If Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Katia, and Jose weren’t destructive enough to reinforce your belief in climate change, perhaps Pope Francis’ recent announcement will convince you. After safely arriving in Rome following a flight to Colombia, the pontiff told the plane’s passengers that humanity will “go down” if it fails to address climate change. He added that history will judge those who deny the science behind its causes. Said Francis, “If we don’t turn back, we will go down.”
Francis spoke at the exact same time Hurricane Irma battered Florida and left millions without power. Before it reached the United States, the Category 5 storm destroyed “95 percent of buildings” on some Caribbean islands and tore into Cuba, where 10 people were killed. As an environmentalist, Pope Francis has frequently warned of the consequences of global warming.
When Francis was questioned whether or not political leaders who do not work with other countries to address climate change should be held “morally responsible for future effects on the planet,” he had an interesting response. “You can see the effects of climate change and scientists have clearly said what path we have to follow,” said Francis, referring to the fact that 97 percent of climate scientists agree global warming is caused by human activity. “All of us have a responsibility, all of us, small or large, a moral responsibility. We have to take it seriously. We can’t joke about it,” he added. “Each person has their own. Even politicians have their own.”
Before President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris accord, Pope Francis gifted the leader an encyclical on the environment. His hope was to persuade the US President to acknowledge the scientifically-validated threat which is climate change and to invest in sustainable initiatives. Despite the Pope’s good intentions, the US pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which has been signed by nearly 200 countries.
“If someone is doubtful that this is true, they should ask scientists. They are very clear. These are not opinions made on the fly. They are very clear,” he pontiff said. “Then each person can decide and history will judge the decisions”.