Columns » Hightower

Francis takes a powerful stand

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Some of corporate America's biggest climate-change deniers — from ExxonMobil to the Koch Brothers — are in dread of a potent storm that's gaining strength and headed right at them. It's the Category 5 "Hurricane Francis," which threatens to overwhelm their flimsy ideological castles.

This threat is not literally a hurricane, but a diminutive human who has become a force of nature: Pope Francis.

In June, he intends to deliver a powerful papal encyclical putting the moral energy of the church solidly behind the urgent imperative to end the industrial pollution causing global warming. Specifically, Francis will lead Catholics in a worldwide campaign to enact sweeping reforms proposed by the United Nations to halt the toxic emissions that profit a few wealthy investors at the expense of humanity itself.

The Pope's principled, stout-hearted stand is causing fainting spells, gnashing of teeth, and bombastic rants in the lodges of the profiteers and their right-wing, anti-science devotees. A delegation of climate-change deniers from a front group called the Heartland Institute (funded by Charles Koch) even scurried off to Vatican City to protest what it calls the "mistake" that Francis is making.

And a right-wing writer named Maureen Mullarkey offered this feverish screed: "Francis sullies his office by using dogmatic formulations to bully the populace into reflexive climate action with no more substantive guide than theologized propaganda." Whew — sounds like she's mad, in both senses of the word!

They can wail all they want, but Pope Francis — who chose his papal name in tribute to the patron saint of animals and the natural world — is right that stopping the looming human disaster of climate change is not only a matter of science, but also of moral duty.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

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