Among many people, the issue of climate change remains something of an article of faith. “Do you believe in climate change?” is the question often asked in conversation regarding the topic.

Scientific reports continue to indicate that the climate of planet Earth is indeed changing. A January report by an office of NASA said 2010 was tied with 2005 for the warmest average global temperature since record keeping began in 1880. The years tied for third are all recent: 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

Science seems to have put to rest the question of whether climate change is happening. The big questions now are, “is the change caused by human activity, and what can be done to stop or slow it?” {{more}}

A report issued last week by a group under the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences points out the risks and makes suggestions regarding one result of climate change, the melting of glaciers around the world. The 15-page report (read it at makes a readable and persuasive case, even as it does not speak for the Holy See.

The buildup of greenhouse gases, which the report’s 23 members assert is caused by human activity, is thought by most scientists to cause the global rise in temperature Earth is now experiencing. That rise leads to melting glaciers around the world. With less annual runoff water from them, hundreds of millions of people may have difficulty obtaining enough water to live.

The resulting displacement of peoples regionally, more frequent and more powerful storms and the threat to the air and water everyone needs are only a few of the predicted dire consequences.

But solutions are difficult and costly. Reducing greenhouse gases means reducing the burning of fossil fuels or at least filtering them – a major impact on the global economy. A skeptic might conclude that catastrophic conditions will have to be present to force such solutions on the scale proposed.

Nevertheless, the duty of proposing and enacting workable solutions among all the nations falls to the present generation. Our children and grandchildren deserve the courage and hard work required by us now on this issue.

As the report’s authors state: “We are committed to ensuring that all inhabitants of this planet receive their daily bread, fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink as we are aware that, if we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us. The believers among us ask God to grant us this wish.”