Faith Leaders and Leading Scientists Issue Joint Call for Climate Action

May 29, 2018

Dozens of Massachusetts faith leaders are partnering with leading climate scientists on a joint call to action, decrying continued failure to address climate change as “both scientifically irrational and morally indefensible.”

Phil Duffy, president of Woods Hole Research Center, was key in developing the partnership. He acknowledges that science and faith communities come at the issue of climate change from different world views and may disagree on some points, but says there is agreement on important fundamentals about the causes and consequences of climate change, and the need for action.

“Somewhat to my surprise it’s been harder to get the scientists involved than the religious leaders,” Duffy said.

At a press conference announcing the initiative, Cardinal Archbishop Sean O’Malley of the Boston Archdiocese and the Reverend Mariama White-Hammond of Bethel AME Church referred to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si, as inspiration and direction. That letter is, itself, a marriage of science and religion - the first such church document to cite scientific research reports – in which the Pope argues that climate action is an act of stewardship for God’s creation and of care for the poor and future generations.

Reverend White-Hammond echoed those themes, focusing on the impacts of climate change on Massachusetts’ most vulnerable communities.

“Those of us in power have a moral responsibility to our most vulnerable citizens,” she said. “We are using our power as religious and and scientific leaders to ask other leaders in politics, and business, and all other fields, to join us in action.”

It is not yet clear what, exactly, those actions will be. Members of the partnership are meeting this week to begin discussing such details. Duffy says he is hopeful that this initiative can help bridge some of the political divides that have stymied climate policy discussions and build a broader base for climate action.