Pope Francis Encyclical to Set Divine Imperative — Halt Climate Wreckage, Help the Poor

The Pope is on a mission. The most moral and ethical mission of this century and perhaps of all time. A mission to stop a fossil fueled capitalist monstrosity from a “tyrranical” destruction of much of the world’s life-sustaining resources for the temporary gain of a handful of wealthy billionaires. A mission to stop this unjust system from victimizing the poor and from swelling their ranks with climate change sacrifice zone refugees. A mission to stop this unbridled, amoral, money-worshipping construct from killing our peoples, our civilizations, our planet.

Pope Climate Action

(In the lead-up to the 2015 Climate Summit in Paris, the Pope is urging the world to take climate action. His new encyclical will focus on the moral and spiritual imperative to preserve and nurture the Earth’s life support systems and to help the poor. The Pope views climate action as not only a moral and social justice issue, but also as a divine imperative. He sees the role of fossil fuel based political, market and resource domination as deeply unjust — a tyrannical treatment of nature and the poor that puts humankind under existential threat.)

The Pope is on a mission. A divinely inspired mission to root out a deep injustice that has been with all people, all nations, since the beginning, but that has greatly worsened due to the exploitation of fossil fuels and a proliferation of institutions possessing no moral values and only valuing a greed-based profit motive. A mission we must succeed in if we are to survive and have much hope of thriving in the coming years, decades, and centuries. A mission which you are called to join if you are thinking, feeling, and believe in life outside of the money-worship and resultant carbon conflagration that has now put every human, every creature into ever-amplifying peril.

It is a mission the Pope will more deeply explore in his coming encyclical on Thursday, June 18. A call for action that bears the clear and undeniable message: “If we destroy God’s Creation, it will destroy us.”

And it is very clear from the early releases of his upcoming proclamation that the Pope is taking on the powerful and wealthy political supporters of fossil fuel burning around the world. Taking on the 169 billionaires who now hold in their hands more than half of all the world’s wealth. A wealth whose concentration is enabled by unfair market systems and the domination of enforced consumption of finite and terribly destructive fossil fuels. An unjust base of terrible economic might enforced by conservative (neo-liberal) policies that delay and deny renewable energy adoption, the expansion of more efficient energy use, and that force destructive fossil fuel use upon ever growing numbers of people.

*    *    *    *    *

The Pope’s Clear Message — Help the Poor, Cease Environmental Destruction

To these points, the Pope has laid down a number of clear messages. The Pope warns us of expanding poverty and a swelling of the number of refugees due to economic exploitation and climate change:

[A] threat to peace arises from the greedy exploitation of environmental resources. Monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.

The Pope calls us to understand the essential imperative to protect the Earth and to nurture both it and its creatures. To not abuse, exploit, or destroy it. In other words, we are Earth’s protectors and nurturers, not her tyrants and good work is directly linked to the care of the Earth:

Genesis tells us that God created man and woman entrusting them with the task of filling the earth and subduing it, which does not mean exploiting it, but nurturing and protecting it, caring for it through their work.

The Pope tells us that the global hothouse crisis is existential for human beings and one that is due to a failure of human ethics:

We are experiencing a moment of crisis; we see it in the environment, but we mostly see it in man. The human being is at stake: here is the urgency of human ecology! And the danger is serious because the cause of the problem is not superficial, but profound, it’s not just a matter of economics, but of ethics.

The Pope equates the current incarnation of neo-liberal (read US conservative) market capitalism and hyper-individualism to the ancient golden calf idol of the Bible saying:

We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money. Trickle-down economics is a failed theory. Excessive consumerism is killing our culture, values and ethics. The conservative ideal of individualism is undermining the common good.

The Pope sees greed-based economic systems as tyrannical, unjust and destructive, forcing unhealthy consumption, and calls for a radical new financial system to avoid human inequality and environmental devastation:

It is no longer man who commands but money. Cash commands. Greed is the motivation. An economic system centered on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rthymn of consumption that is inherent to it. [A] radical new financial system [is required] to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation.

The Pope calls us to stop seeking to dominate and exploit Creation, but to instead cooperate with, care for and respect it. That it is a task set out by God to live in the heartbeat of Creation. To nurture Creation. To care for Creation. This is the calling in each of our hearts:

This task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to grasp the rhythm and logic of Creation. But we are often driven by pride of domination, of possessions, manipulation, of exploitation; we do not care for Creation, we do not respect it. Nurturing and caring for Creation is a command God gives not only at the beginning of history, but to each of us. It is a part of his plan; it means causing the world to grow responsibly, transforming it so that it may be a garden, a habitable place for everyone.

The Pope notes that caring for the poor and caring for creation are linked and that there is no way out of the crisis without a radical cessation of every kind of exploitation and harm to innocents:

As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution can be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems as environmental damage does trickle down most on the poor.

This is a divine mission. One the Pope has called upon you to support. To give aid and lend your effort to the divine imperative to help the poor and to preserve the life-sustaining bounty of Earth. Will you join him? Or will you join the others? Those the scriptures have aptly labeled — Destroyers of the Earth?


Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

Explosive Intervention by Pope Francis Set to Transform Climate Change Debate

Pope Francis’s Revolution Launches Thursday

Leave a comment


  1. climatehawk1

     /  June 14, 2015

    Tweet scheduled, thanks.

  2. Raises Naomi Klein’s “this changes everything” to an entirely more profound, historic, higher level.

  3. It will be fascinating to observe the fall-out from this.
    It is good for the Pope to declare himself, and perhaps influence other religious leaders to come out with statements.

    Religious institutions are often capable of adapting doctrine to the zeitgeist. The changing interpretation of humankind’s stewardship of the earth as described in Genesis is an example of this. It is undeniable that the same texts have been used to justify exploitation of the earth and it’s resources.

    I would point out that morality is conceivable without a “divine imperative” and the Pope will find himself standing shoulder to shoulder with agnostics, atheists and pagans. I understand the “divine imperative” belongs to Protestant theology.

    The Pope will no doubt face challenges re. birth control and abortion, already practiced by millions of Catholics, and highly pertinent in this context. The use of birth control is an example of how nominal Catholics are capable of ignoring the Pope’s pronouncements when it suits them. Will Catholic deniers have an epiphany?

  4. Ken Barrows

     /  June 14, 2015

    Let’s get to the point: capitalism (we must expand) goes or we go. It’s that simple.

    • It’s best to include the individual consumer that propels so much of this threat that capitalism finances.

      • Blaming the consumer is basically blaming the victim, DT. Don’t fall prey to that nonsense. The systems and institutions that prey and profit from conspicuous consumption are the fault, the flaw, the center of gravity. You change that. You funnel less destructive products and set limits and disincentives on consumption through policy and systemic change. That’s a real solution.

        Otherwise you’re just preaching abstinence to teenagers and without providing access to birth control.

  5. This is the first time in my entire life that any major world leader has spoken with language that clearly matches the urgency of the crisis. I sure hope this in fact brings about the sea change that is necessary with the rapidity the situation requires.

  6. Colorado Bob

     /  June 15, 2015

    Another record breaking flood.

    Heavy rains and wind hit Tbilisi during the night, turning a normally small stream that runs through the hilly city into a surging river. The flooding also damaged dozens of houses.

    “Slow-moving low pressure aloft centered over northern Turkey pumped at least double the average atmospheric moisture for mid-June into Georgia this weekend,” said weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman. “This set the stage for slow-moving areas of heavy rain in the nation’s capital.”


    Everyday Dr. Fran gets more data that her theory is sound. That woman is going to win Nobel Prize. This slowing of the jet stream , and it’s deep loops aren’t going away.

  7. Colorado Bob

     /  June 15, 2015

    These are the countries most and least interested in climate change

    Four of the five top countries, Tuvalu, Samoa, Vanuatu and Fiji, are island nations located in the South Pacific, a region that has been notoriously affected by drought and rising sea levels. The top search terms for these countries include “sea level,” “adapting climate change” and “water scarcity.”

    The countries with the lowest climate change-related search volume are Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, Russia and Iraq. Syria, where drought played a role in leading to the country’s current civil war, may rank low partly because ongoing fighting has led to intermittent power outages in Damascus and elsewhere.

    The two highest-ranked cities for climate-based searches are both in the Philippines, which is currently the world’s most disaster-prone country. With frequent flooding in Manila, massive typhoons and volcanoes, the Philippines is becoming an emerging player in global climate talks.


  8. Loni

     /  June 15, 2015

    I totally agree Ken Barrows, if this is what ‘capitalism’ can accomplish, then it’s garbage. In a day and age when we have the most recent technology, the best educated, the highest paid, on and on and on, what do we have to show for it but the feared continuous war, and an incident or two away from life supporting critical mass. “They” had the power, and they fuqked it up. So many paradigms blocking our way in our efforts to at least put up a respectable fight.

    This Pope is a cool guy, and this might very well be as close to ‘Divine Intervention’ as we could hope to get. God Bless him.

  9. Colorado Bob

     /  June 15, 2015

    I wish senator “Snowball’s” oil buddies would buy him a vacation home on the East beaches
    of the Philippines, Then he could stand on his deck with his grand kids , as the most powerful cyclones man has ever seen approach. And scream , “It’s a hoax” !

  10. Colorado Bob

     /  June 15, 2015

    The question this week is who stands up ?

    This is like Travis at the Alamo.

  11. Colorado Bob

     /  June 15, 2015

    The pope is going to need out our help , every one buckle their chin strap

    • Indeed he is. Chin straps firmly fastened!

      • Colorado Bob

         /  June 15, 2015

        He is a brave man And as a none believer I am his huckleberry.

      • It’s good to have religion involved — and about time too. More ‘ordinary people might start talking about the seriousness of the climate. Good for the Pope — on this count.
        We’ll see how many things MSM will find to distract us from his message.

        Ps From the perspective of community caused air pollution (and GHG climate change):

        A few years ago, in soot/ traffic dust covered Santa Barbara, CA, (and among other attempts) I approached someone I knew, a religious scholar at a university, to broach the subject of the “faithful’ being part of the problem, and solution.
        I did this after noticing how many ‘churches’ were surrounded by acres of cars (emissions, etc.) and parking lots.
        It seemed reasonable that these people at talk about their role — and that it be talked about in “church’ where moral participation is usually advocated.

        So, the reply from this noted scholar, to my suggestion, was clear and succinct, “No, not here. Go talk to the Community Environmental Council.” [a catch all business/community/environment/feel good group.]
        The quickness of his reply was a bit unnerving for such a deep and moral issue.
        But I was to come across this sort of reply many times — and from many ‘experts’.

        This climate ‘denialism’ etc, we encounter, has many levels — ouch.

        Not to detract from the Pope’s message, when I think of organized religion and moral courage in hard times, I often think of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who fully engaged spirituality in politics and survival in Nazi Germany. (He did not survive.)


      • If interested in Faith in Politics,” this is a good 2006 piece about Bonhoeffer.
        (How about: “actionable faith” ?)

  12. Colorado Bob

     /  June 15, 2015

    “Ask many of these candidates about climate change, one of the defining threats of our time, and they’ll say, ‘I’m… not a scientist.’”

    “Well then why don’t they start listening to those who are?”

  13. Andy in San Diego

     /  June 15, 2015

  14. I love the fact that this Pope isn’t afraid to speak truth to power. He is a much needed asset in the fight to save our climate. So many of the denial crowd are also conservative/Christian, and I think their infallible spiritual leader may be the only way to reach those who simply refuse to accept the unambiguous science of climate change.

    • He’s a good leader to have in this fight. He’ll make a lot of people think twice about their current policy stance. And he brings with him a lot of people power.

  15. Tom

     /  June 15, 2015

    i’m afraid his speech will fall on deaf ears.

    Few if any want to give up the lifestyles they’ve been born into: to get food one just goes to a place called a “store” where one can exchange pieces of paper for actual food and water comes out of the tap at will, while electricity provides distraction from boredom and the ability to cook without fire. Very few want to give up their jobs, cars, ‘toys,’ technology and entertainment.

    The poor don’t want solar panels, they want to eat and get medical care they can’t afford.

    The psychopaths at the top don’t want to relinquish their hold on power or wealth either. They’d rather go down with the sinking ship – on the top deck – while it all unravels, maybe survive for a while longer.

    The Pope will have to lead by example and divest the Church of all that accumulated wealth by distributing it to the poor of the world (or at least funding food co-ops and medical/dental care facilities for them), give up flying and being chauffeured around, speaking into microphones and the whole church apparatus before most will believe him.

    Sorry i don’t see anything significant happening. Humanity is too entrenched and has been duped by the worst world-view possible (materialism, capitalism, consumerism) for the planet, to change abruptly voluntarily and be without it all.

    • Andy in San Diego

       /  June 15, 2015

      You concern is shared by many of us (myself included). Hopefully the actions of these folks will help his efforts.


    • synaxis

       /  June 15, 2015

      Indeed, I think a key question here is ‘how to change behavior?’ It will be interesting to see if Pope Francis makes any specific recommendations about lifestyle changes based on the scientific evidence to date, e.g. eating less (or no) meat, reducing (or eliminating) non-essential travel which depends on fossil fuels.

      Regarding the latter, will the Catholic Church eliminate (or curtail) its international World Youth Day which draws tens of thousands of people from around the world via airline travel? This question touches on the delicate issue of the ‘pilgrimage market’ more generally.

      • This encyclical isn’t specifically about individual behavior, it’s about church policy and influence — pushing to get climate response fast tracked in the short term (2015 Summit) and trying to influence systemic changes in the long term. In the end, what Tom and you continue to fail to understand is that behavior change at one level is more effectively achieved by governance.

        The critical issue is reigning in the unbridled profit seeking of fossil fuel interests, ultimate abolishment of fossil fuel burning, the product pushing, the alternative sabotaging and the exploitation of captive consumers.

    • The Pope will help to give a voice to those who don’t currently have one. He’ll be a big thorn in the side of conservative (neo liberal) fossil fuel cheerleaders whose appeal to large groups is in some ways rooted in this illusion that they are doing ‘God’s work.’ In other words, this drives a huge wedge through the conservative religious base. The more extreme deniers will likely hold on but the others, those swayed by authority, will be put in a situation of cognitive dissonance.

      The deniers themselves will either attack the Pope or try, unsuccessfully, to ignore him. The attacks from many of the more extreme are already coming — labeling the Pope a Marxist (when conservatives say Marxist, they want you to think Stalinist) and the like. But the issue here is that the Pope is promoting solutions to climate change, poverty, and the dismantling of neo-liberalism which has done so much to increase income inequality (and, yes, the Catholic Church could certainly help matters by changing stances on birth control, but that’s another issue, this one focuses specifically on the climate crisis).

      In any case, I don’t think you’re realistically looking at the needs/wants and more importantly, the direction of the poor. The trend now is increasing access to electricity and transport (effective medical support access itself requires electricity and transport). If the structures that provide that access are carbon energy based then the climate situation worsens. But if the provision is renewable+ electric based, then you increase standards of living without worsening the climate crisis. This benefits the poor on multiple levels.

      The Pope’s move is pretty significant, therefore. But the key issue is impact on policy and the internal politics of various states. The U.S., being rather religiously oriented, is at center mass of the push. A number of other nations will be shifted on the basis of their allegiance to the church. In addition, the church is a governing body itself. So the encyclical will have policy implications when it comes to church teaching, teaching at Catholic schools, the policies of other Catholic institutions including hospitals, and all of the multiple national governments with which the church has direct diplomatic contact. One can certainly already see the Pope’s push to make the church fossil fuel free. So we’re looking at churches and church institutions around the world being powered by wind, solar and other renewables. But there is this greater impact from an institution as large and powerful as the church setting out to drastically change direction and to actively promote those changes to its 1.2 billion constituents and the many more around the world who are actively influenced by them.

      • synaxis

         /  June 15, 2015

        I think it is important to keep in mind that the encyclical and the Pope’s upcoming speech to the UN General Assembly in September have different audiences and consequently may take different angles on the climate change issue.

        My comment (above) actually had in mind the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical, which seems to be the focus of the thread (though Tom referred to “his speech”).

        A papal encyclical is typically addressed to Catholic bishops and the Catholic lay faithful and often has a doctrinal and/or pastoral purpose. Issues of international governance and policy would more properly be addressed in the Pope’s speech to the UN General Assembly, consistent with your comment that “the key issue is impact on policy and the internal politics of various states.” In contrast, the encyclical might be more focused on personal responsibility and behavior. We’ll find out soon enough!

        • A little bit of splitting hairs here, Synaxis.

          This particular encyclical could best be termed as an Apostalic Exhortation. This is the second highest ranking document in all of the Catholic Church, second only to an Apostalic Constitution.

          It deals with Church doctrine which is in essence Church policy. This Church is both a real nation — with a seat at the UN — and a spiritual nation of believers.

          The identification of confronting climate change as an issue of doctrine is one of deep importance as it calls for action on the part of leaders. The identification of this particular doctrinal issue as an existential threat to humankind is yet another statement of pretty extraordinary weight.

          The point here is that this encyclical is a direct call on the hundreds of millions of Catholic faithful to act. But it is unique in that it is an outcry for action, no just to Catholics, but to the entire world. It is therefore a matter of direct policy importance due to its wide-ranging influence and especially due to its labeling of fossil fuel burning and related economic exploitation as something that the Church considers to be hideously immoral going forward.

  16. Griffin

     /  June 15, 2015

    Robert, the current storm off the southern tip of Greenland would seem to perfectly fit your narrative of stronger storms fueled by a stark temperature contrast. Although it is currently a maritime storm, it is quite large, and with pressures in the 980mb range, quite strong for a storm at this time of year.

    • They’ve been spinning up pretty periodically. 980 is relatively strong for this time of year, but nothing too crazy. The real time to look out for is Fall and Winter.

  17. dnem

     /  June 15, 2015

    Brilliant and courageous. The NYT is reporting that it will be a tough sell with conservative US bishops: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/14/us/pope-francis-may-find-wariness-among-us-bishops-on-climate-change.html

  18. “i’m afraid his speech will fall on deaf ears.

    Few if any want to give up the lifestyles they’ve been born into: to get food one just goes to a place called a “store” where one can exchange pieces of paper for actual food and water comes out of the tap at will, while electricity provides distraction from boredom and the ability to cook without fire. Very few want to give up their jobs, cars, ‘toys,’ technology and entertainment.”

    * * *

    Do you really believe that we will have to destroy civilization in order to save it? Must we all suffer just to stop burning fossil fuels? Isn’t that the Koch brothers argument?

    Can’t we put a lid on this nihilism and keep our eye on the ball – how to most quickly build and deploy a new 100% renewable energy system so that civilization might actually survive?

    • Kudos to you, Ginger. Nice to see that some folks get it and are immune to the nonsense. If we had more like Ginger here, we wouldn’t be in this situation now.

      Climate change denial is just one part of the problem. Solutions denial, as Tom shows above, is just as dangerous and deadly.

      • Exactly. The entire “we have to live like cavemen” argument has been sold to the public by the denial crowd. We don’t have to give up electricity, transportation or modern civilization in general to kick fossil fuels. We could get most of our power from renewables today, if we only had the political/social will. And saying that the poor are more concerned with good than getting solar panels is misleading. When solar is provided to the poor who are off the grid, it helps to lift them out of poverty, while also bypassing the normally required step of constructing an infrastructure for power generation and delivery. Also, fossil fuel propoganda has convinced most that climate change is the consumer’s responsibly and will/can be solved with consumers simply changing their lifestyles/making different choices. This is not true. While some current behaviors will no doubt need to change, the majority of solutions has to come from the top down, with government policies also required. That is one reason conservatives become rabid when the topic of climate change is discussed. They realize that the solutions required are inherently the responsibility of government and will bring with it regulation of their worshipped free markets.

        • Bingo!

          Individual action only helps at the margins. But it is group action by governments and institutions and social networks that are required to solve this. It’s one reason why divestment is such a powerful tool. It creates stigma against the bad actors, punishes them directly, and generates the group coordination necessary to change governing structures.

    • Jeremy

       /  June 15, 2015

      I actually think there are a lot of people in the western world who would like to give up at least part of the lifestyle in return for more time (one of the most popular past times in the UK is fishing, often for carp that are returned alive to the water) but more often than not other things stand in the way. By that I mean insecurity of work and or tenure, paying for a mortgage or rent, having to travel distances for work or day to day food shopping. As an individual most of these things are out of the individuals reach to influence, a few manage the transition but it is not really available for the majority.
      In the UK for example, if I wanted to acquire a small holding with a house you would require £250,000 in even the more remote areas. The garden I do have is 30ft X15 ft, and probably, wrong is, poisoned with coal mining waste from the last 200 years. Many people have even fewer options, at least I own a house.
      So if people are or feel trapped they spend on other flipparies to make themselves feel better, whether a leased car or the latest TV. Not excusing that excess, but it happens. Until people can make the choice available to all it is difficult to influence the choice of the many.

      • This is about the wealthy giving up some of what they have to stop this nightmare. About resources shifted to less destructive activities.

        The place you start is with the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent. You start with the super rich. The ones causing this mess by peddling the junk that gets us into trouble. You get them to take down their conspicuous lifestyles that soak up the resources of hundreds of thousands of the rest of us for each individual. You do that and then transfer the excess to sustainability solutions, you get rid of the fossil fuel special interest powers and their money streams, you then go down the chain and invest in renewable resources, less destructive agriculture, ecosystem revitalization, and atmsopheric carbon capture through changed land use and other methods. You hit the systems of market dominance and inequality with new limits and give back to the people that are now on the brink. And last of all you put together national and international emergency response teams for the situations that will almost certainly arise even with a rapid mitigation.

      • Jeremy

         /  June 15, 2015

        Robert the wealthy will not give up anything, you will have to take it from them. Shame them, they will hide it, but carry on as before, a green wash if you like. Politicians, the political system, the media, even social mores of the majority are against such a sudden change. Cities like London are the playgrounds of these super rich and are expelling the poor to satisfy their desires, these people rove the planet finding the most satisfying boltholes.

        So the change we are looking for is planet wide, not just the US or Europe, and this change to the super rich controlling everthing has been going on a pace since the 1970s. How do you make a super tanker change course – slowly – and time is not something we have to play around with.

        The best hope for such a change is a collapse of the monetary system but that will hurt millions of individuals and probably lead to violent conflict, with no guarantee of the right outcome as far as carbon is concerned. I just have not seen or heard of a convincing argument as to how the 1% are made to change anything in fast order.

        • Actually, renaissance and revolution can happen in a blink of an eye. Supertanker is not the right analogy. And blaming the consumer just delays the inevitable reckoning.

      • Jeremy

         /  June 15, 2015

        OK – super tanker is from a UK perspective – 1945 socialist agenda, NHS, social security, social housing to 2000 and a capitalist utopia and everyone and everything subject to the market.
        I do not blame the individual as there is no choice they can realistically make in large numbers at present but I do think that if that choice is put in front of people and is achievable large numbers will take it. Then that will influence many more. But, again from a UK perspective, there are only a few small signs that anyone has woken up to the problem, let alone done anything about it.

        • Leadership is the critical element. Individuals taking action and helping others, preferably groups to take action. Policy is the most effective tool overall.

    • I agree – the most obvious example is the huge differences in CO2 output per capita between similarly advanced industrial countries. Sure all are too high and need to reduce further and quicker, but a carbon profligate life is a choice which can be unmade.

  19. Looks like someone has been reading Karl Marx! TPTB are not going to like this.

    And Karl Marx was right. He knew Capitalism would eventually destroy itself of its own internal contradictions, and by pauperizing humanity, looting the natural resources unto exhaustion, and fouling the earth.

    • So these guys are now screwing up the Northern Hemisphere — and it’s basically due to unfettered greed. And they think that the same thinking that’s wrecking the NH (market looting and pillage, strong arming governments to serve their interests only) won’t also wreck New Zealand? They’ll turn the place into a pirate island.

      And the whole notion of the rich going to another planet is just absurd. The last two generations of wealthy cut the kind of development and cooperation necessary for space and other world development off at the knees. It was way too long term for these short sighted fools. Required too much public investment and involvement.

      • Rex

         /  June 15, 2015

        Deniers, and those who take money or power from the rich to further the denial industry, shall soon be known as enemies of the people. Which they truly are, enemies of most people on the planet. Things will change when they are perceived this way.

        Buckled both chin straps, one each!

    • james cole

       /  June 15, 2015

      It always gets me worked up when the elites of the world look to New Zealand as a place they can buy up and hide from the disasters they have created. I know New Zealand well from a number of stays there, the very idea of the good people of NZ being taken over by the world’s money centered elites and used as their personal sanctuary from climate disaster, and perhaps now, even nuclear disaster. Well, I can’t use those words here. The monied elites dare to run away from their problems by trying to hide down on the South Island somewhere, or on a huge estate up North. Just makes my blood boil with rage!
      It’s clear that corporate elites have ignored climate change for profits. It’s also clear political elites have ignored climate change for corporate money and support.
      I’ve read stories on economics blogs about the ultra rich staking out large claims in New Zealand, and building their shelters, and preparing to hire top level security teams from the private military contractors. This is sickening, cowardly and less than Christian.

      • I’ve come across a fair number of reports of climate related mayhem in NZ over the years. Add in earthquake hazards and isolation and I think they have chosen a dubious bolthole. But I guess that maintains their batting average of bad decisions.

  20. Charles

     /  June 15, 2015

    Does the Pope wear a … condom on his lapel? When the pope starts talking about population control, I might take his thoughts about the poor seriously.

    Kudos to him for his statements about Climate Change, a very welcome direction.

    Let the rich go to New Zealand. Their descendents will be bowing to the Chinese.

  21. It’s important to understand that the CO2 emissions from wind and solar, on a lifetime basis, are only a tiny fraction of those from fossil-fueled energy sources, because of the huge emissions that come directly from the burning of fuel. The bottom line is simple: we can do far, far more to cut carbon loading than we are doing today–exactly how much is not clear because our efforts to date have been so pathetically inadequate.

    • We can easily cut 80 percent by jettisoning fossil fuels primarily. We can cut another 10 percent by changing materials production (concrete, steel etc). The final ten percent is in agriculture (reduction in meat farming, changes in planting process, use of alternate means of fertilization and land rejuvenation) and land use (reforestation, biochar etc). If the materials and land use changes are aggressive enough, we go net negative.

  22. The Guardian reports that the Encyclical has been leaked – in Italian, unfortunately.

    Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem” before the end of this century, according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical. In a document released by an Italian magazine on Monday, the pontiff will warn that failure to act would have “grave consequences for all of us”.

  23. JG Miller

     /  June 16, 2015

    The Pope says:

    Genesis tells us that God created man and woman entrusting them with the task of filling the earth and subduing it, which does not mean exploiting it, but nurturing and protecting it, caring for it through their work.
    Nurturing and caring for Creation is a command God gives not only at the beginning of history, but to each of us. It is a part of his plan; it means causing the world to grow responsibly, transforming it so that it may be a garden, a habitable place for everyone.

    Until Francis truly understands and condemns the full scope of irresponsible growth, which at its root is the exploded human population, both rich and poor, his moral warnings lack central substance and coherence. He is right to name neoliberalism, capitalism, and greed. Even at this late, grim stage, he’s still flogging the Genesis story to “fill the earth” and subdue it, and he’s of a piece with much capitalistic rhetoric with his “grow responsibly” ideology.

  24. longjohn119

     /  June 16, 2015

    Good for the POope. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to quit saying:

    “Did you ever notice that the people that **claim** to believe in Intelligent Design are also the same ones most likely to muck that Intelligent Design all up?”

    Saying that 400+ ppm of CO2 is OK or better than the 270-300 ppm we had for over 100,000 years before 1950 is like saying that God made a mistake

  25. Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption

    Again, I would just like to point out that energy consumption is not the problem. Lifestyle is not the problem. What IS the problem is energy consumption and lifestyle that generates CO2. CO2 (and other GHG’s) in the atmosphere – THAT is the problem.

    In fact, energy consumption can be a very good thing indeed. Many people in the denialist/nihilist camps like to point out that fossil fuels are irreplaceable because they provide a lot of calories for a small amount of space.But this misses the point. Fossil fuels have allowed the development of modern society not because of their energy density, but because of their seemingly unlimited volume of total energy, and relatively low expense.

    Yet, potentially, this is precisely the promise of renewable energy. Sun, wind, and tide can provide us completely unlimited energy, forever. And a publicly-owned non profit energy utility would guarantee our energy would be priced as low as possible. Imagine the social justice and blunt survival benefits of unlimited, low cost electricity for the poor. Imagine the financial and physical comfort it would afford the middle class.

    Very low cost green energy would also drive energy consumption very quickly away from the fossil fuel sector. We would not need to regulate the fossil fuel industry – we could simply make the burning of fossil fuels irrelevant by pricing them out of the market.

    Exxon Mobil would become a plastics and chemical manufacturer, using industrial processes powered with ultra-low cost electricity. The cost of goods in every sector would become more affordable as less expensive green energy replaced fossil fuels.

    Keep an eye on China over the next few years to see how quickly a giant economy can convert to green energy when there is a national government mandate to do so. Listen for American businessmen to start complaining about the “unfair” business advantage cheap green energy provides Chinese manufacturers.

    The U.S. electric utility arena is already the most non profit, most publicly-owned sector of our economy. The Department of Energy regulates that sector, and its mandate is under the control of the Executive , not the Congressional, Branch.

    • Do I see the birth of a carbon-free energy rights movement? Ginger — this is truly the fabled ‘city on a hill.’

      Although, I would add that Francis here is probably referring to changes in energy consumption by type. Given his past statements it seems pretty clear he’s pushing hard against carbon based energy consumption.

  26. Robert,

    Thanks, as ever, for all of your incredibly useful and well researched posts. As for comments on the Pope and his encyclical, I will wait until the official version comes out and can be digested in full. But I do have this comment on your post: You quote scripture, and you quote a very powerful verse that Christians have completely ignored. I have been flogging this verse (and several other key verses) for years in an attempt to get Christians to see the scriptural context and prophetic context of what is going on. So anyway, if you are going to quote a profoundly important scripture, please give the citation. You quoted Revelation 11:18 or, more accurately, you quoted part of the very end of that verse. To expand on that reference, God says in that verse, “(I will) destroy those who destroy the earth.”

    It is actually quite easy to make a clear-cut case from scripture that man, through sin, is destroying the earth and that this is wildly out of sync with God’s plan for man. Unfortunately, I do not see in the leaked encyclical draft that the Pope made this part of his argument but, again, I will wait and see what the official version says.

    Thanks again for your work.

    Scott Christiansen

    • The words alone suffice. Let others wonder or point out the scriptural significance of the things written here. And, most importantly, those who have misused the word of God for their own selfish ends will know we are talking about them. Revelation is a favorite of theirs and yet they do not read or comprehend the words written there. Words that clearly describe what happens when humankind abuses God’s Creation.

      You’ve done good work, Scott. Thank you for sending out the message we spoke of earlier.



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