Pope Francis and President Obama: Which is the Real “Progressive” When it Comes to the Environment?

U.S. Government Photo used in public domain.
U.S. Government Photo used in public domain.

When I was growing up my parents tried to get me indoctrinated into Catholicism. When it didn’t take they came to the realization that it was a lost cause and gave up around the time I was 12. I was born a freethinker and I wouldn’t change that element of my genetics for anything. To this day I find the vast majority of religions to be nothing more than mythical fantasies used as justification to destroy or exploit life on our planet, both human and animal.

When it comes to Catholicism in general I am hard pressed to find an institution that makes me bristle more following the numerous child molestation scandals and their nonsensical teachings about contraception and family planning. With that being said I have found it quite humorous and ironic that I find myself agreeing with and even cheering on Pope Francis and how he is speaking out against unregulated Capitalism and how human greed is destroying our environment and life on this planet.

While it is hard for me to take anything seriously coming from a 70 something year old dude wearing a dress, I have to say that it takes a lot of courage for the leader of that institution to speak out regarding such critical matters. If a religious institution that is historically stuck in centuries old mindsets can evolve enough to see what damage we are causing our planet with unregulated human arrogance and greed, why can’t modern day “conservatives” or even those that are allegedly “progressives?”

Upon seeing and reading the “conservative” responses to Pope Francis’ speech before Congress and before the United Nations regarding climate change and the environment, I am led to ask what exactly modern American “conservatives” are “conserving?” Other than holding on tight to xenophobic, homophobic, and hatred of anything progressive feeling, I fail to see them “conserving” anything else. When the often hypocritical and misguided Catholic Church can see and acknowledge that human caused climate change is a very real and present threat to the very existence of life on this planet, why can’t American “conservatives?”

It seems that for many of the so-called “religious conservatives,” even ones that profess to be Catholic, the “church” of greed and modern day corporate fascism are what they kneel before.

I NEVER thought that I would find myself siding with a pope and agreeing with most of what he is saying at least regarding how we are failing the environment and our planet. I personally find religion in all forms to be a disease and the number one justification for the violence, hatred, and greed that controls our species, but if the Catholic Church of all institutions can accept the reality of climate science, why can’t American “conservatives?” It seems that American “conservatives” would rather worship at the altar of greed and grovel at the feet of modern day corporate fascists like the two brothers from Kansas rather than listen to the alleged “emissary of “god” here on Earth.

Contrasting Pope Francis and President Obama 

But it is not just “conservatives” that worship at the altar of greed and have complete and total apathy toward our environment and wildlife. When President Obama was elected in 2008 I made the foolish assumption that he would at minimum protect the Endangered Species Act and work with those of us that truly care about wildlife and our dwindling wild lands. I could not have been more wrong. I am of the opinion that President Obama, and his Department of Interior, have turned out to be the most destructive, pandering, and anti-wildlife in my lifetime at least. Since taking office in 2009 President Obama has proven to have zero regard for wildlife and wild lands. His administration has allowed the neutering of the Endangered Species Act through misguided “riders” attached to legislation and by appointing extractive industry shills to lead the DOI and the agencies under it.

In the past week we saw firsthand the complete and total disregard this administration has toward imperiled species with their decision not to provide the dwindling greater sage grouse with ESA protections.

Even before the decision was announced it became quite obvious that the Obama Administration would once again pander to the big ag and big energy special interests and allow another species to be pushed to the brink of extinction for some alleged “political gain.” This is why I bristle each time alleged “wildlife advocates” claim Obama is a “progressive” or that he gives a damn about the environment in any way, shape, or form. This is why for the first time in my life I actually listen to and agree with a religious figure without the title of Dalai Lama. While I tend to ignore proclamations form religious leaders I was pleasantly struck when I read these words from Pope Francis:

“We must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures,” he declared in his encyclical on the environment. “The Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism.”

While I don’t believe or follow the bible or any other religious text I appreciated reading these words because Christianity and the idea of “dominionism” have long been used to justify the exploitation, torture, and killing animals for selfish human wants. I like to contrast these words to the actions of our sitting President and one could conclude that may be what the Pope was talking about.

President Obama, in my opinion, has been an absolute disaster for wildlife. While I can support many of the issues that he as championed such as equal rights for same sex couples, the Iran nuclear deal and, improved healthcare access I have been horrified at how apathetic and hostile he and his administration have been toward wildlife. Unfortunately his apathy toward wildlife isn’t exclusive to just him. Several other so-called “progressive” or “liberal” politicians appear through their words and actions to share the same disdain for wildlife that Obama harbors. Let’s not forget these words by Obama’s appointed head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dan Ashe, where he said that conservationists:

“must accept a world with fewer wolves, salmon, and spotted owls.” The Director of the very agency most responsible for protecting the nation’s biodiversity went on to say that, in the name of compromise, we must accept “a world with less biodiversity.”

What Obama, Ashe, and other anti-wildlife “Democrats” apparently cannot understand is that there is a difference between “compromising” and pandering. While the Obama Administration plays lip service to climate change they have expanded destructive fossil fuel extractive processes across the country. Of particular note was when the Obama Administration approved oil drilling in a sensitive part of the Arctic. Then as if to rub his hypocrisy in the faces of environmentalists, a few months later he visited the Arctic to talk about climate change.

Much like the hypocritical idea that “killing is conservation” put forth by the killing cartels like the National Wildlife Federation and their state affiliates, President Obama thinks that he can address climate change while ignoring the “canary in the coal mine” that is the destruction of our wildlife for selfish human endeavors. Even Richard Nixon, who was by no means a “liberal,” understood the threats that our wildlife faced due to habitat loss and from a growing human population. Apparently President Obama doesn’t see the same threats or he just doesn’t care, which is even more dangerous. In my view and in that of many other wildlife advocates that is the legacy that Obama will carry with him after he is out of office. The legacy that “Tricky Dick” Nixon was by far a more caring and effective President regarding the environment than a supposed “progressive” like Obama.

I never thought I would see a world where I could make this observation. The Pope, of all people, GETS IT when it comes to animals and the environment while an allegedly “progressive” American president does not. I used to think that the biggest threat to our imperiled wildlife were the great white hunters, habitat loss, and human greed. Now, I think that the greatest threat to our wildlife is the indifference and total apathy exhibited by President Obama and other pandering “progressives” that now seem to think that the environment and wildlife can be used as objects to barter for short term political gains. This is the real threat to our wildlife and also the legacy that President Obama will carry with him once he leaves office.

Please remind President Obama about this here and ask if this is what he want to be remembered for:


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Marianne says:

    Great article. You eloquently express what I feel and believe too, thank you! I’m happy the Pope is living up to the name he took…St. Francis de Assisi is the protector of animals.

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