Pope's Climate Change Encyclical Leaves Politicians, Businesses Divided

Environment | June 18, 2015, Thursday // 17:58|  views

Pope Francis greets the faithful and tourists during his weekly general audience in St. Peter`s Square, Vatican, June 17, 2015. EPA/BGNES

Climate change has far-reaching consequences for both the nature and society and it is the poor who are mostly left suffering, Pope Francis wrote in his 184-page encyclical published Thursday.

He called climate change "one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day" and urged a more thorough approach to environmental preservation.

It should be up to developing countries to limit use of non-renewable energy and pursue sustainable development in order not to harm poorer nations and people. The latter will be particularly hurt if the trend is not reversed, since warming-related phenomena are likely to affect their livelihoods like "agriculture, fishing and forestry."

In his words: “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.”

"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. ... Frequently no measures are taken until after people's health has been irreversibly affected."

Humans should acknowledge a "sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded."

Pope Francis says individuals can help, but politicians should be on the lead, and any improvement is to go hand in hand with political and structural transformations.

The encyclical sparked much controversy even well before it was issued. Some scientists and business unions lambasted at the pope for taking the environmentalists' side in a years-long dispute as to how dangerous (and how real indeed) climate change is.

Politicians, however, also echoed criticism for the Pope, with Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush warning: "I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope... “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.”

Earlier another GOP contender, Rick Santorum, issued similar remarks: “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.”

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Tags: Pope Francis, encyclical, climate change, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush


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