All Is Not Lost!

From the windows at Newark Airport, I see a large United 787 Dreamliner. It's not the one that will take me to Guadalajara - where I'm headed for an international seminar of the St. Andrew's School of Evangelization - but I admit that on this Earth Day, I feel a certain unease.

How much greenhouse gas will this trip produce? Some airlines and travel websites have been advising us for some time which flights leave a smaller carbon footprint, giving consumers the option of a more “ecological” choice. Is this a way to ease their conscience? In a world that has become more and more a global village, do we have the option not to travel? What actions are within our reach for real change?

We are facing a world in transformation. The news of the last few days gives us no cause to rejoice. Yesterday, the World Meteorological Organization revealed in its most recent report that nothing can prevent the melting of glaciers; the consequence will be a rise in sea levels and the announced catastrophe for so many vulnerable populations. Nearly a quarter of the world’s population lives on or very close to the sea and will be the first to suffer the dramatic consequences of this phenomenon.

The same report announced that the last eight years (2015-2022) have been the hottest ever observed. Global warming is therefore a scientifically proven reality… and it comes mainly from human activity!

For years, experts have been telling us that we must limit warming to +1.5°C of pre-industrial levels; the Paris Agreement had set this goal at +2°C for the end of the century. Sadly, everything indicates that this will possibly be reached by 2026!

Laudato sì, a challenge that is more relevant than ever.

Eight years ago, Pope Francis challenged the Church and the world with an encyclical letter that should be read and re-read: Laudato sì. This document has lost none of its relevance; on the contrary, it is more urgent than ever to read it and to discern what actions are within our reach to do our part in safeguarding the common home. The Pope makes it clear that the first to pay the bill for this ecological debacle are the poor. It is always the poor who pay the bill for the rich…

The last chapter of this encyclical is particularly challenging. It calls us to a profound change of culture and ethical and practical choices that could truly make a difference… at least in our lives. Perhaps this is the price for the “regeneration” of our world! I invite you to read and reread this text:  There is an invitation to rediscover the wonder of the Creator God: “God saw everything that he had made. It was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

The words of Pope Francis are inspiring: “All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start (…). A change in lifestyle could bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power. This is what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products. They prove successful in changing the way businesses operate, forcing them to consider their environmental footprint and their patterns of production. When social pressure affects their earnings, businesses clearly have to find ways to produce differently” (Laudato sì, 205-206).

When I look at the younger generations who are trying in every way to do their part for a new world, hope is present. They believe in a different world, one that is more just, more equitable, more inclusive and caring. I think of Elisabeth who is doing her part to reach zero waste. It’s quite an endeavor with three children!

Hats off to the seniors who are changing their habits and who want to contribute to a change in society. Sometimes, it’s as simple as getting used to recycling or adopting a water bottle instead of multiplying plastic bottles. Because every little bit helps!

All is not lost… but it depends on each of us to do our part for the common home! The time is urgent… before the common house is destroyed by our selfish desires and our lack of vision! And what will I do on this Earth Day?

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