What the Pope got wrong about climate change

Christa Avampato
3 min readMay 21, 2024
Photo by Imat Bagja Gumilar on Unsplash

Last month, a study on conservation actions, including protected areas and management, showed they effectively halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and reducing climate change impacts. Over the weekend, CBS aired an interview with Pope Francis, the first he’s granted to a major U.S. television network. About climate change he told Norah O’Donnell, “Unfortunately, we have gotten to a point of no return.” What’s unfortunate is Norah O’Donnell didn’t explain the science that this is not true. We are not at a point of no return with climate change. We need to do more and faster, and there is hope.

I understand it’s probably intimidating to challenge the Pope during an interview on national television. However, what he says is taken as truth by millions of people. If he pointed to the many success cases we have, this would inspire the increase in climate action we need. People need to know they can and do have the opportunity right now to make a difference. We have to spread this message far and wide because time is running out. This next decade could turn the tide one way or the other, and we have the chance to be part of the solution.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. It’s documented that 44,000 species are at risk of extinction. If these extinctions happen, ecosystems will collapse and billions of people will struggle to have enough food, clean water, livelihoods such as fishing, homes, and cultural preservation, to name just a few of the severe impacts.

Re:wild is an incredible resource filled with hope and success stories backed by science. One of their recent article hit home for me because of my passion for nature-based solutions and rewilding: We don’t need to reinvent the planet; we need to rewild it.

The world’s forests store approximately 861 gigatonnes of carbon, equivalent to nearly a century’s worth of current annual fossil fuel emissions. Tropical rainforests store 50 percent of that. These forests are not just the trees — they’re a whole ecosystem including the fungi, soil, insects, and predators. “When there are pieces of that biodiversity missing, the carbon cycle is incomplete or much less efficient than it would be otherwise,” said Christopher Jordan, Re:wild Latin America director. Storing carbon and keeping it out of the atmosphere needs all parts of the forest. It needs biodiversity. The wild, not human-invented technology, is the most effective solution to the interconnected climate, biodiversity, and human well-being crises.

This is what I wish the Pope had said about climate change because it’s true: There is hope. We have the solutions. Now, we need the will and humility to listen to nature and let her lead for our own sake and hers. We are all interconnected. We need each other.

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Christa Avampato

Award-winning author & writer—Product Dev — Biomimicry scientist — Podcaster. Runs on curiosity & joy. twitter.com/christanyc / instagram.com/christarosenyc