Episode #29: The Pope Has Decided to Fix Climate Change With His Own Bare Hands (transcript)
Quinn: Welcome to "Important, Not Important." My name is Quinn Emmett.
Brian: And my name is Brian Colbert Kennedy.
Quinn: And this is Episode 29.
Quinn: Today's topic, Brian, is Pope Francis has basically decided to stop climate change with his own bare hands.
Quinn: Pretty awesome.
Brian: He waits for no one; he's the Pope.
Quinn: Yeah. It's like a "Taken" movie, except-
Brian: Oh, but the Pope is playing what's his name's part? What's his name again?
Quinn: Liam Neeson.
Brian: Yeah, Liam Neeson. Of course.
Quinn: By the way, does anyone even know what the character's name is? No, they don't. It's just Liam Neeson.
Brian: Maybe it's Francis.
Quinn: Oh god, wouldn't that be great?
Brian: That'd be cool.
Quinn: Just righteous. Anyway, our guest to help us tell us all the ways we're wrong including probably about that specifically is Jose Aguto. Love Jose. He is the Associate Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, which exists-
Quinn: And is awesome. If you can't already imagine, his job is to help lead Catholicism into righteous climate action, care for the earth, establishing an actual communion with those who are excited and willing to take action, and actually helping to provide some of the tangible tools for them to do so.
Brian: Pretty awesome.
Quinn: Did you have a good time?
Brian: I had a great time talking to Jose. Actually it, in a way, reminded me of Mitch Hescox.
Quinn: This could go anywhere.
Brian: No, no. Former guest and friend of the podcast, and just the reading in general that I've done in general about religious folk who are also concerned about the climate because it says in the Bible to take care of the planet
Quinn: Right and Scott Pruitt, may he never rest in peace, his interpretation was, "Exploit the planet," which is interesting.
Brian: Yes, a little bit different I believe.
Quinn: A little bit different.
Brian: Yeah, it was a great conversation with Jose.
Quinn: Yeah, I loved it. As a religion nerd, I was proud of it. I'm proud of how hard we work, Brian, to reach out to folks who we might not otherwise agree with on anything.
Quinn: In an effort to have our own usually sassy and profane version of that communion, to have a real conversation that might actually lead to us helping each other, and then helping to save the planet because, whew doggie, it's hot.
Brian: It's getting real warm.
Quinn: Real hot. And at the same time, all kinds of fun stuff are happening. Here on the east coast, they're just setting rain records everywhere, which sounds pleasant until it's been a week in and you're like, "Well, that's not normal."
Brian: Yeah, that's not good.
Quinn: But we do, we try for that. We try for pragmatic action. We'll talk to anybody who's willing to take it or to convince them as best we can. We do not debate science, but we will talk about the best way to get there.
Brian: Yeah, absolutely, which is what we all need to be doing, actually taking steps and taking action to, I don't know, save us all and our future children.
Quinn: Answer me this.
Brian: Answer me this. This is sort of the-
Quinn: Are you ready?
Brian: A little bit. Are you the Riddler right now or is it not a riddle, it's just a question?
Quinn: I love the Riddler.
Brian: "Riddle me this." Yep.
Quinn: They made him into a cartoon character but he could be so good.
Brian: There's going to be another Riddler movie, right?
Quinn: We'll see.
Brian: Or another ... Yeah, we'll see.
Quinn: There was never a Riddler movie, but you're welcome.
Quinn: Jim Carrey played him in "Batman and Robin."
Brian: There's going to be another movie in which the character Riddler is portrayed and maybe by somebody else. I don't think Jim Carry would do it again.
Quinn: I would think so. I mean, who knows what DC's up to, man?
Brian: Literally who knows?
Quinn: Who knows? So riddle me this, Robin.
Brian: Damn it.
Quinn: Riddle me this: let's say it gets real bad and Asgardia is like ... Let's say they've got a third-rate spaceship, right?
Quinn: Do you bolt because you've got your little membership card?
Brian: Listen, I am a citizen I think. I don't know, but I'm pretty sure I'm a certain and-
Quinn: Do you get a plus one?
Brian: I was just going to say that allows me to, probably, take part in this ride on this third-rate spaceship to whatever Asgardia becomes, but if I don't have a plus one, I don't think I'm going!
Quinn: You're sticking it out?
Brian: I gotta stick it out here with the lady and my cat.
Quinn: I noticed you didn't even think about choosing your plus one on your mom.
Brian: My mom would have her own. I already have future plans to convince her to become a citizen.
Quinn: It's going to get expensive. I mean, you gotta get in early man. This is like season tickets for a new sporting team.
Brian: A new soccer stadium in your city. LAFC, yeah!
Quinn: Oh God, we're awful people. Interesting, okay. So you, if you had a plus one, you're out of here? You'd abandon the rest of us?
Brian: As long as I could convince my plus one, yeah. I don't call it ... It's not abandoning so much as it's like, "This is the choice I'm going to make here for my future and I think you guys should come. If you want to, great, and if you don't want to, check you later."
Quinn: But it's an exclusive club. How are we going to come?
Brian: Well, I'm pretty sure you can still sign up.
Quinn: I'm talking about then.
Brian: Oh yeah, then you're screwed, I think.
Quinn: Well, that's really charitable of you. I'm sure Jose would feel really good about your decision.
Brian: I just said that I would go if I had a plus on, so that was, I think, very considerate of me to think about taking with me another human being whom I love.
Quinn: What about the other 9 billion of us?
Brian: It's not up to me.
Quinn: Would you even call before you left or would you just go?
Brian: Why are you putting this on me?
Quinn: Because you're the member! I don't get to go!
Brian: But there's a bunch of members probably, unless they quit.
Quinn: Why would they do that?
Brian: Listen, let's cross that bridge to space when we get there.
Quinn: How would you get up there? If they were like, "You can come. It's straight up here. You've gotta make your own way."
Brian: It's on you?
Brian: I don't think I have the capabilities for that.
Quinn: That might be the world's greatest understatement.
Brian: I don't want to ... Everything's fine, okay? I mean, everything's not fine, but I don't have to think about it. They're separate.
Quinn: It's definitely not fine.
Brian: We're not fine. We'll talk more about it later, okay?
Quinn: All I'm saying is you should maybe just start to think about it, that's all.
Brian: What are you going to do? What about you?
Quinn: I'm too tired.
Brian: Yeah. Maybe I'll just be tired with you guys.
Quinn: That's fine, that's fine. All right, let's go see what Jose's been up to, shall we?
Brian: Let's do it.
Quinn: Our guest today is Jose Aguto and together we're discussing this fascinating little tidbit, which is basically the Pope has said basically, "Screw it, I'll fix climate change all by myself," which was unexpected and wonderful. It turns out he's got a very specific set of skills and apparently that includes dragging us into a clean energy future, which is just great. I did not see that coming.
Brian: I didn't see that coming.
Quinn: Nope, nope. So we're super pumped about our guest today, Jose Aguto. Jose, welcome.
Jose Aguto: Thank you! Thank you for having me.
Brian: We're pumped to have you here. Jose, do us a favor, just let us know who you are and what you do.
Jose Aguto: Sure Brian. I work for the Catholic Climate Covenant. Our organization seeks to inspire, equip, and motivate Catholics to step into a more meaningful understanding and application of Care for Creation, which is one of the major themes of Catholic social teaching.
Quinn: I love that. Inspire, equip, and motivate. Those are actionable words, which is important.
Brian: Yes, that's what we do here!
Quinn: We used to talk a little bit about, and it's still very true and I'm sure there's many ways we could get sidetracked today, but philosophy's wonderful and philosophy's amazing and has prompted lots of action in the world. We're trying today to inspire, equip, and motivate ourselves certainly.
Brian: Yeah, we may steal that. That was perfect.
Brian: All right, so let's set up our conversation for today. Just as Quinn was just saying, we are in times that call for action and so we are going to ask some action-oriented questions and then formulate some specific steps that everybody listening and us can all take to make a little dent in the universe.
Quinn: Sound good?
Jose Aguto: Sounds great.
Quinn: Awesome. Jose, we like to start with one important question to kind of get at the idea of the heart of why you're with us today on this planet and on our little podcast. But instead of saying, "Tell us your life story Jose," we like to ask why are you vital to the survival of the species?
Jose Aguto: Oh wow, that's very egocentric.
Quinn: It can be, but it doesn't have to be, but I do encourage you to be bold. You're doing pretty incredible work.
Jose Aguto: I would first say that I'm blessed to be here, to serve with others. I can't say that I, in particular, am special. I feel like I'm placed in a position to make change and that in of itself is a blessing, and to do so in concert with all others, to lift up a sense of togetherness and understanding of our common good, that's why I'm here.
Quinn: That is awesome. I love it, I love it. All right, well listen, we're going to establish some context for today's topic or question, which means it is time for Context 101 with Professor Brian. Fun fact, Professor Brian once tried to start his own for-profit university. You remember that Brian?
Brian: I remember it clearly.
Quinn: Yeah, didn't go well, shareholders not pumped about stories about you in the lab and whatever that rare bird ... Was it scallious? It was a parrot or scallious [crosstalk 00:10:00]?
Brian: Who remembers?
Quinn: Didn't go well. I'm just glad they did their due diligence.
Brian: At least I tried.
Quinn: Yep. Anyways, look, Brian, let's hear your little book report on the history of Catholicism and science.
Brian: Sure. I mean, it didn't start great, right? That's the general thought anyway.
Quinn: That's the idea.
Brian: But actually, it's kind of complicated. There has been something called the Pontifical Academy of Sciences since the 1600s, which is bonkers.
Quinn: Not all that old and it's still standing.
Brian: Eh, I think it was actually the last episode we had talked about how it was probably amazing the first time that humans looked up to the stars with an actual telescope and super cool, yeah, but if you're Galileo, not so great because he was like, "Hey crazy idea. I think the Earth may revolve around the sun." And then the Romans were like, "Well, interesting. Hey, can you come in for a quick meeting and also then just be on house arrest for the rest of your life? Thanks."
Brian: And then what else? Evolution. Shockingly, the Church actually didn't outright reject evolution, just kind of played it cool from a distance for a long time until the 20th century when they backed up into it with theistic evolution.
Quinn: Yeah and you know what? As we were just talking about offline, as an atheist, nerdy, liberal arts major, religion major, I would love to an entire episode on that. I don't even know it's appropriate for our podcast, but I want to talk about all that. I think the Catechism actually says – and I'm going to find it real quick and Jose, you can punish me and tell me how wrong I am later. Here it is. This is my favorite part for a variety of reasons.
Quinn: "Methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God and in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are."
Quinn: Basically, you can do all the science you want as long as it's not creepy because God made it all anyways. Right?
Jose Aguto: Works.
Quinn: Yeah, yeah.
Brian: That's right. That is awesome and I appreciate you chiming in there and interrupting. This is my time, which I think we talked about last time.
Quinn: You're correct, I apologize.
Brian: Yeah no, it's fine. So things haven't changed, really.
Quinn: Some things.
Brian: Some things, like contraception, abortion, stem cells.
Quinn: Sure. Unfortunate, we can discuss them as well, but we're not digging in that today, nor again, as we've always said, are we and our guest going to agree on everything.
Brian: Yeah, of course not. Of course. Let's take a step back into history into my totally rad phone booth.
Quinn: Is that a "Bill & Ted's" reference?
Brian: It's a "Bill & Ted's" reference, yeah.
Brian: Anyways, listen, here's the other side of the coin: the Church has paid for a ton of super important science over the centuries and a lot of our most famous scientists were practicing Catholics – John Bardeen, [Nikola Resmie 00:13:09], and Roger Bacon. That's inertia, cosmology, scientific method right there.
Quinn: Did you know that people thought Bacon was a wizard?
Brian: Was he a wizard? Or was he not a wizard? That's actually not for me to judge.
Quinn: Well, you haven't read "Harry Potter."
Brian: Well, there are wizards nonetheless.
Quinn: Okay, keep going.
Brian: Anyway, just to finish up, the Church is also, I think, the biggest supporter or owner or whatever of hospitals and medical care in the world. That, obviously, involves science.
Quinn: Theoretically, sure.
Brian: Yeah. So it's complicated is what I'm saying. With the world on fire, literally on fire, it's getting more complicated. Or is it?
Quinn: That's a great question and we appreciate that Brian. That was wonderful. With that, for some shaky context-
Brian: There are wizards. That's all I'm saying.
Quinn: Okay, we'll talk about wizards later. But with that for some context, let's get back to our question, which is we're going to dig deeper than this and watch how it trickles down. But the Pope has basically decided to fix climate change all by himself. I cannot wait to hear what Jose thinks of your report, but it's time to move forward.
Quinn: So Jose, let's again start from the topish. We know the Pope isn't the actual top according to Catholicism, but this new Pope, who's not really new anymore, Mr. Francis, he has really shaken some things up. But his climate leadership has been surprising and extremely compelling and he's been pretty relentless about it; it wasn't just one little paper. Let's talk about him personally, before we get into how that trickles down to your work and the faithful in general, how has that resounded?
Jose Aguto: Pope Francis stepping into climate change or Care for Creation?
Quinn: Let's start with the Pope, sort of moving on down the ladder.
Jose Aguto: Well, the Pope himself, absolutely inspiring. You may have seen or heard about a film that recently came out that was actually in theaters for a while, "A Man of His Word," where he did talk about Care for Creation. There are visuals of him washing the feet of refugees, and women, and this remarkable display of humility is such a demonstration of living out the gospel and living out Jesus's message that it just captures everyone. To be at the highest position, the vicar of Christ, and to be kneeling and washing feet is truly an inspiring vision. So yeah, and then he carries that care for all people into his ministry, which extends into Care for Creation.
Jose Aguto: He's not the first Pope. I don't know if you want me to elaborate, but he's not the first Pope to speak on this. In fact, back in 1971, we've had a Pope talking about our environmental degradation threatening our planet. That was Pope Paul IV and then moving to Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. So Pope Francis, in many ways, is carrying what his predecessors were saying into this space.
Quinn: Sure. I think what has been interesting about it – and I appreciate your education on that, thank you – is I guess is the timing of it, which is he has been very, very straightforward about it, very compelling about it, calling in recently business leaders together, fossil fuel leaders together. And obviously this is the moment where, thankfully, most of the rest of the world, even in addition to the Catholics, are actually starting to pay attention and take action. It just seems like, I guess what I'm trying to say is it's a great moment for him to be really putting himself out there to say, "This is my direction and the direction of the Church and the continuance of the Popes prior to him" because now is the most important moment.
Jose Aguto: Absolutely. And he is elevating what is a pretty bold – what were some pretty bold declarations by previous Popes. Pope John Paul II talked about the need for an ecological conversion, and Pope Benedict was known as "The Green Pope" and put solar panels on the Vatican and was very active and publicly supportive of the UNFCCC negotiations. Pope Francis just took this to another level.
Jose Aguto: One of the things that I think is particularly interesting and you've just mentioned this is making this more into the public sphere and reaching out to people across all sectors to talk about, I think, the moral dimension of climate change. I just want to take a step back. Back before Paris, I was reading a "New York Times" article that was written by Andrew Revkin and he was sitting at a table with Walter Monk who is a famous oceanographer, then in his 90s. The conversation didn't talk about gigatons of carbon. Walter Monk said, "We need a miracle of love and unselfishness if we're going to get out of this climate crisis."
Jose Aguto: That's the primary message that Pope Francis has been saying and he says so to these oil and gas executives and to all of is, "Where is your heart?" That, carrying forth, is a mission of all of us, people of faith or all of us who have some faith, all of us people of goodwill, where is our heart in this because that's where it starts.
Brian: Exactly. On that subject, the words that he has spoken, the actions he has taken, the policies on this front, how have they made their way, I guess, down to the cardinals and then further to individual churches themselves?
Jose Aguto: It depends on each priest, each diocese, each consecrate and where they want to take it. In some of the nations where they definitely feel it like the Philippines, Cardinal Tagle, he's all over it. The Philippine Church is totally invested in ecological conversion. In the United States-
Quinn: Sure because they are in it right now.
Jose Aguto: Absolutely. And also, I do want to make mention of the bishops in Oceana, Fiji, and the Marshall Islands.
Quinn: True, yeah. It's incredible.
Jose Aguto: They are totally invested in this, speaking prophetically.
Jose Aguto: In other countries too, in Europe, they're also stepping into this. The Austrian Bishops recently came out with some sustainable investment guidelines for the dioceses and how they invest. We're seeing a lot of movement in other churches across the world.
Jose Aguto: And in the United States, I have to say, we've done very well, but it hasn't been publicized. It hasn't been consolidated, but you do see, for example, Sisters, Orders who are filing shareholder appeals and getting changes to the way the companies are investing. You have the Adorers of the Blood of Christ who have a chapel that is standing in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in front of a proposed pipeline. University of Dayton has decided to divest from fossil fuels. You've got dioceses across the nation celebrating Care for Creation and getting their perishes to green-up. There's a lot of activity going on that hasn't been known and it's the Covenant's job to lift that up and make people aware that the Catholic Church in the United States is acting.
Quinn: Sure. This is a bit of a sidetrack and it just occurred to me, and again, this might be an entirely separate episode conversation. Where does the leadership come out, I guess especially in Europe and then I guess Oceania, on the Oceania side, where do they come out on immigration on all of this? Because for everything that happened with immigration in the past few years, it's just the tip of the iceberg for how much worse it's going to get with the climate changing. You see things like, that's not a huge Catholic population, but 800 million threatened in India as it gets warmer, and the farmers in northern India committing suicide, and the availability of water, and cholera everywhere.
Quinn: We talk about empathy but I'm curious if the Church, because no one else seems to be doing it, has any sort of forward thinking on the situation that's coming down the pipe?
Jose Aguto: Wow, with regard to, I guess you would call them climate refugees, although the definition of refugee's a little different, I can't speak on what their formal position but a few weeks ago I was blessed to attend the other Vatican conference of climate advocates, the companion piece. There were bishops from places like Oceana who were saying that we need to create some new protocols that will allow for those peoples who will be flooded, safe harbor into some of the other nations, particularly those nations which had significant contribution to the climate crisis. So there are discussions on what those protocols could and should be, but I'm not an expert to talk about those.
Quinn: Sure. No worries, just didn't know if you'd heard anything on the trade winds.
Brian: Yeah, yeah.
Jose Aguto: No. I mean, as an overall matter, Catholic Relief Services, the largest faith humanitarian organization, this is front and center for them. This is their major theme this year to figure out this crisis. But no, yeah, I don't have any specifics. Apologies.
Quinn: Yeah, definitely. No worries man.
Quinn: It just literally occurred to me because it just ... It is top of mind, it is like everything else coming down the pipe.
Jose Aguto: Right. And one of the huge concerns is the fact that we have seen this massive migrations and immigration, and we've seen the responses by our nation in the European countries, and it's quite concerning that this percentage, these million – I think it's like 65 million people displaced – and the way that their being treated right now, imagine hundreds of millions in the future. It's just not a happy scenario.
Quinn: That's my exact thing, which was this was almost a test case, which you hate to say because it's million of lives of the line and many, many lost, who never even got a chance to get over the borders or get over the water but is a fraction of what it's going to be and what it could be, which just makes me feel like, "Boy, I would love for humanity to be having some strategic conversations about this, whoever's leading the way."
Jose Aguto: Well, and in that regard and not just, again, not just strategic conversations but what is in our hearts, and who is our neighbor, and are we going to welcome our neighbor? Are we going to consider him or her our neighbor and not the other? This is the fundamental divide that we're talking about where people of faith are saying, "We need to care for our neighbor. We need to love our neighbor. That's the fundamental commandment."
Brian: Are you seeing that? Have you seen, not the churches themselves but the members, the fall of the faithful, have you see their reactions to the leadership's actions?
Jose Aguto: There's definitely a response. You see these sanctuary cities, you see churches, parishes, synagogues from across the country welcoming, just stepping into this and committing to it. Absolutely laudatory. It's a matter of being able to encourage others to think the same.
Quinn: Sure, sure. And what's really fascinating is and again, it's so complicated because there's no one population where everything applies, whether you're talking about African-Americans or Catholics or even Evangelicals or Hispanics, we've all got different sets of values. My wife and I have different sets of values, you know? We just happen to overlap enough that she puts up with me.
Quinn: For today, as far as I know.
Brian: I don't know how she does it.
Quinn: God, I have so many questions. Oh boy. I wake up every morning, I'm like, "You're still here. That's so interesting."
Brian: I know!
Quinn: But you know, it's interesting because the conservative side of the political establishment in America has always placed themselves as the more religious side – not always, I guess the past 40 years – the more religious side and the side of family values. It sure seems like, in the past year and a half, that the folks that are arguing for taking care of our fellow man, whether you're religious or not – and you can define religious a number of different ways; I'm talking about sort of America-centric right now – seems to be a banner that has been taken up very much so by the other side because it seems like it has certainly been abandoned by the original bearers of it, which is interesting and compelling. Happy to take it. We'll carry it.
Quinn: I think everybody saw what has been going on and what is still going on with the family separations at the border. It's shocking and it makes you go, "What is in our heart?" When you ask people, "What is in our heart?" Is that enough? What do you stand for as a person, much less a person of faith? What do you stand for as a father or a mother or what are you teaching your children? What do you stand for as a citizen of your state or your country or your world? What if that was your children?
Quinn: It just, it makes everyone ... When it feels like you have a death in the family, it puts everything in context. That's what this moment has felt like to me where it makes ... It feels like everybody needs to, and not a lot of folks are, take a step back and go, "What am I made of here? What I stand for and what am I willing to do about it?" And again, this is the tip of the iceberg.
Jose Aguto: Indeed. Well, I don't know the extent to which certain people's religious beliefs are elevated and exaggerated and then placed in major media to seem to indicate that all people or a substantial portion of people of faith are thinking in this way. I would say people who do act consistent with the two greatest commandments of loving God and loving your neighborhood do so in a quiet and humble way. So I think there are a lot more people like that.
Quinn: Yeah, that's not to say there aren't people doing that, or redoubling their efforts, or doing it anew. It seems like there's a lot of folks that maybe haven't jumped on that bandwagon, who aren't religious who are doing it, which is fine, great, whoever's willing to help take care of these folks, we'll take it because again, it's like a practice session for what's coming. But it is interesting the way things are sort of swerving back and forth on some of these fronts.
Quinn: So Jose, tell us about your work. Where did this start and what are you guys primarily focusing on?
Jose Aguto: Well we, as I mentioned before, we seek out to lift up the US Catholic Church's response to the call to Care for Creation. One of the things I want to emphasize is this year, we decided to figure out a way to participate. We are still in and we wanted to do so in a way that speaks to the Catholic faith. So we put up a Catholic Climate Declaration at the beginning of the year – or actually, we opened it up in March – where we ask Catholic institutions to declare that they are and fully supportive of the Paris Agreement and that they're in on climate action.
Brian: Wow, wonderful.
Jose Aguto: You can just google "Climate Catholic Declaration." And the Declaration itself talks to all the Popes that I mentioned. It cites verbatim to statements that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops have stated back as long ago as 1991 about understanding the science, and wanting to lead with the science, and then also call for a change of heart. Very fundamental, at least in terms of Catholic theology statements, of where the Catholic Church is and wants to be.
Jose Aguto: We announced on June 18th, the third anniversary of "Laudato si'," the number of signatories. We had nearly 600 at that time, and now we have 650, which includes about 41 Dioceses. Those are bishops, arch bishops, and cardinals who decided to step forth and state that we are still in.
Quinn: Sure. And just for the pagan many listening to this, what sort of percentage is that of active dioceses worldwide, or I guess, in America?
Jose Aguto: In America, there are, I think, 173 dioceses.
Quinn: And how many are onboard you said?
Jose Aguto: Well, we have 41 archdioceses and dioceses. I think we have seven or eight archdioceses would then cover a bunch of ... Overlook other dioceses.
Jose Aguto: We have diocese in interesting places we didn't expect it. For example, in Kentucky, Alaska, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Utah, Wyoming. So we allowed the courage of these Bishops in these frankly challenging states to step forth on this, so excited to lift up this Declaration. We continue to ask for signatories and we want to be able to step all of these signatories in what we would call "The ladder of engagement." So moving beyond word and into action and those actions are coming forth and bubbling forth as we come into the Global Climate Action Summit and hope to declare that.
Quinn: Is there an actual letter of action? Is there something specific? Is that a metaphor?
Jose Aguto: The Declaration is a call to action and a political statement to say that we are still in. We've followed up with these signatories with a survey to say, "So what actually are you doing? Are you doing homiletics? Education, ghd reductions, energy efficiency upgrades?" All that stuff. So yes, that's the action.
Quinn: Yeah, and side note: it's important for the non-believers here to understand that the Catholic Church is not like owning a Papa John's franchise. Just because the CEO says you have to do something, doesn't mean you turn your pizza boxes red. It's a little more loose than that, so it does require some coordination, some suggestion. And obviously, specific adjustments to your geological or demographic construct.
Jose Aguto: Yes. So yes, and you probably know Quinn, the Principle of Subsidiarity. At the same time though, there is indeed a hierarchy. So people do follow the lead of the Pope and then it trickles on down. So his influence and that of the Arch Bishops and Cardinals has a significant effect on those on the other, lower down, to be influenced by their statements and actions.
Brian: I'm so pumped to read that declaration. I just downloaded it so I can check it out. That's so great.
Jose Aguto: Thank you. We're also really blessed to work with We Are Still In. That's a fantastic campaign.
Quinn: Yeah, it's pretty incredible.
Brian: Yeah, yeah.
Jose Aguto: Yeah.
Quinn: They just put out something new yesterday or today? I haven't had a chance to check the news, but yeah, they're pushing ahead. It's awesome.
Brian: I gotta ask this question and now you are the perfect the question to ask it because you're very knowledgeable on this. Scott Pruitt, recently departed arch villain of the world, claimed that his faith told him to act opposite of how you and others have pointed yourself. He was, I mean, it seemed like he was hell-bent on exploiting on the Earth. How does that jive with Care for Creation?
Jose Aguto: Well, God will decide whose interpretation of the Bible stands so I can't speak to the accuracy of his opinion, but this whole issue of dominion versus stewardship is one that's been going on for decades. Well, actually it's been going on since time immemorial, but within the Christian, the Abrahamic traditions, this discussion of dominion versus stewardship. Clearly, Scott Pruitt's opinions were one of dominion and Pope Francis and other Popes and actually all other faiths are calling for a stewardship model of treating the Earth. That's the bottom line on that debate, but willing to elaborate if you want.
Quinn: We're always for it. I think it matters and I always want to take a step back when I'm writing each newsletter or we're conducting these conversations, we're planning them, or we're looking at topics or questions we want to answer and guests who can support those, or the other way around, an exceptional human who we can talk about something really that's much smarter than us is to take a step back and look at our mission, which is to help ... What did you say? Equip and activate-
Brian: Educate, activate.
Jose Aguto: Inspire.
Quinn: Yeah inspire, equip, activate our listeners and our readers. One thing that has been very clearly is that in a lot of situations, such as the communications with your faithful in the Catholic congregation or even Evangelicals or West Virginia coal miners, the messenger's more important than the message. But I do think you still run into a Catholic on the street every day and it's important for our listeners to fully grasp the person and the human that they're talking to, and the values they hold, and how complicated those might be.
Quinn: So it is important for us to understand because I think it's very easy – you could call it lazy in some ways, I'm sure some people are – but it's very easy for someone to read that Scott Pruitt says his faith said, "We should drill everywhere." People will go, "See? It's the Catholic's fault or it's the Christian's fault or it's the Hindu's fault." And it's like it is exceptionally more complicated than that. So the more nuance you can give it, Jose, the better for all of us.
Jose Aguto: In terms of how people land on that Biblical interpretation?
Quinn: Sure, why not?
Jose Aguto: Oh, I can't speak to that. I'm not a theologian.
Quinn: I guess you don't even have to speak from the viewpoint of a theologian, but more in your day-to-day life.
Quinn: I guess it takes us to the other side, which is do you receive pushback within the greater congregation and leadership? Are there people who have taken a different stance from this who aren't following the lead, or have been reluctant, or that question it either in a rational or irrational way?
Jose Aguto: Oh, absolutely. I want to pull it back a little bit, and you're probably familiar with Yale Center for Climate Communications or Six Americas?
Quinn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jose Aguto: Right. So there are approximately 70 to 75 million US Catholics and we find that they pretty much live ... Those percentages live in the six Americas pretty much the same as the rest of America. Maybe tacking a little bit more to, if you will, the left and a greater acceptance of climate change and human causality, but just like any community, we encounter Catholics across the six Americas. Obviously those who deny climate change or deny the human causality of climate change disagree with Pope Francis. We just simply have to live with that and meet them where they are, just like with any population, and try and inspire those in the other Americas to step more into what it is that the Church, not just Pope Francis but the Church, has been telling us with regard to stewardship. That's our mission.
Jose Aguto: We all, I know that you do, we all do struggle with that vocal minority who deny climate change and are now exercising the levers of power right now. We simply have to bring the new truth into that space.
Quinn: Sure, sure. On that note, and I want to come out and say very straightforward, obviously we have all realized in the past two years that polling is far from perfect. Some are certainly better than others. Poll's a poll, all this stuff. I think what Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight do is great. They were wrong, everyone was wrong, it's complicated. It's still much better than a bunch of talking heads.
Quinn: However, on what you were just talking about, the way the congregation leans and where pushback is, when Pope Francis dropped his 485-page mix tape in 2015 arguing for climate action among other things, yes, it was a continuation but it was so strong, it did blow some minds. There were some initial surveys, which gave it exactly zero seconds to hit, that said it didn't sway a lot of the Catholic populace. The Church said, "Please be patient." But again, I do try and do my research. Quite a few studies have come out since – and again, you can read into these however you will, everything is skewed – that say that 62% of Catholic Democrats believe in climate change while 24% of Catholic Republicans do.
Quinn: So here is my question a little bit. What is the Pope's sway in 2018? How has that changed and is climate change and conservatism too much for even him to overcome?
Quinn: Let's say we're talking about a control group of a conservative Catholic who has a number of values among a number of different issues, climate change being one, abortion, or stem cells, or clean energy, or taxes, or social benefits, or civil rights. That person, we'll just call him a he because guys ruin everything basically, this gentleman, his conservatism is too ... There's too much ... Well, let's just fuck it, use a "Star Wars" reference. You can't get over the dark side.
Brian: Because why not?
Quinn: Basically. Which is as much as he follows the Pope and listens to what the Pope says, what the Pope says on climate change is not enough to overcome his greater dark side conservatism and so he is not among those converted and much less taking action. So has the Pope's sway changed on that front in 2018? How do we get to those people, recognizing that many of them won't change their minds?
Jose Aguto: Wow, great question. Several layers here and I'll just sort of throw them out there.
Quinn: Yeah, sorry about that.
Jose Aguto: No, no. No worries.
Jose Aguto: A colleague of mine, Dan DeLillo, who's a professor at Creighton University, forwarded me a couple of studies with regard to Catholic's reaction to "Laudato si'" when it came out. One of them said, I think reflecting what you said, those Catholics who didn't believe in climate change in the first place weren't swayed. I think what was significant is that those Catholics that did believe in climate change were given agency, they were given permission to step into the space.
Quinn: Yeah, that's awesome.
Jose Aguto: Yeah.
Jose Aguto: Yeah, and so that's the influence. I think who you're talking about in terms of, say, the 25% that will adamantly deny the existence of climate change and there are a whole bunch of other studies talking about their other kinds of backgrounds, it's just ... In my experience, if we have limited resources, it's not worth my time to be trying to "convert" or "persuade" them to believe otherwise. It's rather to get the other 75% to be motivated and to exercise all of those formulas with regard to social change to get those critical percentages activated so that we're shifting the ethos of mankind, or humankind actually, to say, "Climate action is a set part of my culture and that's what I'm going to do."
Quinn: Sure, and there are different levels to it. Like we were saying before, sure, "white people have always cared about civil rights," but just getting them to actually do something, apparently, took putting a pseudo-dictator in charge for them to actually march in the streets, whether it's for science or climate or women's rights or the youth, whatever. So like you said, man, there's just going to be fights that aren't worth fighting and conversions that aren't worth reaching for. It's better to activate the people that are onboard but haven't taken action yet.
Quinn: But the problem is a lot of those other folks are the ones that are in office and can actually make the laws. Those are the ones that, you know, you like to hope it starts with a groundswell of their similar Catholic brethren and sisters saying, "Hey, listen. I support nine out of 10 things you do, except for this tenth thing. We gotta act on this because it's not great out there." Hopefully if there's enough of those that they'll change their mind, yeah, you know. I'm not sure where I'm going with it, but to me, that's ... We do have to keep reaching for some of those people.
Jose Aguto: I believe that. Yeah, amen.
Jose Aguto: Well, when it comes to say, having a scientific debate with a climate skeptic, that's one thing, but going back to what it is to be a Catholic or a person of faith, it's to lead with love, and to meet that person where they are, and not to condemn. That's the space that we want to live in.
Brian: On the other side I guess, what if ... Imagine for a moment that Pope Francis wasn't taking the position that he is, that he was neutral, like the Church was on evolution for so long, or silent, or worse, just against climate action. How does that affect you and your work personally? Could CCC exist in that world?
Jose Aguto: I think we would exist, but not as vibrantly. Yes, to have a Pope that is so inspiring, and so right on in terms of the messaging, and giving us our marching orders, absolutely.
Brian: Pretty dope.
Jose Aguto: Yeah, absolutely. I do want to take a step back and talk a little bit about what Pope Francis is seeking to do from his place of faith, which is to have dialogue. That, again, goes to that we are not sanctioned to judge other people, but we are called to seek dialogue with them no matter what their differences are. And so his value of stepping into a dialogue with oil and gas executives and probably giving them a very, very moral call and saying, "Put aside the millions and billions that you make, and to step into your heart and say, 'What kind of planet do you want to leave for your children and grandchildren?'" Ask that question and do so directly, that's incredible.
Quinn: Yeah, I mean, I would have loved to have been in that room.
Brian: Yeah, can you imagine?
Quinn: The cynic, it's easy to say, "Oh well, those people walked away and said, 'I choose money,'" but you do hope that some of them, when he said, "What's in your heart? What do you want to leave behind?" You hope that it gets to some of them because boy, the Pope just called you into the office, man.
Brian: Yeah, are you kidding?
Jose Aguto: Exactly. And that he spent time out of the millions that he could step into, step into that? That's the kind of leadership that we're looking for on this issue.
Quinn: Sure, sure.
Brian: I hope everyone loves that guy. It's been a long time since I've gone to church or practiced any sort of religion, but man, when-
Quinn: Were you raised Catholic?
Brian: I was, yeah.
Quinn: Interesting. When did you drop that? Please don't say, please don't say, "Today."
Brian: No, no, no. Of course not. My little brother and I, we were basically taken to church to every Sunday by my father and then it just ... I think once high school started, he just stopped taking us and then I guess we didn't have the motivation ourselves to continue or whatever.
Brian: But yeah, right? Yeah, 15-year-olds don't want to do anything? Weird. But man, I-
Quinn: Are you reinspired?
Brian: I just love almost everything that Francis has ever said since he's been the Pope. I feel like that is pretty substantial because I would not call myself a religious person, but to have ... It's like he's the head of something that I am not involved in, so I couldn't believe that I was so taken by him and so impressed with him. It only just made think, "Man, everybody who's in the Church and is faithful and is a practicing member, this is a huge part of their life, they must ... This must be their guy."
Quinn: Right, if you feel this way ...
Brian: Right, right. I just really hope that that is what's happening and his words and his actions are really being impressed upon this huge group of people in the world.
Jose Aguto: And you know, you can always go back.
Brian: Of course, of course.
Jose Aguto: Pope Francis is calling for evangelization, so here I go.
Brian: Never say, "Never."
Quinn: So do you see folks, do you see in your day-to-day life more activation among folks you didn't see coming? People who you were like, "Oh, they show up every week," out there doing things, that like you said, have been given agency for maybe the first time?
Jose Aguto: Oh, it's such a delight actually. I just love hanging out and talking with especially nuns and they are just the most fearless and inspiring-
Quinn: Sure. Nun's are the best.
Jose Aguto: Oh, they're just unbelievable. To hear them and share their stories with others, just one of the highlights of my job.
Jose Aguto: Yeah, absolutely. And then also, parishioners and I was just recently in my diocese, we had a Care for Creation Network meeting and sitting at the table with 20 other people of the Catholic faith who are laity doing things in their parish. And just to be in fellowship with them? That's priceless, really.
Quinn: Sure, sure. How much traveling do you do and contact with parishes around the country?
Jose Aguto: Not as much as I would like, no. We are more providing resources for them to go forth. We don't have the resources to be out there in the field often.
Quinn: Got it. So we're getting a little specific, which is good. What are some of those resources that you guys provide?
Jose Aguto: For example, helping parishes put together Care for Creation teams, and then giving them resources to decide, "Oh, well renewable might be good." Energy efficiency, greening. We have what is called a Catholic Energies Program. It's a one-stop shop where parishes can, with no money down, explore energy efficiency and renewable energy. Our Catholic Energies program will take care of all of those administrative hassles and find the vendors for those parishes to make it happen.
Brian: Yes! Wow, that's so great.
Jose Aguto: Yeah, absolutely.
Quinn: What else? What are other specifics? What goes into that team, that SWAT team that you're urging them to built?
Jose Aguto: Well, just so for example, and I hope I'm not speaking out of turn, we recently have established a relationship with Catholic Charities here in Washington DC. DC has the best renewable energy incentives. Likely, if this happens, there is going to be the largest solar instillation in Washington DC for Catholic Charities that's going to have them go completely carbon neutral. They will pay instead of approximately 10 cents per kilowatt hour, two cents per kilowatt hour with the solar.
Quinn: Holy shit! Oh, I did it.
Brian: That's incredible stuff!
Jose Aguto: Well, it's holy!
Brian: Right, right.
Quinn: It is! Will you keep me up-to-date on that? That would be awesome and I would love to talk to somebody about that specifically because it is just, it's a flag in the ground going, "Hey man, if we're doing it ... " You know?
Jose Aguto: Absolutely.
Quinn: That's special, that's awesome. And yet, DC doesn't get to send anybody to Congress.
Brian: This is a good place to go here. We're talking about what we can do, taking action steps. Oh, and a broader context, one of our overarching goals is to shine a light on where we need to go as a people.
Quinn: And obviously that's complicated. There's a lot of different peoples with different values, but at the same time, when you face something like this, it requires everybody.
Jose Aguto: Indeed.
Quinn: So I guess dialing on that all the way down, let's get into applicable things that you're focusing on, things like that, where our listeners can help. I mean, getting into literally whether it's Catholic listeners or other religious folks or non, where can they specifically help? Because again, we have a blanket "no assholes" policy here.
Quinn: We do not do yelling at people who don't agree with us. If they do, they're not flying our flag, man. Or we send Brian after them on his motorcycle.
Brian: You do not want that!
Quinn: We recognize that it is vital-
Jose Aguto: I'm thinking "Raising Arizona."
Brian: Perfect, perfect.
Quinn: God, that's amazing. So many people are already on-board. It is so vital that we get congregations like Catholics and the Evangelicals, who are complicated, and former coal miners, these are the groups that are going to get us over the line into the drastic action we need to take, right? So whatever it takes.
Quinn: So let's get specific. When you've got those teams of people, who is funding that? Are there places where our folks can ... Where can they go specifically, like literally what is the webpage where they can go to activate that stuff, or they can send it to their Catholic friend or Catholic parents so that they can work in their parish, etc., etc.? Let's do this.
Jose Aguto: Oh, so the PSA portion of this?
Quinn: Yep, absolutely. That's the whole point. Let's do it.
Jose Aguto: Wow. Well, CatholicClimateCovenant.org and Creation Care teams and there's a whole-
Quinn: Right. What are they going to find in those places?
Jose Aguto: They're going to find as granular as how do you talk to a reluctant parishioner or a skeptical pastor to help persuade them to step into a Care for Creation team? And then, again, there are all the tools, which I don't want to bore you with.
Quinn: Not boring.
Brian: So great, so vital.
Jose Aguto: Yeah, to how to make this happen.
Jose Aguto: But even before that, we often talk about prayer, pray, reflect, then act. We do have, for example, a Feast of St. Francis every year where you're stepping into the liturgy. We're also asking, as Pope Francis has said, for example, "Take 20 minutes outside and just be quiet." These kinds of conversions or just stepping into who we are as human beings, that we were all always like this, and we need to reconnect with nature in a fundamental, observatory way where you're encountering nature with all five of your senses, these are stepping stones into that ecological conversion that start from a place of quiet and necessarily have to start with a place of quiet.
Jose Aguto: So that's the foundation for me. And then the program [crosstalk 00:52:29]-
Brian: I'm so down for that.
Quinn: God, it applies to everybody and so easy to do in Los Angeles, isn't it Brian?
Quinn: They always tell you when you're writing a book or a speech or something to imagine talking to one specific person as opposed to trying to do it for everybody.
Quinn: I think one of my best friends on the planet, most vocal supporters who loves this, who was brought up Presbyterian sort of and has left that behind, gone full-sciency, couldn't care for people more than he does. So rolls with the second rule the whole way. His parents have gone very much in the other direction and become a little more ... I love them to death, become a little more – they'll never listen to this – the conservative side that becomes a little untouchable. But I know it would make his life to be able to ... His mom works and runs a very significant parish. I think it would be amazing to him to be able to get through to them. So that's why I talk about pointing him and folks like him in the direction of those resources so they can educate themselves and help them so they can take it to those sort of people and say, "Here, look. This is something that we can still agree on, and where we can take action, and make the world a better place, and help people."
Quinn: So that's really why I'm saying, "What are people going to find on these webpages?" Because they might be people who have never typed the word "Catholic" into a browser before.
Jose Aguto: Sure. So one angle, and I'll go back to the Catholic Energies Program because our Executive Director Dan Misleh's experienced this for over a decade, he's the founding Executive Director of this organization. That encountering a lot of skepticism amongst parishioners or the pastors or the facilities managers about, "Oh, I don't even want to talk about climate change. Get out of here." So the Catholic Energies Program is to say, "Okay, so you don't care about climate change, but if you swap out your incandescents for LEDs across your schools and your parish, you're going to save like $25,000 a year."
Jose Aguto: And that's just the swap out of LEDs and think of all the other things. And so the Catholic Energies Program is to say, "You're going to save money and you can put that money to other ministries and other resources." Kind of a no-brainer, as we know, about energy efficiency. So that's where you get to people who don't even want to talk about climate change.
Quinn: What are the list of other things besides installing LEDs that ... Do you have a one-sheet, a template that people can say, "Hey look, here are the different ways ... " A study came out recently that said, "These are the actual three tiers of personal moves you can make and how much it actually affects the environment," all the way up from-
Brian: From switching light bulbs to not having as many kids as you want.
Quinn: From switching light bulbs to having fewer kids, to not flying as much, to going electric, to going careless entirely, eating a meatless diet, etc. etc. Do you have a Catholic-specific, Catholic-flavored one-sheet of that someone like that can look at and say, "All right, look, you've done the LEDs. Let's cross this next thing off the list that sure, it's helping the climate, but it's also saving you money or it's bringing in younger, hipper, religious folks, yada, yada"?
Jose Aguto: We don't have that actual quantitative calculator, but I would say that if you go to the Catholic Energies website, that it's a very easy on-ramp and no commitment, just sort of like, "Are you interested? Here's what it would entail." So we gently bring people into that and if they want to engage, then feel free to engage. Sorry, I don't have like a carbon footprint calculator with me.
Quinn: No, not at all. Oh God, why don't you Jose? You're the worst.
Brian: No, but there does seem to be a very easy get started section on the Catholic Energies website that would be, yeah, no problem to begin and probably continue.
Quinn: So what are the, from your perspective, what are the big actionable questions that the rest of us should be asking of our representatives? Not our clergymen, we'll get to that. Because we've talked about personal action, but we always talk about what you can do with your voice, your dollar, and your vote.
Jose Aguto: Okay, so did you ever see that John Oliver three-part series on gun control, comparing the US with Australian politicians with [inaudible 00:56:48] gun control?
Jose Aguto: Right. So one of the revealing moments in that three-part series was an interview of a Senate staffer. He was asked the question, "What is your Senator's number one priority?" It was, in essence, to get reelected, and then using that reelection motif as a justification for why other senators shouldn't support obvious gun control measures post-Sandy Hook. The distinction between them and the Australians when they had their mass murder episode was that some of these Australian politicians recognized that they would very likely lose their seat in support of the safety of their people.
Jose Aguto: The question before politicians, as Pope Francis puts before oil and gas executives and puts before all of us, is where is your heart? What are you willing to sacrifice? Is your reelection that much worth it? Is the fate of the planet worth you wanting to save your seat? This is the moment that we're all in, right? We all know about this existential crisis and as Bill McKibben and others said at this Laudato si' Conference, we're losing this fight.
Jose Aguto: So adhering to principles, Christian or all faith principles, of are you willing to sacrifice? And are you willing to go beyond your ego to serve the common good and serve our common home, are you willing to do that? That's the fundamental question before all of us. So you could ask the same thing to politicians. Are you willing to be reelected for the sake of jeopardizing our planet for more votes that degrade our environment and harm people? I mean, really?
Jose Aguto: It's a values question.
Brian: It's a no-brainer. Right, right. And what of our clergymen, any difference in questions we could be asking them? Actionable questions?
Jose Aguto: I don't want to step into that space.
Jose Aguto: I can't speak for clergymen.
Quinn: What would you take to your clergymen? Let's say your parish hadn't participated in any sort of action so far. Where would you start besides your website?
Jose Aguto: Oh well, it would start with me actually because I was amidst, as I mentioned, I was in this meeting with, I think, seven or eight parishes and my diocese or have Care for Creation teams are doing all this wonderful stuff, I actually haven't done so with my parish although I've been a parishioner for over 20 years. So my next plan of action is to figure out a way to talk to my pastor and other parishioners to see if we can get a Care for Creation team there.
Jose Aguto: The second this is the Catholic Climate Declaration is still live and eventually I'm going to ask him to sign onto that Declaration. I am, though, waiting to see if our bishop is going to sign first because that will give more heft to my request.
Brian: Oh, sure. Hey, when we were doing our research-
Quinn: Which always sounds creepy.
Brian: Sounds weird. It wasn't weird. Just normal research. No, but we saw something cool. You have worked for the National Congress of American Indians?
Jose Aguto: Yes.
Brian: Is that in your background as well, your heritage?
Jose Aguto: No, I'm Filipino, although my grandfather was born in the Batangas Islands, so he was of the [Ebaton 01:00:28] tribe, although raised Catholic. And so, in some sense, indigenous, yes.
Brian: We were talking off the air about how, of all people, the First People, the Native Americans are probably just ... Everything to them is their land, they couldn't love it more and here everybody is straight-up destroying. What did you do for them? Was that ... That seems like that must have been wild.
Jose Aguto: Yes. I ran their Energy, Environment, and Climate portfolio but in support of tribal nations and what the tribal leaders wanted in defense of their sovereignty.
Jose Aguto: Yes. So as you know, we have Alaskan Native villages that are falling into rivers and oceans right now.
Quinn: Sure, literally.
Jose Aguto: One thing I would say to tie this together, Pope Francis's remarks to us a couple of weeks ago, he made specific mention of Indigenous peoples and said that not only do we need to listen to them, we need to learn from them. He lifted up the theme, which Indigenous peoples have been saying since time immemorial, that everything is related.
Brian: Everything is connected.
Jose Aguto: Right. And when "Laudato si'" came out in 2015, my first reaction was, "Oh my gosh, he's saying what Indigenous peoples have been saying all along." And now recently with his statements, he's very much stepping into this fully. There's going to be a Senate on Indigenous peoples in 2019 in the Amazon that the Vatican announced. There's also going to be a Senate for youth this October. So youth and Indigenous peoples are very prominent in moving this forward.
Quinn: Absolutely. I think we saw the This is Zero Hour March this past weekend. This will take a couple weeks to hit, which is boy, the youth are pretty frustrated and fired up at this point. There seems to be a real sense of, "Hey, thanks for screwing everything up. We're pretty angry about it and we're going to do something about it," which hopefully leads to good things.
Jose Aguto: Amen.
Jose Aguto: Absolutely.
Brian: Thank you, firstly, Jose. I know we're getting a little close to time here probably so just super grateful for you to be here today with us.
Quinn: Awesome. Absolutely.
Jose Aguto: Well, Brian and Quinn, thank you so much for sharing your time with me as well.
Quinn: Yeah, not quite done with you yet. Almost.
Jose Aguto: Okay.
Brian: Do you have anybody else that you think that, like you, is on the ground kicking butt, I'll say? I said, "butt."
Brian: That was for you Jose. That we could talk to that might be willing to chat with us on the show?
Quinn: Yeah. World shakers, doesn't have to be climate-related. Again, I think you get the idea of what we chat about here. But either someone people definitely knew about or definitely don't, but can help people greater understand these issues and take some actions.
Jose Aguto: Oh, absolutely. I can get you a list. You know, Papal Prophetic and people who are working the system as well, yeah, there are a ton of people. I don't want to call out anyone because then I would, deservedly-
Quinn: Then you leave people out, it's the worst!
Jose Aguto: Yeah, no. I can give you a list. I am inspired by so many people I work with, sure.
Quinn: Perfect. Awesome.
Brian: Aw, that's great. Yeah, we'll take it. Anytime you get the chance, thanks.
Jose Aguto: Sure.
Quinn: All right, so let's summarize again what our listeners and people who care about climate action in general can do to take action from Jose here. So Catholic or not, go to your website and could you just give that to us one more time? We're going to make you do it again later just to make sure?
Jose Aguto: Sure. CatholicClimateCovenant.org.
Quinn: Okay. Read it, learn it, take a look at all the resources. If you are a participating Catholic, so not Brian, act on it.
Brian: Thank you.
Quinn: Take it to your parish.
Jose Aguto: And you can also – sorry. Individuals can also sign the Catholic Climate Declaration as well. We opened it up to them too, so feel free to sign it.
Brian: Oh, great! Awesome.
Quinn: Awesome. That's Awesome. I love that. And if you're not practicing for whatever reason, take 20 minutes, go outside. Everyone needs to do that every day to be clear. Find some trees. Just look at them. Think about it.
Quinn: Think about who in your life, everybody knows a Catholic, that you could help with this project and think about ways to meet them where they are and ways to listen to them, which is rare, and to have a substantive conversation with them that benefits them and their values and how they might be different from yours. But again, the goal is action. And then follow up with that person and say things, this is going to sound crazy, but things like, "How can I help?" And know that it's not your place a lot of times. Sometimes it's just get out of the way or get them off and running if they don't listen to the heretics on this podcast, but whatever you can do. If they want you to be more engaged, great. Don't take it personally, but do something to get this started.
Quinn: Is that summarized pretty well?
Jose Aguto: That sounds great. And we are all here together as people of goodwill and Pope Francis addressed "Laudato si'" to all people, not just Catholics, so feel free to step into that.
Brian: Love that. All right Jose, we have a last little group of questions that we like pose to everyone. A bit of a lightning round.
Quinn: I call it a lightning round and Brian tells me it's not a lightning round.
Brian: It starts to be a lightning round after the first question or so.
Jose Aguto: I don't have a bell though in front of me. Do I need to [crosstalk 01:06:05]-
Brian: Oh, we'll take care of the bell.
Quinn: Brian just makes bell noises. It's totally fine. It's very strange. He has roommates. It's confusing.
Quinn: Hey Jose, when was the first time in your life when you realized you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful?
Jose Aguto: Wow, goodness.
Quinn: No one's going to judge you on this or hold your memories against you. Just what's the first thing that comes to mind when I ask that?
Jose Aguto: Well, the first thing that came to mind – sorry, I'm going to get all wonky here – but I was working for the EPA and the "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report" came out amongst us and a bunch of tribal leaders. We were all just stunned, just absolute silence.
Quinn: What year was that?
Jose Aguto: 2007? 2006?
Jose Aguto: Then I said, "This is where I have to be."
Quinn: That's awesome.
Quinn: I think there were a lot of people that reacted that way, both in the, "Holy shit" and also, "I need to personally do something about this." I think we're pretty thankful that you're one of them.
Quinn: Jose, who is someone in your life that's positively impacted your work in the past six months?
Jose Aguto: I would say my former colleague at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Emily Wirzba.
Jose Aguto: Who has stepped into and probably someone you should interview, who has stepped in the role of broadening out bipartisan solutions on climate charge. A young leader stepping into a space where there are a whole bunch of very experienced lobbyists, and she's doing so and leading with a lot of encourage.
Quinn: I love that, I love that.
Jose Aguto: Yeah.
Quinn: So on the other hand, you're a human being as far as I can tell, a fabulous one; what do you do when you feel overwhelmed by all of this? Specifically. Some people are like, "I go for a walk," some people take naps, some people play video games, some people hang with their kids. Yeah, do you have a go-to that helps?
Jose Aguto: Specifically, and I know it may sound really trite, but I pray.
Quinn: Not trite.
Jose Aguto: And I pray often. The quantity and quality of prayer has increased a lot because-
Quinn: You sound like my cardiologist who's like, "Boy, I'm busy!"
Jose Aguto: But I mean, where are you going to find the outlet? Yeah, you can distract yourself with video games and you can take a walk and gain strength from that, absolutely, but seeking and appealing to a higher power that is above and beyond and incomprehensible is that "safety valve" that is the mother of all safety valves and a source of incredible consolation, ultimate consolation, for me.
Brian: Excellent. Hey Jose, how do you consume the news?
Jose Aguto: Sparsely.
Quinn: That's a really good answer.
Brian: Yes it is.
Jose Aguto: I was once talking to a friend of mine and if you just scroll ... I'm just going to do this exercise here. You just scroll "Washington Post," and I'm doing this right now. Farmers, trade war, without evidence, Russians. Just the words that they use, it's poisonous. Deadly. Sink holes, survivors, explosion, target. It's just horrible.
Quinn: And appropriate for the times right now but at the same time, it's harsh.
Jose Aguto: Yeah, you can't, you can't consume that 24/7. It's psychically and spiritually, it's poisonous. So keep it to a minimum and then keep it to actions you think you can respond to meaningfully.
Quinn: Sure. There's a newsletter you can subscribe to that comes out every Friday that just curates the news you need to read.
Brian: It's perfect.
Jose Aguto: Oh!
Brian: So well thought out.
Quinn: All right Brian, give him your favorite question.
Brian: Favorite question. If you, Jose, could Amazon Prime one book to Donald Trump, what would that book be?
Quinn: It can be anything. We've gone from children's to scientific journals. You name it, we've had it all.
Jose Aguto: Well, so Pope Francis already handed him a copy of "Laudato si'".
Brian: He did?
Quinn: Strong move.
Jose Aguto: I would see Thomas à Kempis's "The Imitation of Christ."
Quinn: All right.
Brian: Excellent. Awesome.
Quinn: Last question, which sometimes we don't get to but I'd really love to hear your quick perspective on this, though I think you've done a great job of it so far. How would you like to use this platform, this podcast, our listeners, many of whom might not be in a parish every week, to meet them in the middle? How would you like to speak a little truth to power right now to them?
Jose Aguto: To welcome a dialog, to welcome fellowship, to recognize that we are all sinners and that I welcome a dialog with you and I have faults, as we all do, and just to step into this conversation with an understanding of love and that we're all in this together.
Quinn: Awesome. That is beautiful. We love it.
Brian: Yes it is and so important.
Quinn: Last question. Where can our listeners follow you online Jose?
Jose Aguto: I don't do online.
Quinn: Oh god, that's another amazing answer!
Jose Aguto: Yeah. Well, so there was an incredible Greek Orthodox leader at "Laudato si'" Conference and one of his themes was communication is not the same as communion.
Jose Aguto: Millions and millions of way to communicate now with social media and all of this, but if you are not communing with someone on a fundamental level, and preferably doing that in nature, that's encounter, that's real encounter.
Quinn: Sure, I love that. But you do have the places where you work and they are on the worldwide web. What are those addresses one more time?
Jose Aguto: CatholicClimateCovenant.org and CatholicEnergies.org.
Quinn: Awesome. We will put all of that in the show notes so that people can, the nerds, the hyper-nerds out there, can really dig in and find that stuff. And Jose, thank you so much for your time today, for being flexible, for getting this done, and for all that you do and continue doing, and you were sparked by, and will hopefully keep pushing us over the line here so we can try to cool this place down a little bit.
Brian: Just a little bit.
Jose Aguto: Well, likewise. Thank you for the work that you do. We are indeed all in this together and your mission is just as critical as ours, so thank you.
Quinn: Awesome. Well, thank you Jose. We're depending on you kicking ass out there and we will follow up with you and talk to you soon. I can't wait to hear about the DC solar project.
Jose Aguto: Oh, sure thing! Indeed. Thanks Quinn.
Jose Aguto: Thanks Brian.
Quinn: All right, well talk to you soon guys.
Brian: Thank you very much Jose.
Quinn: All right, thanks.
Jose Aguto: All right.
Quinn: Appreciate it. Bye.
Jose Aguto: Bye.
Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute, or awesome workout, or dish washing, or fucking dog walking late at night that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at ImportantNotImportant.com. It is all the news most vital to our survival as a species.
Brian: And you can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on Twitter @ImportantNotImp. Just so weird. Also on Facebook and Instagram @ImportantNotImportant, Pinterest and Tumblr the same thing. Check us out, follow us, share us, like us. You know the deal. And please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this. If you're really fucking awesome, rate us on Apple Podcast. Keep the lights on, thanks.
Brian: And you can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player and at our website, ImportantNotImportant.com.
Quinn: Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blaine for our jamming music, to all of you for listening, and finally most importantly, to our moms for making us. Have a great day.
Brian: Thanks guys!