(Vatican Radio) The issues of climate change and human trafficking are under the spotlight in the Vatican on Tuesday, during a workshop of mayors from around the world who’ve come to discuss their commitment to tackling these two closely related problems.
Pope Francis will meet with participants in the workshop entitled ‘Modern Slavery and Climate Change: the commitment of the cities’ which has been organised by the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo.
Among the speakers at the meeting is the governor of the U.S. state of California, Jerry Brown, who is currently serving an unprecedented fourth term in office. Philippa Hitchen talked to him about why the state of California is a pioneer in the struggle against climate change and what impact he believes Pope Francis’ encyclical can have in the U.S. today…
Governor Brown says the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si’ breaks really important ground in pinpointing the interconnectedness of human beings with other species and the natural world. He says hopefully the world will listen to the Pope’s understanding of the existential threat caused by the human disruption of climate patterns….
At the heart of the market system, he notes, is “not only the production of goods but also the production of desires” . In just 130 years, he recalls, we moved from no cars at all to a billion vehicles, but our “materialistic and individualistic self-reference” becomes unsustainable at national level. Brown insists we need the Pope’s clear call to “profound change in the way we deal with one another and with other forms of life”
In the United States, Brown continues, each person produces an average of about twenty tons of greenhouse gases – compared to about two tons in India, one and a half tons in Vietnam and around nine tons per person in China. The required energy revolution is “a bitter pill to chew on”, Brown admits, and some so-called “market fundamentalists” see anyone – including the Pope - suggesting fatal flaws in the current American system as attacking what is perceived to be the essence of American modernity.
Governor Brown recalls that California had terrible air pollution, so from the time of his predecessor Ronald Regan “we have been tackling these pollutants”. Today the State derives 25% of its electricity from renewable sources, like solar, wind, and geo-thermals, not counting hydro or nuclear energy, but Brown has called for a further 50% reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks in the next 15 years. He notes that oil companies are resisting this challenge: will the short term needs of some companies destroy the possibilities of future generations, he asks?
Speaking of the current droughts that California is suffering from, Brown says the heightened temperatures add to the drying of the soil and forest fires and he warns “it will get worse”…
Finally Governor Brown recalls his four years spent as a Jesuit seminarian in the late 1950s, just before the Second Vatican Council. He says the experience gave him a point of reference “that I find very valuable and very instructive as I try to make sense of the world as it has evolved since”.
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