Listen to the pope and protect the environment

Listen to the pope and protect the environment

Does anybody really know what time it is? Ask someone from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and they will tell you the doomsday clock is at three minutes to midnight. What, you say? You thought the Cold War ended with the Berlin Wall in November of 1989 and the collapse of the U.S.S.R. 14 months later. Aside from the fact that Russia and the U.S. have nuclear weapons on standby, as though nothing had changed, now the scientists say that global warming threatens us no less than do the nukes. Besides voting and writing this, I like to think I am doing something about it, however small. I have solar panels on my roof.

Here is what’s involved. First the hard part: $8,360 in affordable installments goes to the solar company after they have seen your electric bills for a year. This tells them how many panels you get. I qualified for 13. You do not buy them for this price. That would cost almost three times as much. Few people actually buy the equipment. Instead the company owns the panels but services, insures and repairs them. You don’t pay them anything more. Any federal or state incentives go to the company, but the utility pays you for any excess power you generate. Since I generate almost as much power as I need, I rely on the utility company to supply the rest, resulting in monthly bills of perhaps $1.87 or $.91. That’s right. But computing such negligible bills into the future, I figure I will break even in about four years, now that my panels have been in service for two. After that time I will still be getting the small bills, but except for them I will be in the clear, getting almost free electricity perpetually. And that’s even if electric rates don’t rise (LOL!).

You have to have roof exposure to the sun, unobstructed by trees. If shade is the problem, sacrifice the trees and replace them somewhere else. I’m looking ahead to buying an affordable all-electric car, freeing me from buying gasoline, but that will be a future column. The gas savings will similarly pay for much of the car, perhaps $2,000 a year, and I’ll be helping to remove smog from the air. I speak not as a salesman, but they do award you for any customers you recommend. Wouldn’t it be great if every parish building in the diocese gave witness value to all the community with solar panels on every parish building roof? I would split the award with the bishop!

Why should all this appear in a social justice column of a Catholic newspaper? Did you read Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical on the environment called Laudato Si’? He sees well the imperative of taking corrective action today about the abuse of the air, land and sea that we all share on a planet weighed down under waste. And taking action is as pro-life a thing as campaigning against abortion on demand or opposing capital punishment, things everyone can do.

Industrialists and entrepreneurs and investors have balked at his message to people of all faiths, calling him a misguided pawn for interfering in what they call a secular, non-religious area. They imperiously tell him to attend to the usual sacristy issues of past encyclicals, perhaps because retooling to a less wasteful lifestyle would shrink their income. The life and health of everyone is as religious a subject as there is. It is why popes can teach authoritatively about the environment as well as about the anti-life wrong of abortion without carping from the right.

The young disengage from religion often because they do not see enough correspondence, saying the church is irrelevant to the world they idealistically want to improve. If we wring our hands over why our children stop attending Mass, this is often why. Our preaching about its necessity would ring truer if our secular activity lined up better with our Sunday one.