The Italian newspaper L’Espresso has leaked a draft of a papal letter or encyclical that the Pope is expected to give on Thursday. An encyclical is generally the most authoritative of papal letters, and it is usually directed to the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics. This latest papal letter, however, will be addressed to the whole world. It addresses an issue that affects the whole world: climate change.
The papal letter will be called Laudato Si, On The Care of Our Common Home, and it will warn how climate change will greatly hurt the poorer countries and communities through its deadly effects on farming and livestock. The encyclical exhorts people to change their lifestyles, consumption and production in order to slow down global warming. It is yet another call to action from a respected source. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change warned last year that global temperatures could rise by 4 to 10 degrees unless fossil fuel consumption is drastically cut. In January, the Pentagon warned that climate change posed “immediate risks” to the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Many people like Sam Tabar have wondered out-loud to Crunchbase.com how much impact the Pope’s encyclical will have on the ongoing debate. Some social scientists believe it could make a big difference while others are more skeptical. One sociologist commented that people who already accepted the reality of climate change would be more likely to accept the Pope’s moral authority on the matter, while those who denied climate change would probably reject the Pope’s message.