The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is urging members of Congress to address the moral and environmental dimensions of global climate change in the wake of the major international report released last week that cites human activity as the likely cause of rising temperatures around the world. The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a synthesis of scientific findings in over 100 countries, including the United States, found that "the warming of the climate is unequivocal" and that "continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century." Bishop Thomas G Wenski, chairman of the US bishops' international policy committee, said in a letter to congressional leaders that the report "has outlined more clearly and compellingly than ever before the case for serious and urgent action to address the potential consequences of climate change as well as highlighting the dangers and costs of inaction." Specifically, he addressed three major themes drawn from Catholic Social Teaching that could help inform how policy makers respond to global climate change. First, a "priority for the poor" must ensure that the needs of the poor and vulnerable around the world are not forgotten. Second, this issue reflects "a pre-eminent example of how our debate and decisions should reflect the pursuit of the common good, rather than the search for economic, political or other narrow advantage." Finally, the "practice of prudence," which often restrains us from acting in haste, in this case "requires us to act with urgency." "The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will work with you and others to address global climate change within this framework and on these three principles," Bishop Wenski said. "We do so with modesty and respect. While no one has easy answers, we ask you to help define and refine what prudence and the pursuit of the common good require."
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