Thursday, June 25, 2015

What Does the Pope Know About Climate Change? Plenty.

We know the Holy Father has a background in science and a chemistry degree but just what does he know about climate change?  Lots - lots and lots.  The IPCC may have been around about two decades but the Vatican has had its own outfit, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, for 400-years.

The Academy boasts some seriously brilliant and accomplished scientists.  Guess what?  Their ranks include loads of non-Catholics.  There's even a Hindu.  These guys know that the pope has a lot of clout and they want to see that clout well informed.

Besides it turns out the pope chose to name himself Francis after Roman Catholicism's first environmental radical, Francis of Assisi.  That's starting off with a bit of street cred, no?

The full academy meets every two years and is often granted an audience from the pope. In the stretches between the biannual sessions, scientists hold workshops and produce reports on whichever topics they agree are most important for the pope to understand. “The pope has his own experts, who are completely secular,” said Ramanathan. “Not all of them even believe in a god. They are there for pure scientific excellence, and they are not co-opted by any country. They’re not co-opted by the United Nations.”

Reaching the pope is one thing. They also wanted to reach everybody else. Ramanathan and a coterie of his colleagues endorsed a follow-up plan. They would bring leaders of reason and faith together under one roof to talk about the most consequential risk humanity has had to confront since the advent of nuclear weaponry.

That’s why in April, the Vatican invited representatives from the world’s religions — including Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and other Christians — to a symposium discussing climate science and the ways religious leaders might lead on the issue.

More than a dozen faith leaders heard from one of the world’s top climate scientists, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, about how the earth went “from glacial chaos to climate paradise” during the last big climate transition 12,000 years ago, and what we may be in store for next.

They heard from Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen, who popularized the notion that human industry has shoved the world into a new geological phase — the “anthropocene,” or in plainspeak, “the human age.”

And they heard Jeffrey Sachs, prolific writer and Columbia University economist, say that “we can still, but just barely,” avoid pollution levels that lead to dangerous climate change risk.

So when Republican denialists like Senator James Inhofe or that weirdo Santorum or Bush the Chubby, tell the pope to bugger off and stick to things he knows about, they're just blowing smoke.

I agree, the pope was wrong to slam the door on the overpopulation problem but if he can kickstart some meaningful action on carbon emissions and our insanely destructive over-consumption, that'll be more than just about anyone else has managed.

Too bad their info session was limited to "leaders of reason and faith." That pretty much rules out prime minister Bullwinkle.


Anyong said...

They will find out when they can't eat or drink their money. Probably steal it from others though.

Purple library guy said...

Gotta say, as far as I'm aware anyway, the pope's been showing a lot more leadership than the dolly llama.

LeDaro said...

Mound, coming from the Pope Francis hopefully will raise awareness about global warming around the world. According to a 2010 survey there are 1.1 billion Catholics in the world. I believe his words will have impact and raise awareness about the imminent catastrophe of CO2 emission and global warming that we are facing.

Purple library guy said...

Up until this pope, the Catholic church was moving more and more into lockstep with US far-right protestantism in its politics. This is certainly a refreshing change, to the point where the Pope is definitively further left and greener than basically any European or North American government. His politics still aren't where I'd like to see them, which is to say they aren't identical to my own. But it's a hell of a movement.

The Mound of Sound said...

What worries me is the pope's repeated comments about not being around for long. Would a successor go back to the bad old days of the Vatican or will Francis somehow have put the RC church on a path that will survive his departure?