Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) posed a logical question for all to ponder: “Why build a house if we do not have a friendly Earth upon which to put it?”
ADVENIAT was a San Antonio Spanish newspaper that carried a headline in September 1994: “Que pasara si la tierra no fuera habitabile?” (What will happen if the planet becomes uninhabitable?) Sadly, ADVENIAT is no longer published, but the front page quote remains on the wall in our humble home.
2015 may be the year when major religious leaders view salvation as a global endeavor. The seeds of such mind-expanding vision were planted in Lima, Peru last December. Representatives from 190 nations met in Lima for COP20, the 20th gathering of countries (Conference of Parties) trying to cope with the issues of climate change/catastrophes and global warming.
Thousands of concerned ordinary people met in Lima for the largest peaceful manifestation (Spanish “manifestacion”) in Latin America. Very little media coverage was devoted to the global meeting. Unknown to most is the fact Catholic bishops from five continents sent a message to COP 20 urging all nations to withdraw from fossil fuels and begin the global shift to renewable energy. If we do not, carbon dioxide levels, already at 400 parts per million (ppm) will exacerbate climate catastrophes. It is not known if bishops from North America signed on to the appeal.
Pope Francis will issue an encyclical (letter to the world) in March 2015 on the environment. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II sent a pastoral letter to all on January 1, 1990 in which he claimed: “We all have a moral obligation to protect the environment.” (Peace with the Creator; Peace with Creation. Shortly after this message, there was a $4-million ecumenical effort renewing the Earth by major denominations in the USA. Later, Pope Benedict XVI ordered Vatican City to become “carbon neutral.”
In March 2011 the Pontifical Academy of Science issued a small report entitled The Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene. Some photos of more than 400 vanishing glaciers were in the report.
Scant attention was given to the environmental pronouncements apart from 1990’s THE WALL STREET JOURNAL’s denunciation of religious leaders interference in the world of commerce.
When the environmental encyclical of Pope Francis appears in 2015 will anyone be paying attention?
Glaciers will continue melting and 2014 will be on record as the hottest year in weather history. Acidification of our ocean will continue certainly but transformation in our ocean will not phase anyone who cannot see carbon dioxide coming into contact with water turning into hostile carbonic acid. Coral reefs and shell-fish will not be able to survive in acidic water. Our future depends upon a healthy ocean and planet.