I started reading an encyclical and a defamation of the environment at the same time in 2021 – which made a lot of sense since the premises and conclusions of both works are surprisingly similar.
“Laudato Si ‘”, the first “green” document written by a Pope of the Catholic Church, will most likely go down in history as the most important and original product of the papacy of Francisco, Argentina. By placing the fight against man-made climate change high on his agenda, the Pope joined a number of unlikely allies, including Canadian secular Jew Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything. , a book not yet published in Brazil).
Both the book and the encyclical were published in the middle of the last decade (2014 and 2015, respectively). Although the few years that separate the present-day reader from these dates seem to be nearly a century, the diagnosis present in the works remains essentially valid in a sense. Both illustrate the existential danger of the climate crisis. And both, each in their own way, put their finger on a wound that many of us continue to ignore: We live on a planet with limits.
The existence of such planetary boundaries, as certain as 2 + 2 = 4, in all its thousands of tones of folly, clearly shows the absurdity behind the dogma of unlimited economic growth. Klein says this directly in the subtitle of his book – “Capitalism vs. The Climate”. Francisco, more subtle but no less devastating, presents his vision of an “integral ecology” that goes no further from the defense of a 100% deregulated market and a minimal state that is turning the heads of some conservative American Catholics (not by accident, fierce enemies of the current Pope).
It is possible to analyze the madness of the dogma of growth without brakes in several ways, but I believe that it is most straightforward to see it in two complementary ways, one political and one scientific. On the political side, the fact is – and it is hard to deny – that “market” mechanisms have failed resoundingly in attempting to contain the climate crisis.
Financial incentives to build “clean” economies simply cannot compete with the siren song of fossil fuels. It is just too profitable to keep flooding the world with gasoline and natural gas, not to mention the cost of changing the energy base of globalization.
If the decision of what to do remains in the hands of the “market” unit, we will have to add several degrees Celsius by the end of this century. It can’t work – at least for the vast majority of humanity.
Both Klein and the Pope prescribe a remedy that appears bitter only to those whose consciences have been clouded by the last decades of globalized consumption: self-denial and community life are the key, both say.
It is the attachment of traditional communities around the world to the land and water on which they depend for a living that has served as the ultimate barrier to oil and mining companies. And only the ability to refuse to use a supposedly precious resource – leaving oil and coal where it always was – will ultimately prevent us from creating a world where even the most modest economic growth will occur, a physical impossibility. The rest is the talk of those who believe you can drink gasoline and eat money. We are a family business.
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