CARE FOR CREATION: BIODIVERSITY

The Issue

The technical term for life on Earth, ‘biodiversity’, is a scientific measure of the variety of species, habitats, and ecosystems across the planet.

Biodiversity allows us to live healthy and happy lives; it provides us with food directly or through pollination, medical discoveries and ecosystem services. The latter includes everything from cleaning water and absorbing chemicals, which wetlands do, to providing oxygen for us to breathe. Biodiversity also provides aesthetic and cultural value to our lives and has been shown to increase mental well-being.  The National Trust https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/what-is-biodiversity

The Living Planet Index (LPI)

LPI measures trends in thousands of populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish across the globe and has shown a decline of 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012. If current trends continue, the decline could reach two-thirds by 2020.

The main threats to these populations are habitat loss and degradation, for example conversion of natural areas for agricultural expansion, followed by overexploitation of species, such as unsustainable fishing.  The LPI for freshwater species shows the greatest decline, falling 81 per cent between 1970 and 2012.  WWF https://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/all_publications/living_planet_index2/

Medicine

When developing new medicines. Modern researchers are looking more and more towards our natural biological resources. Many animal and plant species have been useful in the past for finding new treatments and cures. One of the most famous examples is digitalin which is derived from the foxglove and is used to treat heart conditions. Another is vincristine, taken from the rosy periwinkle of Madagascar and used to treat childhood leukaemia. Many more medicines have been derived from species found in rainforest areas and it is possible that many species could hold the answer to future medical cures – so the more species that are conserved, the more chance there is of discovering something of medical value.  The Young People’s Trust for the Environment (YPTE) http://ypte.org.uk/factsheets/biodiversity/why-do-we-need-to-conserve-biodiversity?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu5umwqDd4wIVgrHtCh1b6wloEAAYAiAAEgI53_D_BwE

Land loss

The majority of Earth’s land area is now modified by humans, which has had a large impact on biodiversity. Land degradation, such as the loss of healthy soils, has now reached critical levels and threatens the livelihoods of 3.2 billion people, according to one IPBES assessment. Ecosystem destruction will limit the products and services, such as food and medicines, that people can draw from the environment in future. Wetland ecosystems are among the most harmed, with nearly 50% lost since 1900. Global crop yields are expected to fall by 10% on average over the next 30 years as a result of land degradation and climate change.  Nature https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-03891-1

Rewilding

Today there is a growing movement for 'rewilding'.  That is, leaving habitats to develop naturally - without human management, control or intervention.  Rewilding also calls for the reintroduction of species that were hunted or pushed to the side and made extinct.  The Young People’s Trust for the Environment (YPTE) http://ypte.org.uk/factsheets/biodiversity/why-do-we-need-to-conserve-biodiversity?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu5umwqDd4wIVgrHtCh1b6wloEAAYAiAAEgI53_D_BwE

 
Church Teaching
 

Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation.  Laudato Si, Chapter III, Paragraph 36 

The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction.  Caritas In Veritate.  Chapter Four para 51.

We must recognize our grave duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it. Caritas In Veritate. Chapter Four, para 50.

 
Ideas For Action
 
Liturgical Resources
 

CARE FOR CREATION: CLIMATE MIGRATION

The Issue
 
In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that the greatest single impact of climate change could be on human migration with millions of people displaced by shoreline erosion, coastal flooding and agricultural disruption. 
 
Since then various analysts have tried to put numbers on future flows of climate migrants (sometimes called “climate refugees”) the most widely repeated prediction being 200 million by 2050.  
 
In the mid-1990s, it was widely reported that up to 25 million people had been forced from their homes and off their land by a range of serious environmental pressures including pollution, land degradation, droughts and natural disasters. At the time it was declared that these “environmental refugees”, exceeded all documented refugees from war and political persecution put together.  IOM Migration and Climate Change Research Series No 31.
 
The meteorological impact of climate change can be divided into two distinct drivers of migration; climate processes such as sea-level rise, salinization of agricultural land, desertification and growing water scarcity and climate events such as flooding, storms and glacial lake outburst floods.  But non-climate drivers, such as government policy, population growth and community-level resilience to natural disaster, are also important. All contribute to the degree of vulnerability people experience.   
 
Forced migration hinders development in at least four ways; by increasing pressure on urban infrastructure and services, by undermining economic growth, by increasing the risk of conflict and by leading to worse health, educational and social indicators among migrants themselves.
 
Church Teaching
 

Our response to the challenges posed by contemporary migration can be summed up in four verbs: welcome, protect, promote and integrate.  Message of Pope Francis for the 105th World Day of Refugees and Migrants (September 2019) 

Development cannot be reduced to economic growth alone, often attained without a thought for the poor and the vulnerable. A better world will come about only if attention is first paid to individuals; Message of Pope Francis for World Day of Refugees and Migrants 2014 

The hungry nations of the world cry out to the peoples blessed with abundance. And the Church, cut to the quick by this cry, asks each and every man to hear his brother's plea and answer it lovingly Populorum Progressio 1967 

We are the heirs of earlier generations, and we reap benefits from the efforts of our contemporaries; we are under obligation to all men. Therefore we cannot disregard the welfare of those who will come after us to increase the human family. The reality of human solidarity brings us not only benefits but also obligations Populorum Progressio 1967 

 
Ideas For Action
 
Liturgical Resources
 

 

CARE FOR CREATION: FASHION

The Issue
 

In 2015, the global textiles and clothing industry was responsible for the consumption of 79 billion cubic metres of water, 715 million tons of CO2 emissions and 92 million tons of waste. This impact is often felt in third countries, as most production takes place abroad. The production of raw materials, spinning them into fibres, weaving fabrics and dyeing require enormous amounts of water and chemicals, including pesticides for growing raw materials such as cotton. European Parliament briefing 

EU citizens bought 6.4 million tonnes of new clothing (12.66 kg per person) in 2015.  Between 1996 and 2012, the amount of clothes bought per person in the EU increased by 40 %. At the same time, more than 30 % of clothes in Europeans' wardrobes have not been used for at least a year. Once discarded, over half the garments are not recycled, but end up in mixed household waste and are subsequently sent to incinerators or landfill where they release methane.  European Environment Agency (EEA

Raw Materials

Cotton, which accounts for more than 43 % of all fibres used for clothes is considered especially problematic because it requires huge quantities of land, water, fertilisers and pesticides.  Silk has an especially detrimental effect regarding depletion of natural resources and global warming and wool contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP) reportPolyester is made of fossil fuels and is non-biodegradable.  Unlike cotton, it has a lower water footprint, has to be washed at lower temperatures, dries quickly and hardly needs ironing. However, one load of laundry of polyester clothes (also nylon and acrylic) can discharge 700 000 microplastic fibres, which release toxins into the environment and can end up in the human food chain. Estimates show that every year approximately half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres from washing clothes end up in the ocean.  Pulse of the Fashion Industry report  

Fast Fashion

Epitomised by the multinational retail chains, fast fashion relies on mass production, low prices and large volumes of sales. Fast fashion constantly offers new styles to buy, as the average number of collections released by European apparel companies per year has gone from two in 2000 to five in 2011, with, for instance, Zara offering 24 new clothing collections each year, and H&M between 12 and 16. This has led consumers to see cheap clothing items increasingly as perishable goods that are 'nearly disposable', and that are thrown away after wearing them only seven or eight times.  European Clothing Action Plan 

Church Teaching
 
The ecological crisis a common responsibilityThe profound sense that the earth is "suffering" is also shared by those who do not profess our faith in God. Indeed, the increasing devastation of the world of nature is apparent to all. It results from the behaviour of people who show a callous disregard for the hidden, yet perceivable requirements of the order and harmony which govern nature itself .
Pope John Paul II  Message of His Holiness for the celebration of the WORLD DAY OF PEACE January 1, 1990
 
Care for creation:  The relationship between human activity and global warming must be constantly monitored for “the climate is a good that must be protected”.
Vatican’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para 470 

Climate As A Common Good:   The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it Laudato Si para 23Soctrine of the Church, para 470
 
Global Inequality:  We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.  Laudato Si para 49
 
Ideas for Action
 
Liturgical Resources

• Sisters of Mercy   Laudato Si and Sisters of Mercy's Critical Concerns
• 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: TRANSPORT

The Issue

Transport drives economic activity and is fundamental to human welfare, but the sector is also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution, with significant impacts on the environment and human health.

Transport activity is increasing around the world as economies grow, which means that the sector’s emissions are also on the rise. That’s largely because 95 per cent of the world's transport energy still comes from fossil fuels.

In towns and cities, the main source of air pollution is road transport. Diesel and petrol vehicles create pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. The friction of brakes and tyres on the road also creates particulate matter. Most diesel vehicles create much higher levels of these pollutants than petrol vehicles.  British Lung Foundation
 
Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transport

Globally, transport accounted for one quarter of total emissions in 2016 at around 8 GtCO2, a level 71% higher than what was seen in 1990.
The highest absolute increase was in road transport. Overall, the share of road transport emissions increased by two percentage points to 74%, while air and water transport remained unchanged. International Energy Agency
 
Electric Cars

It is quite well understood that electric cars have the potential to reduce carbon emissions, but important to realise this potential is dependent on the type of electricity that charges the battery.  Given that the vast majority of power generation around the world is grid-tied, where a car is charged plays a large role in determining its carbon emissions.

Electric cars’ carbon emissions can be four times greater in places with coal dominated generation than in those with low carbon power. Shrink That Footprint – Shades of Green Report
 
Impacts on Health 

As the world gets hotter and more crowded, our engines continue to pump out dirty emissions, the very air we breathe is growing dangerously polluted: nine out of ten people now breathe polluted air, which kills 7 million people every year. One third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution.

“The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health.  WHO
 
Church Teaching
 
The ecological crisis a common responsibility - world peace is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices among peoples and nations, but also by a lack of due respect for nature, by the plundering of natural resources and by a progressive decline in the quality of life. The sense of precariousness and insecurity that such a situation engenders is a seedbed for collective selfishness, disregard for others and dishonesty 
Pope John Paul II  Message of His Holiness for the celebration of the WORLD DAY OF PEACE January 1, 1990
 
Care for creation:  The relationship between human activity and global warming must be constantly monitored for “the climate is a good that must be protected”.
Vatican’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para 470 

Climate As A Common Good:   The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it Laudato Si para 23Soctrine of the Church, para 470
 
Global Inequality:  We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.  Laudato Si para 49
 
Ideas for Action
 
Liturgical Resources

• Sisters of Mercy   Laudato Si and Sisters of Mercy's Critical Concerns
• 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: CARBON OFFSETTING

The Issue

A Carbon offset is a way to compensate for your emissions by funding an equivalent carbon dioxide saving elsewhere. Our everyday actions, at home and at work, consume energy and produce carbon emissions, such as driving, flying and heating buildings. Carbon offsetting is used to balance out these emissions by helping to pay for emission savings in other parts of the world.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions:  13% of the global population still lacks access to modern electricity.   3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.  Energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The world needs to triple its investment in sustainable energy infrastructure per year, from around $400 billion now to $1.25 trillion by 2030.   UN Sustainable Goal 7

Carbon Budget:  The world technically has only one-fifth of its "carbon budget"—the total is 2.8 trillion metric tons—remaining in order to avoid warming the Earth more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Halting the trends in motion will require more than just phasing out fossil fuels. In fact, the paths to halting global temperature increases of 1.5 or 2 degrees C, the two goals outlined by the IPCC, rely in some way on adopting methods of sucking CO2 from the sky. Those include planting trees, conserving existing forests and grasslands, and capturing CO2 from power plants and factories. National Geographic

Deforestation:  Forests also play a critical role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink—soaking up carbon dioxide. Deforestation is a particular concern in tropical rain forests because these forests are home to much of the world’s biodiversity.  In the Amazon around 17% of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching.  WWF
 
Church Teaching

Care for creation:  The relationship between human activity and global warming must be constantly monitored for “the climate is a good that must be protected”.
Vatican’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, para 470 

Climate As A Common Good:   The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it Laudato Si para 23Soctrine of the Church, para 470
 
Global Inequality:  We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.  Laudato Si para 49
 
Ideas for Action

• Trees for life - help restore the Caledonian Forest in the Scottish Highlands, transform bare hillsides into healthy young woodland.
• World Land Trust - By planting trees with World Land Trust (WLT), you are helping to restore forests that have been lost to deforestation across the world. 
• 25 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint  - tips on driving, air travel, home energy and more.
• Calculate and compensate for your emissions – Work out the financial compensation for the flights, car journeys, holidays, day to day living etc you do.
 
Liturgical Resources

• Sisters of Mercy   Laudato Si and Sisters of Mercy's Critical Concerns
• 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: 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

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