CARE FOR CREATION: FOOD

The Issue

Loss of biodiversity. The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity. Numbers of plants, animals, insects and micro-organisms that help to put food on our tables are decreasing;  forests, grasslands, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds which contribute to biodiversity are disappearing.  UN Report: Diversity for Food and Agriculture.

Food production. Over the last two decades, approximately 20% of land has become less productive due to chemicals and other forms of pollution. A third of fishing areas are being overharvested.

Meat and dairy products. Meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein for the world’s population. But  it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. The vast majority of rainforest destruction in the Amazon has been connected with the meat industry. Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce environmental impact on the planet. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6392/987.full?ijkey=ffyeW1F0oSl6k&keytype=ref&siteid=sci.

Food chain. 63% of plants, 11% of birds, and 5% of fish and are in decline. Pollinators, which provide essential services to three-quarters of the world’s crops, are under threat, as well as the decline of bees and other insects.
 
The Church’s View
 
Enough for all. The earth, abused and exploited, continues in many parts of the world to yield its fruits, offering us the best of itself. The faces of the starving remind us that we have foiled its purposes. We have turned a gift with a universal destination into a privilege enjoyed by a select few. We have made the fruits of the earth – a gift to humanity – commodities for a few. Pope Francis, Address to United Nations World Food Programme, June 13, 2016.

Productive use of land. In some countries a redistribution of land as part of sound policies of agrarian reform is indispensable, in order to overcome the obstacles that an unproductive system of latifundium — condemned by the Church's social doctrine — places on the path of genuine economic development.  Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, parag.300.

Environmental degradation. As long as production is increased, little concern is given to whether it is at the cost of future resources or the health of the environment; as long as the clearing of a forest increases production, no one calculates the losses entailed in the desertification of the land, the harm done to biodiversity or the increased pollution. In a word, businesses profit by calculating and paying only a fraction of the costs involved. Yet only when “the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations”  can those actions be considered ethical. Pope Francis, Laudato Si. parag 195.
 
Ideas for Action
 
• 11 Things You Can Do To Protect Biodiversity - With a few simple habit changes and pro-active actions, you can encourage local biodiversity
• 5 Easy Ways to Cut Down on Your Meat Consumption - By keeping some pointers in mind you can easily reduce your meat consumption.
• 20 Simple Gardening Tips To Help Bees - It's actually surprisingly easy to help bees and pollinators.
• Reduce what goes to landfill and compost at home - Home composting can take some of our leftovers, waste and unwanted extras and turn them into fertile soil
• Bring back the forest - By donating, you will help return this land to the forest and wildlife to whom it once belonged.

Climate change food calculator: What's your diet's carbon footprint?

12 Tips to Reduce Food Waste Fairtrade have produced a list of easy to do tips on cutting down on food waste.

 

 
Liturgy Resources

Peacemeal. Liturgy ideas for sharing a meal
Season of Creation. An excellent booklet containing liturgies on the environment, including biodiversity
Caring for God's Creation. A downloadable booklet produced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops with suggestions for liturgies
Greening Worship. A web page from EcoCongregation with lots of useful suggestions for worship.
Liturgical, Prayer and Spiritual Resources. Splendid resources page from the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

CARE FOR CREATION: WATER

The Issue 
 
Water is the most critical resource on earth because it is biologically necessary for our survival. None of us can live without water.  Clean, safe water is vitally important. However, only 2.5% of the earth’s water is freshwater and there are numerous competing demands on this small amount.  Indeed, one of the Sustainable Development Goals is equitable and universal access to clean water and sanitation. SDG 6.

Shortages of water are common. There is uneven distribution of water across the globe, and there is unequal access to the limited amounts of safe water that exist. Over a billion people globally do not have access to reliable, safe, clean water; 844 million people lack even basic drinking water. Climate change will exacerbate already existing water crises around the world, leading to shortages in some areas and flooding in others.

Water is frequently dammed, piped, polluted and contaminated. Contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 502 000 diarrhoeal deaths each year. (World Health Organisation, 2018)

Water is increasingly under threat by attempts to privatise and control water sources. Treating water as a commodity means that it is subject to market forces.  This can mean that the poor do not have access to water at all.
 
The Church’s View

A Human Right.
Water is a gift from God, a vital element, essential to survival; thus, everyone has a right to it. This right is based on human dignity. Without water, life is threatened. Therefore, the right to safe drinking water is a universal and inalienable right. Pope Francis has denounced as “unacceptable” the privatisation of water resources at the expense of the “human right to have access to this good”.

Not a commodity.
Water cannot be treated as just another commodity among many, Because water is a gift of the Creator, it cannot be seen as a commercial product, only available to those who can pay for it. “The most delicate and sensitive point in the consideration of water as an economic good is to ensure that a balance is maintained between ensuring that water for basic human needs is available to the poor and that, where it is used for production or other beneficial use, it is properly and appropriately valued.” Water, an Essential Element of Life. A Contribution Of The Delegation Of The Holy See On The Occasion Of The Third World Water Forum.

Pollution. 
In his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in 2018 Pope Francis raised his concern about  a number of pollution related issues: maritime ecosystem; international regulations on the seas in order to safeguard natural resources – marine fauna and flora, coral reefs, sea beds; those who safeguard the oceans and their biodiversity. He has called for the protection of the oceans from plastics pollution.
 
Ideas for Action
 
 
Liturgy Resources

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Care for Creation: CONSUMPTION: REDUCE, RECYCYLE, REUSE

The Issue


Our consumption of products and services impacts the environment in many different ways. The things we buy have often been made through processes which may affect climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss and depletion of natural resources.

Overconsumption is therefore a problem and an increasing one. A survey commissioned by Greenpeace, of the shopping habits of people in Europe and Asia finds that regularly buying too many clothes, shoes, bags and accessories has become an international phenomenon.

Today the cost of repairing faulty appliances, power tools, and high-tech devices often exceeds the price of buying new. Planned obsolescence - the strategy whereby the current version of a given product will become out of date or useless within a known time period – contributes to growing demand and more production. The used items are disposed of, very often in landfill. However, in Scotland initiatives are underway to reverse this trend. The total amount of waste disposed of to landfill has generally decreased steadily between 2005 and 2017. (SEPA).
 

The Church’s View


Stewardship of Creation.
Because creation was entrusted to human stewardship, the natural world is not just a resource to be exploited but also a reality to be respected and even reverenced as a gift and trust from God. It is the task of human beings to care for, preserve and cultivate the treasures of creation (John Paul II, The Church in Oceania, 2001, n.31).

Throwaway Culture.
...our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet. (Pope Francis, Laudato Si, parag. 22)
 
Change of Lifestyle.
Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat global warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. (Pope Francis, Laudato Si, parag. 23)
 

 

Ideas for Action

 

Liturgy Resources