By now most of you who listen to or watch the news have heard a little something about Pope Francis this past week. The Pope released his encyclical letter (a letter from the Pope sent to all Bishops of the Roman Catholic church), in which he took a firm stance on climate change and the impacts it has not only on our world but on human beings as well.
I am working through the almost 200 pages of the encyclical, but a few things have already struck me:
“Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet.”
– Pope Francis is clearly reaching out to the world, to you and to me to try to make what little difference we can. Climate change is a global issue and cannot be solved by placing blame on others or by riding around on a ‘green’ high horse. We must work together to address this issue. A global issue requires global cooperation and a global solution (alright, alright, enough with the global)… just one more from the Pope…
“We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
Okay, now onto the science bit…
Pope Francis discussed:
1. Pollution: detrimental effects on health and our environment, and the impact of our “throwaway” culture
” Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths…”
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
2. Global Warming: changes in the carbon cycle, weather, and who will be most effected
” 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.”
“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…”
“Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and systemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited.”
3. Lifestyle: our culture’s technological and lifestyle demands provide an excuse to exploit the environment
“Now… we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us.”
“It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit.”
“the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere ‘given’, as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere ‘space’ into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference”
“There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself.”
That covers the first few ‘biggies’, Pope Francis also addressed water, loss of biodiversity, decline in the quality of human life, global inequality, and called almost all world leaders out about “weak responses”.
The full encyclical can be accessed as a PDF here.
The Fisheries Blog pulled out some more of the fish-related science here.