Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pope Francis and Climate Change.

                                  Comments due by April, 17, 2015
The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics not only says the world must try to protect against an environmental catastrophe regardless of its cause, but he is preparing the first ever papal letter to the church’s bishops focused on the environment.
He hopes it will encourage U.N. negotiators meeting in Paris in December to make courageous decisions about protecting the world from global warming, he told reporters traveling with him to the Philippines.“I don't know if (human activity) is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face," he said in January before visiting with survivors of 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, according to federal weather experts. “We have in a sense taken over nature."
Pope Francis is exceptionally well regarded at the end of his first two years as pontiff, a tenure during which he has rejected ostentatious trappings of the Vatican, embraced the poor and criticized a church that he says has become obsessed with abortion, gay marriage and contraception. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released in March found that only 6 percent of Americans viewed him negatively, while 55 percent had positive feelings about him.
Now with his papal letter, or encyclical, he is expected to tie together the environment, development and concern for the poor. It will be published over the summer, in time for the U.N. General Assembly’s discussion on sustainable development in September and the Climate Change Conference meeting on reducing global warming in Paris in December.
Some scholars at Catholic universities hope that given Francis' popularity, Americans will pay close attention to what he says in the encyclical and during his visit to the United States in September, when he will address Congress and the United Nations.Adorable Boy Crashes Pope's Speech
that I’ve heard of in the last 10 years,” said Daniel P. Scheid, an assistant professor of theology at Duquesne University, a Catholic school in Pittsburgh.
Catholics might be more open than others to Francis’ message. They are more convinced than other Christians that global warming is happening, are more worried about it, and are more supportive of taking action, Yale University found ina survey. Seventy percent of Catholics, for example, believe the Earth is warming compared to 57 percent of other Christians, according to the survey.
A Vatican official who helped to write the first draft of the encyclical, Cardinal Peter Turkson, said in a recent speech that Francis was “compelled by the scientific evidence for climate change” while acknowledging the debate over its causes.
“What is not contested is that our planet is getting warmer,” Turkson said in a lecture last month at Saint Patrick’s Pontifical University in Maynoor Ireland.
Rather than provide a narrow agenda for greening the church or a comparison of the merits of capitalism versus communism, the encyclical will emphasize caring for people and the environment, Turkson said.
"The threats that arise from global inequality and the destruction of the environment are interrelated; and they are the greatest threats we face as a human family today," Turkson said in what was regarded as a preview of the encyclical.
Some encyclicals have covered purely religious topics, others issues of broader interest such as birth control.
Francis’ predecessors, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, also spoke out about the environment: John Paul II in 1990 called for protecting creation and the poor and Benedict XVI in 2011 urged delegates to climate change negotiations to reach a strong agreement. But by devoting an encyclical to ecology Francis makes the topic a core one for the church, Scheid said.
“Benedict tended to write like an academic, making arguments, which is good, he’s a professor,” he said. “But I think Francis will speak more as a pastor, as someone trying to speak to the heart, not just the mind.”
Jessica Hellman, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, said she expected the pope to frame the problem as a moral one. Developed countries will likely be called on do what they can to lessen global warming without regard to what others are doing, she said.
“I think that’s a pretty powerful argument and something different from what you hear in the regular political U.N. discourse so I think it could make a difference,” she said.
She and others at the Catholic university have compiled the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index or ND-GAIN, which measures the vulnerability of each country to climate change and ways they can adjust.
“It’s time to think of climate change not as a scientific issue but as a humanitarian crisis,” she said.
The goal of the conference in Paris is to limit warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over preindustrial levels. The United States and China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas polluters, have announced that in Paris they would commit to targets for cuts in their countries’ carbon emissions. At the end of last month, the White House described how by relying on President Obama’s executive authority it would decrease greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a third over the next decade.
The plan is opposed by Republican lawmakers in Congress, who often dispute human contribution to climate change and oppose any accord in Paris.
Francis’ popularity has not made him immune to criticism on the issue. In an editorial in December, the publication Investor’s Business Daily, argued that initiatives such as limiting the use of fossil fuels were actually regressive taxes that would hurt the poor.
“The radical climate change agenda he has made peace with would make the poor poorer and income inequality worse,” it wrote.
Patrick J. Michaels, the director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, makes a similar argument, saying the more affluent a society, the more it protects its environment.
“So I would think that the pope should come down on the side of economic development as a way of promoting environmental justice," he said.
The Cato Institute argues that global warming is real but that current technologies cannot accomplish legislative goals for reducing emissions.
Michael points to a recent Gallup poll showing that among noneconomic problems, the environment and pollution rank well below dissatisfaction with government, terrorism and other issues for Americans. Despite respect for Francis, Americans are more likely to challenge statements with policy or political implications with which they disagree, he said.
"What I’m thinking is that he’s going to have to be very careful in the words that he chooses when he is the United States," he said.
Environmentalists counter that action is needed now.
Dan Misleh, the director of the Catholic Climate Covenant — launched in 2006 and intended to help Catholics address climate change — agrees that Americans pay too little attention to environmental problems. But he hopes the pope will spur people to act.
"I think there will be some challenges in the encyclical that will make people stand up, pay attention and through that reflect on their own lives and lifestyles," he said.
Duquesne University will inaugurate an annual conference on the "Integrity of Creation" in September by exploring the topic of climate change. Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, meanwhile, will hold a conference on climate investing, also in September, with the goal of developing a set of principles to guide investments.
Christiana Peppard, an assistant professor of theology, science, and ethics in Fordham University's Department of Theology, said she doubted that Francis would convince doubters in the U.S. Congress to change their minds.
"But I think it is good to have people who are respected as moral leaders and powerful ones at that remind powerful politicians that in a globalizing world a lot more is at stake than might be discerned in election cycles or fiscal quarters," she said.(CNBC) 


21 comments:

Kobe Yank-Jacobs said...

I think this is a momentous occasion in the battle to defeat dissuade denialists from their path of destruction. The Republican Party––whose platform is generally alienating to minorities, the middle class, women, etc.––gains its strength from appealing to fervent religionists who buy into their moral claims. There is a reflection of values that make Republican voters unquestioning of the logic of their policies. Whereas liberals, in a general sense, are more moved by empiricism. (Again, I would like to dress that these are generalizations, but that they have foundations in analysis of voting patterns.) As such, liberals have been easily persuaded by the strong evidence in favor of climate change, and Republicans have managed to cast doubt about the subject––which is all one needs to do to cause a disruption in sensible policy to address the issue. Therefore, the fact that the Pope––a figure with moral ethos––is speaking on behalf of dangers of climate change is may be incredibly influential for current denialists.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I think it is amazing that our Pope is so progressive and wants so much change. I think the pope talking about climate change will be very influential and help people who follow him to see things that maybe they have not before. It is not surprising that the Republican party is not supportive of this because they are typically not incredibly supportive about any climate issues whereas Liberals typically are and I think that is what makes this Pope so interesting. He has the people's interest and well-being in mind and he understands climate change which can be a great platform for those who do not believe in it or who are not educated enough about it. It is important to have a figure like this speak up about the issues because it will draw many other people's attention...most likely more so than it will deter people. The Pope speaking about these things definitely cannot hurt.

- Victoria Kusy

Christina Cranwell said...

The Pope's support will accelerate our goals of preventing climate change. He is the most powerful person to speak on this topic considering there are hundreds of people willing to stop and follow what he does. I disagree with the opinion that he should relate the urgency to climate change to the need of economic change. This uses a cost-benefit analysis which is often criticized when exploring environmental related topics. This really is the time to ditch the analysis and to just speak. People will follow the Pope.

Chelsea Dow said...

The idea that religious figures, most notably within the Catholic community, are acknowledging the need for emission reductions globally is a major shift in perception. When I read this passage, I immediately thought of the readings from ENV 112, specifically the work of Lynn White. White hypothesized that the environmental degradation we see today is due to Judeo-Christian ethics. In this lens, humans had "dominion over land," thus making us the rulers of the natural world. This sense of ownership, as White noted, has led the human species to use Earth's available resources in astronomical numbers. The catalyst has been a global landscape of degraded environments. This article shows that religious groups, even those with a foundation of "man controls the land" mentality, can see the harmful effects of human practices that lead to global warming, and strive to alleviate such devastation. When the Pope comes to the US and gives his heartfelt speeches, it is my hope that he can help others within his religion to look outside of the written texts, and focus on the blatant science of climate change. This could be a break through, if he approaches it correctly. Unfortunately, as the article stated, he will most likely not sway any Republicans mindset, however I think that reaching to the massive Catholic population is indeed an optimistic start.

Anonymous said...

This is a great move by Pope Francis. I've never been religious nor followed any Popes' actions closely but Francis has caught my attention many times and each time in a positive manor. His morality is something the world desperately needs in a time where world leaders frequently allow egos to take precedence over what is right. Theres no question huge changes need to be made but I don't believe he will have much influence over politicians, especially US politicians, since money is really what truly the world. Not kindness. Not religion. Money. I don't believe there will be any major strides in protecting the environment until it becomes financially convenient to do so. Then again I cannot claim to understand the power the Pope holds as I really don't know. I hope he can really make a difference on this important issue, yet I am very skeptical of Pope Francis's influence over the environment.

-Chris Magnemi

Anonymous said...

With the popes support I believe it will call much more attention to the situation of climate change. To have someone on such a high level of leadership going out of there way to make a change will hopefully put out awareness to people who didn't think it was much of a problem. Ive never been very religious myself, but I do come from a struck Irish Catholic family and would love to hear their opinions on this topic. But bedsides that it is absolutely one of the better pros to come out of environmental awareness because Pope Francis is a very big influence with such a large following. This might cause some problems with people who think the pope should stick with more moral issues then social issues so to say, but I believe that it will have a more positive impact then a negative one.

Katherine Murphy

Anonymous said...

I've been hearing a lot about the new Pope's opinions, wants, and needs. As Victoria said, he is a very progressive Pope, and that's a great thing. I feel as though with his views on the environment, he will help to not only make many of his followers take a better look at the world around them, but perhaps even change some opinions on how things are. His influence is important, and I'm glad he feels the way he does.

-E. Piper Phillips

Anonymous said...

It amazes me that Pope Francis is so progressive and everyone is so supportive of that fact. I think it shows a lot of progress for the Catholic religion and people in general. Regardless of whether or not someone is religious, they can still like Pope Francis and be supportive of everything that he is trying to achieve. I think that the Pope addressing climate change and admitting that it is becoming a problem is going to lead to big changes in terms of our thinking of the environment. If the Pope, a monumental figure that everyone looks up to, says that we need to do something about climate change than maybe it's time to do something about climate change and realize that it's becoming a big problem.

-Marrina Gallant

Anonymous said...

I think that the encouragement that the Pope is delivering much needed. The moral argument, through the religious perspective, in helping the environment can be strong enough to persuade the masses to action. Like Lynn White said, our morals regarding the environment have been influenced by religion. Therefore, to get more people to be become environmentally conscious, religious perspectives should be expanded and reevaluated. By helping the environment, as the post points out, we become helpers to our neighbors, peers and the global community as a whole. With leadership and guidance from respected figures such as the Pope, the environmentalist movement can really take off.
-Emma Weis

Victoria said...

Since the pope has a large amount of people that follow him he has a great deal of influence. Using this influence to bring awareness to an environmental issue is a way to help find a solution. Yes, the pope might not know much on climate change but that doesn't change the fact that it is happening and something needs to be done. Not everyone might agree with the pope but, any awareness or help is contributing to action taking place.

Michael Tierney said...

This is a huge step in the right direction for the Roman Catholic Church. Most Catholics believe that the environment deserves to be preserved and our catastrophes are mostly caused from human action, but not too many people have actually taken any action on the matter. "We have in a sense taken over nature." The fact that the article is admitting that is a good thing because it proves the point that man has been walking all over nature and we need to bring a stop to it. there are roughly 1.2 billion people in the Roman Catholic religion, and with that many people starting to take action to resolve our environmental issues, we can really take a proper step forward in the right direction.
Pope Francis is probably the first pope I have seen that purposely wears "lowkey" robes and attire instead of the ways of Pope John Paul who was always decked out in very bright reds, golds, and flashy attire. It makes Pope Francis seem more humble and more understanding to everyone as a whole and the environment. He probably only has a few different sets of robes for the proper celebrations, but it is very lowkey and conservative in my eyes. It is a very good step towards a better future for our environment, but let's see how long it will take everyone in the Roman Catholic Church to jump on board and take action to resolve our environmental issues. Big or small, these problems that should be solved soon are important and any kind of help is a good step forward.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, this is a positive step towards the divestment from the burning of fossil fuels to new forms of renewable energy. It is progress for a religious leader as highly regarded as the pope to comment on the effects of human induced climate change. By bringing up this issue, the pope is reaching a large audience and hopefully will help to change some views towards climate change. It is interesting to see the goals of the pope as stated in the article: "He hopes it will encourage U.N. negotiators meeting in Paris in December to make courageous decisions about protecting the world from global warming, he told reporters traveling with him to the Philippines." This is great news as it means there is an increase in the public awareness towards the meetings in Paris this winter. Overall, the article describes progress towards the divestment from fossil fuels.

-Frazer Winsted

Geordi Taylor said...

I find it very interesting that the some critics believe that the publication will have a considerable impact on the how people, especially in the western world, view climate change. I have always believed that humans have a tendency to act in their own self-interest, so I initially thought that if scientists could provide enough overwhelming evidence, then humans would realize that our actions are the root-cause of climate change. In regards to that notion, clearly I was wrong.

Instead, I have come to realize two things: humans are extremely irrational and consumption is an addiction. History is filled with examples of humans having advanced warnings that if the current behavior or actions were continued, some adverse effect would be the result. Yet, even with these fore warnings, humans stayed their course and suffered tremendously. Then, when it was too late, they scrambled to make desperate attempts at fixing the problem. Now, with all of science's advancements, we have been warned, yet many of us refuse to heed those warnings.

If you study the links that lead to greenhouse gas emissions, you will see that they are directly linked to human consumption. The major industries who are demonized for the use of dirty fossil fuels are not to blame, because without demand from their current and future customers, there would be no need to increase production. If humans weren't addicted to consumption, if humans didn't have a need to acquire more than needed, these industries would never feel the need to increase their output and cut corners that resulted in environmental degradation.

Geordi Taylor said...

I find it very interesting that the some critics believe that the publication will have a considerable impact on the how people, especially in the western world, view climate change. I have always believed that humans have a tendency to act in their own self-interest, so I initially thought that if scientists could provide enough overwhelming evidence, then humans would realize that our actions are the root-cause of climate change. In regards to that notion, clearly I was wrong.

Instead, I have come to realize two things: humans are extremely irrational and consumption is an addiction. History is filled with examples of humans having advanced warnings that if the current behavior or actions were continued, some adverse effect would be the result. Yet, even with these fore warnings, humans stayed their course and suffered tremendously. Then, when it was too late, they scrambled to make desperate attempts at fixing the problem. Now, with all of science's advancements, we have been warned, yet many of us refuse to heed those warnings.

If you study the links that lead to greenhouse gas emissions, you will see that they are directly linked to human consumption. The major industries who are demonized for the use of dirty fossil fuels are not to blame, because without demand from their current and future customers, there would be no need to increase production. If humans weren't addicted to consumption, if humans didn't have a need to acquire more than needed, these industries would never feel the need to increase their output and cut corners that resulted in environmental degradation.

Anonymous said...

While i love the pope and think he does a lot of great things, people often over look some of his flaws... i wont get into them here as they are not relevant to his views on the environment. I just cannot go and praise him without pointing out some of his flaws. Regarding his environmental efforts i think this is really really great. the pope is not your average leader, like a president, because the pope has millions of follower who will blindly follow him even if he is completely wrong(not in this case) while a president is constantly being mocked and criticized. if there is any area i think the pope needs to be very outspoke it is here, the environment will not and cannot wait until people are ready for change.

Nick Stanton

Anonymous said...

The Pope has continually provided guidance on moral issues in a manner that aligns with my own moral compass, regardless of my religious belief, or lack thereof. I consider this to be a reflection of his universal voice of love, compassion, and giving back to community that resonates with all people in and out of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has chosen to embrace the science of climate change and encourage his followers to recognize the urgency and act to help the earth. Opposing arguments often quote polls on the subjective desires of the population, but climate change transcends these issues and becomes a necessary action rather than a fourth or fifth priority in the eyes of the public. The Pope has guided the Catholic Church into an age of unity with science in order to align scientific and moral knowledge for the greater good, including saving the intrinsic value of all the earth in addition to the human population.

Nadya Hall

Marisa Flannery said...

I'm very glad our new Pope desires change, in more aspects than one, and is very progressive. His views are more modernized than previous popes which will help broaden more Catholics ways of thinking. Because he is of great power, if he talks about climate change, it will help gain support on the subject. Many many people support the Pope and the things he believes, which will help the environment gain more love and support as it deserves.

Joan Podolski said...

This article took me by surprise when i read how the Pope wanted to get involved. when we get people involved that are higher on the totem pole, it usually brings awareness to everyone, especially people who are not on board, or aware of the situation as it is. In the article he told reporters traveling with him to the Philippines.“I don't know if (human activity) is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face,". I found this very important to let people know. Many of us are unaware of how much we hurt the environment, and we need to help protect it as much as we can. If the Pope gets on board, this could be live changing in the way we go about the climate and environmental change.

Anonymous said...

I am not Christian, I am Jewish, but since Pope Francis has begun, I have agreed with the positive effect that has come out of his more acceptance and his demeanor to all peoples.
For a man whose words will reach more people, faster than any news, or political leader. The pope has an advantage over all politicians. By stating that we have concurred nature and as such we have a duty to protect it. There will be people who will begin to make a change.
But this change will not be enough. With Catholicism being a major religion in the Western world, for a man to make the topic of conserving and protecting a part of what he will do in his position, I applaud him. In these meetings, we lose sight that though, these are environmental issues, we focus more on how these issues effect the economy in many Western and developed nations.
The environment is not a thing we can control, if we could completely control the environment, protection would be the last thing on the list of things to do.
We must act, and within our own groups, we must convince people of what is safe. Not only for themselves, but what is also safe for the world and people around them.

Beverly Levine

Christina Cranwell said...

I think it's incredible that we finally have a Pope that is willing to be proactive. I think that the Popes predecessor's spent way too much defending matters that weren't of immediate importance. Pope Francis has really taken the steps to address the problems that we're having worldwide instead of just pushing them to the side. The church's support on climate change is going to be huge, there will be a surge in people that support the cause and become proactive because of him.

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