San Diego, California - Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego climate and atmospheric scientist V. Ramanathan discussed his perspective as a council member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the transformational role religious leaders can play to bring awareness to the urgency of climate change to protect people and nature.

“As a council member of the Pontifical Academy and watching from within the powerful moral voice of Pope Francis, I believe a partnership with religion is a powerful new venue for researchers reticent about publicly voicing their grave concerns about climate change,” said Ramanathan.

Ramanathan, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences since 2004, co-convened “Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature, Our Responsibility,” a joint workshop of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences at the Vatican last year. The event was an unprecedented gathering of natural and social scientists, philosophers, and theologians.

On the final day of the historic workshop, Ramanathan met with Pope Francis and used the opportunity to draw the Pope's attention to the fact that three billion of the world's poorest people who do not use fossil fuels to meet their energy needs will nonetheless suffer the worst consequences of climate change.

“We will bring massive public support for urgent actions only when the impacts of climate change and its origins are taught in every church, every temple, every mosque, every synagogue, and other places of worship,” said Ramanathan.