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Climate Change In San Diego: What’s Faith Got To Do With It?

Credit: Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Above: "Ram" Ramanathan meets Pope Francis during a Vatican meeting on climate change, May 2014.

Evening Edition host Peggy Pico speaks with Georgette Gomez, associate director of the Environmental Health Coalition and Emmet Farrell, retired priest at the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, about climate change and how San Diego's interfaith community is responding.

Climate Change In San Diego - What's Faith Got To Do With It?


V. Ramanathan, professor of atmospheric and climate sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Emmet Farrell, retired priest, Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego

Georgette Gomez, associate director, Environmental Health Coalition


This week’s historic address by Pope Francis to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday has lawmakers of all political affiliations and religious backgrounds buzzing with anticipation as to what hot-button political and social issues the unconventional pontiff might address during that speech. Climate change is on the top of his list.

The reality of climate change is being felt all across California as the state deals with a fourth year of drought. San Diegans are also looking for solutions. In response to Pope Francis' call for climate justice, an interfaith forum will be held in San Diego Thursday night.

Emmet Farrell, a retired priest with the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego and a leader with the San Diego Coalition to Preserve our Common Home, said the interfaith forum is a way for the community to explore action needed in San Diego on climate change and its connection to social and economic justice.

On Wednesday, Midday Edition looks at Pope Francis’ stance on climate change and what it means to San Diegans with Farrell, Georgette Gomez with the Environmental Health Coalition and Professor V. Ramanathan with the University of California at San Diego.

Ramanathan is on Pope Francis’ Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a group of 80 scientists from around the world who counsel the pontiff on environmental science.

“We informed him that about 60 percent of the warming pollutants are due to the top consuming one billion people,” Ramanathan said. “While the poorest three billion people contribute only about 5 percent, yet they suffer the worst consequences of climate disruption.”

Ramanathan said California's ongoing drought could have a major impact on the state's poor.

"Many are farmers who depend on crop from small plots and cannot survive the mega-droughts and fires currently ravaging the state," he said.

Not everyone is excited to hear what the Pope has to say about climate change. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) announced plans to boycott Francis’ speech.

“If the pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change, then he can do so in his personal time,” Gosar said.

The interfaith forum on climate justice starts Thursday at 7 p.m., inside the Great Hall of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, on 2728 Sixth Avenue in San Diego.

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