Recently, Presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush said that Pope Francis should stay out of the discussion on climate change. Santorum says that climate change should be left up to the scientists even though he denies what 97 percent of the scientists have to say about climate change. Bush says that the Pope should keep politics out of religion even though Bush regularly injects religion into politics. The problem is that they deny the overwhelming science and consensus behind climate change. Of course, their level of denial, like so many Republican politicians, is directly proportional to the amount of money they get from the oil, gas and coal industry. Their motto: Don't bite the hand that provides you cash.
Pope Francis has a right to address climate change. The Bible talks about protecting God's creation and acting as good stewards of the Earth. Pope Francis also has a Master's degree in chemistry and is very capable of looking at the scientific evidence and drawing his own conclusions.
What Pope Francis doesn't address is population growth as a contributing factor to climate change and environmental degradation. We now have over 7 billion people on the planet and growing. By 2050, we could have 9-10 billion people consuming very limited resources like food, water and energy on a finite planet. You can't effectively address climate change and environmental decay unless you address runaway population growth.
First, humans are rapidly depleting fresh water supplies including groundwater from aquifers that can take hundreds or thousands of years to replace. NASA data has confirmed this. Without adequate water supplies, there is less food available for a growing population. Second, a growing population means less habitable space for us and other species. Many species are going extinct at an unprecedented rate. It will only get worse as the human population grows and we drive other species to extinction through habitat loss and destruction. Third, the oceans are dying at an unprecedented rate because of ocean acidification due to carbon dioxide emissions, overfishing and pollution. Ninety percent of large fish species are already gone. Large tracts of ocean are covered with human garbage including mountains of plastic. Almost half of the oxygen we breathe is produced by life in the oceans. When the oceans die, so do we.
If we don't address the problem, human populations will crash on a worldwide scale through perpetual war, famine and pandemics. It's time to develop real solutions, the most important of which is keeping population at a manageable and sustainable level. If we don't address the problem, the planet will.
David J. Iacono