Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How the Pope Could Turn U.S. Climate Politics Upside Down - Bloomberg

Think about the people you associate with climate change.  Al Gore and environmental activists.  Al Gore and big-government liberals.  UN diplomats.  Impenetrable scientists.  Al Gore.

You're not alone, whatever your religious faith and whoever you are.  Environmentalists and scientists have prattled on about global warming for a generation.  No wonder many people think about it this way, even though projections of potentially catastrophic consequences—given desperately needed currency in 2006 by Gore in a landmark documentary—are widely credited and very real.

What kind of issue is global warming - Chart (Credit: Yale and George Mason University) Click to Enlarge.

This chart shows how deeply the traditional associations are embedded in the minds of American Christians.  The polling data come from a March report by Yale and George Mason university researchers, called Climate Change in the American Christian Mind. 

This mindset is an artifact of recent history.  It's understandable, but there is no reason climate change must be considered an overwhelmingly environmental or scientific issue, when business, military, and religious leaders well before Pope Francis have thought otherwise for years.
Pope Francis sees it as an issue intrinsic to morality, social justice, and theology.  Papal statements on the environment go back at least to 1971.  Pope John Paul II spoke of “human ecology” and the sacred earth throughout his pontificate, from the late ’70s until his death in 2005.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published a 5,100-word call to action on climate change in 2001.  Now Francis hopes the time is right to catalyze all that doctrine in the minds of the faithful.  Cardinal Peter Turkson, the president of the Vatican's social justice policy council, addressed a meeting of economists, business executives, and policymakers in May at the launch of a study by the New Climate Economy research initiative.  We're not doing a good job tending the garden, he said, and "if we keep burning fossil fuels at the current rate, we are on the road to ruin." 

Climate change is about to join the list of things faith leaders are always on our case about. Are the values celebrated in church preeminent in the workplace?  Is our lifestyle consistent with what we believe?  These are questions Francis wants Catholics, and everybody else, to begin asking themselves when it comes to global warming and global poverty, closely related issues.

Read more at How the Pope Could Turn U.S. Climate Politics Upside Down

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