US Bishops on Climate Change
On June 7, John Carr, the head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Social Development and World Peace, testified
before the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works regarding
the Catholic “bishops’ position on climate change.” Although the
testimony does not break much new ground over the 2001 bishops’
statement on the issue, it does have some interesting bits, including a
statement that, although it still hedges a little bit, comes closer
than the 2001 document (or at least my hazy memory of that document) to
a straightforward acknowledgment that climate change is happening.
Here are a few highlights:
The bishops accept the growing
consensus on climate change represented by the International Panel on
Climate Change, but also recognize continuing debate and some
uncertainties about the speed and severity of climate change. However,
it is not wise or useful to either minimize or exaggerate the
uncertainties and challenges we face.
…Prudence requires wise
action to address problems that will most likely only grow in magnitude
and consequences. Prudence is not simply about avoiding impulsive
action, picking the predictable course or avoiding risks, but it can
also require taking bold action weighing available policy alternative
and moral goods and taking considered and decisive stops before the
problems grow worse.
We believe solidarity also requires that
the United States lead the way in addressing this issue and in
addressing the disproportionate burdens of poorer countries and
Those who contributed least to climate change
will be affected the most; those who face the greatest threats will
likely bear the greatest burdens and have the least capacity to cope or
escape. We should come together to focus more on protecting the poor
than on protecting ourselves and promoting narrow agendas.