Editorial Essay: Anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato Si'
The Renewed Debates on Sharing, Inequality, and the Limits to Growth, by Editorial Staff, Sharing the World Resources
Commoning as a Transformative Social Paradigm, by David Bollier
Wake up America. Wake up from Your 250-Year Old Slumber, by
Can Capitalism Survive Without the Commons?, by David Bollier
Debacle at Doha: The Collapse of the Old Oil Order, by Michael Klare
The Real Oil Limits Story; What Other Researchers Missed, by Gail Tverberg
Sustainability Dynamics of Resource Use and Economic Growth, by Mihir Mathur and Swati Agarwal
Ethics and Ecosystem Interactions: Why Reconciliation Ecology Matters, by Adrian Ayres Fisher
SDGs Indicators: What are they and why do they matter?, by Jenna Slotin and Jenni Lee
UN Assessment: Global Destruction of Mother Earth on Fast Track, by Andrea Germanos
Gender Explained: Sexuality, Biology, and Gender Identity, by Karen Dolan
Dilma Rousseff: Political Crisis in Brazil, by Ilka Oliva Corado
UN Acts to Achieve Complete Gender Equality Ahead of 2133, by Rita Joshi
Advances in Sustainable Development
Directory of Sustainable Development Resources
Strategies for Solidarity and Sustainability
Best Practices for Solidarity and Sustainability
Fostering Gender Balance in Society
Fostering Gender Balance in Religion
Meditations on Man and Woman, Humanity and Nature
Anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato Si'
"All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution."
Pope Francis, Laudato Si', #114, 24 May 2015
The encyclical Laudato Si', on taking "care of our common home," was signed 24 May 2015 and published 18 June 2015. Encyclicals are usually long documents addressed to people who don't have time to read them, and this one is no exception. Much ink has been spent during the past year by various "experts" trying to analyze the contents and possible gaps. Some good summaries have been published, such as this one, as well as a wide range of opinions, from extremely negative to extremely positive, about this pronouncement by the head of the Roman Catholic Church. For those who prefer to watch and listen rather than read, an excellent short course about the encyclical has been published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Religions for Peace. Links to the videos are provided below:
The encyclical, and the videos, provide factual information that is good to have in mind. However, providing scientific explanations and empirical data is not really the principal value of Laudato Si'. Rather, the main value is the recognition that we are dealing with a cultural crisis that cannot be resolved by any existing paradigm of political economy, let alone technological fixes. Neither capitalism nor socialism, nor any other existing "ism," is capable of handling the magnitude and complexity of the issues currently facing humanity: overpopulation, overconsumption, environmental degradation, resource depletion, climate change uncertainties that are probably (and irreversibly?) related to human activity in ways unknown, a proliferation of wars in various regions of the planet, massive migrations to escape poverty and or violence, etc.; all interrelated in ways that we cannot even begin to understand. "All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution."
COP21, Climate Change, and Mother Earth
Cartoon by David Hayward, 22 December 2015
But what kind of cultural revolution? What kind of new culture is about to emerge? If "we are not living an era of change but a change of era," what is the era that is passing away? The agricultural era? The industrial era? The information era? These are technological eras, and other technologies will undoubtedly be developed; but while technologies can influence culture in superficial ways, they do not fundamentally change the way people behave, individually and socially. Materialism is a common denominator of capitalism and socialism, but people still have to eat, dress, and seek cover in any new culture that eventually comes to replace the fantasy of infinite material growth in a finite planet. So what's next? The fact is, we don't know. Every conceivable mental gimmick is being invented to avoid facing this existential uncertainty. The encyclical squarely faces reality and, without presuming to give solutions, simply encourages all men and women of good will to keep "muddling through" together, trusting in the future of humanity. This is the great contribution of Laudato Si': to avoid offering false hopes, and offer instead the true hope that comes from people pulling together for the common good.
Social Injustice, Ecological Crisis, Climate Change, and the Common Good
Who cares about planetary deterioration and climate change in a culture where individual desires collide with the collective good?
"Over the last 20 years we have been discovering that climate science is not sufficient to properly fix global warming. The history of coal and oil shows a new paradigm: the realm of desire, a new way of thinking about human life. So, what is climate consensus in a world where the desires of the subject collide with the collective good? Psychoanalysis, particularly Lacan’s view, offers a fresh perspective. We should look at consensus as an exercise of self-criticism. Because the origin of climate change is not posed in the “bad industrialized countries” but in the deep hearth of civilization." Elisabetta Corrà, An Expanded Realm of Desire, MAHB, 24 May 2016
What kind of cultural revolution is needed for the common good of humanity and the biosphere?
Communio Personarum, Communionem Naturae
Persons pulling together for the common good become a reality by way of two complementary communions, corresponding to the two polarities of solidarity and sustainability. These two communions are interpersonal communion and human communion with the human habitat: communio personarum, communionem naturae. People must work together in solidarity, and people must work together with nature: homo economicus must become both homo solidarius and homo ecologicus. For, as Pope Francis wrote, "there can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology" (Laudato Si' #118). This makes sense, because an adequate anthropology must enhance understanding of human nature and human relations, which is a prerequisite for an integral human ecology. Could this be the "cultural revolution" that is mentioned in the encyclical? Some additional points for consideration are offered in this page.