The Pope on Climate Change

By Sarah Titcomb
(Photo Source)

On September 23, Pope Francis touched down in the United States for the first time in his life. While speaking at the White House, he made it a point to focus on climate change and applauded President Obama’s administration and overall efforts on combating this global problem.

I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem, which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history. (Baker, 2015)

With these words, the Pope recognized the need to simultaneously cut greenhouse gas emissions and make our communities more resilient in the face of climate impacts. Open spaces such as parks, wilderness areas, agricultural lands, and urban forests are critical to that resiliency, protecting water supplies, reducing flood risk, sequestering carbon and delivering other important benefits. Urban forests, for instance, can help lower microclimate temperatures to reduce deaths during heat waves, as well as safeguard heat sensitive infrastructure.

The Pope cares deeply about this subject and as a result, aligns himself with the ROSS objective.  For him, climate change will adversely affect the global environment and will have a greater impact on those most vulnerable, such as the elderly, the young, and the poor. Climate change will cause these already at-risk populations to carry an even heavier burden as they may not have the resources to move to less exposed landscapes or construct less susceptible shelters. When disasters such as floods, droughts, or storms strike, the poor face an inequitable amount of hardship. Climate change is not just an environmental problem; it is a human health and social equity issue as well. The Pope’s visit and strong position on climate change reinforces the ROSS’s initiative to enhance community vitality by providing open space to all citizens while protecting our shared lands.

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