Pope Francis on Earth Day: Planet Is ‘Falling into Ruin’

A woman presents a gift to Pope Francis during an audience to the students of the National

ROME — Pope Francis commemorated Earth Day on Monday by warning that the planet is “falling into ruin” thanks to humanity’s failure to protect it.

“Our generation has bequeathed many riches, but we have failed to protect the planet and we are not safeguarding peace,” the pontiff chided on X (former Twitter).

“We are called to become artisans and caretakers of our common home, the Earth which is ‘falling into ruin,’” he declared, followed by “#EarthDay.”

For the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, Pope Francis issued a similar indictment of humanity’s failure to care for the planet, blaming human selfishness for the ruin of the earth.

“Because of our selfishness we have failed in our responsibility to be guardians and stewards of the earth,” the pope said in at the time. “We need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair.”

“We have polluted and despoiled it, endangering our very lives,” he continued. “For this reason, various international and local movements have sprung up in order to appeal to our consciences.”

“I deeply appreciate these initiatives; still it will be necessary for our children to take to the streets to teach us the obvious: we have no future if we destroy the very environment that sustains us,” he said in a message evocative of his praise for climate warrior Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future movement.

“We have failed to care for the earth, our garden-home; we have failed to care for our brothers and sisters,” Francis said. “We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbors, and ultimately against the Creator, the benevolent Father who provides for everyone, and desires us to live in communion and flourish together.”

Certain scholars, however, have cast their gaze back to the origins of Earth Day in 1970, pointing to its flawed founders and urging a healthy skepticism of climate change panic.

University of Michigan professor of economics Mark J. Perry, for instance, penned an essay in 2016 enumerating “18 spectacularly wrong predictions” made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970.

At the time, Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that civilization would end “within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind” while Paul Ehrlich warned that population would “inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” and that therefore the death rate would increase “until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, said that humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000, and that lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, at “the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” Watt also declared that by the year 2000, “there won’t be any more crude oil” and forecast an imminent ice age.

“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared.

“If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age,” he contended.


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