Pope Francis is standing up for climate change. In May, the pontiff published a papal letter (encyclical) outlining why man-made climate change is an important issue for the Church. Not only is it a matter of creation care, it also adversely affects the “least of these,” he wrote. However, one major objection surfacing is that the pope’s proposed solutions could harm the people he wants to help—the poor. Some claim that giving up fossil fuels would require the poorest countries to forgo immediate needs like refrigeration and some medicines. Read More

In his 184-page papal encyclical released today, Pope Francis had harsh words for how humanity has treated the earth. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he wrote. "Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain." Encyclicals—papal letters that represent some of the Catholic church’s most important documents—are typically addressed directly to the Catholics around the globe. But this year, the pope had a larger audience in mind, saying the letter was addressed to “every person living on this planet.”

The pope took more than a year to write the encyclical, which was released in at least five languages and cites research from dozens of scientists and scholars. In it, he acknowledged that humans are primarily at fault for the large change in global temperatures. He argued that climate change is having serious consequences, including hurting the poor, and that developed countries have a responsibility to help less developed countries take steps to fight climate change. Slowing down the destruction of the earth will take a “bold cultural revolution,” he argued, which will require people in all areas of society to combat consumerism and structural injustices and practice responsible stewardship.

"We are not God," he wrote, "The Earth was here before us and has been given to us" ... Discuss

An early draft of Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical address—officially due out later this week—has been leaked, and in it, the pontiff takes a stand against climate change. Papal encyclicals are important written statements and teachings that typically discuss faith and modern issues. The Vatican has made clear it is not the final draft, and that the leak was an act of “sabotage against the pope,” meant to undermine is upcoming visit to the United States and address at the U.N. (We will report and post more details of the encyclical following its official release.)

Further details of the final version of the encyclical will be formally published by the Vatican on Thursday morning, but according to the reports, the encyclical will echo statements he’s previously made about climate change: That it is partly man-made, it harms the world’s poorest communities and something must be done to stop it. The U.N. top climate change official told USA Today, “We expect the papal encyclical to have a major impact during a very critical year in this (climate negotiation) process" ... Discuss

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moo spoke at a conference at the Vatican today that is being attended by leaders of different faiths, heads of state, scientists and thinkers. The participants in the conference released a statement saying that nature “is a precious gift entrusted to our common care, making it our moral duty to respect rather than ravage the garden that is our home." The meeting comes ahead of Pope Francis’ encyclical (a letter sent out to bishops) this summer, which is expected to directly address climate change and the Church. World leaders will soon meet again in Paris to discuss climate change and how it will continue to be addressed globally ... Discuss

New studies from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have found that 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded on planet earth. Temperature records were broken across the world, including in parts Alaska, North Africa, Europe, Eastern Russia and South America. The director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies said the findings clearly suggest man-made climate change is a reality we must deal with. “The data shows quite clearly that it's the greenhouse gas trends that are responsible for the majority of the trends.” The new studies underscore concerns from the U.N. that increasing extreme weather could effect how much of the world is able to access food and clean water ... Discuss

This weekend, more than 300,000 people marched on midtown Manhattan in what’s being called “the largest mobilization against climate change in the history of the planet.” Celebrities (including Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo), political leaders (including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former Vice President Al Gore) and people who were bussed in from cities around the country took part in the People’s Climate March, a massive effort to persuade world leaders to take more dramatic action to fight climate change. This week, global political leaders will gather at a UN summit and discuss measures and new agreements that will be put in place to combat climate change. In a statement, Ban Ki-moon said, “While marching with the people, I felt that I had become a secretary-general of the people. There is no Plan B because we do not have a planet B. We have to work and galvanize our action” ... Discuss