There is a strange crossover of events and places. Paris is at the same time the European city devastated by ISIS attacks and the riverbed where world’s powers meet to discuss climate. Two topics which might seem to be distant, but are incredibly connected one to another. The fact that they share the same location is almost a joke of destiny (or a message to Man?); whichever the case, we must treasure it.
That the question of the environment is closely connected with every expression of life (and death) of the human being was something Pope Francis said clearly in his encyclical ”Praise be”. “What is the purpose of our coming to this life? What is the purpose we are working and fighting for? Why does earth need us?”: if we do not ask ourselves these basic questions – the Pontiff stressed – I do not think that our environmental concerns can obtain important effects.
If we try to go beyond this statement, we can clearly see that the cause of the wars that have been devastating the Middle East and North Africa over the past 20 years are daughters to economic interests the West has considered to be important to the point of justifying military intervention. Oil, gas, trade routes, they all contributed to make US armed interest and that of a part of Europe shift towards Arab Countries. Certainly there was no attention to the planet as such, but only to its most commercially exploitable resources. No interest for water, food, and on a more general level, for the cultural growth of those peoples.
But exploitation of this part of the world has triggered fibrillations we are no longer able to control today. On the other hand, if there is no respect for the common home, how can there be any for those who dwell in it? In this – lack of respect for the Created – Western Democratic Governments and ISIS murderers are very similar.
The text of the Pope’s encyclical letter is cut across by some thematic axes that confer it strong unity: “An intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet; belief that everything in the world is intimately connected; criticism towards the new paradigm and forms of power that derive from technology; invitation to look for other ways of understanding economy and progress; the value of every creature; the human meaning of ecology; need for sincere and honest debates; the heavy responsibility of international and local politics; the culture of waste and the proposal of a new lifestyle”.
That is why to speak about environment means to speak also about terrorism, that is why eliminating the causes of resources disparity in the world can mean the defeat of violence.
Meanwhile, we cope with what we have caused. August 13, 2015 was the Overshoot Day, the day of overexploitation of resources of the earth: from that moment till the end of the year, it will erode the natural capital, shattering millenarian tropical forests, fishing more fish than it can reproduce, introduce into the atmosphere greenhouse gases that will change climate for centuries, spreading into the environment myriads of toxic compounds that soon come back on our plate.
The last time human population – 3.5 billion people at the time against the current 7.3 billion – managed to keep its consumption within the annual ‘interests’ produced by nature was in 1970, that is to say, the day of overexploitation fell in the vicinity of December 31.
So, for at least forty years the balance between exploitation of the environment and ecosystem’s sustainability has been negative. And it is roughly the same lapse of time when the aggressive policies of the so-called democratic States have decided – influencing the change of the regimes by supporting local armed power groups – to “lie heavy” on a part of the world that has always been considered exploitable (Middle East) and to be exploited (Africa). Is it a coincidence as well?