Last Series Post: Part 1, Pollution, Waste, and the Throwaway Culture
Text: Laudato Si’ Online
Order in Paperback: Laudato Si’
Series Page: Outline
In my last post we took some time with the Pope’s thoughts on “Pollution, Waste and the Throwaway Culture,” this time as we continue our study series, the Pope continues his thoughts about the current condition of the world in his section titled, “Climate as a Common Good.”
Understanding Pope Francis on Climate Change
This is possibly one of the more controversial sections of the encyclical due to the Pope’s thoughts on Climate Change and his reasons for them, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a topic that divides us. I would encourage you to read this brief and very helpful article by Jimmy Akin titled, “Pope Francis’s Environmental Encyclical: 13 Things to Know and Share.” As published by the National Catholic Register, the author explains that when it comes to global warming and climate change, it’s is a matter of science, not directly faith and morals, so this is “…a subject on which there can be a legitimate diversity of opinion among Catholics, and among people in general.”
With that being said, Mr. Akin also points out that although there is room for discussion and opinion on the topic, if you are a Catholic, you can’t dismiss the encyclical entirely because it still includes authoritative church teaching on faith and morals.
“Climate as a Common Good”
In paragraph 23 of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis begins by stating that, “The Climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.” He then offers his opinion based on the current science available that we are “witnessing a disturbing warming of the climate system” which is causing changes in the climate including rising sea levels and extreme weather situations. He offers several reasons for the warming including natural occurrences like volcanic and the solar cycle, but he believes that most of the warming is caused by human activity which generates greenhouse gases.
He continues in paragraph 24 by briefly explaining how the warming of the climate affects the carbon cycle and ultimately damages drinking water, agriculture, and destruction of ecosystems “with serious consequences for all of us.”
Next in paragraph 25, Pope Francis offers explanation on why climate change is “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” It is a global problem and he explains of how people across the world, especially those in poor areas, are losing “natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing, and forestry” needed for their survival. As a result of they have no choice but to abandon their homes and endure significant suffering as a result. To close the paragraph, he shares his sadness that, in general, the world is indifferent to the suffering of these people and points out that we have lost “that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.”
To conclude this section, in paragraph 26, he admonishes “many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power” because they “seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, [by] simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change.” Alternatively, he calls for significant policy change to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and pollutants and development of renewable energy sources.
What Does It Mean for You and Me?
Pope Francis answers this question directly. He says that, “Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce it or aggravate it.” (Paragraph 26)
How Can We Make a Difference?
We can start by changing our minds like we discussed in the last post on “Pollution, Waste and the Throwaway Culture,” and then take the next step and look for ways to make changes in our lives that can both aid the suffering of our fellow men and women around the world and reduce our participation in the causes of their suffering.
Have you already made changes in your lifestyle or have suggestions on how we can make a difference?
In the next post we will work towards understanding Pope Francis thoughts on the section he titles, “The Issue of Water.”