AS AN environmentalist and a lay Franciscan contemplative, I am alarmed with conflagration in the Amazons, and Siberia and the heat waves in Europe.
The state of Amazonas has declared an emergency. The #PrayforAmazonia tag has surged on social media as users blamed darkened skies above São Paulo on the fires.
There’s the taiga, known in North America as its boreal forest or snow forests, I am blessed that I experienced hiking in the boreal forests of Alberta.
I am horrified that these forests have been burned down. And wildlife habitat and indigenous communities lost their homes.
Nearly a century ago, Saint Francis of Assisi preached the importance of compassion for the poor and vulnerable.
Jason Miller, with the Franciscan Action Network, says the group draws inspiration from Saint Francis’s teachings.
“He was a man that started a movement within the Catholic Church that still lasts today. And we try to live up to his example as he inspires us to work for justice.”
Fast forward today, these forest fires are happening in the USA, Amazons in Brazil, Bolivia, Australia and Indonesia. Is it farfetched that eventually our forests will catch fire? In our forestry projects, we make firelines the mountain forest communities at the Northern Negros and Mt Kanlaon Natural Parks.
As Catholics are natural allies in the struggle for environmental justice, we follow Jesus’ call to leave everything behind and live a life of intentional poverty and simplicity, where humankind forge a more intimate bond with their ecosystems. But we have to contend with hacienda systems that clear-cut the lowland and even upland forests so a few people can have extensive land. This separation of people from the land, coupled with abuse of power, led to oppression and a class of poor deprived of their humanity and dignity.
Miller says that justice is often interwoven with environmental issues. That is why the group is working with marginalized communities that are more severely affected by climate change and air pollution.
By dramatically changing the food we eat, especially meat such as hamburgers as well as the way it is grown and produced, humans can help stop the devastating impacts of climate change according to the latest report by the United Nations body on climate science.
More than 100 scientists from 52 countries put together the report, which was published by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It takes a look at how land-use practices have impacted the planet and finds that deforestation, agriculture and other human activities threaten the world’s ability to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degree Celsius, the goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
However, the report is not all bad news and finds that if more of the world’s population shift toward plant-based diets and reduce their meat consumption, it could significantly boost the planet’s ability to fight climate change.
What we are seeing localized has become global. Or the global can be felt in the local.