Gov. Jerry Brown challenged the world’s religious leaders to further engage as he minimized the negative effects of President Donald Trump on meeting the climate-change challenge.
“The Trump factor is very small, very small indeed,” in comparison to the commitments taking place around the world, Brown said to a burst of applause Saturday at an event organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “That’s nothing to cheer about, because if it was only Trump that was a problem, we’d have it solved. But that’s not our only problem.
“The problem … is us. It’s our whole way of life. It’s our comfort … It’s the greed. It’s the indulgence. It’s the pattern. And it’s the inertia.”
Brown, who arrived Friday for nearly two weeks of climate talks across Europe, said the path to transformational change must include the mass mobilization of the religious and theological sphere, but also the prophetic sphere.
“The power here is prophecy. The power here is faith, and that’s what this organization is supposed to be about. So, let’s be about it and combine with the technical and the scientific and the political.”
To slow the devastation of climate change, society cannot rely only on science and technology and must begin to accept the need for more transformational approaches, Brown said. He spoke for more than 40 minutes, punctuating his remarks and answers to attending scientists to reflect on his own experiences.
Brown’s first brush with the concept of transformation came when he entered the Jesuit seminary in the 1950s before the Second Vatican Council. He spoke Latin, meditated, underwent self-discipline, mortified himself.
“We tried real hard, and I can tell I did not achieve perfection. I was not transformed. In fact some of my bad habits, which I will not reveal, are the same as they were … when I came into Jesuit seminary when Pius XII was pope.”
Brown acknowledged that achieving transformation will not be easy, citing his recent visit to the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia, where world leaders gathered for discussions about trade with scant mention of climate effects.
“At the highest circles, people still don’t get it,” he said. “It’s not just a light rinse” that’s required. “We need a total, I might say ‘brain washing.’
“We need to wash our brains out and see a very different kind of world.”