Pope Gives Trump Priceless Gift: His Essay on Climate Change

By Sydney Robinson

President Trump has no doubt been given a long list of extravagant, elaborate gifts in his lifetime, but the gift given to him today by Pope Francis may not make it on his most favorite list.

The two world leaders exchanged gifts today, which is customary in a meeting between the religious leader and the American president. Pope Francis took the opportunity to share his differing scientific and political views with the POTUS by gifting him his 2015 encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si or Praise Be to You.

Trump has been a repeated critic of climate science, once arguing that global warming was a hoax invented by the Chinese. Pope Francis has proved to be far more modern than his predecessors, including his strong belief in the science of climate change and the need for climate action.

The pope likely knows that among Trump's many attributes is his tendency to mold his opinion around that of whomever he has most recently spoken. Could the pope's climate essay have a lasting effect?

President Trump gave the pope a special edition box of books written by Martin Luther King Jr. The pope also gifted a small sculpture of an olive tree, telling Trump through an interpreter that it represents peace.

"It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace," the pope said.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Times, here's a run down of key messages from the papal letter:

"Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain"

Consumption, waste and environmental change have so outpaced the planet's capacity that they can only lead to catastrophe, the pope said. "We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth."

Christians have misinterpreted the Scriptures

"We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us," he wrote. " We must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God's image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures."

The human roots of the crisis

At the root of the problem, the pope wrote, are a "disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary" and a "use and throw away culture." Although he praised efforts by scientists to find solutions to environmental problems, he said, "A sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey."

A call to action

The pope argued that industrialized nations were mostly responsible for the crisis and bear a greater responsibility for providing a solution. Individuals, too, must act, he said. Among the steps he suggested were to reduce water consumption, cook only what can reasonably be consumed, use public transport or car-pool, plant trees, turn off unnecessary lights and show care for other living beings.

Concern for the protection of nature is incompatible with abortion

"How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo?" he asked.

"All is not lost"

"Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves," the pope wrote, "choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning."

Show Comments ()
Solar shade canopies. University of Hawaii

This College Could Become the First 100% Renewable Campus in U.S.

As a growing number of U.S. cities make pledges towards 100 percent renewables, it's easy to forget that the entire state of Hawaii set this important benchmark three years ago when it mandated that all of its electricity must come from renewable sources no later than 2045.

To help the Aloha State meet this ambitious commitment, in 2015, the University of Hawaii (UH) and the Hawaiian Legislature set a collective goal for the university system to be "net-zero" by Jan. 1, 2035, which means the total amount of energy consumed is equal to the amount of renewable energy created.

Keep reading... Show less

Silver Nanoparticles in Clothing Wash Out, May Be Toxic

By Sukalyan Sengupta and Tabish Nawaz

Humans have known since ancient times that silver kills or stops the growth of many microorganisms. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have used silver preparations for treating ulcers and healing wounds. Until the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, colloidal silver (tiny particles suspended in a liquid) was a mainstay for treating burns, infected wounds and ulcers. Silver is still used today in wound dressings, in creams and as a coating on medical devices.

Keep reading... Show less
4.4 million premature air pollution deaths could be avoided in Kolkata if emissions are reduced swiftly this century. M M / CC BY-SA 2.0

Study Finds Timely Emissions Reductions Could Prevent 153 Million Air Pollution Deaths This Century

One of the roadblocks to swift action on climate change is the human brain's tendency to focus on threats and stimuli that are an obvious and noticeable part of their everyday lives, rather than an abstract and future problem, as Amit Dhir explained in The Decision Lab.

Now, a study published in Nature Climate Change Monday shows that acting quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions would also reduce the air pollution that is already a major urban killer, thereby saving millions of lives within the next 40 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Lands threatened by BLM's March 2018 sale include Hatch Point. Neal Clark / SUWA

Trump Administration Sells Oil and Gas Leases Near Utah National Monuments

The Interior Department on Tuesday is auctioning off 32 parcels of public lands in southeastern Utah for oil and gas development.

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) lease sale includes more than 51,000 acres of land near Bears Ears—the national monument significantly scaled back by the Trump administration last year—as well as the Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments.

Keep reading... Show less
Katharine Hayhoe talks climate communication hacks at the Natural Products Expo West Convention. Climate Collaborative

Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate Change

By Katie O'Reilly

Katharine Hayhoe isn't your typical atmospheric scientist. Throughout her career, the evangelical Christian and daughter of missionaries has had to convince many (including her pastor husband) that science and religion need not be at odds when it comes to climate change. Hayhoe, who directs Texas Tech's University's Climate Science Center, is CEO of ATMOS Research, a scientific consulting company, and produces the PBS Kids' web series Global Weirding, rose to national prominence in early 2012 after then-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich dropped her chapter from a book he was editing about the environment. The reason? Hayhoe's arguments affirmed that climate change was no liberal hoax. The Toronto native attracted the fury of Rush Limbaugh, who encouraged his listeners to harass her.

Keep reading... Show less
Rising Tide NA / Twitter

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Protest Grows: Arrests Include a Greenpeace Founder, Juno-Nominated Grandfather

By Andy Rowell

Just because you get older, it doesn't mean you cannot stop taking action for what you believe in. And Monday was a case in point. Two seventy-year-olds, still putting their bodies on the line for environmental justice and indigenous rights.

Early Monday morning, the first seventy-year-old, a grandfather of two, and former nominee for Canada's Juno musical award, slipped into Kinder Morgan's compound at one of its sites for the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline and scaled a tree and then erected a mid-air platform with a hammock up in the air.

Keep reading... Show less

The Grapes of Trash

By Marlene Cimons

German monk and theologian Martin Luther probably said it best: "Beer is made by men, wine by God." It's true—the world loves its wine. Americans, in fact, downed close to a billion gallons of it in 2016. But winemakers create a lot of waste when they produce all that vino, most of it in seeds, stalks and skins.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Mike Pompeo Could Be Even Worse for the Environment Than Rex Tillerson

By Kelle Louaillier

As Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson was one of the most blatant revolving-door cases in the Trump administration and a clear sign that Trump's government was of, by and for the fossil fuel industry. But make no mistake: Mike Pompeo could be far worse.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!