Pope Francis has called for a new world order where people and nature are the priority in a wide-ranging encyclical aimed at combatting climate change.
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” the Pope said in a 184-page letter designed for the world’s one billion Catholics, but addressed to all humans.
He said there is a “scientific consensus” on the “mainly” human causes of climate change that it will endanger most life on earth through corrupted drinking water, failed crops and animal extinctions.
In a hard-hitting message on environmental degradation and poverty, the pontiff warned that doomsday predictions could no longer be met with irony or disdain, and that resource shortages could lead to new wars.
Setting out the moral case for action on the environment, the Pope said climate change represented one of the principal challenges facing humanity, and warned its worst impact would be felt in poorer countries.
“We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental,” he warned.
“Humanity is called to recognise 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,” he said.
He had no patience for those who deny the science on climate change.
“This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing will happen,” he said.
And the Pope called on rich nations to acknowledge that their use of resources, often from poorer countries, must be paid back.
“In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future,” he said.
“The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to (develop sustainably).”
The papal encyclical, a letter sent to 5000 Catholic bishops worldwide, is published in five languages.