Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Pope and climate change

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican has just released a new report titled Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene. The report was written by a diverse group of glaciologists, climate scientists, meteorologists, hydrologists, physicists, chemists, mountaineers and lawyers and examines the causes and consequences of the widely observed phenomenon of glacial retreat occurring on about 95% of glaciers around the world.

The report doesn't particularly break new ground scientifically (or so I am told), but it is a good example of scientists communicating the realities of climate change in an explicitly moral framework. To get a sense of the reports conclusions and recommendations, here is a taste from the opening:
"We call on all people and nations to recognise the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and by changes in forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other land uses. We appeal to all nations to develop and implement, without delay, effective and fair policies to reduce the causes and impacts of climate change on communities and ecosystems, including mountain glaciers and their watersheds, aware that we all live in the same home. By acting now, in the spirit of common but differentiated responsibility, we accept our duty to one another and to the stewardship of a planet blessed with the gift of life.

"We are committed to ensuring that all inhabitants of this planet receive their daily bread, fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink as we are aware that, if we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us. The believers among us ask God to grant us this wish."
I would love to hear opinions on how the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is perceived amongst Catholics and whether a report like this might, for instance, have any kind of significant influence on prominent Catholic leaders who deny or minimise the dangers of anthropogenic climate change (such as Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney).


Al said...

In light of glacial and icecap melting, and rising sea levels, it appears that Pope Benedict XVI is looking into an alternative mode of transport to the Popemobile.

byron smith said...

A man ahead of his time.

byron smith said...

Eureka Street: Pell's hot air.

byron smith said...

Eureka Street: A bad week for Pell and climate change deniers.

byron smith said...

Stephen Leahy: In parts of South America peak water has come and gone as glacier melt enters its terminal decline.