8 Powerful Statements From Pope Francis On Climate Change

Pope Francis released an urgent message Thursday that climate change is a moral and spiritual concern.

In a 184-page encyclical, titled "Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home," he writes: "I wish to address every person living on this planet,”​ explaining that our current political and economic systems leave disadvantaged people in direct harm as the earth faces an environmental crisis.

He argues that it's not just up to the politicians, economists and scientists. The undeniable scientific changes to our global system matter to everyone. Here are 8 powerful components of the pope's message about spiritual and moral responsibility to find climate change solutions:

Irresponsible behavior by humans is causing damage to our earth.

“More than fifty years ago, with the world teetering on the brink of nuclear crisis, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote an Encyclical which not only rejected war but offered a proposal for peace. He addressed his message Pacem in Terris to the entire ‘Catholic world’ and indeed ‘to all men and women of good will.’ Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet.”​

With environmental destruction, young people have the most at stake.

“Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.”

We need to find ways to reuse and reduce waste on our planet.

“But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them.”

Human activity has caused environmental damage and global warming.

“A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.”

Rising sea levels are growing. The only way to reduce these risks are by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us. A rise in the sea level, for example, can create extremely serious situations, if we consider that a quarter of the world’s population lives on the coast or nearby, and that the majority of our megacities are situated in coastal areas.”

Economic systems in place are making inequality worse around the world.

“My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed ‘eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment.’ ”

Politicians and governments must be challenged on environmental policies for change to happen.

“A politics concerned with immediate results, supported by consumerist sectors of the population, is driven to produce short-term growth. In response to electoral interests, governments are reluctant to upset the public with measures which could affect the level of consumption or create risks for foreign investment. The myopia of power politics delays the inclusion of a far-sighted environmental agenda within the overall agenda of governments.”

Environmental change and successful treaties have limited destruction to the ozone layer.

“Among positive experiences in this regard, we might mention, for example, the Basel Convention on hazardous wastes, with its system of reporting, standards and controls. There is also the binding Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora, which includes on-site visits for verifying effective compliance. Thanks to the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer and its implementation through the Montreal Protocol and amendments, the problem of the layer’s thinning seems to have entered a phase of resolution.”