EarthBeat Weekly: Amid Climate Change, A Week To Commit To Caring For Our Common Home | Earthbeat

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Editor’s Note: EarthBeat Weekly is your weekly newsletter on faith and climate change. Below is the May 14 edition. To get EarthBeat Weekly delivered to your inbox, sign up here.

The sixth anniversary of the encyclical of Pope Francis “Laudato Si ‘, on the care of our common home ‘is coming, and on Sunday the Vatican will launch Laudato Si’ Week, with 10 days of events to mark the occasion.

The extraordinary encyclical was published ahead of a key climate summit in 2015 – the one that gave us the Paris Agreement – and contained a very detailed section on climate change. But its deepest and most consistent message is about interdependence, especially the relationship between humans and the rest of creation. Francis explores this in depth in the fourth chapter of the encyclical, entitled “Integral Ecology“:

Ecology studies the relationship between living organisms and the environment in which they thrive. This necessarily implies a reflection and a debate on the conditions necessary for the life and survival of society, and on the honesty necessary to question certain models of development, production and consumption. We cannot stress enough how everything is interconnected. Time and space are not independent of each other, and even atoms or subatomic particles cannot be viewed in isolation. Just as the different aspects of the planet – physical, chemical and biological – are interdependent, so living species are part of a web that we will never fully understand.

Several recent information reminds us of the urgency of this message.

First, the US Environmental Protection Agency has restored and updated information on climate change that was removed from its website under the Trump administration. The new data shows that the constant increase in average global temperatures affects the health, safety and well-being of people in the United States.

If in doubt, a headline on the main page of the renewed and user-friendly site reads: “Climate Change Is Happening Now”.

Average temperatures in the United States have increased since the turn of the last century, and the rate has increased over the past three decades. This exacerbates drought and forest fires, and rising sea levels linked to global warming exacerbate coastal flooding. Insects carrying diseases like West Nile virus are moving to new areas, and warmer river temperatures could affect aquatic life, such as salmon spawning.

Heat waves hit cities particularly hard, and eight in ten people in the United States live in urban areas. Among the most vulnerable are the elderly and babies, as well as low-income families who lack air conditioning and often live in treeless “heat islands”. In coastal cities, these problems are increasingly likely to be accompanied by severe storms and flooding.

The good news is that many cities have continued to pursue green goals, despite the federal government retreating under former President Donald Trump.

Nonetheless, a report released this week by the nonprofit CDP, which tracks climate-related information provided by cities and businesses, shows that although 93% of the 812 reporting cities globally are aware of the risks they face. faced due to climate change, 41% still do not. assessments – the crucial first step towards planning.

Why talk about it now?

Laudato Si ‘week begins on Sunday and launches, as NCR environmental correspondent Brian Roewe writes, “what organizers hope will mark the start of a major movement within the global Catholic Church to transform the encyclical message on the preservation of creation in action to create a more sustainable environment. world for all. “

On May 25, the Vatican will shine the spotlight on the Laudato Si ‘platform of action, inviting all Catholics – families, parishes and dioceses, schools and universities, health establishments, businesses and farms, lay movements and organizations and congregations religious – to take specific steps towards sustainability over the next seven years. You can follow each day’s events online here.

In Laudato Si ‘, Francis reminds us that “a healthy relationship with creation is a dimension of overall personal conversion”, but he goes on to say:

However, self-improvement on the part of individuals alone will not remedy the extremely complex situation facing our world today. Isolated individuals can lose their ability and freedom to escape the utilitarian mentality and end up falling prey to unethical consumerism devoid of social or ecological awareness. Social issues need to be tackled through community networks and not just the sum of individual good deeds. … The ecological conversion necessary to bring about lasting change is also a community conversion.

May Laudato Si ‘Week this year lead us to conversion, as individuals and in our communities.


Here’s what’s new on EarthBeat:

  • How to stay connected with nature if you are locked up, locked up or living in an area without green space? EarthBeat asked six people, who offered practical advice – including a reminder that we are part of nature.
  • In Brazil, bishops in the Amazon region have sent a letter to the country’s federal legislature protesting a bill that would allow illegally deforested federal lands to become private property, Lise Alves reports for Catholic News Service.
  • In a year of pandemic and political upheaval, Greta Thunberg turned 18. take to protect an uncertain future.

Here are some of the novelties of other climate news:

  • Environmentalist Suzanne Simard says forests are not collections of individual trees, but complex webs of life that humans have been unraveling for years – and that we need to help restore health. Richard Schiffman interviews Simard for Scientific American.
  • Hazardous gases and particles from factory farms cause more deaths in the United States than coal-fired power plants, but there is little regulation of these agricultural pollutants, writes Sarah Kaplan to the Washington Post.
  • Vox’s Rebecca Leber reports a new study that reveals how Exxon’s advertising campaigns have shifted responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from oil companies to consumers.
  • And in Amsterdam, ads for fossil fuel-intensive items, such as gasoline-powered cars and cheap flights, will no longer appear on the metro, thanks to a ban by the city council. The French parliament is considering a similar measure, and activists in other countries are pushing their governments to follow suit, reports Anna Kusmer for The World of Public Radio International.

Events to come:

Besides the Laudato Si ‘Week events, there are plenty of other virtual activities in the coming week that aim to deepen our relationship with creation.

The South University’s Center for Religion and Environment (Sewanee) is hosting a webinar on storytelling and wilderness, the Food and Faith Coalition will explore ways to regenerate submerged ecosystems, and the Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center is offering a chance to listen to wisdom. from the heart to find the commonalities between the peoples of our diverse planet.

You can find information about these and other upcoming events on the EarthBeat events page. And remember you can add an event sponsored by your own organization or faith group.


Closing beat:

Our sincere thanks to all EarthBeat readers who contributed to NCR’s Spring Fundraiser. With your support, we have exceeded our goal and look forward to continuing to bring you stories of faith and environmental justice.

What would you most like to see us cover in the coming months? If there is a topic that you feel is missing, email us at [email protected] and let us know.

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