Pope Francis has echoed what scientists have been saying for years, according to climate leader, Katharine Hayhoe. While the findings come from decades-long, carefully accumulated data, these details are not what compels the American public to act. Science may be able to determine what has happened and even what will happen, but it “can’t tell us what to do; that’s where our values come in,” according to Texas Tech Professor, Dr. Hayhoe.
Yale Environment 360 recently interviewed two Momentus/Blessed Tomorrow leaders, Katharine Hayhoe and Mary Evelyn Tucker, to better understand the role religious values play in climate talks. Dr. Tucker, senior lecturer and research scholar at Yale University, believes that Pope Francis’ visit will further our exploration of "integral ecology whereby issues of poverty, social justice, and environmental degradation are seen as one set of challenges.”
Read more from climate experts and find out what they would like to see Pope Francis address during his visit to Congress.
Don’t forget to join us in Coming Together in Faith on Climate, as we amplify Pope Francis morally guided climate message in Washington D.C.
In his groundbreaking June encyclical, Pope Francis issued a call for robust individual action and a sweeping transformation of global economic and political systems to deal with the dual threats of climate change and environmental degradation. On Sept. 25, he will bring aspects of that message to the United Nations. Yale Environment 360asked experts on the environment and religion what they would like the pope to say before the U.N. While many said the pope’s encyclical was a potentially transformative moment for stewardship of the planet, others would like Pope Francis to speak out about issues he overlooked or dismissed, including the role of population growth in environmental problems and the vital part that the private sector must play in combating global warming.
Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is director of the Climate Science Center. She has worked at Texas Tech since 2005.
The pope gets what we scientists have known for a long time: Science doesn’t hold all the answers. Not for life, and certainly not for such a difficult and polarized issue as climate change.
There is a lot science can tell us. It can tell us that climate is changing; that — for the first time in the history of this planet — humans are responsible; and that our choices matter. The more carbon we produce today, the greater the risks and even the dangers we will face tomorrow.
But science can’t tell us what to do; that’s where our values come in. And for more than 80 percent of Americans, at least some of their values come from their faith. That’s why it's so important that the pope gets it.
The pope is crystal clear on the connection between Christian values and climate change. He’s laid out in detail the relationship between God, people, and the planet. He’s connected the dots between poverty, vulnerability, and climate impacts. He’s left nothing to the imagination when describing the challenge we face today, and the attitudes we’ll need to conquer this challenge in the future.
There’s just one thing he hasn’t said — yet. He hasn’t called out those who are using God’s name as a cover for greedy, short-term thinking, for actions and attitudes that reflect love of self more than love of others.
Will he do it? I don’t know. But I do know this: He’s the right person to make that call.