What is it we have forgotten? He asked for “Urbi et Orbi”, in Rome and the world, the Young Pope of Sorrentino. We have forgotten all about climate change and ecological conversion.
Climate change caused by fossil fuels affects the entire planet. But the most devastated and exposed countries are those from which most of today’s refugees and migrants come, generally escaping wars and conflicts triggered by a reduction in the resources needed for survival and the appropriation of the lands and resources still available by the very few. They are wars and conflicts largely fueled by various governments of the West or otherwise, who have resorted to economic robbery and environmental degradation after losing the direct control they exercised when those countries were still their colonies.
The ongoing climate changes can still be curbed, and in part even reversed; the lands that are devastated can be reclaimed and recovered; the environmental and war refugees forced to abandon them could, and many would like to see this, return to rebuild their countries and regenerate their lands and their communities if they only had the chance. Many others of their countrymen could in turn leave for Europe, determined to return, after having worked a few years with us, if they had the possibility to do so by safe and legal routes. Nothing that is turning Europe into a barracks, the Mediterranean into a cemetery and Libya into a lager is irreversible, but there is not much time left. Soon those processes will become irreversible, the planet Earth will become an unbearable habitat for most of its inhabitants, including those who today feel safe. People forced to leave their country to try to survive will count in the hundreds of millions and the false well-being that many of us (actually fewer and fewer) think we can defend with ever higher barriers around our countries, entrusting to dishonest politicians the task of building them, is destined to dissolve within a few decades. Only the very richest will benefit: always fewer and always richer, as has already been happening for some time right before our eyes.
For years the owners of oil and those industries that depend on it, by corrupting scholars, politicians and journalists, have tried to deny the deadly danger of climate change and its causes, knowing very well how real that danger was. Even the military knows it and has been preparing for some time to no longer fight communism, drug trafficking or terrorism (all things for which they have in the past justified the need to arm themselves more and more), but the migratory waves that will hit the rich enclaves in the West when the effects of climate change begin to be felt in a widespread and profound way. This is testified by documents from the Pentagon over 15 years ago.
None of this is denied any more today, it is simply ignored. Politicians, media, journalists, intellectuals do so, only contradicted weakly by the cry of those scientists who see the night approaching for human life on our planet. The problem at the heart of politics, in Europe as in the United States, is now considered to be how to stop refugees on the external or internal borders of the states, as if the migrants suddenly materialised in the Mediterranean or on the Mexican border, without ever worrying about the before or after.
The “before” is the devastation of land, the robbery of resources, wars and the sale of weapons that have forced so many people, and will continue to force them, to flee. The “after”, if there can still be considered an after, is certainly not “growth”, the few percentage points or decimals of a percentage point of increase in GDP, or whatever, that economists, politicians and bankers are scrambling to chase as if that was the key to salvation for all (it is only for a few and even for them only for a short time).
The real “after”, if we know how to build it, is that that can offer land, home, work for all, migrants and natives, even those who find themselves increasingly at the margins of a society that does not offer or promise anything anymore, if not reductions and sacrifices, and right at the moment it flashes before the eyes all the unbridled luxuries of the few who can afford them. That future for all is only there in ecological conversion, in the care of the common home, in the safeguarding of the Earth. That is, in the rapid abandonment of all fossil fuels, in the re-conversion of polluting industries and arms factories, in the closure of all the “Great Works” sites that devastate the land and create neither employment nor well-being, in blocking the looting of resources, abandoning the culture and the economy of waste, which transforms men and things into rubbish in the shortest possible time, in the fight against poverty and exploitation, guaranteeing to all, migrants and natives, sufficient income to live, but also the opportunity to study, learn and find a job that values each person’s abilities.
These are the things that everyone dreams of, except those who live from the exploitation of others, who have managed to make us believe that they are unattainable because the real problem would be the growth that no longer brings any benefit except to those who already have everything and will always want to have more. These are the things that the political parties should talk about, instead of engaging in a cynical, cruel and deadly race to be those who do more to repel migrants trying to reach Europe, actually very few, so far, compared to the many forced to abandon their lands. Thus politics has shriveled up and became hardened and instead of understanding, studying and explaining how all those goals, and others, could be traced back to one big programme to put our planet back on its feet, articulating it country by country, city by city, district by district, company by company, field by field – and that without the arrival of new migrants and without giving them the opportunity to return to heal the lands and communities that they left – none of those goals can ever be achieved (and our conditions will get worse and worse), we are furiously travelling along a spiral that plunges us into misery.
But who can do what no one has done so far? We can start with the associations, the committees, the groups involved in the field of solidarity and integration, they are many but have neither voice nor power, currently suffocated by a vapid debate that speaks of something else and takes place elsewhere. It is from there that the strength to rise to the challenge of what history is putting puts on the agenda can be born and grow.
July, 2018, Articles
Bio: Guido Viale was born in Tokyo in 1943. He currently lives in Milano. He has worked as an economist in Italy and in International Cooperation.