Laudato Si': "Climate as a common good"

The good news is that there are lots of Catholic and scientific resources to help you, your parish, and your diocese discuss climate change

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. … Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.” Laudato Si’ (25)

Pope Francis focuses on climate change in only four of the 246 paragraphs in Laudato Si'. In them he gives an overview of the science and consequences of a warming climate. He also exhorts us—especially those with means—to do more “to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced.” (26)

Of course not everyone agrees. And so Catholic ecologists are obliged to help the conversation along—to offer truth and facts, especially about the science of climate change, with love and patience. And prayer.

Here are a few resources to help:

The United States-based Catholic Climate Covenant wants Catholics to understand climate change, what the Church teaches about it, and what our responses should be. The Covenant partners with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as other Catholic organizations. They've been known for many years for their St. Francis Pledge, which encourages the faithful to pray, advocate, and act. You can also add your name to a listing of thousands that want to thank Pope Francis for Laudato Si'. (The list will be hand delivered to the Holy Father by the Covenant’s executive director.)

Taking a worldwide approach is the Global Catholic Climate Movement, of which I’m a founding member. Their website also comes with a host of good resources and ideas to help make the case for a Catholic response to climate change and to pray about it. The GCCM is also collecting signatures to urge world leaders to act.

For science and trend analysis, there are some helpful governmental and academic web sites like the International Panel on Climate Change. Here in the States I suggest the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Then, of course, there are resources from Rome itself. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences has been issuing documents on climate change for some time, most especially this one on the fate of glaciers in an age of anthropogenic climate change.

One of my favorite resources is this video-graphic. Compiled from worldwide research, it helps put in context the CO2 levels for the past 800,000 years. (Notice a trend?)

There’s even a website responding to climate change skeptics, which can be helpful when chatting with friends and family that are convinced that climate change is all a hoax.

The point in all this is that there are many good resources for you, your parish, and diocese. You don’t have to recreate any wheels to help explain what climate change is, why it's happening, what we can do in response, and why we need to heed the call of the Holy Father.

[Ed. Note: Catholic Ecology will be blogging daily on particular elements within Laudato Si' until the Feast of SS Peter and Paul.]

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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.