Pope Francis and Climate Change - A Global Call to Action
July 7, 2015.
News regarding Pope Francis’s newly published encyclical, entitled “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise Be to You”, has recently dominated green media due to its intensive focus on global climate issues.
In the paper, the Pope affirms scientific consensus in regards to climate change, citing human activities as the source, and urges the necessity of sweeping mitigation efforts.
As Pope, Francis’s words carry a great deal of moral and religious authority, but his background as a chemist also gives his thoughts on environmental matters a degree of scientific accountability as well.
Care for creation & the poor
An integral element of Francis’s position on climate change is his belief in the harmony between Catholicism and environmentalism. Challenging those who interpret the Bible as granting man “dominion” over the earth, Francis believes Genesis tells us that the Earth is a creation of God which mankind has a responsibility to protect.
He also opposes those who believe the intricacies of environmental policy to be outside of the churches purview, stating that loving and protecting all of God’s creations is an integral ideal of Christianity.
Another significant component of the encyclical is Francis’s compassion for the poor, a heartfelt concern that has unwaveringly permeated his papacy. He addresses the problematic inequality surrounding climate change, discussing how climate impacts will disproportionately burden those who are the poorest.
Indeed, individuals living in under-developed and impoverished regions are often heavily reliant upon natural ecosystems as a means of subsistence, and lack the financial means and social infrastructure to adapt to climate change.
On the other end of the spectrum is the rich, many of whom Francis condemns as being blinded by their own comfort and selfishly inactive in regards to climate matters. In reading the encyclical, contemplation of the distressing intersection between socioeconomic status and climate change is inevitable.
A global call to action
A unique element of Laudato Si’ is that it is not solely addressed to Catholics, as is the traditional norm with such papal letters. Instead, Francis emits a universal call to action: “faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet” he writes. “In the encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home”.
His call to climate action is also quite centered on cultural components, accusing our consumeristic tendencies as being a causal factor of our destructive habits. Francis insists that our perspectives and priorities as a society must change, for without a deep-seated cultural revolution, true and meaningful progress cannot be made.
He writes that “a strategy for real change calls for rethinking processes in their entirety, for it is not enough to include a few superficial ecological considerations while failing to question the logic which underlies present-day culture”.
The persistence of optimism
A note of optimism exists within this mournful critique however – after all, calls to action imply that such potential action has the ability to make a positive difference. Indeed, Francis hopefully states that “all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start”.
We here at ClimateStore are optimistic about the future of climate change. We believe individuals can truly make a difference by living in an environmentally responsible manner, and conscious consumerism is one part of the equation.
There are many products available today (e.g. LED lights, water saving devices) that are critical to helping us reduce our carbon footprint. Others are either required for - or related - to quality of life, that can be made in an earth friendly way – e.g. with recycled materials and/or approaches that reduce their carbon footprint throughout their lifecycle.
Although we can’t claim perfection, we’re making every attempt to provide a selection of products that that will help move us in the right direction. We’re also working to build a resource that will help people form a plan to lower your carbon footprint or to learn more about climate change.
As always, your feedback and suggestions are appreciated.