A faith response to climate change

Internationally recognized former NASA scientist to present in Jefferson City on climate change, Oct. 17


A Saint Louis University (SLU) professor of earth and atmospheric sciences will share the rostrum with a retired Catholic lobbyist for a presentation titled “Faith Response to Climate Change” on Thursday, Oct. 17, in Jefferson City.

It will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Pleus Hall of Immaculate Conception parish, 1208 E. McCarty St.

Dr. Jack Fishman, Ph.D., director of the SLU Center for Environmental Sciences, and Mike Hoey, retired executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference, will be the presenters.

The event is free, and everyone is encouraged to attend.

It will include a short video on Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis’s encyclical letter “On Care for Our Common Home”; a presentation on basic science influencing climate change; a synopsis of Church teaching on care for creation; and a brief discussion about what individuals can do to slow climate change.

There will also be a brief period for questions and answers.

Organizers urge attendees to come with an open mind and a spirit of collegial dialogue.

“Unusual insight”

Both presenters are passionate about caring for God’s gift of creation.

Dr. Fishman, a St. Louis native and atmospheric chemist by training, worked for NASA for 31 years, analyzing air-pollution measurements taken from space.

He joined the SLU faculty in 2011.

He is a widely published researcher and has written several science books for the general public.

He teaches a course at SLU on the faith and science of climate change.

“I built the course curriculum around the encyclical and the science that it’s based on,” he said. “I’m very blessed to have an unusual insight into these things and to be able to teach what I know.”

He welcomes healthy dialogue on the subject, having once been somewhat skeptical himself about man-accelerated climate change.

“I have to give about 30, hour-long lectures on this during the semester,” he said. “I think I’ve heard and responded to every objection imaginable.”

He also spent four years planning for the two-day St. Louis Climate Summit, a well-attended and highly acclaimed event held last year as part of SLU’s 200th anniversary celebration.

World-renowned climate scientist Dr. V.R. Ramanthan, Ph.D., who was one of the Pope’s chief advisors on “Laudato Si’,” helped organize the summit, with Cardinal Peter Turkson, former president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, leading one of the discussions.

CLICK HERE to read coverage of the summit from the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the St. Louis archdiocese. 

Videos of most of the 23 talks can be found online at: www.ninenet.org/climate-summit-archive.

Time and again

Dr. Fishman studied at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, under Dr. Paul J. Crutzen, Ph.D., a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (www.academyofsciences.va), who with two other scientists received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995.

The pontifical academy, dating back to the 1600s and headquartered since 1936 in Vatican City with the blessing of the Holy See, exists “to honor pure science wherever it may be found, ensure its freedom and encourage research for the progress of science.”

Dr. Crutzen conducted research with Dr. Ramanthan, who as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences was one of Pope Francis’s chief scientific advisors during the writing of “Laudato Si’.”

Upon reading the encyclical when the Pope released it in 2015, Dr. Fishman immediately recognized its potential for addressing the faith and science of climate change.

He also recognized the fingerprints of Dr. Crutzen and Dr. Ramanthan.

“I saw things in the encyclical that I was being taught back in the 1970s,” he said.

“The science is true”

Dr. Fisher wrote an article on this topic in the July 2015 issue of the MCC Messenger. CLICK HERE to read it online.

He urges everyone to read and learn about the science of climate change while avoiding sensationalism.

“Don’t be an alarmist,” he said, “but look at what people have discovered in even just the past several years.

“The science is true,” he continued. “Educate yourself about what’s happening to the planet. We’re learning more about the ice caps melting and sea level rising and the temperature rising.”

He insists that knowing what’s happening isn’t enough.

“As people of faith, we must also educate ourselves about what we can do, and then do it,” he said.