Scripps Scientist Who Advised Pope Is In Paris For Climate Events

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
By Pat Finn, Steve Walsh

For Veerabhadran Ramanathan, or Ram, as he is known, the title Distinguished Professor doesn't quite do him justice.

In 1975, he discovered the greenhouse effects of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Then he found that non-CO2 gasses were just as harmful to the planet as CO2. And that was just for starters.

He predicted that by the year 2000, the world would start to feel the effects of a warming planet.

Ramanathan is in Paris for the climate talks, not only as a pre-eminent climate researcher, but as a climate adviser to Pope Francis. In 2014, he persuaded the pope to address the effects of climate change, particularly on the poor.

"The cry of the Earth in linked to the cry of the poor," Ramanathan said.

"The poor are living with 18th century technology, burning wood, dung for cooking." For the bottom three-billion, he said, "It's all about access to energy, clean energy." Clean energy, he affirmed, is actually cheaper and easier to install around the world than it is to build huge hydroelectric or coal-burning power plants.

When asked how receptive Pope Francis was to the idea of the Vatican becoming involved in the discussion of climate change, Ramanathan noted that even before he briefed him on the current dangers of a warming planet, the pope was well aware of climate change and was extremely positive about the idea of getting involved.