EarthConnection

A Change of Heart

A Change of Heart and Mind

Pope Francis has called for a change of heart and mind regarding protection of Earth. He has stated very clearly that actions which support the future of the planet “presuppose a transformation on a deeper level” and reiterates St. Pope John Paul II’s words “We must encourage and support an ecological conversion.”

Leading global sustainability scientist, Dr. Kimberly Nicholas, says it is time for humanity to adopt a new mindset. Dr. Nicholas says very bluntly that humans are standing on the edge of a cliff brought on by an Exploitation Mindset which sees producing and consuming more material goods as the path to progress and purpose. She proposes a Regeneration Mindset where “we’d conceptualize ‘growth’ as a process of renewal and restoration and care for what matters most.” “This point of view”, she continues, “means finding a way for everyone, now and in the future, to live a good life, within the limits of the biosphere.” Both Pope Francis and Dr. Nicholas are calling for a transformation in the way we view the world and interact with it.

Scientists from around the world are telling us that our planet is in great peril. A previous blog cited the most recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This report cited that “Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.”

As the New Year begins, it is an opportune time to reflect on our own lifestyles and ask what steps we can take to move towards a Regenerative Mindset. Dr. Nicholas cites three principles of regeneration: 1) Respect and care for people and nature; 2) Reduce harm at its source, not by treating its symptoms; and 3) Turn our impulse to build toward the building of resilience.

The first principle challenges us to recognize that humans are not the only inhabitants of planet Earth. We share this space with a host of other species; thousands upon thousands of plants and animals as well as rivers, mountains, rocks, glaciers, oceans and more. Each is essential to the well-being of the whole. Where do you see yourself in the community of creation? Do you recognize the value of all that is not human? What steps will you take to live more sustainably and in harmony with the world around you?

Governments are beginning to take steps to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change, but that only treats the symptoms, not the root cause of the problems. According to Dr. Nicholas, “To reduce harm to people and nature, trace it back to its origins and look for systemic solutions that stop the harm as completely and quickly as possible…The solution to pollution is not dilution but prevention: designing systems from the start that work with rather than against physics, chemistry, and biology.” Take the time to become better informed about climate change, its causes and effects, and then share your knowledge with others and consciously make choices that reduce your carbon footprint.

Resilience is the ability to recover from setbacks and maintain essential functions. Resilient systems are flexible and work best when they start at the local level and then expand outwards. How can you work with others to make your local community more resilient?

A Regenerative Mindset calls for an ecological conversion. Ecological conversion is defined as the “transformation of hearts and minds toward greater love of God, each other, and creation. It is a process of acknowledging our contribution to the social and ecological crisis and acting in ways that nurture communion: healing and renewing our common home.”

What commitment will you make as the New Year begins that will nurture communion and lead towards the healing and renewing of our common home? Imagine if everyone took just one step…

 

 

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COP 26

COP 26, Pope Francis and You

At an international conference in Madrid in December 2019, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling toward us.” Events in every part of the world are testifying to that fact with droughts, floods, wildfires, and multiple other natural disasters occurring on an almost daily basis. COP 26 (the Conference of the Parties) is a gathering of representatives, many of them Presidents and Prime Ministers, from almost 200 countries who are meeting in Glasgow, Scotland beginning from October 31st to November 12th, 2021 to review the commitments made in Paris in 2015 and to make further commitments that will ensure a sustainable future for all.

The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties is the world’s most important summit on climate change. This year’s event has been described by climate change experts as “the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement”. Scientists agree that a rise in temperature above 1.5⁰ C would cause more catastrophic weather events and increase global migration due to lands becoming uninhabitable as well as the extinction of species. Unfortunately, the targets announced in Paris, scientists tell us, would result in warming well above 3⁰ C by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels.

Controversy continues to exist among nations with who is responsible for the warming of the planet that is already occurring, who should do what to keep it from getting worse, and how to live with the damage already done. The United States and Europe are primarily responsible for the largest share of emissions that have already heated the planet. The largest share of emissions produced right now comes from China. Unfortunately, it is the marginalized and economically poor who will suffer disproportionately and yet, they have done little to contribute to the causes of climate change.

Scientists continue to tell world leaders that success in battling climate change will be measured by how quickly the global economy can pivot away from fossil fuels. The science is clear on what needs to be done. Emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases need to be cut by nearly half by 2030, less than a decade away. In fact, they are continuing to grow. Just last week the World Meteorological Organization warned that the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had reached a record high in 2020 despite the pandemic and is rising again this year.

In a letter written to Religious leaders, Representatives and excellencies who will be attending COP 26, Pope Francis thanked those participating in the conference for being willing to dialogue but then continued by proposing “three concepts that can guide reflection on this shared endeavor: openness to interdependence and sharing, the dynamism of love and the call to respect. Francis reiterated his call for an integral ecology as called for in Laudato Si’. He stated that “everything is connected in our world, everything is profoundly interrelated.” He invites conference participants to not only address the harmful effects of our actions, but also to identify what types of behaviors and solutions need to be adopted to counteract these negative effects. He calls for a future shaped by interdependence and co-responsibility that flows out of the dynamism of love. He speaks of a love that draws us out of ourselves toward others and a love that needs to be nurtured on a daily basis; a love that embraces the marginalized and vulnerable. He emphasizes that that our current culture is a “throwaway culture” centered on “greed, indifference, ignorance, fear, injustice, insecurity and violence”. He emphasizes again the necessity of working together for a culture of care for our common home.

In his call for respect, Francis writes that respect is essential on multiple levels: respect for our Creator and creation, respect for others, respect for ourselves and a mutual respect between faith and science. He calls for all to get to know one another and walk together on a common journey towards wholeness.

Each and every one of us can be challenged by Francis’ words. A few questions for reflection:

• Do I see myself as interconnected with the world around me?
• Do I see myself as part of a “throwaway culture”?
• What steps can I take to work with others towards the common good?
• Do I know the principles of Catholic Social Teaching? Do they have an influence on my life?
• Do I live out of an integral ecology; an ecology that advocates for a holistic approach to the political, social, economic, and environmental problems confronting the world today?
• Do I hold myself accountable for how the decisions I make will affect others and the planet on which I live?

To Do:

• Pray daily for those participating in COP 26 that they will have the courage to make the decisions necessary to protect Earth for all.
• Learn more about what the Catholic Church is doing about environmental justice by going to www.catholicclimatecovenant.org.
• Sign the Healthy People, Healthy Planet petition at www.catholicpetition.org.
• Continue to write letters to the editor and to Congress persons in support of renewable energies and the Green Climate Fund.
• Read Laudato Si’ and participate in the Laudato Si’ 7-Year Action Platform. (EarthConnection will be providing more information on this when the official launch of the platform takes place on November 14th.)

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Climate Change Widespread, Rapid, and Intensifying

Climate Change Widespread, Rapid, and Intensifying

It is impossible to turn on the news or read a newspaper these days without being confronted with catastrophic natural disasters (wildfires, droughts, floods, etc.) throughout the world. The world’s top scientists are telling us that climate change is not something that will happen in the future. It is here now and it will affect all of us, but those who are marginalized and economically poor will suffer disproportionately, and yet, they have done little to contribute to the causes of climate change.

According to the August 9, 2021 release of a report from Working Group I Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea-level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.”

Established by the World Meteorological Society and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988, the IPCC’s mandate is “to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.” The entire Sixth Assessment Report will be released in 2022. This report alone involved a total of 78,007 expert and government review comments. The other two IPCC working groups are Working Group II, dealing with impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability; and Working Group III, dealing with the mitigation of climate change

The Working Group I report addresses the most updated physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, bringing together the latest advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, global and regional climate simulations. It shows how and why climate has changed to date, and the improved understanding of human influence on a wider range of climate characteristics, including extreme events.

“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai. The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons, and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows. But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming.

These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas, and oceans. For example:

  • Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.
  • Climate change is affecting rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
  • Coastal areas will see continued sea-level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea-level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
  • Further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
  • Changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human influence. These changes affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them, and they will continue throughout at least the rest of this century.
  • For cities, some aspects of climate change may be amplified, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events, and sea-level rise in coastal cities.

 For the first time, this contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report provides a more detailed regional assessment of climate change, including a focus on useful information that can inform risk assessment, adaptation, and other decision-making, and a new framework that helps translate physical changes in the climate – heat, cold, rain, drought, snow, wind, coastal flooding and more – into what they mean for society and ecosystems.

For more information go to: http://www.ipcc.ch/

 

 

August 12, 2021

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