While in America, the pope said the environment itself – not just humanity – was deserving of rights. He has stated unequivocally that climate change is a result of human activity and the result of excessive reliance on fossil fuels.
“It must be stated that a true ‘right of the environment’ does exist,” Francis said.
An attack on the environment was an assault on the rights and living conditions of the most vulnerable, he said, warning that at its most extreme, environmental degradation threatened humanity’s survival.
“Any harm done to the environment, therefore is harm done to humanity,” Francis said. “The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species,” he concluded.
The pope also invoked “moral law written in nature itself”, but his strongest words were reserved for his defence of “this common home of all men and women”. As the encyclical made evident, the pope believes that the unrestrained capitalism of the current economic order is trampling upon the rights of the poor and the weak, and destroying the environment. Such economic practices encouraged what he called a “culture of waste” in which the poorest and weakest were seen as disposable.
“We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it,” he said.
Sacrifice the environment, and wrongs against the weak and the poor were bound to follow, he said. “The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion,” Francis told the UN.
“A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged,” he said.
For the full article, see: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/25/pope-francis-asserts-right-environment-un