The Church and the Environment


Pope Francis appeals to the humanity pointing to the wicked tendencies of rapidification and the throwaway culture that tends to create environmental issues. In terms of political economy, deteriorated ecology is the biggest contemporary market failure because its costs are immense and it complicates the conduct of businesses, which undoubtedly inhibits economic growth. Pope Francis identifies that environmental issues, in the first place, negatively impact on the poor. The followers of ecological feminism state that the majority of the world's poor are women. Therefore, addressing the social issue of patriarchy and gender inequity is the necessary way to cope with the negative effects of ecological problems on females. Simultaneously, Eco-Marxian theory suggests that capitalism is the force that stipulates economic liberation. It leads to the uncontrolled performance that leads to pollution and careless use of resources. To decrease the negative externalities, it is necessary to enhance taxation with the purpose of elaborating new eco-friendly approaches to economic growth. The institutional mechanisms of the approach to lessen the negative externalities should resonate with the UDHR that serves to protect equity. In addition, companies should be engaged in applying the policy of Environmental Ethical Commitment (EEC), which is presumed to maintain environmental sustainability with the aim of improving the financial one.

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Acknowledging potential ecological harassments, this summer, Pope Francis appealed to people encouraging them to consider global socio-economic processes that affect environmental sustainability, thereby threatening the well-being and survival of all living creatures. In particular, the pope introduced a term "rapidification", which he utilizes to emphasize the prime causes of the economico-environmental issues. Pope Francis admits that rapidification of technological development, economic, and cultural globalization is the way in which the mankind evolves. Without a doubt, this fast and tangible advancement has its positive outcomes. Nevertheless, he accentuates that "human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution". As a result, due to some of the accompanied changes, people, animals, and plants suffer from stress, which means that these tendencies are wicked and are not subordinate to the purpose of achieving the highest good.

Revealing his attitude further, the pope states that rapidification causes the formation of "the throwaway culture". In fact, it presumes the overuse of resources and abundant environmental pollution. Moreover, the economic costs of the throwaway culture are immense. What makes the situation worse, according to Pope Francis, the wicked attitude toward nature contributes to social inequality. Specifically, in the first place, the adverse effects of climate changes impact on socially vulnerable people (the poor). This paper is aimed at observing and discussing the theories of ecological feminism and Eco-Marxian Theory that resonate with the throwaway culture as well as provide alternative policies which are aimed at eliminating negative environmental processes.

Theoretical Exploration

Exploring theoretical background of ecological issues, it is appropriate to refer to Pope Francis's claim about global social inequity that is caused by environmental issues. It is evident that poverty is a significant issue in both developing and developed states. Nevertheless, the Southern hemisphere contains considerably larger concentration of poor people comparing to the West. Apparently, this unequal geographic dispersion of poverty implies that not all people have equal access to natural resources. As Pope Francis emphasizes, the possibility to utilize natural resources is a basic human right that should never be deprived; thus, world community must work at granting every individual access to vital resources. Linking this idea to the global social tendency of the throwaway culture, it becomes clear that it opposes the pope's vision since it assumes the careless use of resources.

Identifying the geographic location of the poor, it is necessary to remember that, as was stated above, the phenomenon of inequity exists also in well-developed states. In this regard, scholars reveal that historically-rooted patriarchy stipulates men's economic predominance in the contemporary world where gender discrimination is unlawful at both state and social levels. To support this claim, one should refer to the statistics, "women form 70 per cent of the world's poor and own only 1 per cent of what men earn". Given the premise that environmental issues, in the first place, impact on the poor, it is natural to suggest that women are more prone to negative outcomes of the above-revealed nature hazards. In fact, this idea underlies the movement known as ecological feminism.

Linking the rationale shared by the followers of ecological feminism to an endeavor of Pope Francis to decrease social inequity, one can conclude that obtainment of the highest good requires to address the issue of gender discrimination. Despite the fact that it is veiled, gender inequity is manifested through men's financial predominance and, as a result, women's greater exposure to the negative effects of climate change. Apart from gender discrimination, the adverse ecological processes can be explained by Eco-Marxian Theory.

In political economy, Eco-Marxian Theory is developed to explain the connection between capital and environmental issues as well as their adverse impacts on people. As it is known, capital encourages constant process of enrichment. Consequently, this urge intensifies rivalry, which requires the owners of capital to reduce costs applying to unethical approaches that create ecological problems. Marx accentuated that "capital takes no account on the health and the length of life of the worker, unless society forces it to do so". Nevertheless, in the modern world, economic liberalization presumes that government control over businesses is significantly reduced. In addition, capitalism suggests that every individual strives to protect own interests. Thus, this core principle conflicts with the philosophic notion of the common good, which was highlighted by Pope Francis. The rationale is that the first tends to protect the interests of a particular person (capitalist), while the second considers the interests of all involved parties. In other words, focusing on own interests, an individual is encouraged to neglect the needs of the community and environment. Therefore, this causal relation of attitude and action stipulates that capitalism has an adverse impact on the global ecology. Comprehending the conflicting nature of capitalism and highest good, one should understand that climate change is the main market failure in the contemporary world. Thus, it is vital to discuss the reasons why capitalism creates environmental issues applying to the theory of market failure.

As it is known, economic liberalization suggests that businesses are not subordinate to government and people maintain private property that does not belong to the state. Given that everyone protects their interests, the owners of property and businesses are involved in rivalry; however, to survive, people must neglect the responsibilities with regard to the community. Thus, it resonates with the throwaway culture that was emphasized by Pope Francis in his appeal to the humanity.

The situation implies that there is the lack of environmental sustainability. As a result, the performance of businesses creates negative externalities (Market failure n. d.). For example, the work of a plant pollutes air, water, and land, and these outcomes are known as the negative externalities of production. Moreover, it is reasonable to assume that there is the overuse of resources. As a result, the community suffers from negative externalities of consumption, which are manifested in the increased government and private financial expenditure in the health care industry (Market failure n. d.). Hereby, these cause and effect relations illustrate how induced by capitalism liberated economy generates ecological problems. The costs of their resolution are quite high, which triggers market failure.

Nonetheless, the advocates of capitalism argue that the negative outcomes of climate change are not related to capitalism. In particular, they stress that "external costs are borne nor by direct producers and consumers but by the wider community through deterioration in health or simply foregone opportunities". Considering this argument, it is natural to assume that economic liberalization cannot be the only factor that deteriorates ecology; however, its core principles lead to the development of throwaway culture.

Another counterargument refers to property ownership. It is presumed that "governmental ownership of environmental resources" does not guarantee "sensitive environmental management". Simply put, it is inappropriate to accuse owners of neglecting the common good by careless utilization of the resources that are at their disposal because government might have applied to the same throwaway culture. In fact, this argument can be rejected by the fact that government, as an owner, is not interested in careless utilization of its possessions. Scrutinizing the identified factors that reinforce environmental issues, one should elaborate the policy that is aimed at reducing the likelihood and magnitude of this market failure.

Policy Discussion

Eco-Marxian Theory states that "since the strength of some capitals must appear as the weakness of others," it suggests that "falling profits and liquidity crisis are the result of shortages (of land, air, space)". In other words, according to Marx, capitalism is doomed to end because it presumes the transformation of resources into capital, and given that resources are finite, capitalism has a limited amount of them. Nevertheless, it is important to stop the dangerous ecological processes before the depletion of resources. In this regard, the theory of market failure suggests that a valid measure is to encourage government to invest into the development of eco-friendly manufacturing technologies and alternative resources (Market failure n. d.). In a long run, the approach to lessen the negative externalities of production and consumption should have a positive impact on all involved parties such as investors, business owners, employees, communities and governments. The alternative means and ways of production will prevent the deterioration of ecological situation. In a word, it is a correct policy to the achievement of the highest good. The provision of finances for of such programs is expected to be supported by the deductions and taxes imposed on businesses. The institutional mechanism of this approach should be based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The reason is that it defends equality of all individuals stating that "everyone has equal and inalienable human rights, arising from the inherent dignity of all humanity, and lists a broad range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights".Besides, striving to assure equality in a particular community, one should consider the issue of gender inequity and its connection with economico-environmental problems. It must be addressed by improving the legislative base that would address females' interests more thoroughly. The net section will detect and discuss potential costs and benefits of the proposed approach.

Policy Evaluation

Discussing expected merits and shortcomings of the proposed policy, one should emphasize the following concerns. In a short run, the policy will affect all groups of stakeholders by imposing additional financial burden. As a result, financial responsibility of businesses toward stakeholders will become harder to maintain. In such conditions, the temptation to violate the principles of ecological ethics will increase. Naturally, a majority of people will be reluctant to embrace this approach. Nonetheless, in a long run, the proposed eco-friendly policy will function to improve economy by reducing the likelihood of market failure caused by negative climate changes.

Another challenge is the need to elaborate an applicable legislative base that can be successfully used to eliminate throwaway culture. The task may be complicated by the fact that corrupt governments are satisfied with rapidification and throwaway culture. The policy of increases taxation, which is subordinate to the purpose of developing eco-friendly technologies, and improved legislative base that will defend the needs of the poor can be quite effective if the above-revealed concerns are properly addressed. Thus, it is crucial to analyze an alternative approach toward coping with the environmental issues.

Policy Alternatives

Some researchers believe that there can be an alternative that help to make personal gain compliant with common good. Specifically, scholars introduce the policy known as Environmental Ethical Commitment (EEC). It is natural that the applicability of EEC evokes skepticism because it presumes the increase in manufacturing costs in order to assure environmental sustainability. To verify this premise, researchers conducted an appropriate survey of Malaysian manufacturing companies. The country was chosen because hazardous environmental changes in this area were reported to be quite abundant. The findings reveal that "it was empirically proven that manufacturing industries in Malaysia did invest some amount of money in environmental efforts". It suggests that the observed policy (EEC) is a valid remedy that can be successfully used to increase financial sustainability by constructing the benevolent image of a responsible and reliable enterprise. At the same time, scholars identified that "the manufacturing companies were only committed to the ethics because they want to avoid fines, criminal penalties, legal judgment and other legal costs". In this regard, it is inappropriate to point to the ethical and moral side of the discussed endeavor. To put it simply, the concept of assuring the highest good is not completely applicable to the case since the companies were ruled by the motives of personal gain. Nonetheless, the bright side is that this policy works, and a growing number of companies all over the world chose to implement it in order to remain sustainable. Thus, this supposition draws attention to Eco-Marxian theory, which presumed that capitalists had to be forced to operate within the framework of ecological ethics. In addition, it suggests that even though economic liberalization is considered to be rational, a state should maintain more control over businesses' activities.


Summarizing the above-mentioned ideas, one should accentuate that Pope Francis's appeal to people evokes important modern problems such as rapidification, the throwaway culture, and market failure. In the first place, these adverse phenomena affect the life of the poor, the lion’s share of which are women. Therefore, the movement known as ecological feminism strives to protect the equity of the females. Moreover, Eco-Marxian theory states that capitalism stipulates the development of ecological issues unless economic liberalization is limited to partial government's supervision that is aimed at assuring business performance that complies with the ecological ethics. That is why, to assure the eco-friendly economic growth and prevent market failure, the state should improve legislative base in the way that will better defend the rights of the poor. At the same time, considering that rapidification is heavily based on technological development, it is recommended to increase taxation that will be used to survey the new econ-friendly technologies. The above-stated methods are based on the theory of market failure, which proposes to eliminate negative externalities of production and consumption. Adhering to this approach, governments should employ the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that functions to insure that every human being has equal access to resources and safe living conditions. Alternatively, scholars propose to implement the policy of Environmental Ethical Commitment (EEC), which can be utilized by businesses in order to protect own interests by means of remaining within the framework of environmental sustainability.


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