Sunday, January 21, 2018
News Roundup

In Africa, Pope Francis warns of 'catastrophic' outcome if interests derail climate talks

NAIROBI, Kenya — Pope Francis warned Thursday that it would be "catastrophic" for world leaders to let special interest groups get in the way of a global agreement to curb fossil fuel emissions as he brought his environmental message to the heart of Africa on the eve of crucial climate change talks in Paris.

Francis issued the pointed warning in a speech to the U.N.'s regional office here after celebrating his first public Mass on the continent. The joyous, rain-soaked ceremony before 300,000 faithful saw the Argentine pope being serenaded by ululating Swahili singers, swaying nuns, Maasai tribesmen and dancing children dressed in the colors of Kenya's flag.

Francis has made ecological concerns a hallmark of his nearly 3-year-old papacy, issuing a landmark encyclical earlier this year that paired the need to care for the environment with the need to care for humanity's most vulnerable. Francis argues the two are interconnected since the poor often suffer the most from the effects of global warming, and are largely excluded from today's fossil-fuel based global economy that is heating up the planet.

Today, Francis repeated that message but took particular aim at those who reject the science behind global warming. In the United States, that includes some Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers, who have opposed steps President Barack Obama has taken on his own to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"It would be sad, and dare I say even catastrophic, were special interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and interests," Francis said.

He didn't elaborate, but in the United States at least, there has been a well-funded campaign that rejects the findings of 97 percent of climate scientists that global warming is likely man-made and insists that any heating of the Earth is natural. Politicians have cited these claims in their arguments that emissions cuts will hurt the economy.

Francis' message was praised by NASA historian Erik Conway, who co-wrote the 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, which detailed the attempts by far-right institutions and like-minded scientists to discredit the science behind global warming and spread confusion in the public.

Conway said it was difficult to determine today how much money is still being directed into climate change denial since much if it goes through foundations.

"But what that funding has achieved is the nearly complete conversion of Republican Party leadership into denial of human-caused climate change as well as public confusion over the content of the science," he said in an email.

Francis, who has said global warming is "mainly" man-made, said the world was faced with a stark choice in Paris: either improve or destroy the environment. He said he hoped the Paris talks would approve a "transformational" agreement to fight poverty and protect the environment by developing a new energy system that depends on minimal fossil fuel use.

"Many are the faces, the stories and the evident effects on the lives of thousands of people for whom the culture of deterioration and waste has allowed to be sacrificed before the idols of profits and consumption," he said. "We cannot remain indifferent in the face of this. We have no right."

His speech followed a similarly emphatic one before the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September, and in various speeches on his travels to South America and Asia.

Today was the second day in a row that Francis had touched on environmental concerns after he arrived in Kenya for a six-day pilgrimage that also takes him to Uganda on Friday and the conflict-ridden Central African Republic.

Francis' first full day in Africa began with a meeting with about 25 Kenyan Christian and Muslim leaders. He warned them that they had little choice but to engage in dialogue to guard against the "barbarous" Islamic extremist attacks that have struck the country.

"Dialogue is not a luxury. It is not something extra or optional, but essential," he said.

He later celebrated Mass before about 300,000 people at the University of Nairobi, where he received a raucous welcome from the crowd as he zoomed around in his open-sided popemobile, some 10,000 police providing security. Some people had been at the university since 3 a.m., braving heavy showers that turned the grounds into enormous, slick mud puddles. Others waited in queues 1.8 miles deep to get close to the venue.

"I am a Catholic and I believe he is godsend," said Nelly Ndunge, 29, as she waited to see Francis at the Mass. She said Francis' visit to Kenya was a blessing because it would renew her faith — and had boosted her printing business: She said she had already sold nearly 3,000 copies of a 2016 calendar with the pope's portrait on it.

Still others turned back, fearing a stampede given the disorganized security.

"We were all disappointed," said Sarah Ondiso, a senior government official. "The organizers could have done better."

The size of the crowd — estimated by both police and the Vatican — was far smaller than the 1.4 million that Kenyan authorities had expected after declaring today a national holiday. Vatican officials had predicted a maximum of a half-million people, and said the lower number was apparently due to accreditation and ticketing problems.

 
Comments
Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Lightning said all the right things about needing to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching during its recent funk. Veterans said they had to lead the way. Coach Jon Cooper believed this eight-game trip would "show us wha...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jalen Hudson came off the bench to score 17, and Chris Chiozza, Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes contributed clutch baskets down the stretch as Florida rallied to upset No. 18 Kentucky 66-64 Saturday night. "We were able to win it jus...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

ST. PETERSBURG — USF had expected to have four former players in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, but QB Quinton Flowers had to miss the showcase game after learning that his grandmother had died late last week."I most definitely ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — With less than a week to install a playbook, offenses can have it tough in college showcase games.And for 58 minutes on Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, the teams combined for just one offensive touchdown.But...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

For years, Edward Peachey has bragged about the number of jobless people he has helped find work.As president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, he’s in charge of the two main government agencies that provide training to the...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

WEEKI WACHEE — The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday investigated the death of a Hillsborough County man in the Eagle’s Nest, an underwater network of caves where at least 11 others have died since 1981.Even experienced divers have lost th...
Updated: 9 hours ago
More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

Florida’s dip into frigid temperatures did more than just stun humans unused to such cold air. This month scientists and volunteers have rescued more than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles from a single bay in the Florida Panhandle.The U.S. Geological S...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

TAMPA — Many times during Sinfonietta, Leoš Janácek’s notoriously difficult but joyous work, it was impossible for a regular patron of the Florida Orchestra to escape this observation: They have never sounded quite like this.This isn’t to say musicia...
Updated: 10 hours ago
The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The early days of the federal government shutdown won’t slow the U.S. economy much. No workers are missing paychecks yet, and because it is a weekend, few businesses expect to feel the effects of lost customers or suppliers.That could change, quickly...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

Tampa Bay is finally clear of the bitter chill that covered the region this week as temperatures picked up on Saturday. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around t...
Published: 01/20/18