In his address to a joint meeting of Congress, Pope Francis delivered the latest installment of his ongoing environmental lecture series to the West—reminding us yet again that the “environmental challenge” called “climate change” has “human roots” – a contentious hypothesis at best. The pope's message echoed that of his recently published climate-change encyclical, where he pronounced that “plenty of scientific studies” have already attributed “the bulk of global warming” to “the great concentration of greenhouse gases” generated by “human action” in industrialized societies that make extensive use of “highly polluting fossil fuels—especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas.” The pope's encyclical also frames environmental concerns as legitimate justifications for requiring industrialized nations to transfer trillions of dollars to poorer countries, as penance for having released a disproportionate share of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution – this despite the fact that far-and-away the biggest polluter nations on the planet are China and India.
The pope's environmental positions, which the New York Times has euphemistically described as “liberal,” are in total accord with those of President Obama, who has repeatedly emphasized his commitment to pursuing “green energy” while waging a relentless assault on the oil and coal industries. The partnership between Francis and Obama is a parody of what was once the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. While Reagan and JPII collaborated in putting communist totalitarianism on the ash heap of history, Francis has joined Obama in rendering unto Caesar by attacking capitalism and the development that is the last best hope of the poor.
Obama’s guru has been Saul Alinisky, the famed community organizer who laid out a blueprint for gradually transforming America into a socialist paradise. Who has been Pope Francis’ guru in his environmental activism? Clearly the Pope and the Vatican nomenklatura had a predetermined conclusion in mind when they began their inquiry into the environment, because they picked Naomi Klein for a major role. This past summer, Klein was asked not only to speak at a Vatican press conference on the pope's climate-change encyclical, but also to co-chair a Vatican conference on climate change alongside Cardinal Peter Turkson.
Klein has no formal training in the field of climatology. In fact, she never even finished college. Her major qualification is that she is a die-hard socialist who, like Pope Francis, views capitalism as the scourge of both the human soul and the natural environment.
Klein's leftist ideology has deep and enduring roots. Her paternal grandparents were longtime Communist Party members whom Klein has described in an anodyne way as “pretty hard-core Marxists [who] in the thirties and forties ... believed fervently in the dream of egalitarianism that the Soviet Union represented.” Klein's father, a pediatrician by training, wholeheartedly embraced the Communist ideology of his parents. Klein's mother was a left-wing activist who once created a series of films about Saul Alinsky. And Klein's husband, the TV journalist and documentary filmmaker Avi Lewis, was raised in a family loyal to the Canadian Socialist Party.
Klein’s anti capitalist obsessions proceed from the hand-me-down Marxism of her family. In 2000 she published her first bestselling book, titled No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs, which has been described as the “Das Kapital of the anti-corporate movement”—a reference to Karl Marx's treatise against capitalism.
Seven years later, Klein published The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, in which she derides “unfettered capitalism” as a “fundamentalist” economic system whose heartless devotees favor “the elimination of the public sphere, total liberation for corporations, and skeletal social spending.”
In 2011 Klein lauded the anti-capitalist street-criminal movement known as Occupy Wall Street, for its efforts “to change the world.” She called Occupy a “beautiful movement” and told its members, “I love you.”
In more recent years, Klein has fully “found her voice” on environmental matters. In 2014 she published This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, a book claiming that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with industrialization have caused immense environmental harm, as evidenced by an allegedly growing incidence of “extreme weather events” like hurricanes, typhoons, droughts, and heat waves.
In language that appears to reflect the vision of the world which the Pope acquired in his native Argentina during the anti-American 1980s, when his critical views of the gringos to the north were fully formed, Klein denounced capitalism in an October 2014 interview as an “increasingly … discredited system” that not only “venerates greed above all else,” but is “failing the vast majority of people” while “waging a war on the planet’s life-support system.”
To save the environment from catastrophe, Klein wants a ban on such technologies as fracking, nuclear power, genetically modified crops, geo-engineering, and carbon sequestration; she opposes the construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which would transport Canadian petroleum to U.S. refineries; she exhorts pension funds and endowments to divest their assets from fossil fuel companies; and she calls for the United States and other industrialized nations to transfer trillions of dollars to poorer countries.
It is a testament to the ideological nature of this Papacy that these commitments sound like something that might be encountered in a Vatican document.
In her speech at the Vatican this summer, Klein praised what she described as “the core message of interconnection at the heart of the [pope's] encyclical,” and lauded the Holy See's “particularly courageous decision” to take a stand on climate change despite “the attacks that are coming from the Republican Party” and “the fossil fuel interests in the United States.” “In a world where profit is consistently put before both people and the planet,” she said, “climate economics has everything to do with ethics and morality.” Emphasizing that “we can save ourselves” by taking concrete actions like cutting carbon emissions, she urged her critics to “stop making the difficult the enemy of the possible,” and to join “the climate justice movement” in the noble cause of “making the possible real.”
Despite Francis’ charisma and the way he has galvanized portions of the Catholic community as well as groups that are otherwise harshly critical of Catholicism and of religion in general, his Papacy has generated concerns because of its constant anti-capitalist and anti-development themes. Does he seriously believe, critics have wondered, that the evil and bankrupt creed of socialism, which has murdered more than a hundred million people and condemned hundreds of millions to unimaginable and unnecessary poverty, actually offers a solution for the poor of the world? Does the Pope, in other words, actually believe that the Communists were right? The central presence of someone like Naomi Klein in the Vatican climate-change conference indicates the Pope's antipathy for free markets is not merely rhetorical, but a deeply held bias that proceeds from a neo-Communist view of the world that can only bring grief and suffering to the very poor he professes to champion.