Pope urges revolution to save Earth, fix ‘perverse’ economy

Pope urges revolution to save Earth, fix ‘perverse’ economy

Pope Francis explained the science of global warming, which he blamed on an unfair, fossil fuel-based industrial model that harms the poor most.



By (AP)

Published: Thu 18 Jun 2015, 7:43 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:58 PM

Pope Francis waves as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. -AP

Vatican City - Pope Francis called on Thursday for a bold cultural revolution to correct what he calls the “structurally perverse” economic system of the rich exploiting the poor that is turning Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”

In a sweeping manifesto aimed at spurring action in UN climate negotiations, domestic politics and everyday life, Francis explained the science of global warming, which he blamed on an unfair, fossil fuel-based industrial model that harms the poor most. Citing Scripture and past popes’ and bishops’ appeals, he urged people of all faiths and no faith to undergo an awakening to save God’s creation for future generations.

It’s an indictment of big business and climate doubters alike.

“It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress,” he wrote. “Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress.”

Environmental scientists said the first ever encyclical, or teaching document, on the environment could have a dramatic effect on the climate debate, lending the moral authority of the immensely popular Francis to an issue that has long been cast in purely political, economic and scientific terms.

Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist, said the encyclical would be a “game-changer in making people think about this.”

“It’s not politics anymore,” he said, adding that science is usually difficult for people to understand but that people respond to arguments framed by morality and ethics.

Environmental activists display a banner as they prepare to listen to speeches inside a Roman Catholic church to coincide with Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change. -AP 

The energy lobby was quick to criticise the encyclical and its anti-fossil fuel message.

“The simple reality is that energy is the essential building block of the modern world,” said Thomas Pyle of the Institute of Energy Research, a conservative free-market group. “The application of affordable energy makes everything we do — food production, manufacturing, health care, transportation, heating and air conditioning — better.”

Francis said he hoped his effort would lead ordinary people in their daily lives and decision-makers at critical UN climate meetings later this year to a wholesale change of mind and heart, saying “both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor” must now be heard.

“This vision of ‘might is right’ has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity, since resources end up in the hands of the first comer or the most powerful: the winner takes all,” he wrote. “Completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, fraternity and peace as proposed by Jesus.”

The encyclical “Laudato Si,” (Praise Be) is 191 pages of pure Francis. It’s a blunt, readable booklet full of zingers that will make many conservatives and climate doubters squirm, including in the U.S. Congress, where Francis will deliver the first-ever papal address in September. It will likely put several US presidential candidates on the hot seat since some Republicans, Catholics among them, doubt the science behind global warming and have said the pope should stay away from the debate.

“I don’t think we should politicise our faith,” US Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, a Catholic convert, said on the eve of the encyclical’s release. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”

Yet one of Francis’ core points is that there really is no distinction between human beings, their faith and the environment.

“Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth,” he wrote.


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