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Catholic Coalition on Climate Change

 
As people of faith, we know that "the earth is the Lord’s and all it holds" (Ps 24:1).
 

Our Creator has given us the gift of creation: the air we breathe, the water that sustains life, the fruits of the land that nourish us, and the entire web of life without which human life cannot flourish.
 
All of this God created and found "very good." We believe our response to global climate change should be a sign of our respect and concern for God's creation. Several Catholic organizations, including NCRLC, are doing so through the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change.
 

An Easter People Face Climate Change
by Dan Misleh, executive director
Catholic Coalition on Climate Change
 
It is difficult for climate scientists to peg any single weather event to global climate change. But if the scientific models that have been developed are any indication of where we are heading, it likely means more dramatic swings in rainfall: too much or not enough, severe storms and flooding, or extended heat waves and droughts. This is true not only in the United States, but around the world.
 
American farmers and rural communities feel the impacts. So do farmers in many parts of the world, particularly the Global South. In many places throughout the United States, farmers can irrigate fields and haul in feed for livestock, and most have crop insurance. This is not to belittle the hardships felt by farmers when the weather turns nasty. But in other places around the world, weather variations due to climate change can literally mean life and death. In Africa, where 90 percent of the agriculture is rain-dependent and where climatologists predict severe impacts throughout the continent, climate change could mean that a family or even a whole village must hope for timely delivery of international food aid. Or else leave their traditional homes and migrate to cities.
 
In Asia, billions of people depend on the water that is generated by the Himalayan mountain range. If mountain glaciers continue the current rate of melting, water security will become a driving factor for mass migrations and conflict.
 
So the real inconvenient truth about climate change is that poor people at home and abroad will be the ones who suffer the first, even though they’ve contributed least to its causes. Pope Benedict XVI and the U.S. Catholic bishops have repeatedly said that it will be the obligation of the wealthier nations to assist the poorer nations in adapting to climate change.
 
In the end, climate change provides people of faith with new challenges and new opportunities. The primary challenge is to understand this new reality and how it may call us to examine our contributions to both the problem and the solutions. A key opportunity may be to recover some of the important moral guideposts that direct our life in faith including: an embrace of the common good and how we share one planet with all God’s creatures; of solidarity and how we truly serve as our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers; and of prudence in how we decide to meet the challenges before us.
 
The Holy Father addressed this last point in his World Day of Peace Message of 2008:
 
"Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.
 
"Spring is the Easter Season and we must practice being Easter people. Easter people try to "mirror the creative love of God from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying." We must face the future with the knowledge that we are not alone in our struggle to become better people, to overcome challenges large and small. The Savior is Risen in each one of us and we now have the courage to go forth and be witnesses to the love of Christ." 
 
Dan Misleh is Executive Director of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change.
 

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Faith-Based Study Guide on Climate Change

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