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Catholics believe in climate change

“Pope’s Climate Message Failed to Sway Conservatives: Study” is the conclusion reached by Devin Henry in his article. That Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment “failed to sway conservative American Catholics” is belied by the facts. Henry cites a study that uses polling data from right before and right after the release of the encyclical to argue it had only a small effect on Catholic opinions about climate change.

If the study is to be believed, there are at least two explanations for concluding that the encyclical lacked impact just after its release. First, Laudato Si’ is a long (184 pages) and detailed document not easily digested within two weeks. Secondly, much of the country’s attention was focused on the tragic events in Charleston,  on June 17, just the day before the release of the encyclical.

{mosads}With a longer time frame — in this case, after the pope’s U.S. visit in September 2015 — other polling indicates a much larger impact. In fact, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication polled in the spring and the fall of 2015, and the study shows that the encyclical had an impact on all Americans, and especially with Catholics. In comparing October 2015 with the March 2015, 74 percent of Catholics believed global warming was happening, up from 64 percent in March — a 10 point change. Similarly, more Catholics were likely to think global warming is a moral issue — rising 8 points from 32 percent in March to 42 percent in October.

It is curious that the Annenburg study is just now making news when results must have been known over a year ago. Regardless, Catholic Climate Covenant, the Bishop’s Conference, and other Catholic partners are working hard to rise to the challenges of Laudato Si’. This includes the recent launch of two programs: 1) to train priests on how to implement the encyclical within their parish; and 2) a facilities program that aims to reduce energy use in parishes and schools and thereby dramatically lower the Church’s overall carbon footprint.

I have met with hundreds of Catholics across the country who have been inspired by Pope Francis to live simpler, to make parish-wide changes and to engage with elected representatives. There is no doubt that the “Francis Effect” is real and we will continue to see Catholics respond with concrete and meaningful action.

From Dan Misleh, Executive Director, Catholic Climate Covenant, Washington, D.C.

Leading from behind

Anarchists have it tough. To be successful, their leaders must pretend not to lead. If they come across as too buttoned up and hierarchical, they risk losing street cred with their followers, but if they fail to organize and plan, the anarchy they hope to sow never materializes.

What are anarchists to do?

Well, in Barack Obama they found an answer. You lead from behind. 

The sad truth is that for nearly eight years our country has been tethered to a style of leadership that has many of us on the right bristling with rage. The pivotal moment came with the stroke of the pen that signed the Affordable Care Act into law. This piece of legislation turned politics in our republic into a zero-sum game. 

This isn’t how the framers of the U.S. Constitution drew it up. They purposely imbued the minority party in the legislative branch with the tools needed to force the majority to compromise with it. They correctly understood that a republic that does big things on the back of one political party is not long for this world.

Now if you’re not moved by my argument, I urge you to try this little experiment at home with your significant other: “Honey, I’ve just invested a significant portion of our financial wealth into something I know you don’t agree with.” Your next destination? The couch, where you’ll be left counting sheep until such time as you can be replaced.

From Jim Eschrich, Louisburg, Ky. 

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