.”

The second problem regards the limitations of scientific progress, with clear reference to GMOs. This is a “complex environmental issue.” Even though “in some regions their use has brought about economic growth which has helped to resolve problems, there remain a number of significant difficulties which should not be underestimated,” starting from the “productive land being concentrated in the hands of a few owners.” Pope Francis thinks particularly of small producers and rural workers, of biodiversity, and the network of ecosystems.

Therefore “a broad, responsible scientific and social debate needs to take place, one capable of considering all the available information and of calling things by their name” starting from “lines of independent, interdisciplinary research.”

Laudato si’ : A Study Guide and Summary

Chapter One: WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR COMMON HOME

Chapter Two: THE GOSPEL OF CREATION

Chapter Three: THE HUMAN ROOTS OF THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

Chapter Four: INTEGRAL ECOLOGY

Chapter Five: LINES OF APPROACH AND ACTION

Chapter Six: ECOLOGICAL EDUCATION AND SPIRITUALITY

The complete text is available at vatican.va.

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