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Grateful for Pope Francis' insights on climate change

I so appreciated the words of Pope Francis in his letter to the COP 23 Climate Conference held Nov. 6-17 in Bonn, Germany. For me, these words are a clear call for deepened self-examination along with greater willingness and commitment to take action toward what that call to conscience reveals.

His words remind all of us that we cannot rest on the laurels of the Paris Agreement even though it was a historically unprecedented achievement of consensus to combat climate change "one of most worrisome phenomena that humankind is facing." We must re-energize our dialog, our striving toward unity, and hone our plans for "a path of transition to low- or zero-carbon model of economic development."

Of course, there are many obstacles to this effort -- the political situation, other world crises, the huge complexity, economic concerns. However, Pope Francis focused on obstacles that operate on the individual level even though they may get a lot of cultural reinforcement. He called these obstacles "perverse attitudes." These four perverse attitudes are denial, indifference, comfortable resignation and over-trust in technology. Regarding the last of these, he acknowledges that advances in technology are surely important, "necessary but insufficient." Alongside these advances we need to look at education and lifestyle changes.

The letter does not go into detail about these attitudes, although much is said about them in his encyclical, Laudato Si. I shall briefly spell out what they mean to me. It has never made sense to me to deny the science behind climate change when I depend on that science, for example, when I turn on a light switch or take medication. However, I do acknowledge that fully accepting and relating to the information that climate science brings is a daunting task from which I often want to escape. Indifference tugs at my heart -- indifference to all those people all over the world already suffering in terrible ways due to climate change. Comfortable resignation -- I remind myself that I do live comfortably and that loss of hope is a choice. I have heard myself say in the past that only technology will save us. Yet, that statement ignores the fact that we humans create technology and, in so doing, make decisions based on our attitudes.

I am so grateful to Pope Francis for his moral and spiritual leadership. Again, he has demonstrated his deep love and concern for creation, for the poor, for our children and grandchildren, and for the moral and spiritual well-being of us all.

Nancy Brown

Bella Vista

Editorial on 12/07/2017

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