Climate change denials amid catastrophic hurricanes are a reminder that humans are not a particularly smart species, Pope Francis said Sunday while flying over areas in the Caribbean decimated by Hurricane Irma.
A correspondent for Crux Now had a slightly different translation of the pontiff's comments: "Man is a stupid and hard-headed being who doesn't see."
The pope — who has sparred with President Donald Trump on several issues, including climate change — also urged the climate skeptics of the world to consult with a scientist.
"Those who deny climate change need to go to scientists and ask them," Francis said, according to Crux. He said the scientific community has been "clear and precise" in linking human activities to the ongoing crisis and that "each [person] has a moral responsibility, bigger or smaller." Climate change is a "serious matter over which we cannot make jokes," he said.
Pope Francis' comments came during a flight from Colombia to Rome, which passed over areas of the Caribbean left devastated by Hurricane Irma. According to Crux, journalists asked the pope about the moral responsibility world political leaders have to fight against climate change.
When Trump met with Francis in May, the pope gave the president a copy of his 2015 encyclical on climate change and the environment, "Laudato Si." In the 184-page document, Francis argues that climate change is inherently a moral and spiritual issue and criticizes local and national governments that refuse to address it.
Since taking office, Trump, a longtime climate change skeptic who has dismissed it as "bullshit" and a Chinese hoax, has worked swiftly to derail America's actions to combat the threat. In June, Trump announced he will pull the U.S. out of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, in which nearly 200 countries committed to slashing carbon emissions.
Climate scientists say powerful back-to-back hurricanes Harvey and Irma — which battered the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean and the U.S. Southeast over the last two weeks — were made worse by climate change. The Trump administration, however, has said now is not the time to discuss the role climate change played in the extreme weather events.
"To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm, versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced," Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, told CNN last week in an interview about Hurricane Irma.