The 53rd World Day of Peace was observed on 1 January 2020. Pope Francis’ Message, published on 12 December 2019, is entitled "Peace as a journey of hope: dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion".
On Ecological Conversion he said: “Faced with the consequences of our hostility towards others, our lack of respect for our common home or our abusive exploitation of natural resources – seen only as a source of immediate profit, regardless of local communities, the common good and nature itself – we are in need of an ecological conversion.”
“If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.” Pope Benedict XVI, 2010
Because Christ was part of it as Dan Horan, OFM reminds us that St John Paul II wrote in Dominum et vivificantem:
“The "first-born of all creation," becoming incarnate in the individual humanity of Christ, unites himself in some way with the entire reality of man, which is also "flesh" and in this reality with all "flesh," with the whole of creation.” - Christmas is for all God's creatures.
“We stand at a critical juncture in our collective efforts to limit dangerous global heating.
By the end of the coming decade we will be on one of two paths. One is the path of surrender, where we have sleepwalked past the point of no return, jeopardizing the health and safety of everyone on this planet. Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?
The other option is the path of hope.
A path of resolve, of sustainable solutions.
A path where more fossil fuels remain where they should be – in the ground – and where we are on the way to carbon neutrality by 2050.
That is the only way to limit global temperature rise to the necessary 1.5 degrees by the end of this century. The best available science, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us today that going beyond that would lead us to catastrophic disaster.
Millions throughout the world – especially young people – are calling on leaders from all sectors to do more, much more, to address the climate emergency we face.
They know we need to get on the right path today, not tomorrow.
That means important decisions must be made now.”
Pope to COP 25: Do not close the window of opportunity
In his message, Pope Francis says we are facing a “challenge of civilization” in favour of “the common good and of a change of perspective that places this same dignity at the centre of our action, which is clearly expressed in the “human face” of climate emergencies.” The Pope confirms that there remains a “window of opportunity, but we must not allow it to close”.
Pope Francis speaks of how young people today “show a heightened sensitivity to the complex problems that arise from this emergency.” We must not place the burden on the next generations to take on the problems caused by the previous ones, he writes.
The Pope concludes wishing we may offer the next generation “concrete reasons to hope and work for a good and dignified future!” [Otherwise we are irrelevant in the face of potential catastrophic or cataclysmic biosphere collapse. Sorry, but it must be said.]
“Sadly, after four years, we must admit that this awareness is still rather weak, unable to respond adequately to that strong sense of urgency for rapid action called for by the scientific data at our disposal, such as those described by the recent Special Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These studies show that the current commitments made by States to mitigate and adapt to climate change are far from those actually needed to achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement.
They demonstrate how far words are from concrete actions! …
Numerous studies tell us that it is still possible to limit global warming. To do this we need a clear, far-sighted and strong political will, set on pursuing a new course that aims at refocusing financial and economic investments toward those areas that truly safeguard the conditions of a life worthy of humanity on a “healthy” planet for today and tomorrow.
Pope Francis calls us “to reflect conscientiously on the significance of our consumption and production models and on the processes of education and awareness to make them consistent with human dignity.”
Global Catholic Climate Movement and its partners lifted up a united voice to make sure negotiators heard that Catholics are paying attention, and we want action that matters.
From a Mass in Madrid’s cathedral to a conference that brought political and Church leaders together to a march through the streets of the city, Catholic groups lifted up a united voice for climate action.
(excerpt from Understanding JPIC, 3.2.86.b. follows)
“The case for political advocacy and parrhesía was re-stated by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ (2015, n.179): “Because the enforcement of laws is at times inadequate due to corruption, public pressure has to be exerted in order to bring about decisive political action. Society, through non-governmental organizations and intermediate groups, must put pressure on governments to develop more rigorous regulations, procedures and controls. Unless citizens control political power – national, regional and municipal – it will not be possible to control damage to the environment.” Or we can add, bring about social & economic justice.”
As Pope Francis in his letter to COP25 put it: “We must seriously ask ourselves if there is the political will to allocate with honesty, responsibility and courage, more human, financial and technological resources to mitigate the negative effects of climate change”.
And as Greta Thunberg said 3 Dec 2019: “If they want us to stop being angry, maybe they should stop making us angry” and three days later: “The hope is not within the walls of the COP25. The hope is out here with you” Shown below is to whom she was talking: see video
Organisers estimate that half a million people demonstrated in Madrid. See more photos of the march
6 Dec 2019: The big Greenpeace banner translated reads: “If the planet dies we also”
echoing what Pope Francis has said: “If we destroy nature,
Young climate strikers are sending a clear message to Canadian leaders who are attending the COP25 climate conference in Madrid, Spain, this week: Act now.
In an open letter from various branches of Climate Strike Canada, youth are urging leaders to commit to reducing emissions by 60 per cent (instead of 30 per cent) below 2005 levels by 2030.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are the last people in a position of power to have the possibility to allow us to avoid an unprecedented global catastrophe,” the letter reads. “Please be bold.” (cbc.ca/kidsnews)
Unfortunately COP25 did not rise to the challenge. This does not bode well for future generations. What must we do to bring about change?
“I am disappointed with the results of #COP25. The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis. But we must not give up, and I will not give up.” So wrote UN Secretary General António Guterres, 15 Dec 2019
Not that this was unexpected: It was set up to fail according to Dr Peter Carter, now from Pender Island, BC. He is Director, Climate Emergency Institute, IPCC expert reviewer, Co-author 2018 Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival Watch him interviewed by Nick Breeze at COP25 in Madrid, December 2019 (23 minutes): Summarising the lack of "climate emergency" at #COP25
If you only have one minute to spare, watch from the 17min 30 sec mark for one minute as he refers to Pope Francis on climate crime and evil and at the 19:45 mark on the massive Arctic methane emissions.
TEN YEARS LATER, GRETA THUNBERG SAID: “IF WE CAN SAVE THE BANKS, THEN WE CAN SAVE THE WORLD” on Naomi Klein , 13 September 2019
The Intercept is an online news publication dedicated to what it describes as "adversarial journalism," with the central aim of holding "the most powerful governmental and corporate factions accountable." (See video)
Climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, addressed the U.N.'s Climate Action Summit in New York City on 23 Sept 2019 and said:
“The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Some still do not realise this; I wonder if anyone understands the full implications.
“Wow, this is unbelievable! I share this great honour with everyone in the #FridaysForFuture movement and climate activists everywhere.”
Does this honour include you? Did you raise your voice &/or demonstrate?
Pope Francis certainly did raise his voice! We should follow his example!
You may remember the Pope and Greta’s meeting 16 April 2019, shown above, when, after being introduced by Tomás Insua, (Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement), she said to Pope Francis: “Thank you for standing up for the climate, for speaking the truth. Really it means a lot. Thanks” to which he replied: “God bless you. Continue to work. Continue. Go on, go ahead.” Also see the whole interaction is from 55 secs to 1:44.
As Pope Francis said in Laudato Si': "Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain." (161) That did not stop Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro calling Greta Thunberg, a 'brat'. [No surprise coming from him] Thunburg, known for her climate change activism, was named 2019 person of the year by Time Magazine shortly after Bolsonaro questioned why the media pays attention to her. [I think we know why!] After Bolsonaro’s comment, Thunberg briefly changed her Twitter profile to read “pirralha,” the Portuguese word for brat.
Bolsonaro’s friend US President Donald Trump also attacked Greta Thunberg after she was named Time's Person of the Year, saying in a tweet that the award was "ridiculous." [Again, no surprise there]
Gabriela Baesse, a Brazilian activist attending the United Nations' COP25 climate conference in Madrid, told the Associated Press that her president's insulting comment about Thunberg shows he "doesn't understand the youth. ["That's not all he doesn't understand"].
Marina Silva, Brazil's former environment minister: "He should not worry about fighting Greta because she showed solidarity with the indigenous that were murdered," Silva said. "He should fight the criminals that murdered the indigenous instead of fighting Greta."
This Canadian climate activist demonstrated and paid the price Terry Christenson is 72 years old, a climate change activist, and in jail. He received his last sentence on Nov. 20. But it wasn’t his first. And that’s because he says he would rather face jail time than allow the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Christenson’s tactic is to take a “last stand” approach to climate action. And for that he is currently serving the longest sentence given to any activist protesting the pipeline expansion in British Columbia, and one of the longest given to any activist ever in British Columbia. Could we pray for him and ask for courage like his? ... Read more
Two American Celebrities and climate activism
Robert Redford met briefly with Pope Francis at General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, reported L’Osservatore Romano on December 5, 2019. They share in common warnings about the dangers our “Common Home” is facing. Both have raised their voices.
[If we raise our voice but our governments do not listen & take action then does civil disobedience become the only way to pressure them? Does Jane inspire you?]
Mother Earth’s Legal Rights
The University of British Columbia Alumni Magazine Trek entitled its Fall 2019 issue Nature in Freefall. It starts out by reminding us about the Passenger pigeon which once numbered in the low billions in North America and was hunted to extinction by settlers for food, feathers, fertilizer, live trap shooting targets; and their nesting habitat was destroyed by human activity. Laws were passed to protect it, but it was too late; long after the last wild one died, the last captive one died in 1914. Will we be able to save elephants, orang-utans or most other species from extinction? What can we do to save them?
Today we are changing the natural world in a cumulative and potentially disastrous way by cutting down forests, destroying topsoil, overfishing, overheating the atmosphere and polluting air, water and land. We need to act quickly and decisively. There is no simple technological fix for biodiversity loss. We need a cultural solution; reduce our impacts and live within our means.
Trek outlined how some countries have already passed laws giving nature Pachamama rights (remember Pachamama from a previous blog?). In 2008 Ecuador’s Constitution included the rights of Pachamama, or Mother Earth and has since amended 70 laws and policies to incorporate nature’s rights. In 2010 Bolivia passed a Law on the Rights of Mother Earth and sparked a global movement to establish a Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth. New Zealand is a world leader in recognizing the rights of nature, inspired by the efforts of the Maori. In 2017 a park and a river were given the status of a legal person with a variety of rights. Why not? If corporations can have the rights of a legal person surely Mother Earth should? Surely this fits with the Franciscan concept of the Universal Kinship of Creation! Many Indigenous in Canada share a similar worldview.
Let me repeat Pope Francis in Laudato Si': "Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain." (161) and remind us of a book now ten years old: Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming (Greystone, 2009) that predated Laudato Si’.
Canadian environmental activists James Hoggan (co-founder of DeSmog) and Richard Littlemore (an author of one of the Trek articles) have documented how starting in the early 1990s, three large American industry groups set to work on strategies to cast doubt on the science of climate change.
“Climate Cover-Up documents one of the most disgusting stories ever hidden about corporate disinformation. What you’ll discover in this book amounts to proof of an intergenerational crime.” (David Suzuki)
"Fossil-fuel companies have spent millions funding anti-global-warming think tanks, purposely creating a climate of doubt around the science. DeSmogBlog is the antidote to that obfuscation." ~ Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine
I hope you will be able to see the film A Hidden Life about an Austrian Third Order Franciscan (now OFS) who opposed Hitler and was executed for not swearing an oath (remind you of St Thomas More?).
Here is the trailer. More on this separately
As Franciscans let’s end on a hopeful note & sing -
with iconic Canadian children's singer Raffi, who has released a new song about climate-change activism, titled “Young People Marching.” He wrote the song as a tribute to Sweden's Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist who speaks powerfully to world leaders at United Nations Climate Action Summits and elsewhere and who has inspired so many millions to march for climate action. Hear Young People Marching here. And Cool it, cool it, cool this planet down.
As the Decades Ends
Let’s hear from Michael Enright in a portion of his morning essay:
“The decade also triggered the greatest inequality of income in living memory. It was a decade whose signature literature was about dystopia ... from The Hunger Games to Margaret Atwood's The Testaments. And whose signature movies were about superheroes… were these escapist fantasies answering our collective anxieties?
In large measure it was a decade when the young came into their own, showing their entrenched seniors new ways of doing things.
We might even bookend the 10 years with the memory of two young girls who have become symbols of the times — Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head in 2012 for wanting to go to school in Pakistan. And in 2019, young Greta Thunberg who gave her "How dare you?" speech to a United Nations conference on climate and graced the cover of TIME Magazine as "Person of the Year." ”
My next blog will focus on the hopeful signs in rising climate awareness and action!
Happy New Year! Hopefully may we all consume less and share more!