Pope Francis practices what Mikhail Gorbachev would refer to as “old thinking,” in this case, that free economies can’t solve the “problems of global hunger and poverty,” and that they somehow destroy their natural resources while being incapable of dealing with climate change.
Where does he get this stuff? Since the turn of the 20th century, life expectancy has doubled in the developed world, per capita income has grown elevenfold, and wealth as been democratized far beyond the wildest opium dreams of Karl Marx. This happened in energy-driven free market economies, not the command-and-control world that Francis envisions. Crucially, the developed world brought into existence by overcoming energy poverty is largely immune to the vagaries of weather and climate. Poor countries are not.
Make no mistake: limiting access to energy will keep people poor and life short. Solar energy and windmills are never going to power a major modern city, and therefore they will never run a modern nation. With the exception of geographically-limited hydropower or sometimes unpopular nuclear fusion, the only way to avoid a life of poverty, infirmity, and vulnerability to climate is through the use of fossil fuels. They have been the engine of wealth and progress.
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