Vatican and UN join hands on climate change

Speakers at workshop organised by Pontifical Science Academy say GDP growth does not indicate damage to the environment

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican. UN  (Photo/Mark Garten)

The Vatican and the United Nations have joined hands to warn the world against the hazards of following an economic growth path that is ruinous for the world.

The warning followed a workshop organised on Tuesday by Pontifical Science Academy, called “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity”, to explore the moral dimensions of climate change and sustainable humanity. One after the other, speakers at the workshop emphasised the need to protect Mother Nature for future generations. The Academy said that nations were measuring their wealth by GDP (Gross Domestic Product), taking no account of the harm caused by business practices, according to a BBC report.

Cambridge economics professor, Partha Dasgupta, was quoted by the news report as saying, "GDP is a disgraceful index because it does not count depreciation of our assets - including damage to Mother Nature, the most fundamental asset we have.”

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and Pope Francis discussed climate change among other things on the margins of the workshop.  The Pope is due to make a major address on sustainable development at the United Nations in September and has said he believes man is primarily responsible for climate change, according to a Reuters report. The views expressed at the workshop are likely to influence the Pope’s Encyclical—an official statement—on climate change. The UN secretary-general said he was looking forward to the encyclical.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, who helped write the coming encyclical was quoted by BBC , saying, "For humans to degrade the integrity of the Earth by constant changes in its climate; by stripping its natural forests; to contaminate Earth's water, land and air with poisonous substances - all of these are sins.”

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  • This is most unfortunate,

    This is most unfortunate, even religious heads are influencing the science, more particularly subjects like climate change with poor quality data and poor quality models that uses sophisticated computers to manipulate as hundreds of billions of US$ change hands each year.

    I worked and travelled several countries in Africa and South America in 80s and also I was associated with preparation of formats and transfer of data on to punched cards in India Meteorological Department, Pune in early 70s and visited several met stations in late 70s. With this experience I raised the question on validity of global average temperature curve at several forums. Two days back I put forth the following questions in this direction as certain groups are aggressively propagating mis-leading information on global warming and its impact to science syllabus. This is dangerous. We must stop this until we get the clear answers to the following.

    Global Warming: The following questions need an answer:

    1. How accurate is the average temperature curve constructed based on interpolations and extrapolations over around 80% of the area where no continuous data series are not available; and where data are available, there is a large difference in density of network ÔÇô for example in urban areas the density is high and in rural areas the density is low and both areas present large scale changes in land use and land cover patterns with the time.

    2. How much is the contribution to the global temperature curve by (1) anthropogenic greenhouse gases, (2) land use & land cover changes, and (3) other factors.

    3. Is global warming synonymous to climate change? Or Global warming is a small part of Climate Change?

    4. Is climate refers to Temperature only? If not, all other climate parameters are controlled by temperature or other parameters also control the temperature over and above the natural Sun related seasonal & diurnal changes and local changes associated with topographic conditions? For example, just as that of evaporation or evapotranspiration estimates using Thornthwaite model and PenmanÔÇÖs Model.

    5. Is natural variability a part of changes in meteorological parameters such as temperature & precipitation?

    6. Is natural variability is part of changes in temperature in the Ocean waters and surface temperatures?

    7. Why there are step-wise temperature changes since 1851 to date? Is it due to rise in global average temperature synchronized by natural 60-year cyclic variation in temperature?

    8. What is the real term impact of local general circulation related impacts on averaging to get global average temperature?

    From AR5 ÔÇ£It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this periodÔÇØ. That means, 50.1% is also more than half; but it not only includes anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations and also by other anthropogenic forcings. That means the anthropogenic greenhouse gas component is still less than 50%. They are all qualitative but we need an answer in quantitative terms to postulate the associated impact on glaciers retreat, ice sheet melt, ocean rise, etc.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Formerly Chief Technical Advisor ÔÇô WMO/UN & Expert ÔÇô FAO/UN
    Fellow Andhra Pradesh Akademy of Sciences,
    Convenor, Forum for a Sustainable Environment
    Tel: [040]23550480

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