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Pope Francis: These 4 'Perverse Attitudes' Could Push Earth to Its Brink

Pope Francis issued a strong message to negotiators at the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany on Thursday, warning them not to fall into "four perverse attitudes" regarding the future of the planet—"denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions."

Francis, who has long pressed for strong climate action and wrote his 2015 encyclical on the environment, renewed his "urgent call" for renewed dialogue "on how we are building the future of the planet."


"We need an exchange that unites us all," he said, "because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, regards us all, and affects us all."

The pontiff also said he hopes the COP23 talks would be "inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit" of COP21, which led to the landmark signing of the Paris agreement to avoid global temperature rise well below 2°C.

"The Agreement indicates a clear path of transition to a low- or zero-carbon model of economic development, encouraging solidarity and leveraging the strong links between combating climate change and poverty," Francis said.

Although the pope did not call any countries out by name, the U.S. is the only country not in support of the Paris agreement due to President Donald Trump's declared withdrawal from the pact. Syria and Nicaragua, which were the only other holdouts, recently joined the accord.

Trump, who notoriously said global warming is a hoax, has filled his administration with lawmakers who question the science of climate change or reject mankind's role in causing the global issue.

Francis has spoken against global warming skeptics several times before. In September, during an in-flight press conference from Colombia to Rome, the pope said that those who reject climate science remind him of a psalm from the Old Testament about stubbornness.

"Man is stupid, the Bible said. It's like that, when you don't want to see, you don't see," he said as the papal plane flew near Caribbean islands pummeled by Hurricane Irma. His statement was not addressed to any political leader in particular.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration used its only public forum at COP23 to promote coal.

According to the Associated Press, the top American representative at the talks told other delegates that the U.S. is still committed to reducing greenhouse gas even though the Trump wants to exit the Paris accord.

Dozens of nations have joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance, launched Thursday at the climate talks, to phase out the use of coal by 2030. The alliance involves more than 20 nations including Angola, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Portugal and Switzerland, according to Reuters. The states of Oregon and Washington have also joined.

The climate talks are expected to end Friday.

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Post-Fire Landslide Problems Likely to Worsen: What Can Be Done?

By Lee MacDonald

Several weeks after a series of wildfires blackened nearly 500 square miles in Southern California, a large winter storm rolled in from the Pacific. In most places the rainfall was welcomed and did not cause any major flooding from burned or unburned hillslopes.

But in the town of Montecito, a coastal community in Santa Barbara County that lies at the foot of the mountains blackened by the Thomas Fire, a devastating set of sediment-laden flows killed at least 20 people and damaged or destroyed more than 500 homes. In the popular press these flows were termed "mudslides," but with some rocks as large as cars these are more accurately described as hyperconcentrated flows or debris flows, depending on the amount of sediment mixed with the water.

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Birders Get a First Look at How 2017 California Wildfires Affected Wildlife

By Matt Blois

A neighbor knocked on Rick Burgess's door at about 9:30 p.m. to tell him a fire was coming towards his home in Ventura, California. When he looked outside he saw a column of smoke, and the hills were already starting to turn orange. He loaded up his truck with a collection of native plants he was using to write a countywide plant guide, and barely had enough time to get out.

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Rover Pipeline Spills Another 150,000 Gallons of Drilling Fluid Into Ohio Wetlands

Energy Transfer Partners' troubled $4.2 billion Rover pipeline has spilled nearly 150,000 gallons of drilling fluid into wetlands near the Tuscarawas River in Stark County, Ohio—the same site where it released 2 million gallons in April.

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Large Dams Fail on Climate Change and Indigenous Rights

Brazil has flooded large swaths of the Amazon for hydro dams, despite opposition from Indigenous Peoples, environmentalists and others. The country gets 70 percent of its electricity from hydropower. Brazil's government had plans to expand development, opening half the Amazon basin to hydro. But a surprising announcement could halt that.

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World's Largest Money Manager: Companies Must Respond to Social and Climate Challenges

The world's largest publicly traded companies must take a more active role in solving social issues or face blowback from investors, the CEO of BlackRock said Tuesday.

"To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society," Laurence Fink wrote in his annual letter to CEOs of companies in which BlackRock invests. BlackRock is the world's largest money manager, with more than $6 trillion in assets.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Walmart for Claiming 'Cage-Free' Eggs

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A lawsuit has been filed in a California district court against two of the biggest companies in the country: Walmart and Cal-Maine Foods. The lawsuit claims that Walmart and Cal-Maine—the latter is one of the biggest egg producers in the U.S.—lied to customers about the treatment of hens whose eggs were sold at Walmart. The alleged lie? The packaging claimed "outdoor access," yet the birds are not permitted to go outside.

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"From all of the events of this past year I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside," the head of the panel, Tony Knowles, wrote in a letter of resignation addressed to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees management of the country's national parks and monuments.

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