ACCORDING to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States, July 2019 was the hottest in the last 140 years of recorded history. The average global temperature in July was 1.71 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees. The NOAA also said that nine of the ten hottest Julys have occurred since 2005, with the last five years ranking as the five hottest. These figures prove that Climate Change is real.
Thus, no less than Pope Francis has joined the call to address the Climate Change problem. In a message during the ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’ which is observed on the 1st of September, the Pontiff points to constant pollution, the continued use of fossil fuels, intensive agricultural exploitation and deforestation as the causes of global temperatures rising above safe levels. He also notes the increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather phenomena, the desertification of the soil and melting of glaciers.
To address the problem, Pope Francis invites us to reflect on our lifestyles, and how our daily decisions about food, consumption, transportation, use of water, energy and many other material goods, can often be thoughtless and harmful. Now is the time, he adds, “to abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and move, quickly and decisively, towards forms of clean energy and a sustainable and circular economy”.
This is not the first time that Pope Francis talked about Climate Change. In June 2019, he called on the participants attending a summit entitled “The Vatican Dialogues: The Energy Transition and Care for our Common Home” for a radical energy transition. Today’s ecological crisis, especially climate change, he said, “threatens the very future of the human family”. He added that, “the climate crisis requires ‘our decisive action, here and now’ and the Church is fully committed to playing her part.”
As early as June 2015, Pope Francis’ is already mentioning the need to address climate change. In his encyclical entitled ‘Laudato Si’, he wrote: “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 or aggravate it...Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change...”.
Another pressing environmental problem, plastic pollution, did not also escape the Pope’s attention. In his September 1 message, the Pontiff mentioned the considerable presence of plastic and microplastics in the oceans which are equally troubling, and testify to the urgent need for interventions that can no longer be postponed.
He also highlighted the plastic problem in his encyclical: “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.....These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish”.