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"People and Planet First": On the Moral Authority of Climate Justice and a New Economy


"People and Planet First": On the Moral Authority of Climate Justice and a New Economy

Naomi Klein

Naomi delivered the following remarks at a press conference introducing “People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course,” a high-level meeting being held at the Vatican this week to explore Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ recently-released encyclical letter on ecology.


These three paragraphs are definitely gems:

"And because our current system is also fueling ever widening inequality, we have a chance, in rising to the climate challenge, to solve multiple, overlapping crises at once. In short, we can shift to a more stable climate and fairer economy at the same time.

This growing understanding is why you are seeing some surprising and even unlikely alliances. Like, for instance, me at the Vatican. Like trade unions, Indigenous, faith and green groups working more closely together than ever before.

Inside these coalitions, we don’t agree on everything—not by a long shot. But we understand that the stakes are so high, time is so short and the task is so large that we cannot afford to allow those differences to divide us. When 400,000 people marched for climate justice in New York last September, the slogan was “To change everything, we need everyone.”


You are right on the money, if you’ll pardon the pun. Until economic externalities are addressed in earnest, there will be no change. Pollution and poverty must be extirpated.


What if Bernie wins?


At Naomi Klein’s urging, I visited the site of Laudato Si and read it. Holy creation! It’s longer than I thought!

It’s a fairly massive piece, at 45,000 words. It impresses me on many counts, particularly in its strong advocacy for lasting environmental protections, and for economic justice in lifting up the poor.

It’s a strong statement to promote an honest and open debate for the common good, and I appreciate Pope Francis’ and Naomi Klein’s persistent efforts to that end.

Best wishes.


This Jew and this Catholic could turn the proverbial Endtimes on its head. Thanks for the hope. Love to Pope Frank and Naomi.


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Flake Naomi, huh? That’s the best a paid shill could come up with? A hack who’s never published a thing in his life. You have the gall to critique this brilliant woman and THE CAUSE that means life or death even to idiots like you. Go back to your basement paid computer cell, shill!


Even the Pope’s parade must be “rained on”.Y es we do have climate change: no, it is not primarily due to human intervention. These statements may be easily confirmed simply by researching the subject on-line.In depth research will readily reveal the substantial numbers of experts who not only disagree with anthromomorphic climate change, they explain and illustrate their researches to back that up. However the “kicker”, so to speak, that places this debate squarely in the ball park, comes when we examine where we are in the milky way. Our little cluster of it is doing what it has always done; it is not only swirling, rotating all it’s constituent parts within itself, but the whole of our cluster is also fulfilling a sixty one thousand year orbit within a greater portion of the Universe. Woven into this orbit are locations which cause our Planet to endure “Ice Ages”; nothing we humans can say or dor will ever influence that fact. The Earth is currently very close to the beginning of our next “Ice Age”; when it comes North America all the way down to New York, and Europe, all the way down to Spain, will be covered in Ice and Mountainous Glaciers. Please, just consider, how will human intervention measure up when compared to the great energy and might of the Universe? Our time would be better employed deciding what we may do to mitigate the disastrous effects all this will have on the human race. The United States and Israel have created the devastation neccessary to cause millions to migrate, even that is too big for world authorities to deal with; the desire to escape the approaching Ice Age conditions will be orders of magnitude greater. The cold will be monumental, all our food growing land areas will be severely curtailed, human populations will be very severely reduced. In fact all the problems we complain of now, will all be solved by Earth’s orbit.


As a 63 year-old lifelong Catholic, I have to admit I’m excited about Pope Francis and his encyclical and the commotion it’s stirring; it’s been a long time since Pope John and Pacem in Terris.

As a grade-schooler I remember Catholic sisters leading us in prayers for Pope John and the ecumenical Vatican Council, 1959-1963. That was then, and this time around I’m pleased that Naomi Klein, a self-described secular Jewish feminist, is on board.

All the Catholic sisters who taught me are gone from this earth, save one, so the prayers of the two of us had better be intense to pull this off this time. Laudato Si!


SSSoooooo, what is your idea as to how to stop… unlimited growth?.. What is your way of stopping un necessary use of energy… you think everyone running out to buy electric cars… and massive development of renewables… is the answer?.. What are you going to make the tires with… the roads… or fix the roads… Who’s going to be allowed to fly in a capitalist system?.. or any system for that matter…
In other words… people like you think that tweaking around the edges of our society is going to bring emissions down enough to stop runaway catastrophic climate change…
Go do some homework …


This anthropocentric discussion does not provide a sound basis for making decisions about how to cope with the difficult times ahead. The stark reality is that the operation of the industrial economies has already irreversibly used up limited natural material resources, produced irrevocably polluting waste material, damaged the environment (including causing rapid climate change and ocean acidification) and contributed to the extinction of may species. Ironically, the infrastructure produced by industrialized economies to provide society with services is naturally aging and society will find it hard to cope with the loss of these services in addition to those other problems.


What we must do to save the planet. In the final analysis, we are the ones who support the energy industry and it is our standard of living that will need to change. So picture how this will effect you. Reorganize cities, building taller residences with a smaller footprint (the end of suburbia); institute a carbon tax; end our love affair with the automobile— promote car pooling subsidize and expand mass transit, walk and bike more; expand bike paths;, and have shareable (zip) cars, ban gasahol; turn off the air conditioner and dial the thermostat down in winter; rein in the militaries for defense only and outlaw war; ban night baseball; ban electric outdoor signs; shift from long distance truck to rail transport; ride more trains and buses, fewer planes; promote conference calls and web cams; promote zero population growth with free condoms and family planning world-wide; many more people would become vegetarians or vegans; phase out the cattle industry; discontinue bottled water; discontinue aluminum cans with and without carbonation; maximize reusable bags and products; minimize or ban disposables (Pampers, Ikea furniture); limit endless gadgets; end yearly auto model changes; limit all the advertising, junk mail, most retail, etc.; eliminate “fast junk food”; go to “slow food”; replace “fast fashion” with “slow fashion”; bring back mending, alterations and local tailors; completely redesign production of appliances, electronics, house wares, furniture, etc to be as durable and long-lived as possible; bring back appliance repairmen and such; design and build smaller housing to last for centuries and to be as energy efficient as possible, to be reconfigurable, and shareable; recycle maximally, especially aluminum cans; maximize solar and wind power; drive and accelerate more slowly; practice regenerative agriculture; reverse deforestation, plant more trees; climb more stairs; restrict spray cans;; eat and farm organic; use manual tools instead of power tools, use rakes rather than leaf blowers; push rather than power small mowers; replace lawns with vegetable gardens; compost as much as possible; more stairs, fewer elevators; promote subsidies for renewal energy The Pope will not be happy with stabilizing or decreasing the number of people on the planet, however. If we do not preempt the issue, eventually the planet will.


I enjoyed the rather blunt article and the various comments here as well. I agree with some doubting individuals, the world is facing very serious crises, but I am still optimistic. The fact that Naomi Klein and the Pope can work together for a common good it must mean that many more diverse thinking people can cooperate towards a better future.

However, there is one thing that I miss in the whole discussion about our numerous and inter-connected global crises, of which the climate change is but one. It is the underlying root cause for the multiple crises the world is faced with.

In my opinion, it relates to hundreds of years of patriarchal perception and thinking. To me Patriarchy is not about biological men dominating biological women. It relates to a perceptual system where people have learned to embrace masculine or yang energies only, while dismissing feminine or yin forces. The healthy state of a fairs would be to create a dynamic tension between yin and yang. But in Modern Patriarchy that is not so.

Yang includes quantities (of money), competition, maximization, individualism, expansion, domination, and many more elements. In fact most of these values are included in neo-liberalism. The masculine yang energies is determined to exploit, for their own profit, all feminine energies or yin, which include a quality (of life), cooperation, optimization, community, contraction, subordination, etc.

The masculine yang energies manifest as the current economic and political elite and the feminine yin energy manifest as society and nature. Hence, the elite dominate society and exploit nature for their own profit-making. They are unable to include concern for anything being feminine. The result is social and environmental crises. The masculine perceiving elite is not stopping before they have eradicated all feminine - which of course will be their own death as well.

Without a dynamic tension between yin and yang, balance cannot be reached. But if yin energies is added to all yang perceptions, thinking, actions, policies and institutions, balance can be recreated. It will lead to harmony and the world can re-create holistic knowledge systems, inclusive economic systems, decentralized political systems, and soft technologies that are harmless to nature, and helpful to society.

This will lead to harmony in our societies and environments and thus to a quality of life.

Conclusively, in my opinion, it is the root cause that needs to be addressed, in order to solve the global crises, including the climate chaos. From that healthy seeds can sprout, plants can grow, and beautiful flowers can bloom :sunflower:


I love irony.

Perhaps the Pope will develop a plan to establish missions around the colonized world to teach the indigenous people the customs and traditions of a culture that would nurture our planet for the next ten thousand years. They could develop language that would be devoid of words of aggression and hate and ownership and dominion. They could teach that the earth is our mother and we must nurture her. Imagine how that could work. Then we could organize all of the workers of the world and include the communists since they are workers too. The Pope could teach them how powerful they could be with solidarity among workers and how important it is to be inclusive when creating such movements. The Pope could teach the women of the world how important it is that they raise their voices and become leaders and attain leadership roles in our institutions and campaigns. I love irony. It is good that our mother earth now has a father to protect her.


Now, now you’re getting down to it! It seems to me Naomi offers the platform, and you put the solution on it. Let’s go.


Thank you bushrodl: it means to me that I can carry on my work, writing on a new book titled, “Patriarchy and its Crises.” I am happy to have, at least, one person that will read it :heart_eyes:


What is the relation between energy and economic value?
Could a better understanding of this relationship help create a more sustainable and more equitable economic system?


Naomi, you write:

"But difficult is not the same as impossible. And giving up in the face of a task that could save countless lives and prevent so much suffering—simply because it is difficult, costly and requires sacrifice from those of us who can most afford to make do with less—is not pragmatism.

It is surrender of the most cowardly kind. And there is no cost-benefit analysis in the world that is capable of justifying it."

I think this goes to the heart of the Pope’s moral authority: unlike so many crowned before him, he has renounced privilege and wealth. I suspect that the honor he has shared with you of leading with him in this cause requires that you do the same, and until you do you may have everything going for you except moral authority. Until you do, you’ll be the same as all the other politicians you renounce. But when you do, then you will stop validating for those whom listen to you that it’s actually ok for us to continue to live beyond the means of our planet by making choices that the Earth could not support for even a day if all 7 billion of us did the same. And when you do, then you will be able to reach those persons with this message whom the Pope cannot reach - the privileged secular majority of affluent nations.


Amen to Naomi (the Hebrew translation of which is ‘pleasant’). Her intellectual integrity and Pope Francis’ moral authority make a pretty formidable duo. The enemy of the planet these last 70 years has been the economic theories of one Milton Friedman and his belief in markets rather than Humanity. As Naomi makes clear in “Shock Doctrine” the IMF & World Bank have been infested with Chicago Boys and now act like Mafia lending societies. We know that this enemy of Mankind is formidable and amoral and has committed crimes beyond imagining. But even they are Human and dare I say it, fallible?
In his Peace Speech of June 10th 1963, President Kennedy said: “In the final analysis, we all live on the same small planet. We breathe the same air. We cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal”. Its a pity they don’t make leaders like that any more…