Pope Issues Rare Encyclical On Climate Change That Demands Action To Curtail Carbon Emissions To Save Humanity

120px-Pope_Francis_in_March_2013_(cropped)earth-screensaver_largeAs widely rumored, Pope Francis has issued a historic papal encyclical that agrees with the vast majority of scientists that global warming is real, largely caused by mankind, and threatens the very future of humanity. He has called for emergency action to curtail carbon emissions by reducing fossil fuels and developing renewables.

220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksThe Pope denounced the massive levels of pollution that are making the Earth into “an immense pile of filth”. He criticized deniers and said that “doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.” He acknowledged other contributors to global warming but insisted: ““It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.”

The papal encyclical sent to 5,000 Catholic bishops worldwide seeks to mobilize the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and is viewed as one of the significant new voices for action both in terms of its political and religious impact.

He stated “A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.” He insisted that without extreme measures “this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.” To achieve such emergency measures, he called for drastic reductions in fossil fuels and the rapid development of renewable energy sources.

He further suggested that special interests and greed are driving the campaign against recognition of the problem and measures needed to address it.

It will be interesting how the papal announcement changes the political landscape, particularly with conservative Catholics and other Christians. The Obama Administration has been in the forefront of seeking global action, a position that I agree with (even though I do not agree with some of its unilateral actions). The Administration will have to convince skeptics in Congress and this Papal encyclical will certainly help, though I doubt it will dramatically change the political position in Congress.

134 thoughts on “Pope Issues Rare Encyclical On Climate Change That Demands Action To Curtail Carbon Emissions To Save Humanity”

  1. I”d wager all those who say he should stay away from science have less scientific credentials and experience than he does.

    Religion has always informed politics since the Pharoah claimed he was anointed by the gods. Or the Greeks claimed sponsorship of gods for their cities. To say nothing of the history the Catholic Church. It is only the idea of secularism that occupies a narrow slice of human history.

    Anyhow let’s get to the point. The social doctrine of the Church opposes capitalism in favor of justice. That was and that is and it remains. Not just usury but something as attenuated as climate change. Principles of justice matter and the Pope can and should let people know. All the ultra-capitalist American Catholics may not like that but they can always sign up for the Gospel of Ayn Rand if they don’t like being in the Church.

  2. The Obama administration approved drilling in the Arctic. They are at the “forefront”? Haha this may make you and others feel like good and wise statesman for being at the “forefront” of this propaganda campaign, but the effects of the true policy leads to the same disastrous results. Enjoy your animal farm though.


    I mean come on even Time explicitly tells us. The movements are from communities (mainly) that this blog probably doesn’t acknowledge as civilized, but that’s who has in reality has led this movement, not on this creepy animal farm called the international community.

  3. Guiness

    There is a rotary style of argument which responds to one issue with another completely irrelevant issue. The style has been labeled the ‘Four foot six’ style. Where’s the outrage about all the Christians being slaughtered in the Middle East? First of all this has absolutely nothing to do with climate. Secondly the Pope routinely voices his outrage at all the Christians being slaughtered…..

    The closer one can respond to the issue at hand the better the discussion. Example, How tall are you? Four foot six. See, this is good. And. How long have you been a robber? Four foot six. See this is bad.

  4. Guiness …expand that to where’s the outrage about all of the innocent, of various faiths, including Muslim, being slaughtered in the Middle East. Politics and religion joined together never leads to good outcomes.

    It is time we admit this and deal with it. You’d think Christians would insist upon it. It’s about focus, and we seem to lack it, including the hubris of the current pontiff of the largest Christian faith on the planet. He does not speak for me, a Catholic, until he manages to find his bearings and dwells on actual peace where ever it can be achieved. He can do it, the question is will he and when? Up to now he’s accommodated savages while yammering about the condition of the climate? He could do the right thing and retire as his predecessor did…but I doubt he’d consider that option.

  5. Amazing..,an Encyclical.?
    Where’s the outrage about all the Christians being slaughtered in the Middle East.?

  6. From the Encyclical:
    “Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise.”

  7. From the Encyclical:
    “I will point to the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature, the human meaning of ecology, the need for forthright and honest debate, the serious responsibility of international and local policy, the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle.”

    Sounds like more than just ‘cut fossil fuel emissions now’ rhetoric. He is directing it at all humanity, which would include places that do not have strong environmental controls (cough…China). I look forward to reading it to see what he has in mind beyond the charged, political tone set by the US News article.

    I did a quick search of the encyclical and it does not mention permaculture. I wonder what he thinks of this means to safeguarding and recharging groundwater and improving soil fertility (even the regreening of the desert):

  8. I’m surprised to see how many people, whether they agree with the encyclical or not, act as if the Pope wrote it himself with no input from anyone else. The Pontifical Academy of the Sciences has been around since the 1930’s and has many Nobel laureates among it’s members. I also appreciate Squeeky Fromm’s pointing out that the paper is about far more than just climate change, and is profoundly conservative in many areas. Responsible stewardship of creation has been a part of Judeo/Christian responsibility for thousands of years and is well within the responsibility of any religious leader to speak upon.

    1. I see no difference between pontifical pronouncements from the US National Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences.

      Both ignore this physical reality: The fountain of energy that Copernicus reported at the gravitational center of the solar system in 1543 is the creator and sustainer of every atom, life and planet in the solar system!

  9. General Jinjur,

    I was just having a little fun with Squeeky. Then again, maybe she doesn’t know the difference between venereal and venial.


  10. As noted elsewhere today,


    YOUR GOD IS TOO SMALL was the title to a book that succinctly explains the problem.

    We have NO evidence the Universe, Reality, God is finite in space or time, but we are unwilling to consider the possibility life forms may exist on planets that orbit other stars than the Sun.

    Almost 500 years ago Copernicus reported that Earth is not the center of the universe. The Catholic Church didn’t like that discovery precisely because THEIR GOD WAS TOO SMALL!”

  11. There seems to be two issues here. First, intrinsic to the article is the question, should a religious leader be commenting on something as secular as global warming. Personally I don’t care as it doesn’t matter who speaks the truth. The truth stands by itself. Secondly, of course, are the questions: is there global warming, is it due to man’s use of fossil fuels, and is it severe enough that we should be advancing technology to offset it?

    Science, since the beginning of the industrial revolution, has monitored the effects of burning coal and other fossil fuels, damming of rivers, and other direct and indirect results of the need for energy. There has rarely if ever been a positive finding. The question has always been how bad is it. At times it got so bad that the British Parliament had to hang sheets soaked in bleach outside the windows of the Houses of Parliament to mask the stench coming from the Thames. A century later edible fish are being caught in the Thames.

    Less than fifty years ago cities like London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, etc were so polluted that the health issues of the recent filthy cities of China, India, and Brazil were common place. In Tokyo there were oxygen dispensers located like parking meters in the downtown areas. LA pollution travelled to China and as far East as the Grand Canyon. The ozone layer was fast being depleted by fluorocarbons.

    It cost trillions to clean up these messes and during the struggle there were always the idiots who slowed down the advancement of the technology and clean environment by arguing that pollution didn’t harm people, pollution was just a sign of prosperity, the consumer couldn’t afford to fix the problem, and all the rest of the stupidity being laid out with the arguments of today regarding the burning of fossil fuels. When fluorocarbons were being labeled as the culprit and it was being proposed to replace them with a benign substance, the same arguments came out against that. Now, decades later the ozone hole has been steadily reducing.

    Technology costs money and intrinsic with costing money creates prosperity for those in the industry whether it be producing non sensical gadgets like computers to wear as watches or electric cars that benefit all. The cost of energy could go up but then it would go down. A Thermo solar electricity producing plant could produce hydrogen to power cars that emit no pollutants. Wind farms could do the same. The energy that is not always available transitioning through hydrogen to where it is used would create trillions in new economies.

    The battery powered cars of Tesla and some Auto manufacturers are simply a step on the way to the optimum way to power cars without creating pollution. The US electricity grid loses 15% of its energy due to the convoluted way that it has ended up over time. Restructuring it would create jobs and decrease the energy needs by 15%.

    Railways were built with massive government subsidies or taxpayer subsidies. This country would not have made it this far if there had not been a century of railways. It is not the subsidy for the railway or the profit a railway makes. A hundred times more profitable are all the spin offs that come from people using the railways. The same is true for transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable fuels. We don’t drive Model T cars and ride in trains pulled by steam locomotives. A wind turbine of a generation ago is not a viable option anymore but 5 and 10 megawatt turbines are and eventually turbines will be developed that produce much more electricity. But you don’t get there with the arguments of some of the people we hear constantly maintaining that there is no need to advance. Together with the supposed spirit of the US these people are oxymorons. The only response to statements that all these good things don’t amount to more than a drop in the bucket as far as the energy issues are concerned can be that we have to fill the bucket. But that seems to fly straight over the heads of some people.

  12. “…@MikeA

    Well, if you had, it would only have been a venereal sin, not a mortal one. ”

    What, pray tell, is a venereal sin? I was raised a Catholic and never heard of venereal sins. I think someone has confused “venereal” with “venial.”

    1. Elaine, I was born and raised Roman Catholic I assumed the word choice used was part of the joke.

  13. @General Jinjur

    Oh, thank you!!! I am glad the little bon mots (French for “good mots”) bring enjoyment. Plus, I luuuuve your name!!! Too bad there is Baum in Gilead. . .

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  14. One thing that I have read that is not taken into consideration with the climate models is how soil micro-organisms affect carbon dioxide in the air–it is too complicated the interviewee said.

    So, does it seem that there are too many CO2 emissions because soil micro-organisms are hampered in their ability to sequester it in the soil? Are factories and cars and cow flatulence less of a problem compared to how agriculture, wetland destruction, and soil/water pollutants and herbicides and pesticides affect the microbiome of the earth? If so, then the goals of the climate debate are off-base to demand factories reduce emissions when it is the health of soil that needs attention.

Comments are closed.