California’s water-challenged residents know what it’s like to deal with ecological trouble in their own backyards, so it was only fitting that the Golden State’s Gov. Jerry Brown did a little preaching Tuesday at the Vatican’s climate-focused meeting of mayors from around the world.

Brown got downright biblical in his remarks before an audience of some 60 concerned officials from such cities as Stockholm and San Francisco, as well as one eco-conscious Pope Francis, warning of dire consequences that are scripturally guaranteed if a global reform effort isn’t launched soon. Brown’s office later published his remarks:

I think I’ll take as my text – if I may – some words of Saint Paul to the Galatians, “God is not mocked for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” And what Saint Paul said in reference to God we can also say about God’s creation. We have heard what we’re doing to that creation, what a trillion tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases will do. And that text that God is not mocked is not susceptible to compromise, to regrets. It’s inexorable, it’s absolutes. We have to respond and if we don’t, the world will suffer. We will all suffer. In fact, many people – millions are suffering already.

Now, to change the world from a fossil fuel based culture is not easy, but there are plenty of examples where it’s happening. So, I can bring you the example of California, which for many years has been taking on serious environmental challenges. California is now deriving 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and in that source we don’t count nuclear or hydro. Secondly, we have the most efficient buildings, because of our building regulations, in the entire country. As a result, California citizens have saved tens of billions of dollars in energy bills. The same is true for our appliance standards, the most efficient in the country. As far as automobile pollution, we have very strict tailpipe emissions standards. And as a result and because of some changes in Washington, those standards are now adopted as the national standard of America. And that source of pollution is going down, not fast enough but steadily. We also have 40 percent of the electric cars in the United States.

As The Associated Press pointed out, Brown was once a Jesuit seminarian, so he apparently isn’t just some dilettante politico trotting out pithy Pauline admonitions for the occasion.

AP also brought word Tuesday of how the pope, as well as various mayors in attendance, registered their concern about the burgeoning environmental crisis:

They were aiming to keep the pressure on world leaders ahead of the Paris negotiations in December. Pope Francis last month released an environmental encyclical that denounced what he calls a fossil fuel-based world economy that exploits the poor and destroys the Earth.

Francis told the gathering Tuesday that he had “a lot of hope” that the Paris negotiations would succeed, but also told the mayors: “You are the conscience of humanity.”

[…] New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new greenhouse gas emissions targets for the Big Apple — committing the city to reducing its emissions 40 percent by 2030 — and urged other cities to follow suit.

“The Paris summit is just months away,” De Blasio said. “We need to see it as the finish line of a sprint, and take every local action we can in the coming months to maximize the chance that our national governments will act boldly.”

De Blasio is a founding member of an alliance of world cities that have committed to reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050 or sooner.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee also announced new measures, saying the city that takes its name from the pope’s nature-loving namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, would transition its municipal fleet of fire trucks, buses and trucks from petroleum diesel to renewable energy sources by the end of the year.

Stockholm Mayor Karin Wanngard said the Paris climate talks must take fossil fuels off the table and focus instead on renewable energy sources.

The mayoral meeting at the Catholic Church’s power center wasn’t all talk, as several participants queued up to sign a formal document declaring that “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.”

That statement was backed up by a three-alarm study by a group of 17 researchers, including NASA’s onetime top climate scientist James Hansen, about rising sea levels. Their paper, previewed Monday on Slate, claims that some glaciers will melt at a far more accelerated rate than previous estimates had tallied — as in, 10 times faster — and that sea levels could rise 10 or more feet in the next half-century, portending a potentially unholy disaster.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson


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