Each week during November 2015, MOGC offers a two-page prayer-study-action guide on the impacts of climate change and what we can do, leading up to the UN Climate Summit in Paris.
“We can hardly consider ourselves to be fully loving if we disregard any aspect of reality,” Pope Francis says in Laudato Si’. “Peace, justice and the preservation of creation are three absolutely interconnected themes, which cannot be separated and treated individually without once again falling into reductionism. Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.”
Yet, diminishing agricultural productivity due to climate change is pushing communities and nations into social unrest. We see this most drastically in Syria and Egypt.
The lowest income countries are experiencing the sharpest losses. In particular, crop yields for cereals, the staple food in most of developing world, will decline by about 10 percent by 2050 in nearly all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Research has indicated a clear threshold at 30 degrees Celsius for corn, after which increases in temperature result in sharp reduction in yields. Reduction in crop yields is forcing households to diversify their income sources and make the drastic decision to migrate.
In Tanzania, drought has pushed thousands of people to abandon farming and move to Dar es Salaam, one of Africa's fastest-growing cities. Internal migration due to climate change is often a silent disaster, leaving the most vulnerable – the sick, the unemployed – destitute and dying. It also fuels social conflict and war.
In this season of Advent, let us commit ourselves to a renewed dedication to Earth and to those inhabitants suffering the worst consequences of climate change.
Make a personal commitment
The following ideas are offered by Interfaith Power and Light, an organization working with hundreds of congregations of all faiths to mobilize a religious response to global warming.
Have a green Thanksgiving
Consider replacing your traditional meat dishes with vegetarian alternatives. If you eat meat, look for free-range organic options. Visit your community farmers market to buy local harvest. And overall choose foods with less and more eco-friendly packaging.
Become a cool congregation
Consider joining the Cool Congregations program to address four areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, grounds & water conservation, and inspiring people to make positive changes at home. Learn more at http://www.coolcongregations.org/
Pray before meals
“That moment of blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation; it acknowledges those who by their labors provide us with these goods; and it reaffirms our solidarity with those in greatest need.” – Pope Francis, Laudato Si’
Raise your voice
Some key issues that will be addressed during the Climate Summit in Paris are: phase out fossil fuels and extractive models; keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C; and protect people’s right to home, energy, food and water.
Support the Clean Power Plan
Each nation joining the UN Climate Summit is tasked with submitting a plan to reduce greenhouse emissions. As the world’s largest contributor to global warming pollution, the plan the Obama Administration submitted is especially important: Called the Clean Power Plan, it establishes the first-ever national carbon standards and limits on carbon pollution from power plants, which are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. Urge Congress to support the Clean Power Plan. http://www.catholicclimatecovenant.org/act/advocate
Join the Global Climate March
On November 29, join millions of people in major cities around the world as we march to show that we care about climate change and ask governments for bold action. Join a march in a city near you. http://catholicclimatemovement.global/global-climate-march/