Bringing Data Analytics to the Church’s Climate Change Fight

Meet Molly Burhans, the climate activist who is helping Pope Francis with climate change and saving our Earth.

Climate change affects all of us. As caretakers of this planet, the responsibility to help it heal falls to every single one of us as well. Some may commit to greener living through biking instead of driving, while others work toward low- or zero-waste living. Some ditch single-use plastic in favor of reusable bottles; others recycle as much as possible.

Each of these individual actions makes a difference and should not be discounted — change won’t happen unless we all adapt our behavior. But there’s someone in our generation who is taking a crack at systemic change. 

You may recall Molly Burhans from our stories about her — she is working to chart all Catholic-owned lands so as to help the Church better care for creation. When it comes to tackling global climate change, we need a global approach — and it turns out that the Catholic Church might just be one of the few global institutions positioned to take the lead in this transformation. 

Not only was Molly named a “Young Champion of the Earth” by the United Nations, but she also recently caught the attention of the New Yorker for “helping Pope Francis battle climate change.” The recognition is well-deserved, as Molly has been working for years — with very little pay or funding backing her — to help the Church take care of our Earth through her groundbreaking cartography work. 

“There is no way that we will address the climate crisis or biodiversity loss in any sort of timely manner if the Catholic Church does not engage, especially with its own lands and property” she shared in the New Yorker article. For Molly, Pope Francis’ letter on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” was “one of the most important documents of the century,” — but she also realized that the Church didn’t have a tangible way to carry out the objectives outlined in his letter.

So Molly set out to remedy that. Shortly after “Laudato Si’” was published, she founded GoodLands, an organization whose mission is “mobilizing the Catholic Church to use her land for good.” Her cartography work has been transformative, but it’s far from being done. Read the full New Yorker article to learn more about Molly’s expansive work in mapping and data analytics — and what drives her tireless work to save the planet.



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