Climate: Peril or Promise, the Choice is Ours

By Mary Pendergast, RSM

Posted on

Extraordinary events call for “unprecedented actions.” The 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sounds the alarm for the transformation and mobilization needed at nothing less than breathtaking speed. The document is considered to be hopeful in that it shows what we must do to avoid the worst ravages of climate change. However, this scientific guide for governments to deal with climate change calls for "deep emissions reductions" and "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

As people of faith we have been called to care for creation, to appreciate the natural world as the place where God reveals who God is. Pope Francis begs us to act in intergenerational solidarity and mourns the loss of our brothers and sisters in the long line of created beings. We who have been given many gifts and opportunities to enjoy the beauty of the natural world are now required to act with urgency on Earth’s behalf and to do what is necessary to preserve her life forms and the global commons: air, water, soil, and climate.

Can we as a global community achieve net zero? Can we create as much energy as we consume with renewable resources? The truth is we have to because Global Warming is on target to reach 1.5 degrees as soon as 2030. Fortunately, countries around the world are ramping up their efforts to reach a low carbon future. We can also relish in the fact that many states are tackling the demands of the Paris Accord.

For the average person, our simple everyday actions can have a huge effect on CO2 emissions. The easiest places where we can lighten our footprint are food, transportation, energy efficiency, and taking action or what we like to call armchair advocacy. The Sisters of Mercy make it easy for you to speak up to your elected officials by taking action on many issues that affect Earth, people who are poor, racism, immigration and non-violence. Other important steps are to reduce water waste and unplug the many devices we have when not in use. Taken all together your home outlets on the average are powering somewhat less than 100 different audio and video devices, cordless and wireless phones, vacuums, power tools and other electronics that use energy even when not charging.

The guest commentary at sums it up perfectly: "Every degree of warming matters, every year counts, every choice counts. The challenge is immense because of the nature and magnitude of the unprecedented risk. It requires doing everything to overcome indifference and fatalism."

We urge you to come to the Climate Symposium, Peril or Promise, the Choice is Ours, and learn what climate experts and our youth have to share with us!

Sister Mary Pendergast is the Ecology Director for the Sisters of Mercy’s Northeast Community, based in Rhode Island.