Laudato Si

The talk of the town these past few days has been Pope Francis' encyclical letter Laudato Si'.

So let's start by asking what would happen if we massively followed one of its key recommendations.

"Replace consumption with sacrifice." 

Let's leave aside the sacrifice part for a moment but, imagine if say, people heeded this message and world automobile production dropped by 50%. We would have in our hands the mother of all layoffs. 

The reduction in auto production would have a cascading effect all through the network of suppliers, dealers, independent mechanics, government revenue, what have you.

Almost certainly the weaker automobile companies would go bankrupt. All luxury brands would be history (remember, replace consumption with sacrifice). This would in itself generate another wave of bankruptcies among suppliers, dealers, etc. 

Think also about the textile industry. If people replaced consumption... we would use our clothing until it wore off, not to show off and thus millions of people would lose their jobs in third world countries. 

In consumption think of many other things that would be curtailed: travel, electronics, entertainment, housing, etc.

Add all of this up and we'll have a catastrophic economic depression in which a substantial percentage of the global population would lose their jobs and this would create a snowball that would continue to eliminate jobs throughout the world. 

Yes, a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions would by then be achieved, but it would be a Pyrrhic victory. 

So, bottom line, it is not as easy as it may seem at first sight to reduce our consumption. It would be equivalent to reducing the speed of an airplane in the middle of the Atlantic. It would crash and burn, killing all on board.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."


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