Pope Francis released on July 18, 2015 an unprecedented encyclical on climate change and the environment entitled “Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home”. In the 180-page document the pope calls for the phase of fossil fuels, touts the benefits of small-scale community renewable energy projects and criticises the “regrettably few” advances made by world leaders to tackle climate change thus far.
The Pope didn’t hold back any punches as he challenged wealthy nations to take responsibility for the ecological impact of their consumption and pay their “grave social debt” to the poorer nations which are feeling the brunt of wealthier nations’ fossil fuel exploitation. The encyclical makes a compelling case for humanity’s moral responsibility to “protect our common home” by tackling the root causes of two of the greatest interlinked global crises of our time: climate change and poverty.
It warns: “We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now.”
Fearing the worst, Koch- and fossil fuel-backed climate denial groups including the Heartland Institute, CFACT and the Cornwall Alliance swiftly mounted an offensive starting in April ahead of the encyclical’s release, essentially telling the Pope to ‘butt out’. Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush also wasted no time in ironically telling the Catholic Church to leave climate change to the scientists. This DeSmogBlog series tracks the Koch-funded climate deniers’ attack on the Pope’s climate campaign.
Photo: Catholic Church of England and Wales via Flickr