IT’S TIME TO TAKE ACTION TOGETHER
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Love and Hope in God’s Creation: A Climate Change and Faith Overview

Climate disruption emerges as the global and essential issue of our generation. Socially and scientifically authoritative institutions have called attention to the threats of a warming planet and its impacts on our environment, health, and economy since at least the Johnson Administration. Our response to such all-inclusive challenge can define the fate of our civilization. 

Earth’s climate has been carefully monitored for a century. Research developed by different scientific areas have applied several types of instruments, such as surface stations, weather balloons and satellites. Their major conclusion coincides with other similar studies: “The sum total of this evidence tells us an unambiguous story: the planet is warming.” (Melillo, Terese and Yohe, p. 18)   

A team of over 300 United States experts, supported by a 60-member National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee, and based on 82 workshops and report findings -- the largest and most diversified team to conclude a USA climate assessment work – produced a final report, whose very first paragraph states “that the evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country.” (Melillo, Terese and Yohe, p.2)   

Noted atmospheric scientist and Christian communicator Katharine Hayhoe explains just how long humans have been studying the climate and have suspected the possibility of climate change:

Seven Major Issues           

One the most incisive and comprehensive identifications of “what is happening to our common house” has been achieved by the papal encyclical letter Laudato Si' (Pope Francis, 2015, ns. 17-43), which analyzes the seven key issues implied by climate change, summarized as follows:   

  1. Climate change and pollution: “The climate is a common good belonging to all and meant for all.” The Earth, our home, however, increasingly looks “like an immense pile of filth.” Technology “sometimes solves one problem only to create others.”     
  2. Water as an issue: The level of water consumption in developed countries “has already exceeded acceptance levels.” The disparity in the availability of water “results in many deaths and spreads water-related diseases” in deprived population segments.   
  3. Biodiversity loss: The earth’s resources are being “plundered because of short-sighted approaches to the economy.” Human-led deforestation, for example, entails the loss of zoological and botanical species, all important for the planet's balance.   
  4. Human life threatened: People’s lives are under influence of omnipresent factors: environmental deterioration, development models which do not value humanity, urban chaos: noise, poor and scarce transportation, toxic emissions, insufficient green space.   
  5. Global inequality: “The gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest.” Human environment and natural environment are mutually associated.“  “(A)pproximately a third of all produced food is discarded.” Indeed, the cry of the Earth is the same as the cry of the poor.  
  6. Techno-economic paradigms: “Power structures based on the techno-economic paradigms may overwhelm not only our politics but also freedom and justice.” Special interests may end up overcoming the common good and even maneuvering the information system.   
  7. Honest debate:  As change and deterioration accelerate, “things are now reaching a breaking point.” And “the world’s problems cannot be analyzed or explained in isolation.” We have to engage in dialogue with others to solve this issue.   
Pope Francis beautifully summarized his concern for us and our common home in his 2016 February prayer intention:

Action needed   

Topics as imperative as climate change call for initiatives at different levels of society. The hope is that frequent and inclusive discussions can turn the messages of Laudato Si' into social organization and synergy. An ecological conversion is an indispensable condition for effective action in three main instances:   

  1. Community association: Local groups need to assume and increase ties of living and dynamic links among its members to implant, support and protect local environment, our common God-given home. We should all begin to think of ourself as part of a community.   
  2. National meetings: In spite of possible differences, regional and mutually cosigned objectives must be reached as an agreed upon and fundamental commitment. Through a diversity of expressions a shared agenda can be carried out with cohesive enthusiasm.   
  3. International/planetary dialogues: these deal with plural and distant approaches to climatic disorders. Inter-national participating inputs far from seeking homogeneity, should be valued and responsive to the colorful spectrum of the real world.   

Love and hope in God’s creation   

Numerous documents stress how the climate crisis is rooted in human attitude to the health of the natural world. “Our freedom fades when it is handed over to the blind forces of the unconscious, of immediate needs, of self-interest, and of violence.” (Pope Francis, 2015, n. 105). Climate change is for real. We need to renew our relationships and our optimism so that we can reinstate love and hope within our world. The balance and beauty of our common home, God’s creation, depends on it.            

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Antonio Pereira volunteers for Catholic Climate Covenant through the Ignatian Volunteer Corp

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Bibliography    

  • Berger, John I. 2014. Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis. Berkeley, California: Northbrae Books.  
  • Melillo, Jerry M., Terese (T.C.) Richmond, and Gary W. Yohe, eds. 2014. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: Highlights. Washington,D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.  
  • Pope Francis, 2015. Laudato Si’ Our Care for our Common Home. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor.    

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