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You will be all too familiar with the following description: Primitive conditions where thousands desperately try to find shelter from floods and famine, genocide, war.
A grim picture of matchstick limbed potbellied children, family groups sitting listless and bewildered from sheer despair. Children’s eyes unfocused instead of dancing with life and mischief. The cycle continues as climate change wreaks havoc on an almost daily basis. The effects of climate change are converging in dangerous ways as rising sea waters, more frequent and stronger hurricanes, typhoons and storms as well as spells of more extreme heat and cold assail our planet.
In 12 years time my grandson will be fourteen years old. That is the time scale laid out for us to save our planet. 12 years!
Laudato Si: On care for our common home.
Pope Francis, in his encyclical letter, calls for our responsibility to care for God’s creation and protect and care for the most vulnerable, a call to action for individuals and governments to tackle our planets woeful plight.
“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, St. Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rm 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (Gn 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters”.
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released a major study in October, having been convened by the United Nations. The report warns the world has just 12 years to halt climate change and avoid devastating consequences such as rising sea levels, extreme heat and flooding.
Produced by 90 scientists and review editors from over 40 countries, the report warns “rapid and far-reaching” changes are needed in how we use energy and land in order to halt CO2 (carbon dioxide) production and limit global warming.
After weeks of discussion in South Korea, they gave dire warning that up to half of plant and animal species could face extinction by the turn of the century, due to climate change, if carbon emissions continue to rise unchecked. A stark warning has been issued that we need to cap rising temperatures at 1.5C (2.7F) a goal they tell us is exceedingly difficult but not impossible, and goes on to urge awareness of the 12 years in which we have to do this. 12 years!! Does that not make you sit up and think! What will my grandchild, and yours, be facing in 12 years time if we ignore this call? Are we ready to connect the dots between climate change, clean water shortage, energy depletion, global health, food security and flooding which wipes away crops and homes and spreads diseases. People get pushed into poverty, as the timing and magnitude of rainfall becomes unpredictable. It is leading to hunger and want on a scale hitherto unimaginable.
Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics, and not having much knowledge of either sciences, this is surely comforting, but perhaps the bigger question while we await guidelines and action from respective Governments, is exactly what you and I can do to help, now, today, as we race down 12 years. I have an obligation to my grandson, as you have to yours and indeed to all the grandchildren of the world. Will we be able to look this vulnerable generation in the eye 12 years from now and hand on a planet where humans, plants and animals live in harmony, clean and safe? David Attenborough is worth quoting here;
“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement, the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much life that it makes life worth living”. Take a moment or two to absorb that. We have not inherited this earth and indeed the mighty oceans, to do with as we will. It is lent to us for our future generations and we have 12 years to put a stop to this spiral into destruction. They must inherit a planet where carbon emissions, the primary cause of climate change, are down to what we are led to believe is an acceptable level of 45%.
WE MUST DO IT!Climate change is not a distant threat. Far too many world leaders have refused to listen but our collective voices, raised in defence of our grandchildren’s inheritance, can change all that. It is not a problem waiting to happen, it is all around us and we share this common destiny. Everyone, everywhere, is at risk from climate change.
“To care is to act, so act like you care” are wise words we need to take seriously. Saint Mother Teresa: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin”
We have 12 years!
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