Pope Francis: “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications”

Jun 23, 2015 Issues: Environment

Pope Francis:  “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications”

On June 18, Pope Francis released his long awaited encyclical on the environment, called “On Care For Our Common Home.”  Here are some excerpts from the official English version:

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

“A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”

“Warming has effects on the carbon cycle. It creates a vicious circle which aggravates the situation even more, affecting the availability of essential resources like drinking water, energy and agricultural production in warmer regions, and leading to the extinction of part of the planet’s biodiversity. The melting in the polar ice caps and in high altitude plains can lead to the dangerous release of methane gas, while the decomposition of frozen organic material can further increase the emission of carbon dioxide. Things are made worse by the loss of tropical forests which would otherwise help to mitigate climate change. Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain. 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.”

“Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forver. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.”

“Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. . . .  The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now. We need to reflect on our accountability before those who will have to endure the dire consequences.”

“Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.”

Unfortunately, the Republican Leadership of the House of Representatives remains impervious to moral and scientific pleas.  This week the House will vote on a bill [H.R. 2045, the “Ratepayer Protection Act”] that would allow states to opt out of proposed Clean Air Act rules requiring existing electric power plants to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.  Electric power plants are the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States.  One reason for this is that many of our nation’s power plants are old and inefficient.  The average coal plant in the United States is 42 years old, but the oldest and least efficient date from the 1940s and early 1950s.