In his recent encyclical on climate change, Pope Francis says human activity causes “the bulk of global warming” – a position aligned with most climate scientists.
The Pope takes climate change deniers to task and calls on humanity to take steps to turn back the clock on global warming. He backs the science behind climate change, citing “a very considerable consensus that points out we are now facing a worrisome warming of the climate.”
Although he states that there may be some natural reasons for global warming, he blasts those who claim it is unrelated to human activity, saying “plenty of scientific studies point out that the last decades of global warming have been mostly caused by the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide and others) especially generated by human action.”
The greatly anticipated encyclical set off a scramble by environmentalists, theologians, reporters and others attempting to translate the teachings that many predict will influence policy around poverty and climate change worldwide.
Pope Francis states that, “the attitudes hindering the paths toward a solution, even among the believers, go from negating the problem to indifference, to an easy resignation, or to a blind faith in technical solutions.”
The pope refers to human destruction of the Earth, equating it with sin. Calling Mother Earth “sister,” he says, “This sister protests the harm that we cause her. We’ve been raised to think that we were her owners and dominators and were entitled to plunder her.”
Francis also noted that most recently, “Pope Benedict proposed we should recognize that the natural environment is full of wounds produced by our irresponsible behavior.”
The Pope stated that we should “Enlighten the masters of power and money so that they should not fall prey to the sin of indifference, so that they should love the common good, support the weak, and care about this world that we inhabit.”
He openly lobbies for renewable energies, and blames global warming in part on “a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels.”
He calls for “urgent action” to develop policies to reduce greenhouse gases, including “substituting fossil fuels and developing renewable energy sources.”
This encyclical appears when the world community will be setting policies for international climate action. At the end of 2015, nations will assemble in Paris under the auspices of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change, seeking to hammer out a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication found that about 70 percent of U.S. Catholics think global warming is happening, a higher percentage than for Americans as a whole (63 percent).
Pope Francis was the most trusted individual leader on climate change, according to the George Mason poll.
Critics like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who announced his presidential campaign last week, went after Pope Francis on the campaign trail.
“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home. But I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.” A devout Catholic, Bush said religion “ought to be about making us better as people, less about things [that] end up getting into the political realm.”
Bush and other reactionaries miss the main point. Global warming is more than an “economic policy.” It’s a moral question. God created the world and placed us in charge of taking care of creation. We have contaminated our water, our land and the air we breathe. All humanity is suffering because of this.
It’s time we do something about it. Let’s stop kicking the can down the road.
Posted on Fri, June 26, 2015
by Rev. Wilmer L. Todd