|It's too early for pear blossoms!|
This Sunday we're looking at paragraphs 178 to 181 of Laudato Si, which can be accessed by clicking here and scrolling down. I think these paragraphs are particularly relevant given that 175 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement this week. Did you know that Canada is among the top ten CO2 emitters, creating 2% of the world's greenhouse gases, though our country is 38th in population?
Paragraph 178 addresses a concern that arises when it comes to any Climate Agreement. The Paris Agreement has been adopted in order to keep our planet's temperature increase below 2 degrees (over pre-industrial levels) due to global climate change. Pope Francis notes that the world's politics are too focused on immediate results, market dynamics and short-term growth, and that politicians are afraid to adopt measures that might upset the public for fear of losing their government positions. But as the encyclical says, "True statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term common good." These days, our politicians need to be prophets who are willing to go against market forces, think outside the box and come up with better ideas than the old ways that are destabilizing our climate.
Such prophets are already among us, did you know? Paragraph 179 talks about them:
,,, cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy which ensure local self-sufficiency and even the sale of surplus energy... local individuals and groups can make a real difference. They are able to instil a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. They are also concerned about what they will eventually leave to their children and grandchildren. These values are deeply rooted in indigenous peoples.And they should be rooted in every person on the planet, enabling us all to work together to pressure our governments for "decisive political action." We can all be prophets!
But things have broken down somewhere -- and I think I know where. If we ask the average Andrew or Alicia about the last time they contacted their government officials about environmental concerns, we'll likely get a blank look. Having been brainwashed into believing that independence is better than interdependence, too many of us have forgotten that our leaders will only respond if enough voices are raised. We forget our own prophetic role in calling them to bring about the radical changes needed, never raising our voices to demand decisive political action, so our leaders assume we're happy with the status quo.
But clearly, the status quo isn't working. My pear tree doesn't usually bloom until May 12, but it's blooming almost three weeks early this year. A wildfire ran through the Wolf Willow/Rio Terrace ravines here in our Edmonton river valley Friday night because everything is so dry when really, there should still be snow on the ground. Climate change is happening here in Edmonton -- and everywhere else -- and it's time we take it seriously and demand that our leaders do the same -- to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement by exceeding its targets and setting an example for all of the top ten emitters to follow.
Of course, it isn't easy to be a prophet -- especially when many people in Alberta's energy-based economy have already lost jobs. Of course, the unemployment we are seeing is a sign that we need to come up with a different employment model since the world is realizing that fossil fuels are a literal dead end for our earth. Paragraph 180 of Laudato Si is packed with ideas that might drive a different model for employment. How many local industries could arise from the points below?
- increased energy conservation
- better industrial production to maximize energy efficiency and minimize raw materials
- reduction of energy inefficient, polluting products (and, I would hope, an end to planned obsolescence)
- improvement of transport systems
- construction and repair of buildings for high energy efficiency and low pollution
- reduced consumption (through consumer education)
- improved waste disposal and recycling
- protection of species
- diversification of agriculture through crop rotation
- improvement of rural infrastructure
- better organization of local and national markets
- improved irrigation
- the development of sustainable agricultural techniques
- cooperation and community organization to defend small producers
- preservation of local ecosystems
Next up: Ten important questions