To highlight the plea by Pope Francis, spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, that all people of good will respond to the moral imperative of solving climate change, faith leaders today hand-delivered “Laudato Si’,” the Pope’s first complete encyclical to the faithful, to all Catholic members of the US Congress. The distribution of these 160-page books precedes the Pope’s planned address to Congress on September 24.
Along with delivering the official policy document, Franciscan Catholic activist Patrick Carolan and Presbyterian climate activist Mike Tidwell are also requesting lawmakers to support the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act. Introduced in the House of Representatives on February 24, 2015, by Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen and cosponsored by more than 25 of his colleagues, the bill would cap carbon pollution in the US and issue quarterly “carbon dividend” checks to recompense Americans victimized by anthropogenic climate change. H.R. 1027 is called a “cap and dividend” measure rather than “cap and trade” to emphasize its wider purpose of redress directly back to the poor and middle classes harmed by corporate pollution of the atmosphere.
But what will this education effort accomplish? In June, I noted “a startling and longtime disjunction between the root views of American Catholics and those of Republican Catholic politicians currently in office.”
By 63-71%, a succession of polls show that Catholic Republicans support policies to reduce global warming. Conservative Catholic Republicans are more likely to believe climate change is happening than their non-Catholic conservative brethren and sisters. However—
“Over 56% of Congressional Catholic Republicans deny or question the science of climate change…. Neither Republican-controlled chamber currently supports policies to reduce the impacts of climate change…. The trends shown [in Pew Research data] indicate that calling oneself an American Catholic means different things to different people. They also indicate that many Catholic Republican politicians are out of step with the majority of Republican Catholics–even the most conservative of Catholic constituents.”
Van Hollen and the other public servants who worked on the Healthy Climate and Family Security bill found the following:
- Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise, with atmospheric CO2 levels exceeding 400 parts per million two years ago for the first time in human history.
- The warming of our planet has led to more frequent, dangerous and expensive extreme weather events, including heat waves, storms, fires, droughts, floods and tornadoes.
- More than 97% of climate scientists agree that our planet is warming, primarily because of the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.
- The atmosphere is a common resource that belongs equally to all.
- Stabilizing the climate can and must be done in a way that supports vibrant economic growth and a thriving middle class.
- Legislation to address climate change and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy must be fair, transparent, and built to last.
They introduced the legislation as an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. People exposed to the concept have begun to popularize it.
CleanTechnica discussed “Laudato Si’” in some detail back in June. The Pope’s encyclical asserts that climate change requires urgent ethical action from all world’s Catholics and other citizens as well—including American lawmakers (most of them Republicans) who have obstructed the view of voters and in some cases deliberately obscured (and are still doing so) public knowledge of climate facts.
At a midday virtual news conference, Franciscan Catholic activist Patrick Carolan and Presbyterian climate activist Mike Tidwell highlighted the Pope’s plea that all peoples of the planet—especially those who make and enforce the laws in all nations—must respond to the moral imperative of solving climate change. Read the draft legislation at this link. There are also online petitions launched by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Tara Expeditions’ Romain Troublé urging world collaboration.
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