June 9, 2014

GENEVA – World leaders and policy makers need to direct their attention to the human beings who will be most affected by rising global temperatures, a Vatican official said.

"As with most natural disasters, climate-related emergencies cause more suffering and personal loss on those who live in poverty," Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, said May 21.

Zimowski told members of the World Health Assembly the world's poor are the most vulnerable to climate change.

They are the ones "who cannot afford protective structures to shield them from extreme forces of nature and who have little or no resources to arrange for temporary shelter and other basic necessities once their homes have been severely damaged or totally destroyed."

The world must help promote a different culture guided by the values of compassion, respect, solidarity and a commitment to justice, he said.

"There is overwhelming evidence that human activities have greatly contributed to the recent warming of the earth's surface and that climate change as well as its consequences will continue into the future."

Climate change will affect air, water and food supplies, and aggravate already-existing health problems, he said.