Friday, May 6, 2011

Three recommendations in Vatican report

“What then should we do?”

“The cost of the three recommended measures pales in comparison to the price the world will pay if we fail to act now.” This statement follows three recommendations made in a report from a group of scientists organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican. They met in April to discuss the causes and consequences of the retreat of mountain glaciers, and to prepare a report for the Vatican, Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene, about their conclusions.

The Scripps Institute of Oceanography, to which four of the scientists are connected, points out in their press release about the report that it’s unusual for scientists to propose actions to respond to the situations they describe in this sort of report, but that panel co-chair Veerabhadran Ramanathan said that “the circumstances warranted” doing so in this case. The three recommendations are immediate reduction of CO2 emissions “using all means possible”; reducing the amount of “warming air pollutants” (dark soot, methane, lower atmosphere ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons) by up to 50%; and preparing to adapt to both chronic and abrupt climate changes.

Yesterday’s post on this blog, “What then should we do?”, asked what we should do in response to our increasing understanding of the changes we face on our planet. This report to the Vatican begins with a Declaration by the Working Group that ends with these words:

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.

That commitment itself suggests another way of answering the question “What then should we do?” And the plain statement that the cost of not carrying out these recommendations far exceeds the cost of doing what we need to do now tells us that now is when we should start doing whatever it takes to maintain a sustainable environment for all of God’s children.

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