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The “Green Pope” Loves Science and Is Cautious of AI – The Health Care Blog

By MIKE MAGEE

By all indications, they supported each other. He was three years older and the chief scientific advisor to the world’s most powerful religious leader. Scientific American called him “the greatest scientist of all time,” and not because he had won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry a decade earlier for explaining the practical aspects of ozone formation. It was his forthright truthfulness and ecological advocacy that earned the organization’s respect.

Paul Crutzan is no longer alive. He died on February 4, 2021 in Mainz, Germany, at the age of 87. What attracted the 86-year-old “Green Pope” to Paul were three factors that were praised in his death in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). – “the disruptive advancement of science, the inspiring communication of science and the responsible operationalization of science.”

It didn’t hurt that Crutzan was likeable, or as the Royal Society simply described him in his obituary: “a kind-hearted person and a brilliant scientist.”

In 2015, he was Pope Francis’ right-hand man when the Catholic leader, who had intentionally chosen the name of the Patron Saint of Ecology as his own, was briefed on the Anthropocene epoch. Crutzen had christened the label five years earlier to describe a posthuman planet that was not doing well for him.

Crutzen was one of 74 scientists from 27 nations and Taiwan who formed the elite Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2015. Those selected were a Who is who of the world’s scientific stars, including 14 Nobel Prize winners, and notable personalities such as microbiologist Werner Arber, physicist Michael Heller, geneticist Beatrice Mintz, biochemist Maxine Singer and astronomer Martin Rees.

On May 24, 2015, they delivered their climate conclusions to the Pope, face to face. The Pope heard these words: “We have a group of experts from all over the world who are concerned about climate change. The changes are already happening and getting worse, and the worst consequences will be felt by the world’s 3 billion poor people.”

The following month, with the publication of the encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis began by embracing science with these words: “I am well aware that in the realm of politics and philosophy there are those who firmly reject science. idea of ​​a Creator, or consider it irrelevant and, consequently, dismiss as irrational the rich contribution that religions can make to an integral ecology and the full development of humanity. Others see religions simply as a subculture that must be tolerated. However, science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can engage in an intense and mutually fruitful dialogue.”

Later, he celebrates scientific progress with these words: “We are the beneficiaries of two centuries of enormous waves of change: steam engines, railroads, telegraphs, electricity, automobiles, airplanes, chemical industries, modern medicine, information technologies, and, more Recently, the digital revolution, robotics, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. It is fair to rejoice at these advances and be excited by the immense possibilities that continue to open before us.”

But then comes the hammer: “Any technical solution that science attempts to offer will be incapable of solving the serious problems of our world if humanity loses its compass, if we lose sight of the great motivations that allow us to live in harmony. , make sacrifices and treat others well.”

Laudato Yes and the Pope’s personal intervention in the 2015 climate deliberations are widely credited for the successful draft of the Paris Agreement of December 12, 2015. The final draft was signed four months later by 126 parties at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Climate Change (COP21).

Now eight years have passed and Pope Francis has decided that “enough is enough.” This week he published a condensed update of the original 180-page environmental encyclical, now just a 12-page apostolic exhortation.

In the article, titled Laudate Deum, Pope Francis was especially critical of the US and other developed nations, writing: “If we consider that emissions per individual in the United States are approximately twice as high as those of individuals live in China, and approximately seven times higher than the average of the poorest countries, we can affirm that a broad change in the irresponsible lifestyle related to the Western model would have a significant long-term impact.

It was evident that the spirit of Paul Crutzen was still stirring in the soul of the elderly Pontiff. He raised again the damage that man had unleashed by unleashing the unprecedented ecological epoch of the Anthropocene, and suggested that worse times lie ahead if humans do not take the right course. Specifically, he sees humanity, which now amplifies our mistakes with new artificial intelligence technology, in dangerous territory. Specifically, “increasing human power beyond imagination,” he says, is “a lack of awareness and responsibility.”

Those who know Pope Francis well, such as Jesuit priest David McCallum SJ, say his direct, confrontational brand of “servant leadership” is just what the world needs right now. McCallum is a professor of business and leadership and an expert in “restorative justice” at the Jesuit LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York.

But for now he is in the Vatican developing a leadership curriculum that he says “aims to create a space for diverse people to participate in the church, listen to the needs of others, and then discern a path forward together.” with the bishops, but not the bishops alone. In ecclesiastical terms, it is a call to synodality. In business terms, it would be like a flattening of the organization with less hierarchy, more teamwork and more consultation.”

The Green Pope remains controversial, especially among deeply conservative Catholic bishops. But in him, admirers like McCallum see “a servant leader, (who) has to put aside immediate satisfactions, and might even have to accept failure to achieve a larger, long-term goal… people sometimes They experience leadership in terms of sacrifice. and a certain loneliness. Those are two aspects of leadership that can be a little challenging… This requires living, loving and leading with a spirit of hope, with a sense of possibility for the future.”

We need everyone to have hope in their success.

Mike Magee MD is a medical historian and regular contributor to THCB. He is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside America’s Medical Industrial Complex. (Greet/2020)

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