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Pope's Views on Changing Climate Strike Chord in Nevada

PHOTO: Pope Francis says it's important for the world to do more to curb climate change. The Tesla Motors' gigafactory being built near Reno is an example of how the state can benefit economically from renewable energy. Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors.
PHOTO: Pope Francis says it's important for the world to do more to curb climate change. The Tesla Motors' gigafactory being built near Reno is an example of how the state can benefit economically from renewable energy. Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors.
June 19, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Climate change primarily has been an environmental and often a political issue. This week, it officially has become a moral issue.

In his new position paper known as a papal encyclical, Pope Francis asks Catholics to take a strong stand to fight global warming, and says failure to do so is affecting the world's poorest and most vulnerable.

As a Catholic priest and pastor at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community in Carson City, Chuck Durante said he is pleased that the lengthy document contains scientific as well as religious research. He pointed out that this pope has a background in science.

"He has a master's degree in chemistry, and I think he approaches this encyclical with a very critical mind," he said. "I also think there is great respect for this pope, and if anybody could call to task the rest of the world on something like this, I think it's Pope Francis."

Durante said he's aware the encyclical could further divide Catholics' opinions of their outspoken church leader based on individual views about climate change. But he said following one's faith isn't easy and doesn't mean there won't be disagreements.

Pope Francis writes that there is "an urgent need to develop policies" to curb fossil-fuel emissions "in the next few years." The strength of that rallying cry could mean new opportunities for the Nevada economy, said David von Seggern, who chairs the Sierra Club's Toiyabe Chapter.

"Nevada has an abundant amount of solar energy and geothermal energy," he said, "and we can progress into this energy transition like no other state, if we put our minds to it."

Von Seggern cited this week's decision by Gov. Brian Sandoval to add electric-vehicle charging stations on U.S. Highway 395 between Las Vegas and Reno, and the Tesla gigafactory now under construction near Reno, as examples of increasing interest in cleaner energy in the state.

The encyclical, called "Laudato si," is online at w2.vatican.va.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NV