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Pope Francis Evandro Inetti/ZumaPress

Climate Change and the Catholic Church

Pope Francis is calling on the world to take action against global warming, and many conservatives in the United States are up in arms. But, as the climate debate unfolds this year, most of humanity will find Francis’s message compelling: we need both science and morality to reduce the risk to our planet.

ROME – Pope Francis is calling on the world to take action against global warming, and many conservatives in the United States are up in arms. The pope should stick to morality, they say, and not venture into science. But, as the climate debate unfolds this year, most of humanity will find Francis’s message compelling: we need both science and morality to reduce the risk to our planet.

The first point to note is that an overwhelming majority of Americans agree with Francis’s call for climate action. Unfortunately, their views are not represented in the US Congress, which defends Big Coal and Big Oil, not the American people. The fossil-fuel industry spends heavily on lobbying and the campaigns of congressmen such as Senators Mitch McConnell and James Inhofe. The world’s climate crisis has been aggravated by America’s democratic crisis.

In a survey of Americans conducted in January 2015, an overwhelming majority of respondents (78%) said that, “if nothing is done to reduce global warming,” the future consequences for the US would be “somewhat serious” or “very serious.” Roughly the same proportion (74%) said that if nothing is done to reduce global warming, future generations would be hurt “a moderate amount,” “a lot,” or “a great deal.” Perhaps most tellingly, 66% said that they would be “more likely” to support a candidate who says that climate change is happening and who calls for a shift to renewable energy, while 12% would be “less likely” to support such a candidate.

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