Pope Francis—Climate change is man-made, and the Church must listen to scientists

“Humanity is being called upon to become aware of the need to change its way of living.”
“Humanity is being called upon to become aware of the need to change its way of living.”
Image: Reuters/Tony Gentile
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Pope Francis makes a fiery call to action on climate change in a leaked draft of his encyclical letter published on June 15 by Italian magazine l’Espresso.

In the first chapter, the head of the Catholic church blames humans for global warming, and concludes that the church must “listen to and promote honest debate between scientists.” Environmental justice is a recurring theme—the world’s poor suffer the worst from environmental degradation, he writes, while the powerful try to “hide” signs of climate change.

In its entirety, the 192-page letter includes an introduction, six chapters, and two prayers, including a “Prayer for our earth.” The final version is planned for release later this week.

Quartz translated a selection of quotes from the first chapter:

23. The climate is a common good: of everyone, for everyone. It is, globally, a complex system correlated to many conditions essential to human life. Scientific consensus indicates that we are near a worrisome warming of the climate system.

Humanity is being called upon to become aware of the need to change its way of living, producing and consuming, in order to fight this global warming or—at least—the human causes that create or aggravate it.

It is true that there are other factors… but numerous scientific studies indicate that the greater part of the global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases  (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and others) given off, above all, by human activity.

25. Many of the world’s poor live in the places hit hardest by phenomena connected to global warming, and their means of sustenance largely depend on natural reserves and so-called “ecosystem services,” such as agriculture, fishing and forest resources.

The flood of migrants fleeing poverty exacerbated by environmental degradation is tragic; they are not recognized as refugees in international treaties and carry the burden of their discarded lives without any protective law.

Sadly, there is widespread indifference to these tragedies, which continue to occur in several parts of the world. The lack of reaction in the face of the misfortune of our brothers and sisters is the sign of a loss of that sense of responsibility for those of our kind, which underpins any civilized society.

26. Many of those who hold more resources and economic or political power appear to be focused mainly on masking the problems or hiding their symptoms, and attempt to reduce only a few of the negative impacts of climate change.

But many signs indicate that these effects may be worse and worse if we continue with current models of production and consumption. It has therefore become urgent and pressing to develop policies to drastically reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other heavily polluting gases, for example, by replacing fossil fuels and developing renewable energy sources.

61. On many concrete issues, the Church has no reason to suggest a final word, and realizes that it must listen to and promote a honest debate among scientists, respecting a diversity of opinion. However, it is enough to look at reality with sincerity to see that there has been a great deterioration of mankind’s communal home.

The full text of Pope Francis’s letter is here (link in Italian).