Religion and Climate Change: A Visual and Scholarly Representation

By | September 4, 2019


– Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Shaun Casey, I’m the director of the Berkley Center for
Religion, Peace & World Affairs here at Georgetown University. It’s my great pleasure
to welcome all of you to what I think is gonna be
a fascinating discussion, and we’re pleased that you could join us. Many of today’s international crises have a strong religious component, yet media coverage often omits or oversimplifies these
complexities and nuances. The Berkley Center for
Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown believes
that a deep examination of faith and values is
central and critical to address today’s global challenges, and that open engagement of religious and cultural traditions with
one another can promote peace. With this mission in mind,
the center has partnered with the Pulitzer Center
on Crisis Reporting to offer student fellowship
and other initiatives that support journalism that investigates or illuminates the religious dimension on an international issue, bringing to light what
is often overlooked, untold or misunderstood. So applications for this
year’s student fellowship are open through February 15th, and we have flyers and more information which can be found on the small table immediately straight outside
through the doors in the back, so if you’re a student and
you’re interested in that, please pick up a sheet there and you will find some
fascinating information. I’m also happy to introduce
or welcome Ann Peters, who is the university and
community outreach director at the Pulitzer Center, and she manages the Campus Consortium, of which the Berkley Center is a member, so welcome, it’s great
to see you again, Ann. In addition to student opportunities, Berkley partners with the Pulitzer Center to offer public dialogues
that bring together scholars to discuss public, I’m sorry, to discuss complex and
pressing global issues, and today’s dialogue brings together photographer George Steinmetz, who contributed stunning
aerial photography to the Pulitzer’s Losing Earth project, and also American University’s
professor Evan Berry, a good friend of the Berkley Center, whose research focuses on
ways in which religious ideas and organizations are mobilized in response to climate change and other global environmental challenges. Moderating our discussion will be Pulitzer Center Executive
Editor Indira Lakshmanan, Lakshmanan, I’m sorry, who
possesses 25 years of experience as a foreign correspondent, a State Department correspondent, a very hard beat to cover,
as I know personally, a national political correspondent, columnist and host
reporting from 80 countries and from Washington for the Boston Globe, Bloomberg, the International
New York Times, NPR and others. We invite you to join us for a reception immediately afterwards in the President’s Room
to your right as you exit, which features a number of Steinmetz’ aerial photography prints just outside here of Riggs. So again, thank you all for coming. I look forward to a great
discussion and dialogue, and now I’d like to invite
George to the podium to kick off our event. (audience applauds) – I’d like to share with
you some pictures I took on assignment for the
New York Times Magazine, and they asked me to illustrate
a story by Nathaniel Rich about how we lost kind
of a golden opportunity to prevent the effects of
climate change some 30 years ago, and they wanted me to
look at the ramifications of those decisions or
non-decisions that we, from times past. And so they asked me to
find the strongest examples of climate change on every continent, and I had about a year to do it. The first place I went was Greenland, and this is on the western side
of the Greenland ice sheet. Most people when they
think of glaciers melting, they think of big chunks
falling off into the sea, but the reality is about
60% of the ice loss is actually from glaciers melting in situ, and this is typical of
the Greenland ice sheet in the summer where you
have large glacial lakes and you see the stream leading into it, and a lot of these lakes will drain right down through to
the base of the glacier almost a mile down, and they
will lubricate the base of it, actually speeds it on its way to the sea. And I went with some scientists from the National Science Foundation who were studying the
flow of the glacial melt, and they put red dye in
the water to track it as it went down a big moulin, which is a big drain hole,
like a mile-long drain hole that goes down to the base of the glacier. They were trying to see how fast and the nature of the drainage. And most of my work was looking at the effects of climate change, but while I was in China I wanted to look at a
couple of the causes, and I’m not saying the Chinese are the sole cause of climate change, but they do have the
largest coal mine in Asia, and China is the biggest
contributor to greenhouse gases. This mine called Haerwusu,
it’s in Inner Mongolia, and most of the pictures
I took in this project were with a drone. It’s very difficult to get
permission to photograph inside a mine like that. With a drone you don’t
really need permission. This is one of the coal sorting yards outside the largest power plant in China. It supplies about a third
of the energy for Beijing, and they have a coal sorting yard where they take all the
coal from different mines and decide how the different grades are gonna be put into the power plant. An overview of Shanghai. One of the biggest issues in China is the people have more money. They’re spending more,
they’re buying more devices that require electricity,
and they’re buying more cars. They still have a small fraction of the amount of vehicle
and electricity use we have here in United States, but the rate of increase
there is extraordinary, and it’s what’s driving the increase in fossil fuel production,
sorry, fossil fuel emissions. In China they have a big
problem with freshwater, there’s a lack of freshwater, and the biggest freshwater
lake, Lake Tai or Lake Taihu, is now in the summer it’s
mired with algal blooms, and those are caused by warming
water from climate change as well as agricultural runoff, which provides basically
fuel for the algae. Here they’re mired in a fish trap on the shore of the lake. This is an aerial view of Dhaka, the main ferry terminal in Dhaka. And Dhaka, with climate change, is getting flooded almost
every year as it subsides, as some of the streets become almost like the inside of a bathtub, and this is, you’re looking down the wall on the edge of the river. And they have a lot of
issues with poor planning and extreme flood water,
flooding that’s caused by the warming of the
water in the Bay of Bengal, which increases the moisture content, it all comes in as monsoonal rains. Here it’s flooding out fish traps, fish farms and rice paddies. Upriver in Brahmaputra it breaks its banks almost every year, and the people who live
inside the delta have just, it’s become almost an annual occurrence that they have to abandon their homes, and they come back and clean the mud out and plant their crops again. This is the last island on the edge of the Brahmaputra Delta, and the green you see in the background, those are rice paddies, and
so it’s to me, these people, it’s kind of like you’re in a flood zone but the water’s like almost
right up to their nose. I mean, if it goes a
couple of inches higher they’re gonna lose their rice crop. But this is at high tide and the ferry terminal’s underwater so they have to wade through the water to take a boat back to the mainland. The people there have learned
how to, they’ve adapted, but they’ve learned how to
live very lightly on the land, and so when you wanna get to one part of the island to the other, they have this very rickety
bamboo bridge to get across. It’s a very prudent adaptation to an area where you just know you’re
gonna get hammered every year, or flooded every year. I spent about three weeks
to go to Antarctica, I wanted to go and visit
a penguin colony there. The penguin populations in
Antarctica are declining, especially chinstrap penguins,
and they’re declining due to loss of their principal
food, which is krill. The krill live off algae that grows on the bottom of the sea ice. With warming water, there’s less sea ice, therefore less algae and less krill, and the penguin populations
have declined about 50% over the past 20 years. This is the shore of Deception Island, where the penguin colony is a
small fraction of what it was. You also find severe
effects of climate change in West Africa. This is in Mauritania, it’s
the ancient town of Chinguetti. It was a caravan stop for the salt trade many, many centuries ago, but it’s slowly becoming buried
in sand as desertification and increasing intensity
of sandstorms buries it. I talked to the chief of the village and he said that they have an average now about a meter of sand
coming in every decade and burying the town and
knocking the village walls over. And sand is also a problem
in the capital of Nouakchott. When Nouakchott was
established back in 1962, there were only about two
dozen people living in what’s now the capital, and
now there are over a million, and they’re slowly becoming
buried in sand there too by these encroaching sandstorms. If you look in the
lower-right part of this photo you can see the water truck. They have no electricity or running water in suburbs of Nouakchott. Last year was actually a pretty good year for the Great Barrier Reef, but the seagrass was not so lucky. And this is on the southwest
coast of Australia in Shark Bay where I went out with some scientists who were trying to figure out
how to reestablish seagrass, which was dying due to
increasing water temperatures. And this is in the Gadmen
part of Switzerland. They estimate by the end of
this century there will be almost no permanent ice
left in the Swiss Alps. This bridge crosses an
area that only 20 years ago you could walk across the ice to get from one side of
the valley to the other, and now they have the longest
footbridge in Switzerland to get across. I was in Africa when
Hurricane Harvey struck, and I got on the next plane and got, I was actually able to get into Houston on the first helicopter,
first, I should say, civilian helicopter
allowed in the airspace, and this is a view of suburban Houston. They had a year’s worth of
rainfall fall in four days from Hurricane Harvey, and
increasing water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico
are leading to increase in the intensity of rainstorms. This is Beaumont, Texas. They had 18 inches of rain
in 18 hours, and it wasn’t, most the floods you think of as like big walls of water coming in, here it was just like
somebody left the shower on for 18 hours and there was just
nowhere for the water to go. And this is in the Coffey Park
section of Napa, California, where wildfires caused by climate change wiped out an entire suburban community. The prolonged drought in California had killed off a lot of parts, left a lot of dead tree branches, and severe winds knocked the tree branches into power lines that fell on the grass, and you had a very intensive wildfire. One of the things about
working with a drone is you’re actually there on the ground, and as I walked through Coffey Park, the weirdest thing I saw
were vehicles like this one where you could see pools, where you could see streams of aluminum from the melted wheel hubs
going down the streets. So that’s my short global
tour of climate change. Now I’d like to invite Evan
and Indira up on the stage. (audience applauds) – So a quick word of thanks to
my colleagues on stage today and to our hosts at the
Berkley Center for having us to have this conversation, so thank you, Shaun, for
getting this together. I wanted to say a few things about the broader set of connections between religion and climate change, maybe to seed some conversation for us and in a little while
to bring you in as well. So one thing that journalism
and religion have in common is that they’re both
ways of telling stories about how different groups
of people experience what’s going on in their places, and that storytelling element is really an important
aspect and something that I’m really grateful for
George’s photographs for doing. They tell us, as the saying goes, much more than just 1,000 words a piece, so we have quite a lot, I
think, to work with today. One of the challenges, I think, of telling stories about climate change is that we tend to talk
about it like it’s one thing, like there is a thing
called climate change, and that it is being
experienced all over the world in somehow the same way. And I think the images
today help us remember that it’s actually not one thing at all. It’s lots and lots of different things. In some places that means hot, in some places that means wet, in other places that means dry, in some places that means fire. There’s really different
kinds of outcomes for the ways that communities will
experience climate change, and journalism is a really
important tool for telling us and reminding us about
what that looks like and what that feels like and how communities are
experiencing those impacts. This is a place where I think the power of religion
is really important too. What we call climate change, and we sort of use this policy language of climate change being a set
of scientific observations about macroscale changes in
the planetary environment is something that we need to
create policy infrastructures to regulate the global economic system and think about carbon emissions
and so forth and so on, that’s essentially one
story at the aggregate scale that we think about, and maybe religion has
a role to play there. I’ll say a little bit more
about that in a moment. But another set of stories is the people who live in the particular places where the impacts of climate
change are being felt, experience those stories
and experience those changes and draw on their own
stories in different ways to narrate and navigate them. For instance, I have a
colleague whose work is in the headwaters of the Ganges River, which is a really important
pilgrimage site in India, and over the last five to 10 years there have been a series
of terrible floods in that part of the world, which are increasingly seen
as the gods getting angrier, that the Ganga River is no
longer a friendly goddess and a mother goddess, but in fact someone who needs to repay us for our sins, so there’s a karmic retribution there. So that kind of religious change is helping people understand
the environmental changes in their communities and in
their parts of the world, but religion is a tool people use sort of in addition to what we get from
science and from journalism. So I wanted to point to a
couple of particular images as places where I think we can make some interesting connections between religion and climate change. So here we see downtown
Houston in the background, and as many of you know, Houston is not only the capital of the fossil fuel industry
in the United States, it’s a huge refining and extraction city, it’s a shipping port for fossil fuels. It’s also in some ways sort of the headquarters
of evangelical Christianity in the United States. It’s an important site
in American Christianity, and in American Christianity
there are really live and fraught debates about how
to respond to climate change. Many of you might have
been familiar with stories from the newspaper about the tendency of many evangelical Christians
in the United States to deny climate change,
but at the same time, there are also those in
the Christian community who are talking about the
signs and wonders evident in dramatic environmental events like this that tell us about the
coming of the end times. There are many people in
the evangelical community who see pictures like this in Beaumont and want us to remember the
least of these, and to think about the kinds of resources
for social justice evident in the Christian theological tradition. Those are active and ongoing debates that people are bringing to bear on how they vote and how they think about this really important
public policy issue. I also wanted to back up and
look at Mauritania as well. This picture is one of several places in North Africa and the Middle East where climate change is being experienced through the expansion of
deserts, the desertification and the corruption of agricultural lands, and this is a really important driver of conflict in the region. There’s really good
social scientific evidence that the conflict in Syria
over the last five years has been exacerbated by a drought. What we think of as environmental impacts often have ramifications in terms of social, political,
and religious conflict, so we wanna think about
the connection here between environmental change
and what gets treated often in the media as religious strife. Let’s look at Bangladesh. So Bangladesh is one of a
number of places in the world where we anticipate that the
flow of refugees seeking, actually, they’re not technically refugees because people displaced
by environmental change are not covered under
the Geneva Conventions, however we expect that
the flow of migrants from places like Bangladesh and other major river delta regions as they flood, will grow, and I wanted to underscore the importance of faith-based organizations in the humanitarian relief work that’s related to that
kind of migration crisis. And then lastly I wanted quickly
to point to this photograph of Shanghai as a way to think about how we might imagine some other stories about the connection between
religion and the environment. We know that the Chinese in aggregate are the world’s largest
contributors to climate change, but on a per-capita basis,
they’re much less bad than the Americans or the Saudis or the Canadians or the Australians. Those are for real culprits here. But in China there is a
concept being promoted by the government called
ecological civilization, and the idea is that
Chinese cultural traditions provide a set of novel
resources to rethink what our planetary future might look like. So rather than thinking
about the kinds of resources and ideas that we share in
North America and Europe around how to respond
to this, that in fact, we should pay more credence
to cultural differences as a way to create new kinds of cities and new models for the future. So that’s drawing on Chinese traditions in some interesting ways, so I just thought I would leave it there as maybe things we could return to, and thanks again to my colleagues. – All right. Well, thank you to both of
you for participating in this, and we at the Pulitzer
Center are so pleased to have partnered with you, George, and your writing partner, Nathaniel Rich, and sponsored this project that was in the New York Times Magazine. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it ran in early August in
the New York Times Magazine. It was an entirely black cover that just had a few words
in white on the front to the effect of 30 years ago we could’ve stopped climate change, and the entire issue was
devoted to this one article with George’s photos and
Nathaniel Rich’s story. I highly recommend it. If you don’t have a copy, it’s all online. So we’re happy to be here
as the Pulitzer Center because our mission is to engage people in all of these global
issues that affect our lives and often get kicked by
the wayside and ignored when we’re so focused on other things, like the government shutdown. So I wanna ask you, Evan,
because of your background, you’ve given us some
thought-provoking ideas about people’s reaction to climate change based on their own religious faith or cultural background, but I wanna know whether across all these
various countries you mentioned that George has photographed, do you see religion as an obstacle to actually solving climate change? Because when you say that people, some evangelicals see it
as a sign of the end times, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they wanna do something about it. Is it an obstacle to solving the problem, or is it a necessary part of
trying to solve the problem by getting people onboard
through their religious beliefs? – I think it’s both. Maybe that’s an easy answer. I think a lot of the journalistic coverage of that intersection
here in the United States tends to focus on the ways in which religion might be an obstacle, in large part because the
politics around climate change in the United States are really hung up on a small percentage of the population that rejects the scientific
consensus on climate change. – A small, but powerful. – A small, but politically
influential minority of Americans who have those views. But outside the United
States and globally, it’s a pretty different landscape. So that particular relationship
between Christian belief and climate politics doesn’t
hold particularly powerful in any other country in
the world, and in fact, in a number of places, and predominantly in Catholic countries, you see large trends to support the pope’s view on climate change. So there’s this idea that, in fact, religion and ethics derived
from Catholic social teaching can be a resource for the
way we combat climate change. – And yet we in the United States are still the biggest, I think, per capita contributor to climate change, so when our president pulls us out of the Paris climate accord, whether or not he’s influenced by that small but influential
minority of people who you mentioned, they definitely
have an outsized effect. – They do, although one thing I will say that might be a strange silver lining to the American withdrawal
from the Paris Agreement, or the proposed withdrawal,
is that maybe the agreement looks a little bit more ambitious if you don’t have America as a part of it. Actually, there are a
number of European nations who think that commitments
to social justice, commitments to adaptation funding, and some of the dimensions of
the global policy conversation that the Americans tended to resist might move forward with
a little bit more vigor if we are not at the negotiating table to keep, should we say… – To hold back, hold back.
– To hold back. – Okay, well, I don’t wanna
go too far down the track on a debate over the Paris
accord, but the fact remains, if we’re not in it, it’s
a lot harder to reach that reducing the growth in temperature by one to two degrees,
that now the latest reports that have come out from the
UN and other organizations just in the last couple of months, indicate that we have
something like 10 to 15 years or global disaster will overtake us if we don’t actually meet those targets. So I wanna go back to the question of if in some places religion is an obstacle, how can religion be harnessed to try to get to the solution we need? – I think therein lies the rub. I think there is a tendency
in this conversation to want to think that religion is a thing that can be harnessed in the
public policy conversation, and what I would submit for
our collective discussion is that maybe it’s not
something that just exists that we can link up to other
kinds of conversations, but is, in fact, a more dynamic and less predictable dimension of how we respond to public issues. So in the United States, we
have one set of those responses, and in other countries
it’s quite different. You find movements where a desire to live simply is in itself, people are looking back in a
variety of social movements that are playing out in Europe right now to traditions of simplicity and hard work and sort of the Protestant ethic as a way to think about what
societies might look like in a low-carbon future, that
we simply need warm clothes and decent medical care,
and we don’t need cars or third bedrooms in our houses, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, that in fact those kinds
of austere ethical outcomes have a resource in Christian tradition. – All right, but for that to work, everyone has to buy into it, so that’s a whole other argument. – Agreed.
– George, I know your perspective on this as a photographer is not coming at it looking at religion and climate change
connecting specifically, but you have thought, I know, about ethics and climate change, and from an ethical point of view, a lot of the arguments that
we hear about climate change tend to focus on blame and duties and criticism of China
and India, for example, for developing and industrializing now when we now know how damaging it was to industrialize in the way that we did and Great Britain did and
all of Western Europe did. What is your reaction when
you’ve gone around the world and photographed the
impacts of climate change, how do you sort of internalize
those arguments that you hear about the first world
criticizing developing countries who are now trying to make the advances that we made 100, 150 years ago? – Well, I think we all have to reduce our consumption of resources. I mean, it’s the classic argument, it’s called the tragedy of the commons, and we’re all taking,
we’re taking a lot more than the earth can put forth, and so I think it’s not
fair to blame the Chinese for trying to have a lifestyle that we have in the United States. It just doesn’t work. But I think we all have to look at what we can do individually
to try to reduce that. To me, the more logical system
is to set up kind of quotas and how can nations meet their quota, but where those numbers lie is a very tricky political
thing to ascertain. – I had a very strange experience
and fascinating experience as a State Department
correspondent for Bloomberg, when I was once the pool reporter for a tour with Hillary Clinton and the environment minister of India, and the Indian environmental
minister’s team accidentally left me in the room during the climate negotiations because they thought I was part of Hillary Clinton’s negotiating team, and so they shut the door and suddenly I was inside
a climate negotiation. And it was fascinating to hear that what was said behind closed doors actually was pretty much the same thing that was being said in public, which was that Hillary Clinton said, “You know, we don’t want you
to make the same mistakes “that we made, India, and we are willing “to give you technology
and all sorts of green tech “that is gonna help you develop and grow “and give everything that
you need for your people “without making the same dirty mistakes “that we made and we now regret.” And the Indian environment
minister turned her and said, “You’re a hypocrite. “Nice lady, but a hypocrite, “because we wanna develop
just like your people did, “and we need to provide
livelihoods for our people.” And so that argument plays
out again and again and again. Every time the United States
tries to make that argument, developing nations say
what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. So when you went around,
what was the response that you got from, say, Brazilians
who were being criticized for clear-cutting the Amazon? Did they say to you, well, you
guys plowed the Great Plains, or what was the response you got, and was some of that sort of you were seen as an American coming in
and trying to dictate, oh, look, look at this terrible thing that’s happening with climate
change and it’s your fault? – Well, you would hear that argument if you went up like into the Amazon, you would hear that, like,
we have every right to do. You plowed your prairies
and killed your buffalo, why can’t we clear-cut the forest and sell the logs and put in cattle? It’s also when you go to Sao Paulo, you see urban people
who are as disconnected from the natural world as
people are in New York City. They’re their little urban life and they have their electric vehicle and they’re kind of eco, and
they kind of turned a blind eye to what’s going on upcountry. So Brazil’s unusual in that you have, you kind of have both
worlds under one government. But right now, the new
political will there is to go and exploit the resources. – So what’s our moral
obligation as Americans who did benefit from industrialization, regardless of our
religions, which are many, what is our moral obligation as a nation to help people in countries
that are developing now and that are feeling the
effects, and as you say, there is this problem of
the poverty of the commons and the global impact
from industrialization? – I think our moral imperative is not to impose our will on others, it’s to try and clean up own act and try to see what we can
do in the United States to reduce our carbon footprint
and what we can do to, whether you wanna go and, I tell you, I’m not trying to sell a Priuses, but I think we need to
figure out what we can do, and it’s not just in energy consumption. I’m working on a long-term project about the global food supply. If you eat steak, there
are like six units of, six calorie units going into that cow for every unit you get out. It’s not really sustainable, and we have to think about
all levels of consumption. – So, Evan–
– I’m not saying we have to live in a little
log cabin somewhere with an ax, but we have to find out
what we can do ourselves, every one of us. – All right, so Evan, then, that ties back to the whole question of whether there are
certain kinds of journalism, I mean, this project, I don’t
know what George’s project is, but it sounds very interesting. What sort of journalism in the form of either print or video,
pictures, television, whatever, would be useful in sort
of telling the story of climate change in a way that everyone of all
religions could relate to and understand what the
impacts are, and the dangers? – Just to quickly touch on this point, I think that there’s
a set of conversations about what we ought to do in
response to climate change that have to do with
lowering our emissions, and there’s also a set of conversations about what we ought to do that are related to
helping communities adapt to rapidly changing environments and to be able to sustain themselves, and so one of these is about
cutting our carbon emissions and one is about funding
adaptation efforts. So around that, first, I
think you’re absolutely right that it’s important to
clean up our own act, but I also think it’s really important that wealthy and developed nations be willing to share some of the resources that they’ve accumulated over time because of the benefits of
fossil fuel development. And in that regard, I
think it’s really important for people, especially
in the United States, to see the suffering of
communities in parts of the world that are most dramatically
being impacted by climate change so that we can build the political will to cultivate empathy, and
that those kinds of stories are of the utmost urgency. – Well, you can draw the line
between images of Houston and Hurricane Harvey, images
of the wildfires in California, and climate change, but
that still doesn’t make it all the way to Capitol Hill
and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. So I think we have been
exposed to those images, even more than we’ve been exposed to George’s incredible photography
of all around the world. I think every newspaper in America and every nightly
newscast carried pictures of Hurricane Harvey and
the California wildfires, so why does that then not lead to action? What’s missing? – Well, no comment about
why those kinds of stories don’t reach inside the walls
of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but perhaps a word or two about–
– Or Congress. Nothing against just the White House.
– Why Congress has been less than effective. I think that largely has to
do with the outsized role that fossil fuel corporations play in the American political landscape. We’re not going to be
able to have a realistic or meaningful debate if
large swaths of Congress require support from
institutional fossil fuel money in order to get elected to office. – It affects academia as well, of course, because a lot of
universities also get funding from the fossil fuel industry, and that has prompted
a movement on campuses like today’s South Africa divestment that we saw in the 80s is
now fossil fuel divestment, and do you see it affecting
sort of open debate and conversation on university campuses? – Yeah, so the divestment
movement is a nationwide campaign by students in many of
America’s universities to try to get their boards of directors to divest from fossil fuel holdings. They’ve had some notable successes, but for the most part their message has been
met with ambivalence by universities as institutions. The place where it has actually maybe impacted freedom of
speech on college campuses, the Koch brothers have
several shell organizations and have set up centers at
a variety of universities around the country, for instance, at Wake Forest, where I have colleagues. I know the Pulitzer
Center has done some work with folks at Wake Forest,
and there’s a center there for human flourishing, and it’s
funded by the Koch brothers, and that center is sort
of bringing speakers and raising awareness about
what the good life means, and I can imagine a
picture of the good life as it is rendered by folks who have a lot of money
sunk into the coal industry, and a very different picture being drawn by people whose livelihoods
have been actually affected by the coal industry. So yes, I think it is affecting
our ability to have free and open conversations about this issue. – Can you tell us whether
it’s affected Georgetown or American University? – I wouldn’t be able to
speak for here at Georgetown. The interesting tension
at American University is that there’s a lot of
energy in our administration around going to a carbon-neutral footprint and in Green Campus and
in sustainability efforts, and we’ve done a lot of amazing work. A lot of that has been student-led, a lot of that has been done at the behest of our
progressive administration. But for some– – A former senior Obama
administration official, a former Secretary of HHS and OMB is now the president
of American University. – Correct. So President Burwell has
done great work on this, and an President Kerwin before her. However, the question about divestment keeps running up against
the cold hard facts that it has a board of directors who is ultimately interested
in the bottom line. – I wanna go back to the question I was asking originally though, which is whether there are
certain kinds of coverage, photography or writing, that
actually could move forward the debate in a meaningful
way for the general public, not just for a sort of
subsector like us in this room who care about climate change
and are thinking about it and talking about it all the time. I know that the images from Bangladesh and various climate
crises like that flooding have activated people in
the humanitarian community and they have sort of been the spark for donations and refugee work. I know that Hurricane Harvey specifically opened up these fissures you’ve described within the American evangelical movement. But what kind of journalism
would really take us from sort of awareness by some
people and be transformative, push this issue further? – I’m not an expert in communications or a journalist myself, but I’m a big believer
in documentary film. I think it’s a really
important and powerful tool, both long and short documentaries. They’re great teaching resources, they’re great ways to get into elementary and high school level classes. I think they can tell stories in a way that isn’t merely just images, but also helps people
sympathize with characters who come to life for us, and I think this issue of the human, the human stories and the human lives that are affected by climate change is something that’s really important. – Yeah, I recently saw
the latest installment of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, his latest sequel to that, on an airplane, and was really moved by it, but I also sort of wonder to what extent is that kind of film
preaching to the choir, that anyone who chooses that
on their United Airlines button is someone who wants to be open to that? So I wonder whether there are ways that we could be getting
this content to everybody, and we know that cable news is the way that the greatest number of
Americans still get their news. George, since we have the
benefit of having you up here in this intimate setting, I’d love for you to share some stories about the process of what you did and how hard it was and
challenging in certain cases. What you’ve shown us here is mostly aerial photography using drones, but I know some things you
had to actually get up, get dirty, literally, getting into places like Chinese coal mines. And being married to a
photojournalist myself who got thrown out of a Chinese coal mine and had all his film seized,
or his digital pictures seized, I can imagine that was very challenging. I’d love to hear your
story about what happened in the coal mine and how you
got those wonderful images. – Let me see if I can find them. I was about two miles away
when I took this picture. – (laughs) Oh, wow. – And I don’t think the people in the mine or that driver knew. The drone I was flying
was a Chinese drone, but that truck is the size of
the three or four-story house, so he was probably listening to sinopop and like rocking out
as he was driving his– – Oh, wow.
– 200-ton truck. – [Indira] So that’s a very long lens. – No, it’s a wide-angle, but I
was like right on top of him, I was following the truck. – [Indira] Oh, wow. – It’s funny, being at
a Jesuit university, I work on the Jesuit principle that it’s a lot easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission. (audience laughs) I was in China for another project and I ended up sitting
at a dinner with somebody who worked for the Chinese coal industry and I was kind of sniffing
around because I knew, but I had already scouted this
mine, I knew where it was, I knew it was the biggest,
I knew where I wanted to go, and I was trying to see
if I could find a way to get in like legitimately. And they were not willing to even talk about their coal production, so I realized I was gonna
have to do it the Jesuit way. (audience laughs) And I found a driver who had
a local beat-up car that was, it had local plates, and it
had, it was very Chinese. It had darkened windows and everything except
the front windshield, and he put me in the back of the long nose in the back of the truck with, my son was with me, my 17-year-old son. He took us in the mine and
we got to some checkpoints. He just we were trying to
get to the local village which had been kind of
surrounded by the mine because the mine just keeps
on eating more and more soil. So they took us to the edge of the pit, and it was actually where they
have their explosives depot, and we flew from the parking
lot of explosive depot because it was a day off
for the explosive people, and I flew for like three
hours, and I was just very, I was very glad when we got out of there with my memory cards. There were a number of things
like that in China that we, even the picture of Shanghai, I got arrested or detained when I was trying to
take a picture like this from the street, and so I found a building that had a scenic overlook
and they let me go up there and I flew from the building.
– So the authorities in Shanghai didn’t want you taking a picture from the street? I mean, what’s the complaint? That’s like, oh, I’m taking a picture of this incredible cityscape. – Well, I knew about the Nanpu Bridge. I was trying to take off
from the street with my drone and they snagged me. And so I said, “Oh, sorry,
sorry, I didn’t know,” and I went away, and then
I went up the elevator of a tall building and I paid money to take pictures supposedly
with a regular camera, and they left, they were bored, and they left me up there with my case. Pulled out the drone and flew for about an hour and a half at sunset. You had to find a little way, and even in Mauritania, in West Africa, Mauritania is a military dictatorship. And I showed up with my drones, and I had a fixer who had
to do some fancy talking to get me through customs, and I came to a really obscure airport where they only had a customs guy who showed up for two
hours like twice a week, so he just kinda wanted to go home, and you had to find a little way. I’ve been doing aerial
photography for a long time especially in the Middle
East, and you have to find a little kind of chink in
the armor to get through. – Because I would think
that it would be easy for some customs official
or security official to look at a drone and
accuse you of being a spy. – Yeah, yeah. That’s a big issue,
and even in Mauritania, I was there working on something
else besides climate change and I had to take pictures with my drone in the approach to the
international runway. And so I would go to the
airport in the morning and ask when the next plane was coming in. They said, “Oh, nothing for two hours.” So I’d fly my drone and then get it down before the planes came in because it was right in
the approach pattern. But you have to find a little way. I mean, it’s common in
journalism, we just have to get, it’s all about access, you know? – [Indira] I know you’re from
New Jersey, you’re not the guy who shut down Newark airport
yesterday with your drones. – No, I was not.
(Indira laughs) Actually, I think that’s a bogus story because that drone, they said
it was flying at 300,000 feet and drones can’t fly that high, so I think somebody at the
FAA saw a bird in their radar and put out the wrong information. (audience laughs) – Giving drone photographers a bad name. – They can’t do that. – What about the California wildfires? It’s hard to capture human
suffering, people’s faces, all those pictures that really move us are the ones of people whose
teddy bears are scattered in what was their garden, and who all their
belongings of this world, all their worldly belongings
have been destroyed, and you see their faces. Those are the pictures that really get us. So how did you deal with the California wildfires as a story? – Well, for the fire, I
was actually in New York when the fires hit,
and there was a picture on the front page of the New York Times, and I got a call from my editor saying I had to get to California PDQ. – For this project, for Losing
Earth for the New York Times. – Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And so I said okay, and I
got on a plane that afternoon and I had a helicopter
waiting for me in Oakland and I got on the helicopter
an hour before sunrise, and we flew up to the fire area. And with the helicopter you can get into controlled airspace. It’d be illegal to do that with a drone. – [Indira] You can fly actually closer with the helicopter than with the drone? – In a disaster, they usually, they will block out the airspace, and you have to have radio
contact with the tower to make sure you’re not gonna run into people trying to put out the fires, and they’re closed off to drones. And so I started with the
helicopter and then it turned out that Coffey Park was really hammered was actually just outside
of the exclusion zone, so after I did the helicopter flight I went back with the drone. But what was most moving,
as you pointed out, was actually seeing it on the ground, and like seeing this car with
like melted aluminum hubs. People had to get out so quickly, they took one car, they had
to leave their car behind. And it was really wild, if
you look at this picture of this neighborhood, it’s
really quite extraordinary because the trees are
only burned at the top. The winds were so strong,
it was a ground fire, and the trees actually, it
might look as the tops are okay, but it was a super intense ground fire because of these strong
winds and all the dry grass. It was really not a typical fire. – [Indira] So this you
took from the ground, not from the air. – Yeah, one of the things about drones is you don’t have much range,
and so you gotta be there. And so I actually was flying my drone in the neighborhood after,
I did the helicopter thing and then I went back with the drone, and then one of my drones went commando, and it took off and just crashed. It threw a propeller and it
had a catastrophic crash. So I went to see the FedEx, to
ship it out FedEx for repair, and the FedEx guy lived in that area, and he was telling me
how he got out that night and his own personal story and
it was an extremely moving. – One of the things that’s striking about
these pictures to me, is that although in the
Bangladesh photos, for example, you do see little people
and you see them scattering and being forced to move. Your pictures are all
about the big picture and they’re not about the human
scale of one person crying or one person having lost their child or their dog or whatever. How do you feel about telling the stories when you’re telling it on
that kind of a macro scale? Do you feel you’re still able to have the same emotional impact and
get the same message across? – Well, Indira, what I was trying to do was to show the scope of the problem. So when you see something
like this, I mean, to me, I look at that and I can see it’s a cul-de-sac, a
suburban neighborhood. To me, when I look at
that, I’m a Californian, and I look at that and it’s like, oof. I look at that, that’s personal to me. And you see it’s destruction
as far as you can, as far as the horizon practically, but to me, it’s very relatable. One of the things that I’ve
been doing for the past 15 years is taking kind of more
intimate aerial photographs where you’re low. It’s not like looking
down at a piece of carpet. I see the world more three-dimensionally. Like here, you can see, I
can relate to that pool. It’s a kiddie pool, I can
relate to that and I can see all the plastic hoo-ha
floating in their backyard, but it’s like, oof,
you see how big that is and it’s like, oof, that’s
a lot of people got hurt, this is not an isolated
event that you can ignore. And so I try to take pictures where there’s something
human that you can relate to, not necessarily a teddy bear, but something that’s relatable, and then you look at the expanse of it and you say, holy shit. – Evan, I wanna go back to something that you kind of flicked at
when you talked about resources and what causes conflict,
and I really do think that so much of the
conflict in the last 10, 20, maybe even 30 years has
been over natural resources and limited water, limited
natural resources in general. And we do tend to just classify it as, oh, that’s ethnic conflict,
or that’s whatever it is without thinking about, well actually, people are fighting over who
has the control of the water, who has the control over
necessary resources. So Mauritania is one example
where I think of that, the desertification causing social strife that can lead to larger conflicts. So when you sort of think
about it from that lens, what are your concerns about the conflicts that we see around the world, and whether some of those can be addressed by addressing natural resources? – Yeah, so I think some
of those conflicts fit into a category of environmental impacts and, say, diminishing access
to freshwater resources for growing food, that
communities impacted by that begin to organize and
antagonize each other to get in-group privileged access. There’s another set of issues related to access to fossil fuel money. So you look at countries
like Iraq, Venezuela now, you could also include places like Ecuador or Nigeria in this conversation, where there are certain
parts of the country that are able to enjoy a
really high level of livelihood because the money from fossil fuels is benefiting people locally, and then people in the same country are not given even access
to that amount of money, and those are some of the most
unstable places in the planet because this have-and-have-not
around fossil fuels is a real driver of conflict. We tend to think about those as political conflicts or civil wars, but they have this important
environmental dimension you shouldn’t forget. – Isn’t there a climatological
dimension in Syria as well? Tell us about that. – So I referenced this really briefly, but in the three or four years leading up to the Arab
Spring, there were a series of historically poor agricultural yields. There was a drought, and
a lot of people believe, there’s good social scientific evidence that suggests that the Arab Spring itself, but particularly the
reason why the Arab Spring translated into a violent and
ongoing civil war in Syria and not elsewhere is
because of this regional, or sub-regional drought issue. A lot of this has to do with a state that was never a strong institution and was never particularly well known for its deliverance of goods
to marginalized communities, and in fact, kind of held together by pitting communities against each other. And then with the shock of the
2008 to 2013 drought in Syria that those tensions
sort of came to a boil. The tensions themselves are politically and socially constructed, but they’re ignited and exacerbated by mounting environmental pressures, and I think we’re likely
to see much more of that in a world that’s warming
over the coming years. – All right, I wanna
open it up to all of you in the audience here
to have a conversation with Evan and George and
take this opportunity. So we have a couple of
microphones that will come around, and let me ask you to
please identify yourself and any affiliation you have, and please try to make
sure it’s a question and not just a statement. This is the first hand
I saw go up right here. – Hi, you’re not gonna
make me stand, are you? So my name’s Greg Drury,
I’m with Wholeness, W-H-O-L-E-N-E-S-S, a nonprofit
that started 27 years ago, and I love the religious context
you’re bringing this into because there’s a number of things that were sort of
mentioned but not directly, which is contradiction and paradox, and in some ways is spiritual, if you can embrace those things, which a lot of what
you’re talking about is. Also wealth versus material, I mean, materialism versus spirituality. The materialism drives
people ignoring the climate to generate more money. And also human frailty, and that is the inability
to give up that materialism. Like my neighbor gets UPS
deliveries three times a day, and he’s in a pretty good demographic. So my point is with our evolving society and the growth in consciousness, do you see a tipping point occurring where people will start
living more simply, and I saw a montage of a number
of sustainability successes, so when we get to that point where we can give up that materialism and live on a high spirit,
more spiritual realm, which is what godliness is about, do you see us ever reaching that with our, I mean, in the last 100 years we’ve gone from industrial revolution to like pushing a button
to get whatever we want. So this is continually, so my question is do you see the tipping
point ever occurring where we will be able to
live a more simple lifestyle, but sustainable and maybe more even successful because we’re not basing– – [Indira] This is a question for Evan? – It’s for both. – For both, okay.
– Yeah, for both. – I mean, legit question. I could give up meat, but I’m not sure I could give up delivery of everything so I don’t have to go to
shops anymore. (laughs) – Not to get into the
micropolitics of this, but there’s some evidence to suggest that having goods delivered to you is less environmentally impactful than driving to the store yourself. – Yay! – So your indulgences have been bought. No, I think it’s really clear
that if we’re going to come up with a robust cultural
response to climate change, there needs to be a
spiritual dimension to that. I don’t think I have a
prognostication about that, but it’s clearly up to us
about whether we can develop those kinds of cultural
and spiritual responses or whether we want to let
environmental pressures answer those challenges for us. – George, any thoughts? – As any Texan will tell you, if you wanna get out of a hole, the first thing you do is
you gotta stop digging, and I think we’ve gotta
all start consuming less. Whether there’s a tipping point, I mean, the scientists will tell you
that there’s a possibility that let’s say certain ocean currents could all of a sudden just
flip, and I don’t know, I don’t know if there is, I
don’t know if that’s true. I don’t think anybody really
knows they’ll reset positions, but it seems like we’re
in this fake news era where people can mold
whatever reality they want to their existing belief systems, and so I don’t really know. If the currents started to flip, they might say, they might
come up with a different reason to keep doing what they’re doing, but I think we all have to stop digging. – Well, you always hear the argument like, oh, this is so cold, who
says there’s global warming? So the sort of lack of understanding of the difference between
weather and climate. But on that question of the
tipping point, we actually, the Pulitzer Center
sponsored another journalist named Sam Eaton who
did some fantastic work for PBS NewsHour and
Public Radio International on the Amazon reaching a tipping point at which it’s giving out more
carbon than it is absorbing it through the trees because of
clear-cutting and other things. Yes, the lady right here. Could you wait for the microphone
to come to you, thanks. – [Mary] Hello, I’m Sister Mary
Johnson, I’m on the faculty at Trinity Washington
University here in DC. I’m a sociologist and I use
Pope Francis’ Laudato si’ in several of my courses
and it’s very well received. The students engage with
it in a very powerful way. I’m wondering, from your perspective, have you seen positive
outcomes from that in cyclical, and do you see any possibilities
for its use more widely? – Interesting question. Evan, you wanna start? – I also use Laudato si’ in my teaching. I love it. It’s an amazing text, and one
of things I like most about it is that it’s often that
my Catholic students are sort of lukewarm about it, and my secular students are the
ones who are really gung-ho, which I think raises interesting questions about who’s listening and
what kinds of moral messages are being constructed there. I would say two things about Laudato si’. I think the Paris Agreement
is probably a little stronger than it might otherwise have been were it not for the Vatican’s
very smart, diplomatic rollout of that document, and I also think that at least in certain orders, the Catholic Church is
increasingly using Laudato in their educational infrastructure and thinking about it
as a teaching document at the parish level,
in various universities and colleges and high
schools around the world. So I think its full potential as an impactful document
is yet to be realized, but I think it’s gonna be
with us for years to come. – The lady back here in the pink. – [Julia] Hi, my name
is Julia Watts Belser, I’m a professor here at Georgetown, and I’m interested particularly in the affective dimension
of climate change, how climate makes us feel, and whether religion might help us grapple with some of these things,
some of these feelings, fear, grief, shame, anxiety, guilt, that seem to me to be
also really connected to some of the reasons
why well-intentioned folks don’t really grapple
full-on with the climate. Do you think there’s a place for religion in working that angle? Thank you. – Yeah. Have you seen Sarah
Fredericks’ forthcoming book? I would imagine you’ve probably shared it back and forth with her. I think that’s gonna be– – What’s it called, for
the people who don’t know? – I don’t, so Sarah
Fredericks is a professor at the University of Chicago, I can’t remember the title of her book, but it’s about online communities
and the kinds of places where people are sharing information about sort of guilt stories
around climate change. So there’s this whole set of
narratives around sort of, I feel bad about flying or eating meat, and like, I’m struggling to
give it up, what should I do? So there’s these penitent communities that are figuring out how to
grapple with environmental sin. – Those are some deep subreddits. Haven’t hit those yet, okay. (laughs) – Well, if you ever are
looking for a stimulating read, they’re to be found. So yeah, I do think that maybe
the way to think about it is that a lot of that stuff
just happens in popular culture and I think the resources of
religion and religious thought maybe can allow a little bit
more depth and sophistication. I think we’re all getting pushed to that. We’re all getting pushed into
hotter and colder extremes. We’re all being forced
to see increasing levels of environmental brutality on the TV news, and I think we’re going to be required to come up with good responses. So we’re being pushed to that. I don’t necessarily
know how it’ll play out. This question about
our spiritual responses is clearly a real piece. – Did you wanna add anything, George? – No, I’m all right.
– Okay. Are there any students
or interns in the room, since we are at a university, who would like to ask a question? I don’t want them to be drowned out by all the brilliant professors. No students who wanna ask a question? Okay, who else? All right, I see this gentleman
here in the front row. – [Robert] I’m Robert
Joseph, I’m a retired lawyer, and I guess I have a question. To what extent is the problem of galvanizing a public
reaction, a function of people who just discount the
future substantially? In other words, they they just say, “That’s far away, I’m here.” And it is also discounted
by reason of the fact they’re not immediately affected. There are a lot of people
immediately affected, but they’re not immediately affected, and I’m trying to figure out
how religion deals with that. I mean, you could take
a eschatological view, the end is coming, so live
now, the end is coming. You could take an incarnational
view that we’re here, and we’re here to protect
what God has given us. And so I’m not sure how we’ll, I mean, I have my own view. I’m a Catholic, I take a
more incarnational view, and a more solidarity view. I’m not saying I live
by it the way I should. Anyway, those are my questions. – Evan? – Yeah. President George W. Bush once said when asked if he agreed
about some future scenario about the impacts of climate change that he didn’t really know
because he would be dead by the time that happened, which I thought was a
particularly presidential remark. (audience laughs) So yeah, there is a struggle
around how to know about that and to experience that. I think it actually relates a
lot to what Indira was saying about the difference
between climate and weather, to be able to think in terms of patterns and broader scale sets of activity than just sort of my
immediate environment. So I think one thing that’s happening is that it’s getting
increasingly impossible for anyone to know, to live a life, even in the United States,
where you don’t know people who are directly impacted
by climate change. Just each year we go forward, everyone’s gonna have a relative who spent all summer
keeping their infant child away from the smoke in
the Bay Area last summer, where everyone’s gonna know someone who was displaced for six months from their condo in Houston. Just more and more people will see that. – But the key is people
making the connection between that and climate. I lived through Hurricane
Irma in South Florida, and plenty of people saw it
as just another bad hurricane and didn’t experience it as something that climate was causing. So there is a disconnect among many people in the public. And that’s where I go
back to my question about, and maybe, George, you
have some thoughts on this, on what kind of journalism can be produced that makes that connection
real for people. – I think you have to make people realize their own culpability, and that’s a tricky thing to do. – No one likes that. – Yeah. It’s kinda like
if you were on a diet and you realize that you
really wanna have that thing and you don’t wanna think about the long-term effects of that. You know that like it’s
not good for your heart and all these other things, but you say, jeez, that really looks really good. With climate, it’s a
very tricky thing to do. I think people look at
these pictures and say, wow, that’s like a really big problem, but I don’t think they,
I don’t, to be honest, I don’t know if that
makes them think like, what can I personally do? – I did actually see a
student’s hand go up right here just as I called on this gentleman. – [Alana] Hi, my name is Alana, I’m a recent Georgetown grad and also interning with the
Pulitzer Center currently. My question was about, Evan, you spoke a little bit about how kind of because climate change has become so politically
charged in the United States, a lot more coverage has been
on kind of the religious right and their views on climate
change or lack thereof, and I’m wondering if you think it’s more the journalists not reaching the religious left, so to speak, or if it’s a matter of
kind of organization on the religious, on people
who are involved with religion who are activists for climate
change and stuff like that, if you think it’s more… What’s the missing link there in terms of those
stories not being covered or that not being communicated? – Yeah, it’s a great question, thank you. I think we’re sort of having two parallel conversations here, one of the conversations is about what kinds of journalistic
coverage do we need to build a more robust public
awareness about climate change so that we can actually
do something about it? And that, I think for the most part, the professional journalists I know are doing a great job with that. One thing we haven’t talked about yet is the protester on Standing Rock in 2016, and the, the much overdue treatment of
native American perspectives on environmental justice in our country. That’s a really important development, and it got a lot of great coverage. The pope’s visit to the United
States in the fall of 2015 when he spoke on the steps of
Congress about climate change. I mean, we’ve seen this stuff reach national levels of awareness. So part of it is not just about what journalists can be doing, but about the fractured
landscape of the media in the United States, that
you could quite easily choose which coverage of the pope’s
speech on climate change on the steps to watch. Essentially, what you’re getting is editorialization either way. So my question is, this is a place where I don’t know what to do about that. I think journalists are
telling good stories, but I don’t know what we do around the social media dimension of that where you don’t get a holistic, nuanced view in all communities. – Well, a good example of that is just this Rashomon experience
in the last couple of days over the young men in the MAGA hats from the Catholic high school in Kentucky and their interaction with
this native American elder, and seen from all different points of view and mediated through all
different news organizations or Twitter influencers, there are completely
different stories being told about what happened, and
I think the same is true, as you say, of covering climate change. Different stories are being
told about the same thing. We even saw with
President Trump’s comments about climate change just
in the last month or so, he basically said it’s not a thing. So, yeah. Shaun. And sorry, can I just
also, before Shaun goes, can I see if there are any
other hands of last questions? All right, I’m gonna take
three as the final round. Shaun, go ahead first. – [Shaun] George, I’d
love to hear the analysis of the Sunday Times Magazine. Was that viewed as a success, a failure? What was the internal evaluation of that particular format and project? – Okay, good, sorry, let’s just, I’m gonna take three questions together. Yes, sir, you right here. Sorry, could you identify
yourself when the mic comes? – [Andrew] Andrew Trotter,
member of the community and a church that has a
environmental initiative. I’m wondering whether political
and economic inequities, in the United States especially, worsen these other, the
awareness and the action on political, on climate change. It’s kind of like the frog in the warming, the water over the flame. – The boiling frog. – [Andrew] But when the people in the, who are often receiving the worst of it are the most disenfranchised
folks in the country. – Okay, great, and one last question. I’m sorry we are gonna
have to end on time. I see a lady back there. – [Jean] Thank you, Jean Duff with the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. Taking us back to the second conversation about religious influence, if you please, and remembering that, I
think it was last week, that the Lancet issued
a fascinating report from the EAT-Lancet
Commission on healthy diet and sustainable consequences
modeling the possibilities of impact of a healthy diet on
sustainable environmentalism, it got me thinking about the Adventists and their mortality lift
from their vegetarian diet, the faith-inspired vegetarian diet, and I wonder if I could
ask Professor Berry for some other examples of positive faith influence on climate. – Okay, so we have first for George, a question about whether the
New York Times saw Losing Earth as a success or failure and why? – I think the Times, I think they felt that it was a resounding success. They felt they needed to kind
of bust through the clutter and make a really strong
statement, even like having, I mean, the symbology of
having a black-cover magazine with very fine print is like
there’s no celebrity there. It was like, this is serious, and having an entire issue
devoted to one article, it was almost a book-length article. My wife spent like six hours reading it. It was really long. – [Indira] She’s a fast reader then. – Yeah. But it just like, they
wanted to make a statement, like this is serious, and
I think it did have impact. As to whether it got through to people in the red states, I don’t know. I think one of the problems we
have in our culture right now is everybody is kind of
preaching to the choir. – We’re using a curriculum
based on Losing Earth that the Pulitzer Center has developed that is being used in
classrooms and in universities, so we’re doing outreach
still based on this project that we sponsored. – All right, the second question was about whether we’re the frog being boiled and not even realizing it, and whether political
and economic inequities in this country are
actually making it harder for people to perceive the
impact that climate is having. – Yes.
– All right. (laughs) (audience laughs) – We’re being boiled, no doubt. – All right, and the last
question was from Jean about, she made reference to the
Lancet and the healthy diet, and can you give some other examples of what we could be doing,
how religion can have a positive impact on our
sustainability in general. – Sure, I’ll actually point to a project that emerged out of the partnership between American University
and the Pulitzer Center. Bill Gentile, a colleague of mine in the School of Communications,
along with a student, produced a short film about the work that the Catholic Relief
Services is doing in Columbia. So one particular thing that’s happening as the planet warms is
that certain kinds of crops get harder to grow in the
places where they are. So coffee in particular has
to be grown on mountains, and the temperature zone on mountains where coffee grows best
is moving up slowly, and so people own one piece of land and they can’t move the land. So how farmers adapt to that change is a really pressing problem that’s moving at about
a meter uphill per year, which is fast.
– Fast. – Really fast, right?
– Really fast. – So that short documentary
explores some of the work that they’ve done in trying
to help farmers think about coffee varietals,
about distribution models, about shifting to agricultural crops, about diversifying, and
the series of clinics that they’ve put on for people in– – [Indira] That American
University has put on? – No, that the Catholic Relief Services– – [Indira] Oh, Catholic Relief Services. – The short film is about the work the Catholic Relief Services is doing. So there’s all sorts of great examples of faith-based organizations
helping communities to navigate these environmental changes, and I think that’s a really
positive contribution. – Fascinating. All right, well I want to, please join me in thanking Evan and George–
– Thank you. (audience applauds)
– For discussing this with us. – Thank you for your great work. – Thank you. – And I want to invite
all of you to a reception that we’re hosting in the next room. So we’ll…

2 thoughts on “Religion and Climate Change: A Visual and Scholarly Representation

  1. Meme Mine Post author

    Climate change belief is a mental disorder and here is proof:
    If someone gave you the news that your mother could be dying would you also instantly WANT to believe she is dead or would you act like a normal person and say; "No no! Tell me it isn't true!"?
    But you eagerly wish and pray and hope that billions of innocent children and all life on Earth are doomed to die in a climate change he'll? That is a mental disorder.
    You doomers don't love the planet, you just hate Humanity and you hate yourselves and just want to drag the rest of us down with you in your miserably failed pathetic lives.
    Issuing CO2 death threats to children and all life on Earth isn't just hate speech, it's a crime against Humanity in the coming history books.
    Are the science gods you worship also only 99% sure the planet isn't flat?

    Reply
  2. Neil C Post author

    Why is the sun getting hotter and all of the other planets around us do they have a man-made global warming problem

    Reply

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