“Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change … loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions?”
These aren’t the radical words from the leader of a secular environmental organization, no; these are the radical words from the former leader of the Catholic Church.
In his 2010 World Day of Peace message titled, “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote that “it would be irresponsible not to take seriously” the signs of a growing environmental crisis.
The greatest threat to the natural world is climate change, caused principally by human induced global warming. Burning fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal for energy – produces huge amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the lower atmosphere.
The earth indeed is getting hotter. It’s not a hoax.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), last decade was the hottest on record.
And according to NASA, “97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming trends over the past century are “very likely due to human activities.”
In a study titled “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis” the highly authoritative United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming since the mid-20th century.
According to new findings by the World Meteorological Organization, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide – the major cause of global warming – increased at their fastest rate in 2013 than in any year since 1984.
And in a study by the non-governmental organization Germanwatch, the U.S. is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
To underscore the critical importance for world leaders to robustly respond to the climate changing dangers already beginning to affect the earth and humanity, the U.N. on Sept. 23 will host “Climate Summit 2014.”
With all of the solid scientific evidence validating climate change and global warming, I was wondering why this summer has felt cooler than normal where I live in Maryland.
Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, explained to me that the continued relatively faster warming of the Arctic region is causing shifts in the jet stream pattern which, in turn, is leading to more unusual weather in the Northern Hemisphere.
She said that during the first half of this year the same jet stream that has been bringing mostly cooler weather to the eastern U.S. has caused hot drought conditions along the west coast.
As the Arctic and Greenland ice caps continue to melt, ocean levels will dangerously rise – putting large areas of world-wide coastal land under water.
While too much water will plague many, countless others will suffer from not having enough.
According to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Hundreds of millions of people face water shortages that will worsen as temperatures rise.”
We need to quickly move toward, and heavily invest in, clean, safe and renewable alternative sources of energy – like wind, solar and geo-thermal.
Pope Benedict writes, “In a word, concern for the environment calls for a broad global vision of the world; a responsible common effort to move beyond approaches based on selfish interests towards a vision constantly open to the needs of all peoples.”
Our wise retired Holy Father is absolutely right.
Tony Magliano is a syndicated social justice and peace columnist, who lives in the Diocese of Wilmington.