What the Vatican Has to Say About Clean Water

We're all accountable for solving water problems, says the Pope.

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This past week, Pope Francis released the Laudato Si, an encyclical addressing climate change and its effects on the world’s most vulnerable populations. Although not a scientific document, the encyclical gives a moral response to today’s environmental discussions. In great detail, it explains the dilemma of man-made climate change, accepts the responsibility of human actions, and states why unsustainable consumption and overuse of resources will be detrimental to the poor.

Perhaps of most interest to Municipal Sewer & Water readers is the Pope’s description of the water dilemma. To summarize, Pope Francis states the following:

  1. Developed countries cannot sustain the present level of consumption.
  2. Water poverty is a real threat. Some countries are rich in water while others are dealing with drastic scarcity.
  3. Water quality is not standard. Many poor countries do not have access to safe drinking water, which results in deaths and illnesses.
  4. Access to safe drinking water is a basic and universal human right, which could be jeopardized by privatizing water sources.
  5. Water scarcity could cause conflict. It’s a growing threat to many countries.

The encyclical also calls for a global consensus in managing these challenges because “humanity is one people living in a common home.” For example, if only we were to apply global ingenuity to environmental problems, perhaps we could ensure universal access to safe drinking water. The Pope calls for and reinforces well-recognized environmental tactics, such as reducing water consumption, recycling, car-pooling, using public transit and planting trees.

Perhaps a simple message at its core, the document is full of beautiful language about the link between faith, family, economy and global responsibility. It’s an important document that represents what could be a tipping point in our cultural discussion on the environment.

To read the full document, click here.


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