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Catholic Church Acknowledges Climate Change

The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences has issued a report declaring that global climate change is occurring, that humans bear responsibility for it, and that it is our gravest moral imperative to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible.

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For many Tea Party leaders and their representatives in Congress, it is an “article of faith” that the Earth was given to humans by God for their exploitation and dominion. Many have used this distorted theology to support destructive mining and drilling projects, and to pass legislation attempting to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate planet-warming carbon pollution. Conservative members of Congress would rather the federal government subsidize oil companies than invest in clean energy technology.

But such reckless disregard for the Earth, its people, and natural resources is being challenged by a broad base of faith leaders who point to the many passages in the Bible that call for humans to be caretakers and good stewards of the planet. We can now add to their voices those of a working group of scientists appointed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a nonsectarian organization presided over by Werner Arber, a Nobel laureate and a Protestant. The academy has just issued a report that declares, without qualification and with utmost urgency, that global climate change is occurring, that humans bear responsibility for it, and that it is our gravest moral imperative to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible.

The report focuses on the causes and implications of retreating mountain glaciers and other ice forms because their melting is a key indicator of global warming. The report says these developments provide “some of the clearest evidence we have for a change in the climate system.” The report’s authors consist of “glaciologists, climate scientists, meteorologists, hydrologists, physicists, chemists, mountaineers, and lawyers.” The authors document the quickened pace of melting glaciers, ice, and snow across the globe, and the potential drastic consequences for human populations.

They recommend three main actions: “reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions without delay … reduce the concentrations of warming air pollutants … [and] prepare to adapt to the climatic changes, both chronic and abrupt, that society will be unable to mitigate.”

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