On Climate Change: Understand, Act, Pray
“God looked on everything he had made, and found it very good” (Gen. 1:31).
The world looks forward to the UN Climate Change Forum in Paris on 30 November to 11 December. That shall be in the 21st year since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, and the 11th year since the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.
The objective of this United Nations’ Climate Change Forum is to achieve legally binding and universal agreement on Climate Change.
The urgency is clear. Global warming, caused by the way we human beings use this planet, is no longer disputable. The threshold of disastrous warming by two degrees Celsius shall soon be breached unless we decide to change our ways. The burden of responsibility for carbon emissions is with the leading industrial nations like the China and the United States. But we must all do our part.
Last, April 24th, 2015, the Feast of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis published his encyclical “Laudato Si!: On Care for Our Common Home.” He wished this letter to impact on the Paris Forum. It is a letter addressed to all inhabitants of this planet, seeking dialogue on the alarming deterioration of our planet earth. It is a powerful document that has caught the attention of people throughout the globe. Its multi-layered message urges all to come together to care for our earth, our common home.
The document admirably links four issues into an integrated whole, pointing out that if there is a problem with one, there shall inexorably be problems with the others. These are: first, faith or non-faith in a Creator God; second the controlled or uncontrolled manner of production through which humanity meets its needs; third; environmental use or abuse; and finally, the effects of the environmental attitude on human society and human lifestyle, especially the poor. We have many problems on all four fronts. But the Pope’s message is a message of hope. If we confront the problems in honest dialogue, and act, there is hope for us in coming together to care for our common home.
In this context, we must all do our part to act against further global warming. We call on our parishes, our Catholic schools, our politicians, our non-government organizations, and our youth to support the resolution of the National Youth Commission and the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines to reduce our national carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030.
While we urge the Climate Change Commission to further clarify how this admirable goal might be actually achieved, we are happy to join our Catholic youth groups and young environmentalists [#NowPH] in recommending fifteen concrete ways to combat global warming:
- Grow a tree.
- Switch off and unplug.
- Good bye plastic
- Reduce, reuse and recycle
- No to burning of wastes
- Promote renewable energy
- Bring your own tumbler
- Use energy efficient appliances
- Walk, bike or carpool
- Recycle electronics and batteries
- Environmental and energy awareness
- Save water: use pail, dipper and cups
- Think before you print
- Support earth products
With Pope Francis’ Laudato Si, I would like to further suggest that as the UN Forum on Climate Change nears, we renew our relation with our Father in heaven who created our world not just as nature for unthinking economic exploitation, but as a gift of his loving goodness for us to cherish and preserve; that we examine our lifestyles to see how they may have been intertwined with customs and the use of products which contribute inexorably to global warming, e.g., our over dependence on motorized vehicles, our increasing dependence on air conditioners; that we appreciate how global warming, the loss of our forests, the unmitigated pollution of our surface waters and aquifers, and the increasingly violent extreme weather occurrences adversely affect especially our poor.
With Pope Francis, let me conclude by inviting all to a Prayer for Our Earth:
All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes,
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize
that we are profoundly united with every creature
As we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
Laudato Si, 246
From Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, November 11, 2015
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan