Much achieved, Much to do – Five years on from Laudato SiTuesday 19th May 2020
Five years on from its publication, Bishop John writes about Laudato Si and the difference we can continue to make.
This May we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter “Laudato Si” in which he addressed the world with a sense of urgency about our care for our brothers and sisters and our common home in the light of the damage of Climate Change to the Environment . This week gives us the opportunity to review our actions and learning in these five years.
During that time, we have certainly been made much more aware of the damage of Climate Change. Until the Covid19 pandemic began to dominate the News, environmental events were increasingly being reported and discussed. We heard a great deal about the destruction caused by the fires in Australia, the Amazon and California. There were floods and droughts and alarming statistics about the melting of the ice caps and extreme and unseasonal changes even in our local weather. People are generally much more aware of the implications of Climate Change and the consequent damage to the earth, our common home. We are also becoming more aware that, while every part of the world may be affected, much of the more drastic damage is being inflicted on many of the poorest countries of the world, on people who have done least to cause Climate Change.
The response to this growing knowledge has, in many ways, been remarkable. There are still a few who adamantly deny Climate Change, despite the overwhelmingly scientific evidence, but so many people seem to be not only learning about it but making a practical response to it. It is probably in our schools that we have seen greatest interest and collective response. Pupils, particularly in our primary schools, seem to have embraced the challenge of care for the environment and so many projects have been born which confront waste, encourage re-wilding, kitchen-gardening, and care for animals. Industry and technology have a vital part to play in the longer-term healing of the Environment and there is much innovation, particularly in the promotion of clean energy and the reduction in the use of fossil fuels. There is also the surprise of learning of the pollution caused by clothes manufacture – the second most damaging aspect after fossil fuels.
There is much more to be done. It is probably true to say that many Governments have recognised the need for urgent action but there is always the distraction of prioritising economic growth in the political ambition to be re-elected. But there are governments which ignore the crisis of Climate Change and even promote increased damage – as in the government sanctioned increase of mining and de-forestation in the Amazon.
Just as the COVID 19 pandemic is impacting on every nation in the world, so Climate Change impacts on all our lives in a more hidden way. We must make our personal commitment to change in many small but practical ways which, while they will make a substantial difference will have only a small impact of our personal comfort. Saving water and electricity, turning off lights and machines on stand-by, lowering central heating, re-cycling, avoiding food waste, sharing journeys, buying fewer clothes and wearing them out or re-cycling them, flying less, walking for short trips. There are numerous small actions that will make a serious impact. And we must make our voices heard so that governments know that they must respond.
Much has been achieved in five years but there is much more to be done, with urgency, if we are to provide a healthy environment for future generations. And we must never under-estimate the importance and power of prayer, asking God to guide us in the right way and for the strength to achieve our goals.