Photo by Pete Souza/The White House.
Pope Francis went to the White House this week and got really real about the future of planet Earth.
Specifically, that we're making it warmer. And that we have to cut it out. Sooner rather than later.
Here are the three key quotes. We'd all do well to listen to the man.
He is, after all, the freaking pope.
1. "Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation."
You know how this goes. A big project comes down in the office on Monday morning, and it's not due till Thursday, which is so far away that it might as well be next year. You definitely can't be bothered to care yet, especially when Candy Crush Saga is sitting right there! And then, suddenly, it's 11 on Wednesday night and you're like, "I thought I had so much time?!" Well, for planet Earth, it's 11 on Wednesday night. And the pope ain't going to let you play just onnnnne more game.
According to a landmark report released last year by the United Nations, if emissions continue to grow at the current rate, we could be looking at a temperature hike of more than 8 degrees Fahrenheit, which would cause some serious chaos with sea levels and ecosystems around the world.
The pope knows it's on us — not our kids — to set things right, come hell or high water (or, in this case, likely both).
Even if he personally has to slap the coal out of your hand.
"Don't-a-burn-a-that." — Pope Francis. Photo by Tânia Rêgo/ABr.
2. "When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history."
Photo by Benhur Arcayan/Malacañang Photo Bureau.
The message from the pope is clear: The time to get on this is now. Yesterday, even, if possible.
What happens if we don't? Even if we stick to the modest temperature rise some government agencies anticipate, predictions run the gamut from a completely underwater New York City to a slightly waterlogged New York City by 2100. But the point is, unless we want to risk a future where the mecha-pope gives a speech from a deep-sea submersible orbiting the sunken ruins of St. Patrick's Cathedral*, it's time to start cutting those emissions, and fast.
3. "To use a telling phrase of the Rev. Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it."
In Catholic theology, God is pretty explicit about his expectations: He puts mankind on the Earth, and one of mankind's top jobs is to not mess the place up too much. Whether or not you're Catholic, it's hard to argue that that's not a worthy goal. But so far we ... haven't really held up our end of that bargain.
You'll get 'em next time. Photo by Fluffball.
To reverse the trend, we need effort on a global scale. The pope knows that better than anyone and, as spiritual leader to over 1 billion people, is in a unique place to help make it happen.
But here in the U.S., as the world's second-largest polluter, we have a unique responsibility to recognize the obvious: Climate change is happening. And we all need to work together to slow it and stop it before it's too late.
This isn't even close to the first time Pope Francis has spoken out about climate change.
He's been pressing the point for quite a while. And more than a few people running for president could stand to pay more attention to his message — instead of the money they're receiving to ignore it — as this parody video by SumOfUs makes abundantly clear.
In “The Catholic Apprentice,” a parody of Donald Trump’s hit reality show, 2016 GOP candidates vie for the Pope’s approval on climate change, but are challenged by the Pontiff for denying the science. The video uses candidates’ and the Pope’s actual statements on climate to illustrate how far apart several of the candidates are from the Catholic Church on the climate issue.
The video features actors in the roles of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum and demands they answer the question: “Who do you side with: Pope or Koch?” in a reference to fossil fuel magnates and climate skeptic Koch brothers.
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