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Recently announced news showcases cutting edge research about the importance of inter-related species on the evolutionary family tree, and what the loss of some means to others. (And a tip of the hat to one of the researchers, Pablo Marquet of The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, showing once again that faith and reason work well together in Catholic universities the world over.)

But to the topic at hand:
The message from the study, appearing online ahead of publication in Ecology Letters, says lead author Hélène Morlon, is that evolutionary diversity -- the millions of years of evolutionary innovations contained in present-day species -- is more sensitive to extinctions or loss of habitat than long thought. And that, she adds, means conservation efforts really need to take into consideration how species are evolutionarily related.
In other words, as policy makers and conservationists work to slow the planet's dizzying array of extinction, it will be helpful to know how evolutionary, genetic relationships may or may not impact biodiversity. It is research like this that will help save humanity...

By mid century, the northern islands of Canada and the north coast of Greenland may represent the only remaining region in the Arctic where polar bears and the marine animals that sustain them can survive if greenhouse-gas emissions continue to climb at anywhere near their current levels.

So opens a story by Pete Spotts in the Christian Science Monitor. The piece goes on with updated insights on how current and predicted climate change may shift or destroy the habitats of so many species. Understanding where species may end up settling as our planet's climate changes, and what new predators they may find in their new homes, is part of the never-ending guesswork underway in the climatological and biological sciences.

...

The news from Haiti is dire. Zenit news reports that

The head of the Camillian Mission in Haiti is warning that 200,000 Haitians will die, and 400,000 will be infected with cholera, if the pandemic is not stopped soon.

Cholera is a simple and terrible disease. It's spread by bacteria thanks to poor sanitation. Human wastes infect drinking water, or water used for basic hygiene, which spreads a small amount of infection to a larger population.

In developed countries with modern wastewater treatment systems and drinking water facilities, this disease becomes a story only read about in the news. For too many...

 Rome, Italy, Dec 14, 2010 / 01:57 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI has expressed solidarity with the victims of the Dec. 5 landslide in the Colombian town of Bello.

Colombia’s ambassador to the Holy See, Cesar Mauricio Velasquez added that the Pope is urging solidarity with those affected by the torrential rains that have drenched 80 percent of the country.  See full story here.



Example photo of a hill removed of its forest cover, and the result
of a heavy rain. Click on the photo for a larger image.
These tragedies occur over and over in areas...

December 2010

Christmas and the Annunciation have much to teach us about our role in creation. Christ’s entry into human history calls us to echo the Blessed Mother’s “Yes” to God, to align our ways with God’s ways—to willingly take part in the unfolding salvation of our fallen world, even if we don’t always (or precisely) understand what we’re supposed to do.
One thing that we in the twenty-first century certainly understand is that humans are dependent creatures. Much like an unborn child in a mother’s womb, our species lives in a self-contained ecosystem and we can not create what sustains us. We require the radiative energy of our sun and, infinitely more important, the eternal life of the Spirit of God.

All this comes to mind in Verbum Domini, the Holy Father’s recently published reflections on a 2008 meeting of bishops held at the Vatican. The meeting’s theme, “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” sought to explore Holy Scripture’s interaction with the current age. One item on the agenda was...

September 2010

I’ve never understood why people savor September. The pace of life quickens while the amount of daylight shrinks; it’s always the beginning of the end of a year that I’ve known too briefly.


For me, September is a perennial reminder that our world is prone to corruption. Then again, such reminders are useful. From the beginning of the Church—and technically before, as when Peter sought to stay put at the Transfiguration instead of proceeding to what awaited in Jerusalem—we followers of Christ sometimes forget that we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world.

This forgetfulness can result in the presumption that we, by ourselves, can fix all our ills. For those who care about creation, forgetting our fallen nature can delude us into the lie that we need only our wisdom and will to abandon self interest, erase carbon footprints, or recycle and compost all wastes. Eden might seem ours to grasp.

It has been noted, most especially by the Holy Father, that good ecological concerns can easily lead to pantheism or paganism—that environmentalists might find themselves worshipping...

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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.