Friday, September 25, 2015

Papal Persuasion

On the television recently I heard that the pope was going to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. They also mentioned that the cathedral had recently been renovated for 200 million dollars. My first thought was about all the Catholic churches and schools that have closed down because of a lack of parishioners, students, and money. My next thought was about the pope preaching about the poor and the needy and all of that. His words seem hypocritical, since the Catholic Church seems to favor spending money on buildings rather than people.

After that, I began thinking about all the things the pope says about climate change. Did they use renewable energy sources when they updated the heating units in St. Patrick's Cathedral? I don't know. I can't seem to find that information online.

I did find some other things:

Church of the Resurrection Benefits from Solar Energy:

Solis Partners has announced that it recently installed a 125-kilowatt ground-mounted solar array for the Church of the Resurrection in the Burlington County township of Delran, N.J. This project marks the fourth solar installation that Solis has completed within the Catholic Diocese of Trenton, which spans Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
Vatican installs solar panel roof:
Pope Benedict XVI has become the first pontiff to harness solar power to provide energy for the Vatican.

Roof tiles on the Paul VI auditorium - used in poor weather for the Pope's weekly audience with pilgrims - are being replaced by 2,700 solar panels.

The photovoltaic cells will convert sunlight into electricity, generating enough power to light, heat or cool the 6,000 seat hall, engineers say.

Conserving global resources has been a priority for the German-born Pope.
Will the U.S. Catholic Church Divest From Fossil Fuels and Buy Solar Panels Instead?:
Churches emit carbon dioxide just as most American buildings do.  If they are heated by coal, they may be emitting quite a lot of CO2.  Church leaders know this, and some are swinging into action.  Saint Eugene Catholic Church in North Asheville, NC, is putting 146 solar panels on the roof.  The panels will generate 22% of the church’s electricity.  Some 55% of North Carolina’s energy is generated by coal, which is extremely dirty and polluting.  34% is nuclear, which is low-carbon.  So this church is actually reducing its carbon emissions quite significantly.

Churches all over the country are doing the same thing Saint Eugene is, and their cumulative effect could be significant. If enough join in.  Studies have shown that solar panels are like yawning.  If a neighbor puts them on, you are more likely to do so, as well.  So, not only are the churches putting on panels, but that very act may encourage home-owning parishioners to do so as well.

Churches often also own vehicles, and they could go for electric ones or plug-in hybrids, another way of cutting down on their emissions.
We social scientists are more interested in what society actually does than in religious rhetoric.  We’ll be checking in.
Kudos to Catholics taking action with renewable energy.

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