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Notre Dame aftermath by Joelle Levy
September 10, 2019

Notre-Dame was just a burning symbol, but Earth is our mother

Monsieur Le President,

Rightfully, you tweeted: “Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days! #ActForTheAmazon

The Pavlovian reaction of eco-criminal Jair Bolsonaro accusing you of being a colonialist might be ridiculous, but neither are his actions nor those disastrous economic interests and powers behind him. I ask you, and you should ask yourself, despite your just rage and good will, are you doing enough? You aren’t. So please take the advice on how to start another French revolution, that should turn into a European and then a world-wide one a much more significant upheaval than the one in 1789, which was a bit too violent.  

Resist the acuteness of Notre Dame’s reconstruction. Let truth have the last word regarding the precious postcard jewel of your former colonial, most romantic European capital. Throughout the last decades of globalisation Our Lady with the heavenly huge wide bright dome-roof manifested herself as a dominant touristic symbol to the worldwide growing consumer middle class. Pilgrimage to this monumental landmark in bigger masses than ever was fired by a dizzying overload of subsidised non-costly kerosene for the proliferating low-budget-airlines; accompanied by an environmentally unfriendly, ruthlessly flourishing hotel, AirBnB, restaurant, food and shopping-booms. Altogether, this cultural phenomenon just constitutes an additional causative component of how mankind is fossil-consuming itself into climate-climax.

So be faithful to yourself and live up to your moral responsibility. Clarify to your people that the world-wide grief after this quickly extinguished, little hellfire that devoured parts of the cathedral, is actually fueled by our post-modern pagan, irrational addiction to icons, souvenirs, pictures, short-term-sensations, and superficial materialistic satisfaction. Explain to them how all this exaggerated sorrow and condolement is just a miserable over-compensation for the human masses’ big underlying frustration in light of their inability to pursue happiness, their over-consumption of a gazillion of cheap, unsustainably-produced consumer goods, and of being poisoned by too much junk- and fast-food, which disrupts our health as well as our planet’s soil, water, and climate.

Follow through with the conclusion and proposition to leave the burned down ruin as a memorial, only to be reconstructed in 21 years; yes, exactly three biblical seven-years time spans from now, in 2040. Meanwhile, as you should round up your reasoning, it is on France to act as initiator of a radical global eco-turnaround, replacing today’s pre-apocalyptic reality by the old human dream of Utopia.

And all those oh-so-generous billionaire donors, who are so awfully fond of the resurrection of the temple’s unearthly beauty, ask them if France may kindly use their embarrassingly high donations, for instance, to brush up schools in the socioeconomic weaker regions? Select a quantity of about a thousand high-schools of national excellence and help them connect with their counterparts in the formerly colonised francophone Afrique. Encourage students and teachers’ unions to convince enterprises, organisations, local authorities, and sponsors in the neighborhoods and communities surrounding each school to empower their African partner-schools’ regions, to help them move on with organic agriculture, solar, wind, and biomass; electric ovens and access to tap-water; to develop their entrepreneurial infrastructure and craft industries. Let hedonistic, superficial mass-tourism be substituted by unprecedented masses of educated, determined, focused, and motivated exchange students doing welfare and charity jobs, and craftsmen and women travelling abroad to the less developed countries to teach and export knowledge. Give asylum and schooling above all to impoverished young ladies from the global south, those who are in danger to slip into premature marriages and pregnancy, and let them return a couple of years later to their home-countries as empowered female decision-makers, and yes, enforce micro-credit-banking especially for female entrepreneurs.

Make boredom, idleness, and unemployment a plague of the past; for example by spurring health insurances to make inter-human therapeutic relations a mass-phenomenon and to run courses training amateur physiologists, psychologists, therapists, healers and masseurs. Mobilize the underclass, the unemployed, and low-wage-earners. Alongside the aforementioned steps to nurture the healing powers in  more people to take better care of each other, motivate them financially to become urban farmers, growers of vegetables, seeds, and herbs in the glasshouses of their hydroponic roof-top-farms, and, additionally, cultivators of fish in the aquaponic ones. 

Blow life into the New Green Deal model by re-enacting the well-known, chronically neglected remedies of upscaling public infrastructure, like investing in smart grid internet connections, e-busses, and railways, renovating poor city quarters, establishing community centres around schools, and calling on elders, bored adults, students, and kids to register for public service in exchange for appropriate rewards according to their specific qualifications. Abracadabra cities into parks, leave almost no roof-tops uncovered and unused, and cover the city buildings’ naked walls with edible ivy and greenery; bring in the bees and protein-rich insects.

Humanise fashion-industries and put statutory requirements into effect, obliging the big trademarks to refrain from importing clothes from sweat-shop-enterprises in North-Africa, the Indian sub-continent or Far-East-Asia, where mostly young female labourers are robbed of their youth. Those sub-enterprises should of course not simply left being broken and abandoned. Rather, incentivise Zara, H&M, and the likes instead to fulfill their responsibility, take their partner companies under their wings, and equip them with the technical and financial needs to renovate, and, if necessary, rebuild their factories for the purpose of transforming them into roof-top and indoor urban farming enterprises, thus providing their previous sweat-shop seamstresses and pieceworkers with a whole new, significantly more valuable education. 

In the same breath, make your administration and bureaucracy as helpful as possible. They shall bestow upon the giant retail chains, their employees, decision-makers, and brand-designers the capacity to convert shopping paradises into real paradises. Help them populate sales floors and malls with exclusive small-market endeavours, tailors, arts- and fashion-designer-talents, furniture makers, ecologically minded cosmeticians and cosmetic manufacturers, second-hand-outlets, hair-dressers, and, we repeat, lots of indoor and rooftop farming. 

Restrict sugar and sweets industries as much as possible, as well as superfluous exploitation of minerals, precious metals, and rare soil compounds. Declare a peaceful World-War-Three of BDS. Use the power of Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions not only against senseless oligarchs and autocratic fossil rulers of war and destruction like Putin and or the Saudi Arabian killer-prince, but also in order to force major companies, banks, insurances, pension-funds, and similar institutions to transfer the energy of money into valuable human work and not into greedily accumulating an abstract cash fortune, driven by outsmarting algorithmic hedging and the stock market's casino mentality. 

Provide reasonable and stable interest rates for small investors and savers by directing cash flow reserves into heavily subsidised bio and urban farming, sustainable housing, battery storage development, and electrification and digitalisation of traffic. Prohibit, ban, and outlaw those industries who exploit people in poor countries to satisfy unnecessary consumer needs of people in less-poor countries. Make highest quality bio food, mostly non-dairy and meatless, affordable to everyone, putting health and nature-conserving on top of every other priority.

Explain to your people that the 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who almost broke out in tears at a press-conference while wondering why we don’t care for our ailing planet as much as for a burning sumptuous church, is the new Jeanne d’Arc, and that her struggle bears an even higher historical significance than the one of the Virgin of Orleans in the 15th century against English occupiers.

Outlaw the rainforest-annihilating production of livestock, palm oil, soybean, and other disgusting, environmentally harmful monocultures. Close those meat-factories, which are inhumane, environmentally disastrous slaughterhouses, that enhance greenhouse gas’ in many aspects. No more subsidies for conventional large-scale agro-industry based on climate-warming nitrogen fertilisers.

The ashes and ruin of the Notre-Dame is but a burned down symbol, but Earth is our mother, isn’t she?

A long-read version of this article was originally published in The Beam.

Image: Notre-Dame bâchée by Joëlle Lévy CC BY-SA 4.0