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Hundreds promise action, funds to protect African oceans

The latest from the COP22 climate talks in Marrakech is news of some 400 "high-level" global participants joining hands to advance oceans and climate change issues, and to pledge concrete actions in support one of the objectives of Sustainable Development Goal of conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources.

In announcing this initiative, the United Nations reminded us that the global ocean is fundamental to sustaining life on Earth. It is a major player in the planet’s absorption of carbon and heat, and it produces half the oxygen we breathe. And it sustains the lives and livelihoods of the coastal and island communities who call it home, and who rely on its bounty to meet their nutritional needs.

The life-giving role our oceans play was recognized at the 43rd Session of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Nairobi, Kenya earlier this year, which decided to prepare a special, scientific report on climate change and the oceans.

But while oceans are key to mitigating climate change, the UN said that a warming planet also places them, and the services they provide, at great risk. Climate variability and change, habitat degradation and ocean acidification...

Eco advocates are worried—with reason. But there is a way forward.

President-elect Donald Trump had made it known in his campaign that ecological protection will not be at the top of his to-do list. Today he already seems to be making good on those promises. But according to at least two Catholic eco-advocates, all is not lost. In fact, there is yet reason for hope and change.

Rob Sisson, a business author and Michigan Republican, is president of ConservAmerica, a group of republicans, conservatives, and independents that champion environmental causes. Sisson told Catholic Ecology that a businessman like Donald Trump would do well to listen to other business leaders who understand the threats of climate change and other eco issues.

“Forward-thinking business leaders recognize the threat to their bottom lines caused by climate change,” Sisson said, “and they recognize the business opportunities in innovating solutions to climate change impacts.”

Sisson added that Wall Street and corporate America are “far ahead of our government and elected leaders on climate change issues.”

Peter Arpin, a Rhode Island-based business innovator and international speaker on the morality and profitability of sustainable business, agrees with Sisson.

“The business world looks for ROI [return on investment],” Arpin told Catholic Ecology Wednesday. “Trump, as...

Sacrificial love was once a new concept. Let's make it new again.

Here's a truth we'd do well to remember: The desire of Western Civilization to foster love of nature and neighbor is a vestige of its Christian genetic code—a reality that secular and “merely spiritual” worldviews either reject or simply do not know.

Historian Christopher Dawson, a convert to Catholicism, wrote in the mid-twentieth century quite extensively (and readably) about how Christianity made Europe what it is. Many others have called attention to the Christian genealogy of Western Civilization, most especially Pope Benedict XVI. So should we Catholic ecologists.

Given that the West has for some time been a significant source of the world’s consumption and pollution—as well as solutions to the ills thereof—we must understand not just what minds like Dawson and Benedict XVI have been telling us, but the implications of all this for Pope Francis in his task of nurturing responsible lifestyles.

What Catholic DNA does

Catholic thought rejects any theology or political philosophy proclaiming that human activity is capable of transforming our nations into states of bliss, or the world into paradise. This does not mean that we are powerless in the face of evil, whether its within us or others. It simply means there...

The United States is divided. Catholic ecologists can help reunite it.

Divisions do not define nations, nor do they stop those of different faiths from uniting in times of need—as this age is, especially here in the States in these hours before we know the name of the next President of the United States.

Here’s one thing we do know. Environmental harms increasingly threaten human life, especially the vulnerable—the unborn and children, the weak and the elderly, the poor and the marginalized. Environmental toxins enter our blood streams, disease-causing pollutants enter our lungs, and growing levels of planet-warming gases enter our atmosphere from the use of fuels like oil, gas, and coal.

But here’s a cause for hope. In response to these threats to life, and their underlying causes, Christians of various denominations and those of many faiths have been working together for a better, healthier future for those alive today and those not yet born.

In the eco-realm, groups like GreenFaith and Our Voices have been on the forefront of interfaith eco-advocy. Here in the States, a small group of Catholics and Evangelical Christians issued a Joint Declaration for Life four years ago to show unity among those faiths, as well as to...

One way to celebrate the Feast of All Saints is to learn how you and your parish can honor, praise, and protect God’s life-giving creation

I've been thinking of the Feast of All Saints, and about how our journeys on earth should help us on the road to sainthood—of joining God and all those in heaven. That got me thinking about how we live here and now, and that reminded me how important it is to practice virtues like temperance and prudence when we labor to protect the created order.

In other words, there's a connection between striving to live holy lives and caring for our common home.

Certainly we see this connection from the lives of great saints like Giles, Francis, Kateri Tekakwitha, and John Paul the Great.

Perhaps that connection explains why one of the most popular posts here at Catholic Ecology is the August 2013 “10 ways Catholics can protect the environment.” And so with the secular hyper-consumption of the holiday season approaching, it seems time we add to that list.

1. Explore clean, renewable energy

Chances are that your diocese, parish, and home can benefit from some form of solar or wind power. Local energy companies and state and local energy regulatory agencies typically have programs that can help you generate power...

Economist and theologian Patrick Fleming blends academic theory and family life on a farm for advice on living Laudato Si’

Last month I featured a few insights of Patrick Fleming. Today I'm happy to share more about this young Catholic economist and farmer. I'm sure you'll appreciate what he has to say about bringing alive Pope Francis's eco-encyclical Laudato Si’.

Fleming is a professor of economics at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He also holds a master’s of theology from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family—which he says was a life-changing experience. And he works on his wife’s family farm, also in Lancaster.

No wonder, then, that he easily combines the language of popes and Nobel Laureate economists with the language of the seasons, plants, and animals that come and go around his home, which is the farm where is wife was born.

The economics of purpose

The essay I highlighted a few weeks ago was from an edition of the theological journal Communio that offered a collection of essays on Laudato Si’. Fleming said that his essay, “Economics, Ecology, and Our Common Home: The Limits of a Preference-based Approach to Human Behavior,” is an argument for the integrity of creation, over and against...


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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.