In his recent encyclical Laudato si’, Pope Francis argued the necessity of taking the long view in thinking about environmental ethics. I discussed the encyclical’s argument in part 1, and compared it to Aldo Leopold’s famous “The Land Ethic” in part 2.

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The encyclical Laudato si’ lays out what I called Pope Francis’s land ethic, back in part 1. I use that term because, from its earliest pages, I felt strong parallels between the environmental ethic advanced on behalf of the Catholic Church and the writings of pioneering American conservation biologist Aldo Leopold. Compare this passage from Laudato si’:

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Theological and philosophical reflections on the situation of humanity and the world can sound tiresome and abstract, unless they are grounded in a fresh analysis of our present situation, which is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity. So, before considering how faith brings new incentives and requirements with regard to the world of which we are a part, I will briefly turn to what is happening to our common home.

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Pope FrancisOn Thursday, June 18, 2015, Pope Francis is due to deliver his first encyclical, a major document laying out an interpretation of Catholic doctrine. His theme will be the environment, and especially climate change.

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We recently reached an interesting milestone: for the first time in human history, the global monthly average carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm). This wasn’t the first time that the 400 ppm barrier had been broken; that occurred at Mauna Loa back in May 2013.

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Recently delegates from around the world gathered in Bonn, Germany, for a UN conference to discuss how the nations of the world can reach a “new, universal agreement on climate change.” This agreement is meant to outline how nations will work together to reduce greenhouse gases and limit, to the degree still possible, the worst effects of global climate change. These are good, laudable goals. But as you may suspect, there is a catch.

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Last month on the Friday Flicks, I got a little help from my friend Max, who recommended a Big Think video by Bill Nye. It turned out to be so wildly popular that I asked Max to give us another video suggestion. This time, Max went from Big Think to the entire Earth, offering a video by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

From Max:

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Jehovah's Witnesses are an outlier for their views on evolution and climate change. Click image for more background. One of the first things I (and many others) noticed about the graph of various American religious groups’ views on evolution and the environment was how much of an outlier Jehovah’s Witnesses are. They are, on average, quite supportive of environmental policies, while vigorously anti-evolution. Most other denominations show a strong correlation between the two sets of attitudes.

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I’ve been doing a fair bit of traveling lately, and although generally exhausting, traveling is great for playing podcast catch-up. I had been hopelessly behind on most podcasts, especially Science Friday. But I have been diligently listening away in airports, airplanes, cars and cabs and finally, last night, I got to last week’s Science Friday.

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