Jeffrey Sachs: The White Man’s Burden Redux

Jeffrey D. Sachs’ presence at the now-concluded Amazon Synod is the dog that did not bark. Why not? The Catholic press describes him as “pro-abortion” and leaves it at that. But it is an inadequate description that evades a larger reality.

The synod set in play two different games, a long one and a short. The German-led agenda (e.g. married priests, female ministry, etc.), which absorbed most attention, is the short one. While that covers matters of close concern to Catholics, it functions as a red-herring to distract from the globalist despotism represented by Sachs and the other two egoists behind the Vatican curtain: Ban Ki-Moon and Hans Schnellnhuber.

These three eco-synoptics and their climate gospel lend authority to Pope Francis’ appetite for chastising the West on fabricated environmental grounds. Population control is the most evident component of the megalomania running through the synod like corrosive salt through a fresco. The less obvious one is a totalizing obsession with control and diminution of national sovereignty. The mirage of climate control veils lust for impoverishing the West.

Pope Francis has been a steady devotee of Sachs. A chosen advisor on Laudato Sí (2015), Sachs returned the compliment by pouring syrup on the encyclical in a concurrent essay in America. Sachs hailed the “great and timely gift of ‘Laudato Sí'” as the moral force required to halt the apocalyptic juggernaut bearing down on us: “To avoid a catastrophic collision of the world economy and environment, humanity urgently needs to change the trajectory and functioning of the world economy.” The climate has a gun to our heads—the war cry of catastrophists.


Written in tones of the Crisis of the Month Club, the essay took glib shots at such generalities as the “faustian bargain of capitalism.” It held its nose at the suspicious odor of property rights. It belched contempt for unspecified commercial enterprises and those who engage in them: “Some business leaders reject even the most basic norms of honesty in business transactions. When they cheat their counterparts, they sneer that their counterparts are big boys who should take care of themselves.”

Editors of America saw nothing askew in the crudity of Sachs’ 2015 slur on Western market economies. Why would they? Sachs’ essay was preamble to promotion of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the then-upcoming Paris Accords. Those precepts were formulated for entry into the catechism of the global technocratic elite which Jesuit amour propre embraces. Catechesis requires assent. And as Pius IX affirmed, error has no rights.


Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth). According to legend, the mouth closes if a liar sticks a hand in it. (late 15th C.)


Previously a Special Advisor to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan during Annan’s tenure (1997-2006), Sachs has been preparing ground for command-and-control environmentalism for decades. His ambition to dictate the parameters of life in both the developed and developing worlds is what earned him an invitation to the Amazon Synod. He is one of Francis’ co-aspirants for command of the world.

In 2005, still in conference with Kofi Annan, Sachs published The End of Poverty: How We Can Make It Happen In Our Lifetime. It is worth revisiting. (It bears a bonus: a sanctimonious introduction by U2’s in-house philanthropist, venture capitalist, and tax dodger: Saint Bono.)

The book opens with a reasonable statement that economic development is “not a zero-sum game.” At least, not until it is. When climate change kicks in, the zeroes start coming. And they necessarily flow from the First World to the Third. Two paragraphs under the heading “Environmental Stewardship” summarize the character of Sachs’ thinking that resonates with Pope Francis: “Even though the local effects of global climate change are extremely hard to forecast, we can be sure that many of the world’s poorest places are at risk of being overwhelmed by climate shocks coming from outside their borders.”

Sachs’ redemptive prescriptions, then as now, are less rational than they are designed to sound. What, precisely, is a climate shock? And how does this undefined phenomenon differ from oscillating weather patterns and conditions measured over long periods by, e.g., meteorologists, oceanographers, experts in solar radiation, volcanic activity, electromagnetic forces, glacial and interglacial cycles? Do not ask. In what way is Sachs’ image of himself as a clinician in economics analogous to his wife’s pediatrics practice? Do not ask that either. Tottering on the brink of extinction, we haven’t the luxury of double-checking particulars or verifying the terms of diktats.

Planetary crisis compels threats and scaremongering. Minus intervention by environmental justice warriors such as Sachs himself, apocalypse is nigh: “Rising ocean levels associated with long-term warming will likely inundate impoverished regions such as Bangladesh and small island economies. Shifting patterns of rainfall .  .  . are likely to be experienced elsewhere.”



Sachs’ text is 384 pages of hypotheticals and conditionals. Doom is “likely.” Climate cycles “could” disturb hundreds of millions in the Third World. Changes in ocean chemistry “could poison” coral reefs, ecosystems, and coastal economies. “Suppose” this; “consider the possibility” that. Reliance on guarded contingencies, on the provisional and tentative, contradicts prevailing insistence that the science is settled.

At the time, then-Senator Tim Wirth of Colorado put it this way: “Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” As in the Tawana Brawley scam of the late ’80s which established the fake-but-true meme, it might not be true, but it should be. By sleight of mind, falsity is truth if a narrative requires it.

Sachs’ stewardship project continues with a creedal assumption of Western wickedness. The poorest of the poor are “mostly innocently victims” in the cosmic drama of climate change: “The major cause of long-term climate change, fossil fuel combustion, is disproportionately the result of rich-country actions.” Of these, the burden of guilt lies heaviest on the sinful ways of the United States.

Redemption is at hand, but only if [1] “rich countries themselves, and particularly the United States” live up to their obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and take action to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. [2] Rich countries must increase aid to poor countries to help them cope with predicted dangers ahead. [3] Rich countries must spend more money on climate change to better understand its effect on us all.

That, in sum, is the silent rationale for the presence of the three global poohbahs: Sachs, Ki-moon, and Schnellnhuber at the Amazon Synod. None could give a fig whether viri probati or women are ordained, or whether toucon feathers and face paint can be added to liturgical vestments. What matters is that the West—the U.S. above all—atone for its ingenuity, its enviable affluence, and the magnitude of its historic achievements by subsidizing failed Third World states through the distribution of income demanded by climate change.

At work is a perverse paternalism that reinvents the white man’s burden. This time around, Sachs with his “development economics” and Jorge Bergoglio with his racialist-tinged romance of a mystical “pueblo” are the new colonizers. Climate change hysteria is the current weapon in a resentful crusade against the West. And, accordingly, its people.

Barely any acknowledgment of this subterranean agenda appears in the Catholic press. Selective indignation over short term objectives is preferable to looking into the abyss at the end of the long game.


NOTE: More on Ban Ki-moon and Schnellnhuber in the next post.