Tag Archives: climate

Guest blog: Pope Francis, “the climate is a common good, of all and for all”

Today, Patrick Snell, Climate and Energy Policy Specialist for Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, joins us as a guest blogger to discuss Pope Francis’ encyclical, “”Laudato Si: On the Care of the Common Home.”

Creating a unique space and dialogue to address the moral issue of climate change and it’s impact on the world’s most impoverished, today Pope Francis released his highly anticipated encyclical, “Laudato Si: On the Care of the Common Home.” The encyclical calls for all people of faith to recognize our impact on the world around us and to take responsibility as stewards of the earth.

Photo credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images.

While care for the environment and those most disadvantaged has long been a pillar of Catholic social teaching, this encyclical looks to raise the urgency of the moral obligation: that for better or worse our actions today on the environment will have lasting impacts on the people around us and on future generations. However, the encyclical is much broader than climate change and discusses consumption, waste, social issues and the integral global forces that affect our “common home”.

A papal encyclical is a letter from the Pope to the Bishops of the church, addressing a specific issue and reaffirming Catholic doctrine. For example, another widely read and famous papal encyclical is “Pacem in Terris,” or “Peace On Earth,” written by Pope John XXIII in 1963 to address the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons during the middle of the Cold War. What is interesting about “Laudato Si” in relation to “Pacem in Terris is that instead of being addressed only to Catholics, it is addressed to everyone, signifying that Pope Francis believes that all people, regardless of religion or beliefs, has role to play and a moral obligation to act on behalf of those who are most vulnerable.

We at Iowa Interfaith Power and Light applaud Pope Francis’s outspoken leadership and know that climate change is a moral imperative that needs to be addressed by all.  Since 2006 we have been working with individuals and congregations in communities across the state who are already adapting to the economic and social effects of climate change. We look forward to growing and continuing those partnerships as we work together to support renewable energy, reduce carbon pollution, and create a healthier environment. If those of faith across the world can come together to agree on climate change, surely the nations of the world – including the United States – can do the same.

Patrick Snell is the Climate and Energy Policy Specialist for Iowa Interfaith Power and Light. If you would like to know more about this topic please email him at policy@iowaipl.org or visit www.iowaipl.org

Recent reports agree: Clean Power Plan would protect public health

Several recently-released, independently-conducted reports concur that reducing carbon pollution would improve public health.

Today, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released its annual “Sneezing and Wheezing” report detailing the negative respiratory health impacts of increased ozone and pollen concentrations that are expected to worsen if carbon pollution levels continue to rise.

According to the report, carbon pollution has been linked to increased ragweed pollen levels and contributes to conditions which increase ground-level ozone.  Both ozone and ragweed pollen exacerbate allergies and asthma, serious and costly health issues that affect approximately 50 million and 26 million Americans. Ragweed pollen allergies alone are estimated to contribute to more than 3.8 million missed work and school days per year.

To protect public health, the report recommends adopting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan. Expected to be finalized this summer, the Clean Power Plan would establish the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants (the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution).

Recommendations to adopt a strong Clean Power Plan were also echoed by the American Lung Association (ALA) last month in its annual “State of the Air” report.  The ALA report details progress in improving our nation’s air quality by examining ozone and particle pollution levels across the U.S.  Reducing carbon pollution under the Clean Power Plan would also simultaneously reduce levels of these other harmful pollutants.

The result would be a significant public health benefit, according to researchers at Harvard, Boston and Syracuse Universities.  In a peer-reviewed paper released last week, the researchers found that additional reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter resulting from carbon standards like the Clean Power Plan would help prevent 3,500 premature deaths; 1,000 hospitalizations; and 220 heart attacks per year in the U.S. and avoid 47 premature deaths in Iowa alone.

EPA has estimated that American families will see up to $7 in health benefits for every dollar invested in the Clean Power Plan and, in total, the agency estimates the plan will result in $55 to $93 billion in health and climate benefits.

>> Sneezing and Wheezing Report, NRDC
>> State of the Air, American Lung Association