Brazil's cuts to science are putting research programs and long-term monitoring of biodiversity at risk (1). To mount effective resistance to such policies, scientists must develop strategies to mobilize the public. Engaging with social media influencers could help to raise awareness about scientific issues (“Scientists need social media influencers,” M. Galetti and R. Costa-Pereira, Letters, 1 September, p. 880). Working with religious institutions to promote shared goals could be another opportunity for scientists to communicate with the public, especially about the importance of biodiversity conservation.
Brazil has about 123 million Catholics (2). Every year, the Brazilian Catholic Church selects a theme for a “Fraternity Campaign” and encourages its congregations to take action. This year, the theme is “Brazilian biomes and life defense.” Over the past 54 years, 10% of the campaigns have reflected environmentally friendly priorities (3). In fact, the Catholic Church's slogan “Preserve what belongs to everyone” was first used in 1979, more than a decade before the establishment of the Convention on Biological Diversity, of which Brazil is a signatory country.
Despite the Catholic Church's support for environmental issues, environmental scientists (including ecologists and evolutionary biologists) avoid working with them to raise public awareness. It is true that on some issues, such as evolution and creationism, the Church and scientists remain at odds [(4) and “Intelligent design endangers education,” H. M. Silva, Letters, 1 September, p. 880]. However, scientists should consider working with religious institutions where their goals overlap. The demands of environmental scientists will only reach decision-makers if the public at large puts pressure on them. Science transcends race, nationality, and religion, and scientists should take every opportunity to spread their word to the masses.
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