Pope Francis On Climate Change: 'A Global Problem With Grave Implications'

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Pope Francis released his 184-page encyclical Thursday morning, called “Laudato Si” (“Praised Be To You”) with a subheader of “On Care For Our Common Home.” The publication focused on the reality of climate change and stating that a “dialogue with all people about our common home” is necessary.

"The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth," Francis said. "In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish."

The encyclical is traditionally addressed from St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, Italy, to more than one billion Catholics worldwide. But Francis wants his letter to be recognized by “every person living on this planet,” including those participating in climate change summits scheduled for later this year, CNN reports.

Climate change is a topic hotly debated in the United States that is sure to be brought up continuously during the 2016 presidential election. Many politicians believe it is a reality while others deny humanity is causing climate problems.

Francis did not hesitate in his encyclical to address climate change as a “global problem.”

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day,” Francis said. “If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.”
Francis continues by pointing out how human beings are a major contributor to Earth's climate change.

“We have come to see ourselves as [the Earth's] lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will,” Francis said.

According to Francis, those who are affected the worst by climate change are the poor, TIME reports.

Climate change “will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry,” Francis said.

Francis does see hope in reversing damage done by climate change, through personal responsibility, and political and structural changes.

“Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start … Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies,” Francis said.

There are politicians who believe science should be left to the scientists and that religious officials should not get involved.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said on Tuesday that he thinks Francis should leave economic policy alone and focus on people, TIME reports.

However, in his statement, Bush appears to be skirting the environmental impact of climate change, rather only calling the issue part of "the political realm."

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush, a devout Catholic, said. “But I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope. [Religion] ought to be about making us better as people, less about things [that] end up getting into the political realm.”

Bush made no note in his statement about what exactly "making us better as people" entails, or whether that would include being environmentally conscious, as Francis promoted in his encyclical.

According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is occurring and that it is happening because of human activities.

Sources: CNN, TIME, (2)

Photo Source: Aleteia Image Department/Flickr, WikiCommons