Since Pope Francis was elected to the Papacy in 2013, Catholics have been moved by his words, actions and compassion for the environment. From his groundbreaking Encyclical, Laudato Si, to his recent visit to the U.S. (which I was lucky enough to witness), Americans have been buzzing with what many are referring to as 'The Francis Effect'. Let's clarify for a moment, that we are not talking about some Beattle Mania-like hysteria reaching fever pitch, rather, it has been the Pope's ability to state clearly, concisely and often poetically, the world's moral imperative to act on climate change. 

While many of us have discussed the 'Francis Effect' at conferences and meetings, Yale University has finally quantified the influence through a research project that displays changing climate attitudes among Americans and  American Catholics. 

"Our findings suggest that the Pope’s teachings about global warming contributed to an increase in public engagement on the issue and influenced the conversation about global warming in America; we refer to this as The Francis Effect." – Yale University

Overall, the study found a substantial increase in positive climate attitudes, directly attributing Pope Francis to an 8% growth in climate awareness among Americans and an 11% growth among American Catholics. And that's just the beginning! 

Read the full report here.


The Pope Francis effect: One speech on climate change, a 10-20 point shift in opinion polls

Olivia Goldhill | Quartz

Pope Francis’s campaign for the climate has won hearts and minds in the United States in just a matter of months, suggests a recent survey of Americans’ attitudes to climate change (pdf). Yale University researchers are calling it another example of “The Francis Effect.”

The number of people who are worried about global warming has increased by 8% among Americans and 11% among Catholics, according to a November report by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The report draws on a nationally representative survey of of 900 respondents.

Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who say global warming is happening grew from 62% in March to 66% in October this year. And there’s been an even bigger increase in the number of American Catholics who recognize global warming: from 64% in March to 74% in October.

Pope Francis spoke movingly about the issue in September before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, when he warned that “a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.”

Read More