Thursday, June 18, 2015

Is LAUDATO SI’ too little, too late?

I recently started reading The Biosphere and the Bioregion--Essential Writings of Peter Berg. It was one of a number of books I had asked for as birthday presents. Thanks to my Better Half, I got all the books I had asked for. Perhaps even better though was the fact that she managed to get all the non-best-sellers I'm usually attracted to (The ReEnchantment of Art is another example) through a local, independent book store rather than from Amazon. As I read his encyclical, released officially today, I'm becoming more and more convinced that the only way we're going to be able to effectively respond to Pope Francis' manifesto and call for a cultural revolution is to deglobalize, relocalize, and leave our current leaders and major institutions holding an empty, worthless shell of a global economy that benefits their 1% owners at the expense of the rest of us and the planet on which we all have to live.

Berg, in 1972, reached somewhat similar conclusions when he attended the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and became convinced that "environmental solutions would never come from the top." I recall that the environmental laws that congress and the administration are currently doing their best to honor with little more than lip service, if that, were enacted in the early 1970's because millions of us demanded clean air, clean water and an end to toxic pollution. Now we settle for global pollution, flat wages for jobs with little on no meaning and 500 channels of crap that we can veg out on in the evening. If you think this is too harsh an assessment, look at the environmental and ag bill from the last Minnesota legislative session. Look at the suit filed against MNDNR to require a full environmental impact statement for a major mine expansion in northern MN, rather than just address environmental effects through the permitting process. Ask the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency when, if ever, Minnesota's waters will be fishable and swimmable. We, and the environment on which we depend, are being poorly served by our governments at the state and federal levels. It was bad before Citizens United. I believe it's worse now by far. We're moving (have moved?) from a democracy to an oligarchy. Class war started long ago and the lower and middle classes, and their environment, have been losing for a long time.

[UPDATE] Another view on how "well" Minnesotans are being served.

Minnesota's Impaired Waters

I'd be more encouraged by the publication of LAUDATO SI’ if I weren't also wondering why it took so long for a major religious leader to speak out on  long-standing governance failures to address major environmental and social issues. Of course, I also wonder if "We the people" will ever wake up enough to realize how true Howard Zinn's assessment (see above) really is.

Wendell Berry raises these issues in better language than I and fewer pages than the encyclical's 184. See Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front at the bottom of the May 27, 2015 posting.

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