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The Pope at Congress: too subtle on climate change?

September 24th, 2015 · No Comments

Pope Francis has finished his speech to Congress.  Within his comments, there are elements to please virtually all segments of U.S. society. From ‘sanctity of life’ to ‘sanctity of planet’ from the value of business to the importance to seeking greater equity, from …

One of the Pope’s major efforts relates to climate change. His encyclical merits reading — no matter whether you believe you understand climate change — as a powerful scientific, economic, philosophical, ethical, and moral laydown of the criticality of action.

The climate science denialists dominating the U.S. Congress (e.g., the GOP political elite) and the GOP in general feared that the Pontiff would lay down a strong gauntlet on climate change.  That their rejection of science, their fossil foolish endangerment of our common future in service to ideology and, in too many cases, their paymasters would face harsh and direct denouncement by the Pope.

This was not the case.

Listening to his speech, it is possible that many didn’t even pick up that he spoke to climate change — after all, those words aren’t even in the speech. Read the speech. It is worth the time … but notice how sublime the climate references are … (the relevant section after the fold

One has to wonder whether subtlety works in today’s American political system.

The Pope had the biggest soapbox in American politics.

The Pontiff, unlike too many in the American elite, actually seems to understand the serious risks we face and the criticality of serious actions to mitigate climate change if we are not to move from risks and damage to utterly catastrophic consequences for humanity …

At the greatest soapbox in American politics, the Pontiff chose subtlety rather than a sledge hammer.

I hope that his political judgment is correct.

Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

Hmmm … how many would totally miss that the Pontiff was referring to climate change?

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Tags: climate change