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Pope Francis stands firm with science on global warming

Technically Incorrect: In a document intended for a broad audience, the pope describes the earth as "an immense pile of filth."

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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The Pope believes that science has answers. BBC/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

If the pope wants to talk about something, he just does.

It might be about the deleterious effects of too much Web surfing. It might be about the sheer unpleasantness of using curse words.

This week, Pope Francis is keen to talk about climate change.

For some, this seems less a scientific topic than a political one. It's almost as if one side of the political spectrum feels the need to believe that climate change is largely man-made, while the other needs to believe the opposite.

However, in a leaked Vatican encyclical intended for a broad church, the pope falls squarely on the side of current scientific thinking.

As The New York Times reports, the pope doesn't have a rosy view of our environmental condition. He said: "The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish."

The pope said he supported stricter environmental laws. He insisted that "most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases." This he put down to the way that humans have chosen to live.

Those who align their politics with the notion that climate change isn't man-made have been critical of the pope. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, himself a stern Catholic, said in an interview: "The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science. We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we're really good at, which is theology and morality."

The slight kink in such a view is that the pope has a degree in chemistry. He's already made clear that he doesn't see an incompatibility between the science of evolution and the existence of God.

Moreover, the Guardian quotes Cardinal Peter Turkson, one of the pope's senior officials, as saying: "Saying that a pope shouldn't deal with science sounds strange since science is a public domain. It is a subject matter that anyone can get into."

When it comes to climate change and pollution, the pope said in the encyclical that it's the poor who have to bear the worst effects of the earth's increasing filthiness.

And there can be no doubt how serious his views on the subject are. He said: "Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day."