Green Cities

Pope Francis’s Call to Action

Pope Francis officially released his call to action, ‘Laudato Si.’ a 192-page climate change encyclical, on June 18th. The pope focused on the morality of climate change and the necessity of protecting the world’s poor, who are disproportionately affected by this manmade disaster. Unlike previous encyclicals, this one is directed at people of all religions, not just Catholics. The document reiterates the importance of people of all races and religions working together to protect this beautiful Earth we all share. It is also the first encyclical that addresses environmental damage. Crucial lifestyle changes are needed to protect our planet. The “throw-away culture” victimizes the poor and creates an abundance of unnecessary waste. Pope Francis calls on people to live simpler lives instead of striving for a life of consumption. There are many small things we can all do to help our Earth like taking public transportation, carpooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, recycling, and boycotting harmful products. The pope called access to clean drinking water “a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival.” Those who are powerful and wealthy are disregarding their actions and violating the Earth. Instead they need to use their resources to help those in need. In fact, a global authority of cooperating governments can help tackle climate change. Developed countries, who are mostly responsible for the environmental damage through the “export of solid waste and toxic liquids to developing countries, and by the pollution produced by companies which operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home,” have a responsibility to help developing countries, as they are bearing the brunt of their actions. The pope argued that our dependence on technology is not useful unless it is coupled with values and conscience to enhance the Earth, not destroy it. The widespread use of renewable energies should be implemented, as our reliance on fossil fuels is contributing to climate change. Other topics of the encyclical include urban planning and the need for better living situations for the poor, agricultural conglomerates that are pushing family farmers off of their land, conservation, and biodiversity, The release of this breakthrough encyclical comes in advance of the Pope’s participation in the Climate Week and the UN General Assembly in September, as well as the upcoming COP21 talks in Paris in December. Marisa Barley, Intern