According to several news sources (Thinkprogress, The Guardian for example), the Pope will issue several decrees (or whatever they are called) to his 1.2 billion followers to take action on climate change. This will occur in 2015 and lead up to the UN climate meetings in Paris at the end of the year.
I must say that this please me. The thought that 1.2 billion people will, overnight, turn into electric car driving, solar power installing, plastic recycling citizens of a green world thrills me to no end.
Unless of course, the vast majority of Catholics ignore the Pope… like they have for birth control. Which the Catholic church says that “that deliberate acts of contraception are always gravely sinful“. Yet the vast majority of US Catholics disagree with their church on contraception.
So, the Pope saying it’s so, doesn’t just mean that it is so. Especially in the US where people seem to have a greater tendency just to ignore the things that they don’t like (like the Catholic church’s acceptance of evolution… with the caveats that it has). The US also has the problem of acting against their own best interests.
But there’s another issue.
This is a map of the distribution of Catholics by country.
Compare to this map of thousands of metric tons of carbon emissions by country.
The countries with the greatest emissions of carbon dioxide tend to have lower numbers of Catholics. Which means that the Pope’s edict will generally not affect the countries with the greatest emissions (with the possible exception of Brazil and some countries in Europe).
In climate change circles, the focus seems to be on China, the US, and India. These are large countries that (with the almost negligible inclusion of the US) make up over 1/4 of the population of the planet. And the Pope has almost no influence on them.
Indeed, the relations between China and the Vatican have been tense. I don’t pretend to be an expert on diplomatic relations, but there is some stress between the two. It’s possible (and I have no way of estimating the possibility) that the Pope encouraging action against man-caused climate change might hinder the Chinese.
Though, I will say that China seems to be trying. So they probably won’t act against the Pope and will just ignore him.
My only problem with this whole deal is that people continue to look to their religion for guidance on matters which science has already decided on. The Pope could announce that man-caused climate change is completely false. Yet, the global temperature would ignore him and continue to rise.
I do not like the Pope, not because of the man, but because of what he represents. The inordinate power he has over the world and the people in it. I do not like the actions of Church. I do not like the control the church has over people. I do not like religion and the power it has over people.
But the world is never black and white. I will accept the Pope’s help (and I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to hear this) in terms of dealing with man-caused climate change.
Now, if only he would spend some of that money the church has. Maybe he should start putting solar panels on all the churches.