POPE FRANCIS IS THE FIRST POPE in modern history to fight against climate change because “it is a moral issue” of our times. History will judge us as nations and individuals in our response in the fight to preserve our planet.
Afterall, no man is an island in an interconnected world -and what we do and fail to do will always affect our neighbors. We are hypocrites if we stand idly by even as our scientists have spoken strongly about the ecological disaster facing the Earth.
Just look around us. The recent tempest Irma slammed Florida, Katia devastated Mexico, Hurricane Jose the Carribean and Typhoon Harvey blasted Texas in one brutal successive forays against human life and property.
We always ignore the ability of nature to obliterate mankind. Our favorite example is always the fact that the New York 9-11 Bombings and Typhoon Yolanda -both had the same number of victims – 6,000. Yet 9-11 is being talked globally about with ten times intensity than the Leyte howler.
Is this how much less we fear the wrath of nature than the evil designs of the human mind?
Quoting the Old Testament – the pope had likened people who ignore climate change as “man is a fool, a stubborn man who will not see” despite the scientific evidence to climate change’s destructive ways.
Then the “experts” start to blame population growth rather than extreme consumerism and corporate greed in assessing the explanation behind the damage on the environment.
Since November 2015, the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) “Care for Creation, Care for the Poor” had enjoined hundreds of thousands of the 1.2 billion Catholics to be activists for “nature, God, and neighbor”.
Straight from the story of Creation- we know that Man created fora and fauna (plants and animals), land and sea, the stars, moon and the sun- all inherently good – to help man survive and be happy on earth. But man has-through the years- apparently abused rather than sustain Mother Nature when he is tasked to be “responsible stewards of God’s gifts”.
This has resulted in an ecological imbalance prejudiced by what Pope Francis calls ” by our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s LIMITED resources and greed for LIMITLESS profit in markets (Emphasis ours.)” These are aberrations against the original purpose of creation.
It has further exacerbated the gap between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots nations. Notice that it is the rich, industrialized nations (through production and consumerism) that contributed the most to climate damage but it is the poor nations (who contribute the least) who suffer most from the ravages of Nature abused.
Notice that the Philippines is in both the typhoon and earthquake belts.
Yet it is the poor here who (consumes the least) who suffer the most in disasters since they build weaker homes, lodge their dwellings in the least expensive areas (since most vulnerable) and live with hand-to-mouth livelihood which does not make sense because tragedies disrupt their economic activities for weeks into months.
Of course, we have our share of little blames. We keep our waste- emitting vehicles by paying off the anti-emission test centers, we throw our waste into the sea and rivers killing our coral sanctuaries of fish, we buy and consume more (than what we need) because we want to keep up with the Joneses, we refuse to segregate our bio-gradables from the none (tiresome), we smoke in public places, burn kaingin, keep gas guzzler cars, practice irresponsible mining- ad infinitum.
All these numerous human activities all contribute to global warming. Global warming thaws the ice polars cascading extra water into the sea. The volume of seawater increases and shakes the bowels of the earth that irritate volcanoes causing their eruption- with landslides, destruction, and tsunamis thereafter.
We throw our waste in abandon and we complain of floods caused by clogged arteries of waste and sanitation because of our reckless abandon. Global warming has resulted in weird super-typhoons in some areas and punishing drought in others. Food sufficiency is threatened. We had our share of bad-tempered typhoons as well, remember?
In a way, we are both violators and victims of climate changes. There is time to change.
That is why the activities today at the Loboc Church with Bishop Abet Uy, parish priests and parishioners starting at 3 pm till sundown is a strong symbolic reminder that this fight against climate change cannot be a single man’s conquest.
We cannot conquer Mt Everest alone- we need to hurdle this fight as Catholics, as Christians, as Filipinos, as Citizens of the Earth. Together, forever. ( With apologies to Rick Ashley).
Let us start with power- the key that ignites most human activities.
There is a definite need to shift to renewables (solar, hydro, wind, biomass, run of the river) away from fuel-fed and coal run power sources. Not only are they mostly cheaper, they are less environmentally ravaging to mankind.
There is a need for Consumer Power for people to collectively boycott goods and services that leave negative ecological footprints in their creation. We need Ecological Education over our media, educational and religious platforms. And, of course, we have to change some of our ecologically violative ways as a people.
For as UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova quoted:” we do not need just Green laws and policies- we need new ways of thinking and behaving as global citizens.”
As Christians, likewise, we cannot say we love God and yet do not care for our neighbor. For we are an interconnected humanity.
And lest we forget- God left us with just two major abridged commandments: “To Love God with all our hearts” and “To love our neighbors as ourselves”.
Anything we do or not do that damages the environment harms your next door neighbor. Take heed, therefore -and learn from what Science says.
Before Mother Nature strikes back and claims no prisoners. Shalom!!
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