Pope to publish rare encyclical on climate change

Pope Francis will issue an encyclical, a message to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, urging them to take action on climate change, The Guardian reported.

The publication will follow the pontiff’s trip in March to the city of Tacloban, in the Philippines, which was devastated in 2012 by the super Typhoon Haiyan. Months later, the pope will address the UN General Assembly in New York.

The Guardian reports:

The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.

Francis has addressed global inequality and environmental depredation in recent months, arguing that economies needn’t harm the ecosystem to provide opportunity for citizens. In October, he spoke at the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Rome:

“An economic system centered on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it. … The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.”

Slate.com science writer Phil Plait said it’s “wise” for the pope to issue his statement on climate change after visiting Tacloban:

… people there are still recovering from the incredible power of super Typhoon Haiyan … and it’s known that cyclones like that one are becoming more powerful due to global warming. It will present a strong and clear message of the urgency of this issue.

I have no doubt that the deniers in Congress (and in the usual venues) will bloviate, creating sound and fury over this. But what they are doing is flailing, trying to delay the inevitable.

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