Act now on climate change: US bishops to Congress

It is time for the US to come together to address the moral, human and environmental dimensions of global climate change, the head of the US Catholic bishops' international policy committee says in a letter to American legislators.

The 7 February letter by Bishop Thomas G Wenski of Orlando, Florida, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Policy, calls on congressional leaders to resist special interest group and instead focus on "common ground for common action to advance the common good", Catholic Online reports.

"We hope this will be a time for our nation to come together across partisan, ideological and interest groups lines to address the moral, human and environmental dimensions of this growing challenge that faces all of humanity," Bishop Wenski said.

The letter arrived less than a week after the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report that concluded global warming is "unequivocal", is very likely - probability is more than 90 per cent - caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases and will "continue for centuries".

It also comes as lawmakers of the new Democratic-controlled Congress have introduced more than 10 bills addressing global warming.

While scientists have long warned about global warming, the issue was not given as much attention as the Bush administration opposed mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet last month, for the first time, the President addressed climate change in his State of the Union speech.

The Orlando bishop urged the Congress to "focus on three central priorities" - the poor, the pursuit of the common good and prudence.

Those with the least and those with the most vulnerability in the US and throughout the world will "have little or no voice in this vital discussion", he said, noting that their needs and hardships are likely to be ignored in favour of "more powerful forces".

"We all know too well who is left behind and who pays the greatest price when disaster, floods or droughts occur. The impact on poor communities and nations require priority attention as proposals for action are shaped and assessed," he said.

Rather than search for "economic, political or other narrow advantage", the Congress, the bishop said, has an obligation "to pass on the gift of God's creation to future generations without doing irreversible harm".

Climate change has also been a hotly debated topic in the Australian Parliament this week with the Government saying that it is unwilling to "sacrifice the jobs of coalminers in pursuit of some kind of knee-jerk reaction". Meanwhile, the Opposition and green groups have accused the Government of living in a state of denial.

Resist special interests on global warming, U.S. bishops say, turning heat on Congress (Catholic Online, 8/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Global Warming FAQ (Union of Concerned Scientists)
United States Catholic Bishops

Face truth about fossil fuels, Bishop Toohey says (CathNews, 8/2/07)

Fr Shay Cullen writes: we must all do our share to combat global warming (Independent Catholic News, 8/2/07)

9 Feb 2007

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