Commitment to the “integrity of creation” acknowledges that human beings are within the community of creation and intimately interrelated with every other dimension of creation. Humans are called to recognize their kinship in the one creation of God.
Why be concerned?
The United States ranks second only to China as the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions. Because carbon in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect, blocking the earth’s capacity to regulate temperature, the planet is warming up and there are consequences to the loss of the planet’s equilibrium. Unfortunately, the plan of the present U.S. administration is to roll back policies that curbed carbon emission and otherwise protected the planet’s life systems including water, air and soil. It is critical that the people of the United States remain aware and engaged with the U.S. policies that can adversely affect the planet.
According to experts, global warming and climate change are real, and human beings are the major cause of change in the climate system.
These websites offer more information:
- Sierra Club
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- Franciscan Action Network
- Global Catholic Climate Movement
- About Fracking and its impact on the environment
- Bottled Water or Tap: How Much Does Your Choice Matter
- Calculate your carbon footprint
- Reduce your carbon footprint
What does this have to do with our faith commitment?
Throughout their history, the School Sisters of Notre Dame have joined their voices with others around the world to call each other and the human community to live more justly. More recent is the deeper realization that the commitment to the integrity of creation must be at the heart of the work for justice and peace in the world today.
Fundamental to belief in the integrity of all of creation is the Christian conviction that all of creation is sacred because God is the creator of life and that creation is a source of the revelation of God.
As the desire of Jesus that all be one becomes more fully our own, our striving for unity embraces all humanity and the whole of creation”You Are Sent, Constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame
The Christian mandate “to love one’s neighbor” extends not only to other human beings but to every facet of creation. The human community is called to live in a mutually life-enhancing relationship with all of creation.
Respect for the integrity of creation is a moral issue (Pope John Paul II). It requires an end to dualism and all forms of oppression and exploitation and calls for personal and communal conversion from an “arrogant eye to a loving eye,” to new thinking and new living. Solidarity with all creation and ecological conversion involves action. “It is not only a radical reorientation of thought, and it is not only the discovery of a new capacity for feeling for nonhuman creation. It is both of these issuing forth in personal, political, and ecclesial action” (Denis Edwards, Ecology at the Heart of Faith).
Catholic Social Teaching and Care for Creation
The Catholic Social Teaching website offers information and resources to better understand this issue.
Now that you know here’s what you can do
How much is the planet heating up?
1.7 degrees is actually a significant amount.
As of October 2015, the Earth had warmed by about 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, when records begin at a global scale. That figure includes the surface of the ocean. The warming is greater over land, and greater still in the Arctic and parts of Antarctica.
The number may sound low, but as an average over the surface of an entire planet, it is actually high, which explains why much of the world’s land ice is starting to melt and the oceans are rising at an accelerating pace. The heat accumulating in the Earth because of human emissions is roughly equal to the heat that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs exploding across the planet every day.
Scientists believe most and probably all of the warming since 1950 was caused by the human release of greenhouse gases. If emissions continue unchecked, they say the global warming could ultimately exceed 8 degrees Fahrenheit, which would transform the planet and undermine its capacity to support a large human population. Read more here.
What is a course of action for the United States to support the sustainability of the planet?
- Maintain the United States’ moral leadership on climate change by honoring the Paris Agreement (COP21) and taking swift action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 26 and 28 percent compared with 2005 levels by 2025;
- Support sustainable development and address the underlying causes of migration by honoring the United States’ initial pledge of $3 billion and further supporting the Green Climate Fund to help poor countries adapt to the effects of climate change;
- Support job creation and economic opportunity by encouraging states to craft plans to reach and exceed their Clean Power Plan carbon reduction goals by transitioning to renewable energy sources like wind and solar power and enacting energy efficiency and conservation standards.