Today the annual International Remembrance Day for Lost Species and the opening of the Paris Climate Change Conference coincide. How appropriate that this should happen. Since climate change is a major cause of the extinctions of species, positive results from the climate change talks will result in preservation of many of those in danger. In warning of the danger of continued environmental degradation Pope Francis wrote: thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. (Laudato Si par. 33).
Officially titled “COP21” because it is the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the annual meeting of all countries that want to take action for the climate will be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December. The objective of the 2015 conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. In his encyclical Laudato Si Pope Francis’ called for action against climate change and it was written, in part, to influence the conference.
If temperatures now rise more than 2C , scientists think climate change is likely to have catastrophic and irreversible effects including rising sea levels, polar melting, droughts, floods and increasingly extreme weather. Controls of the emissions causing warming will be a difficult topic at the Paris conference. Without joint action, if current rates continue, children born today will see the world committed to dangerous and irreversible levels of climate change by their young adulthood.
On this day and during this week when so much is at stake for the future of all life on this planet let’s remember that we are all connected and responsible for one another. We cannot enjoy the luxury of indifference. Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. (Laudato Si)
Grant wisdom, courage, and unselfish responsibility to those who have the power to change course for the good of all.
Pray and act so that the Paris meetings will be effective in reducing emissions causing climate change and species extinction. Remember the millions of humans whose lives, homes, and livelihoods have already been lost as a result of extreme and changing weather patterns, ecosystem destruction, and species extinctions. Read Laudato Si.
Visit the site Ecological Resources
Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous. The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God. (Paragraph 84)
If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part, Christians in their turn realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith. (Paragraph 64)
We can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral.” (Paragraph 112)
Pope Francis, Quotes from Laudato Si
Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.Ban Ki-moon
How is it that, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, there are still some who would deny the dangers of climate change? Not surprisingly, the loudest voices are not scientific, and it is remarkable how many economists, lawyers, journalists and politicians set themselves up as experts on the science.
As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions.
The damage that climate change is causing and that will get worse if we fail to act goes beyond the hundreds of thousands of lives, homes and businesses lost, ecosystems destroyed, species driven to extinction, infrastructure smashed and people inconvenienced.
If it were only a few degrees, that would be serious, but we could adapt to it. But the danger is the warming process might be unstable and run away. We could end up like Venus, covered in clouds and with the surface temperature of 400 degrees. It could be too late if we wait until the bad effects of warming become obvious. We need action now to reduce emission of carbon dioxide.
Someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them with a cleaner, safer, more stable world?
People tend to focus on the here and now. The problem is that, once global warming is something that most people can feel in the course of their daily lives, it will be too late to prevent much larger, potentially catastrophic changes.”
It’s hard to believe that people running for president refuse to believe the settled science of climate change.
We have a responsibility to protect the rights of generations, of all species, that cannot speak for themselves today. The global challenge of climate change requires that we ask no less of our leaders, or ourselves.
As Sisters of St. Joseph, our charism calls us to love of God and neighbor without distinction. We believe that all is one and that our call is to an active inclusive love that seeks this union with God and the sacred community of life that includes all of creation – air, soil, water, plants, and animals. We see ourselves in union with this community that we hold as the neighbor through whom God continues to be revealed.
We acknowledge our responsibility to balance our communal needs and the needs of Earth now and into the future. As we continue to deepen these beliefs and understandings and make decisions regarding the land entrusted to our care, we commit ourselves to treat all parts of Earth as sacred and Earth’s beings as our neighbors to be respected and loved.
Sisters of St. Jospeh Land Ethic Statement