The brokerage firm, E.F. Hutton, used to have a tagline that went, “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen.” On climate change, the Pope has spoken, but will people listen? And should they? The first question is empirical; the second, normative.
The papal encyclical, Laudato Si’, was released in May 2015 to much acclaim. It is an extraordinarily wideranging document. Although I will focus, in particular, on its discussion of climate change, it is worth noting that the encyclical addresses virtually the entire litany of environmental problems—loss of biodiversity, hazardous chemicals and wastes, marine pollution, replacement of virgin forests with monoculture plantations, and lack of access to clean drinking water, among others—as well as related social problems such as extreme poverty and urban overcrowding.