Review of Pope Francis’, “Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality; On Care for Our Common Home.”
Wayne Price, Anarkismo, September 20, 2015
To understand the importance of this work, it is necessary to put it in some context. In the United States, there are two major parties, one of which completely denies the reality of climate change, and therefore the need to do anything about it. (The other party officially recognizes the reality of climate change, but denies the need to do anything drastic; it does little to change anything.) The historian Timothy Snyder comments, “…The United States…is the only country where climate science is still resisted by certain political and business elites. These deniers tend to present the empirical findings of scientists as a conspiracy….The full consequences of climate change may reach America only decades after warming wrecks havoc in other regions. And by then it will be too late for climate science and energy technology to make any difference….America will have spent years spreading climate disaster around the world.” (Snyder 2015; SR7)
It is in this context that Pope Francis’ “letter” (“Laudato si’ “ in the original Latin) makes two major contributions. First, it strikes a blow at climate change deniers. “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.…and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems….” (16-17) Francis is an influential person, the world leader of a religion with millions of followers. For him to assert that human-caused global warming is a reality, and that something must be done about it, shakes up popular consciousness and the political culture in the U.S. (where 25 % of the population is Catholic) and elsewhere.
***Wayne Price lives in New York City and is a long-time anarchist militant, theorist, and writer.