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Praised Be This Divine Intervention: The Pope Lowers the Hammer on the World's Deniers

06/23/2015 03:50 pm ET | Updated Jun 19, 2016

Panic mode has been declared among the world's climate change deniers. Papal Encyclical "Laudato Si" (Praised Be to You) about climate change has just caused the collapse of the house of cards sustaining the arguments of the Flat Earth Society.

The historic document --addressed to 1.2 billion Catholics and "all people of good will"-- not only acknowledges climate change is a clear threat for the future of humanity but also considers it an issue of great moral urgency.

"For human beings to destroy the biological diversity of God's creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth's waters, its land, its air, and its life - these are sins," writes the most popular Pope in decades.

The document recognizes also that climate change does exist and that human activity is the main culprit.

"A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity," says the Pope. "The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system."

But perhaps the toughest language in the encyclical is dedicated to climate change deniers and polluters, stating that they support a "structurally perverse" economic system where the rich exploit the poor and turn the earth into an "immense pile of filth."

"Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions," it adds.

Predictably, the deniers' rejection of the papal document in the US, even weeks before its promulgation, has been unanimously vociferous.

Republican presidential candidate and devout Catholic Rick Santorum urged the Pope to "leave science to the scientists" and to limit himself to talk about "theology and morality," neglecting the fact that Francis holds a master's degree in chemistry. Later Santorum stated that he, as a politician, holds more authority to talk about these matters than the Pope himself.

Jeb Bush, another Catholic Republican presidential candidate, rejected the papal authority by saying that, "I don't get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope," adding that Francis needs to steer clear of world affairs.

Days before, Bush was the only presidential candidate to be invited to speak at a lavish junket organized by Big Coal, including Arch Coal. A lobbyist from that company also joined the chorus of rejection by tweeting that the Pope should promote fossil fuels if "he really cared about social justice."

Francis, however, agrees with the science and believes that fossil fuel pollution, especially coal, is the main cause of the climate crisis and of the disproportionate toxic bombardment suffered by the most vulnerable members of our society.

The US Latino community, for instance, is much more likely to be on the receiving end of the effects of climate change than the average American, because of several factors, including living in areas with very poor air quality, working outdoors and their dangerous proximity to toxic sites, such as coal-burning plants and refineries.

For the Pope, the solution is clear.

"There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy," he writes.

To which we answer: Praise be this divine intervention.

Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC