Where the Pope and Science Find Common Ground

By Michael Beveridge ’17

 Pope and Science

Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, has made headlines during his tenure for making moves to “liberalize” the Church, most recently for his numerous comments on climate change.  His first such lecture on the link between religion and climate came in July, when he wrote in an encyclical—a letter from the Vatican distributed to the more than 1 billion Catholics globally—about mankind’s “reckless” behavior and the moral obligation to protect the environment (cnn.com).

Recently, during his tour of the United States that began last Tuesday, Pope Francis again spoke in the General Assembly of the United Nations urging leaders to pay more attention to the environment.  He argued that the condition of the environment and humankind are inseparable and that “any harm done to the environment, therefore, is done to humanity” (scientificamerican.com).  These sentiments seem to echo many publications that argue that environmental harm will ultimately come back to damage society.

Pope Francis continued in his address to argue that overpopulation itself was not an issue that is contributing to environmental harm and climate change.  Instead, he argued that abuse of power, overexploitation and thoughtless consumption of natural resources, and disregard for the poor are much bigger threats to mankind’s existence on earth.

While not every scientist may agree with all of the Pope’s points or rationale, a large majority do agree that climate change is a global issue that needs to be addressed.  According to NASA, roughly 97% of scientists agree that the world is heating up due to anthropogenic causes.  While most consensus estimates say that 2 degrees Celsius is the most mankind can afford to let the planet warm, some models have predicted that the earth could heat up by more than 4 degrees if nothing is done to mitigate current emissions.

Sources:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/141001-two-degrees-global-warming-climate-science/

http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/09/22/pope-visit-washington-new-york-philadelphia-united-states/72073294/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/18/world/pope-francis-climate-technology-encyclical/

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pope-says-science-can-solve-serious-problems-besetting-mankind/

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