by Alexandre Baude
The future of the world’s ecology is uncertain. Many first world countries are in the spotlight regarding decisive action that needs to be taken. On Sept. 15, world leaders met at the U.N. to debate sustainable goals for 2030. As a guest speaker, they had invited Pope Francis who addressed everyone with a clear message.
“Any harm done to the environment… is harm to humanity,” Pope Francis stated. “We human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect,” he continued. This furthers his argument that countries need to act sooner rather than later. In fact, they will have the opportunity to do so this November to December during the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as CMP11, in Paris. During this year’s CMP11, many are expecting and hoping that stricter international laws will be made to lessen the damage being done to the Earth.
The Pope’s speech is another example of the growing congruence between religion and science to promote a sustainable environment. As head of the Catholic Church, the Pope holds an enormous amount of influence over many people, and the hope is that this speech will push for greater support from all peoples.
In an interview with sophomore Jeremy Greer, Greer spoke regarding his feelings towards Pope Francis’ address.
“As a general supporter for environmental activism, I really liked how there is now a connection between the Pope and sustainability,” Greer said. “It may be because of my EA major too, but change needs to happen. I hope this country and others listened to him thoughtfully, and begin to take active steps. After all, it’s the Pope saying it.”
This idea of “it’s the Pope saying it” may be the spark needed to garner greater action from communities, both religious and agnostic, to push their local authorities for active reform this coming December.
The main obstacle in the way of such change is power and money. In the Pope’s own words, he attributes the cause of our global problem to a “selfish and boundless thirst for power and material.” In other words, materialism, which is at the heart of our own and other capitalist societies. Countries are constantly trying to increase their economies by any means, although to some form of constraint, while environmental laws decrease a country’s ability to do so. Ergo the clash and stalemate.
The Pope urged the council to set aside those ideologies and to band together for the common good, a healthier planet for our children and children in other countries. Whether or not his message will impact the U.N.’s CMP11 meeting later this year is yet to be determined. However at the conclusion of his speech, which not only addressed Climate Change, but many other social injustices, he was met with a resounding standing ovation.
While not a victory in terms of action, the public worldwide now knows of Pope’s support for action against climate change. In some sense of the word victory, it’s a step in the right direction. All that remains to be seen is whether or not the collective effort of his voice, and voices all around the world, is enough to overthrow the materialistic ideology plaguing our world, our humanity, and ourselves.