EDITORIAL - Confronting climate change
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2015 - 12:00am

In an unfortunate reminder of what drew him to the Philippines in the first place, an approaching storm forced Pope Francis yesterday to cut short his much-awaited visit to the typhoon-devastated province of Leyte.

Powerful winds of Tropical Storm Amang also toppled scaffolding, which fatally struck a woman who had flown to Leyte from Manila to see the pope. The winds also forced down a private jet carrying several Cabinet members, with the aircraft skidding to a stop in the mud.

His shortened visit to Leyte should reinforce Pope Francis’ resolve to give a moral dimension to the fight against the adverse consequences of environmental degradation and natural calamities. The Holy See is preparing an encyclical, to be released soon, stressing the need to address climate change. Pope Francis has expressed hope that the United Nations will take a more united and courageous stand on the issue at a climate change conference later this year.

Some quarters have questioned the propriety of the Vatican wading into environmental advocacy, which can affect economic and business policies in several countries. Pope Francis, however, has taken up the cause particularly because of the human toll of climate change.

As the Yolanda-hit areas are showing, nature’s fury can worsen poverty. The pope’s visit reportedly speeded up reconstruction efforts in the Yolanda-hit areas, particularly at the sites where he was expected to visit such as the Tacloban airport. But the rebuilding is expected to take several years. More hardships lie ahead for Yolanda survivors, especially if the region continues to be battered by strong typhoons.

Natural calamities can also force migration as people search for decent jobs. As Pope Francis pointed out the other day, migration to find better employment opportunities can break up families. Another advocacy of the pope is family unity.

Pope Francis has said he believes man bears the principal responsibility for climate change, and man can therefore do more to address the problem. He lends a powerful voice to the issue. The legions of the Filipino faithful who have given him a passionate welcome wherever he goes in this country need not wait for his encyclical to confront climate change.

AS POPE FRANCIS AS THE YOLANDA CHANGE HOLY SEE LEYTE POPE POPE FRANCIS TACLOBAN TROPICAL STORM AMANG UNITED NATIONS YOLANDA
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