Tomorrow, Pope Francis will address a joint session of Congress. He will become the first pope to do so.

The occasion of his U.S. visit has served as a prompt to reflect on his environmental encyclical, “Laudato si,” released in June. In separate letters to the editor, UMBS Director Knute Nadelhoffer and station instructor Charles Davis, from Harvard University, endorse the pope’s call for “people of goodwill” to care for the earth.

In a letter published in today’s Detroit Free Press, Nadelhoffer and co-author, Madonna University assistant professor and co-founder of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, Rev. Charles Morris implore Congress to listen to the pope’s message and act on climate change legislation. The letter notes that while addressing climate change serves “to protect our impoverished and disadvantaged populations” worldwide, it also has specific impacts here in Michigan. “Improvements in energy efficiency and renewable energy are saving customers money and creating new markets here in Michigan.” They list examples that include Morris’s former parish and the University of Michigan.

Charles Davis, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, co-authored his letter with Harvard senior research fellow, Aaron Ellison. Their Seattle Times opinion piece says that if conversation focuses only on climate change, “one of the cornerstones of the encyclical has been missed – the tremendous loss of our planet’s biodiversity at the hands of humans.”

Davis and Ellison note that we are living in the Anthropocene, “the period of time that started when humans began to significantly alter the ecosystems of the Earth.” The current generation didn’t singlehandedly create the Anthropocene; we inherited it from decades of industrialization and expansion. However, “[I]t is up to us…to rediscover the intrinsic value of nature’s biodiveristy and stop what is known as the sixth mass extinction.”