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Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation  (JPIC)

"Cry of the earth, cry of the poor
by Andrew Conradi, ofs

T he November presentation on Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation was about ecological justice which links sustainable stewardship of the earth with the struggle for justice for the poor. The presentation echoed the Development and Peace Fall 2011 campaign.

Earlier this year we looked at food insecurity and sovereignty and the role of small-scale farming. “The problem of food insecurity needs to be addressed” (Benedict XVI, 2009, Caritas in Veritate, n 27). People are food insecure if they cannot produce or buy enough food to stay healthy. Food sovereignty is the right of small farmers, most of whom are poor, to own, keep and control their own land, decide what crops to grow, seeds to use, how to grow them, and try to obtain a fair price.

How are the cry of the earth and cry of the poor linked? Small-scale, sustainable farming is an effective way to feed people. It is more ecologically responsible than industrial agriculture. It is also a form of agriculture that can help to mitigate climate change. Most small–scale farmers are poor.

Is climate changing? Yes. Why? Scientists do not agree but many think it is due partly to burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) and the poor are the ones who suffer the most from the effects. How does this work? The chemical composition of the atmosphere is changing through the build up of greenhouse gases--primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.  The heat trapping property of these gases is undisputed.
Actually this is both good and bad.

The greenhouse effect - first the good news. Energy from the sun drives the earth's weather and climate, and heats the earth's surface; in turn, the earth radiates energy back into space.  Atmospheric greenhouse gases (water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other gases) trap some of the outgoing energy, retaining heat somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse.  Without this natural "greenhouse effect", temperatures would be much lower than they are now, and life as known today would not be possible.  Instead, thanks to greenhouse gases, the earth's average temperature is a more hospitable 15°C.

Now the bad news. Problems may arise when the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases increases.  Since the beginning of the industrial revolution (say 1750) atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased nearly 30%, methane concentrations have more than doubled, and nitrous oxide concentrations have risen by about 15%.  These increases have enhanced the heat trapping capability of the earth's atmosphere.  Why are greenhouse gases concentrations increasing?  Scientists generally believe that the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) and other human activities, e.g. deforestation and fires, are the primary reason for the increased concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

What are some effects of global warming leading to climate change? According to the UN  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of over 2000 international scientists:

EFFECT: More storms, rain & floods RESULT: Soil erosion, crop & property loss, disease
EFFECT: Less rain - droughts RESULT: Aquifer depletion, farm yields decrease, refugees
EFFECT: Global warming RESULT: Arctic ice shrinkage by 43% since 1980
EFFECT: Glaciers melting RESULT: Sea level rising by 3 mm/year, flooding, refugees

Had we better be on the safe side and reduce greenhouse gasses which could cause temperatures to rise and contribute to climate change?

“The Lord God took man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it.” (Gen 2:15) In other words: use it carefully and sustainably. Bl John Paul II in Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all Creation (1 Jan 1990) challenged Christians to realize “that their duty towards nature and creation are an essential part of their faith” (n. 15).

“The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor are one.”
(Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 4 Oct

Papal Me ssages for the World Day of Peace:
“If you want peace, struggle for justice.” Paul VI, 1972
“If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.” Benedict XVI, 2010

Francis in The Canticle of the Creatures understood that we have kinship with nature.
He called the sun and moon and earth: “Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Sister Mother Earth.”
The story of Gubbio is about peace between animals and people.

Reread SFO Rule n.15 and 18 and General Constitutions Article n.18 and 22.

Now you know! Here are two things you can do:
1. Sign the Development and Peace message of solidarity for small-scale farmers available from your parish D&P rep or click here to access the D&P website

2. Look at the Take Action list below and do what you can.

Now you know - take action!

Earth Walk, Victoria, BC, 23 April 2016

( L-R) Andrew Conradi, ofs; Christine O'Leary (D&P)‎; Joan Pogson, ofs; Josee Contorines, ofs; Jim Pogson; Carl Blais, ofs
& Madge (D&P) - Little Portion Fraternity & D&P (Photo by Deborah Conradi)

Reduce your carbon footprint:

For justice, peace and the integrity of creation!
• Turn off lights & unplug appliances when you leave the room
• Unplug your cell phone as soon as it is charged
• Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
• Hang your clothes to dry when possible & use the dryer less
• Take shorter showers & turn off water when shaving, & brushing your teeth
• Use biodegradable soaps & shampoos
• Where possible use tap water not bottled water. Use jugs & glasses at meetings
• Purchase recycled products whenever possible
• Ride a bike, walk, carpool, or use public transportation whenever possible
• Take reusable cloth bags when shopping instead of using disposable plastic bags
• Buy local, &/or organic food & patronize local farmers’ markets when possible
• Eat less meat: the UN concludes that “the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems,” including climate change
• Visit local Fair Trade websites: the Vancouver Archdiocese Office of Service and Justice; Just Coffee® & Fair Trade Vancouver websites (see below). You can buy, support and even fundraise with coffee, tea, sugar & chocolate & other products. Most Fair Trade farmers are organic and care for Creation and are paid a fair price or a living wage to support their families & communities
• Reduce use of disposable products by using reusable containers; if you must buy disposable, buy products made from recycled & recyclable material
• Organize an environmental awareness day at your parish, school or fraternity
• Plant a garden & start a compost pile
• Buy & use an apartment balcony worm composter (see websites below)
• Write to, or meet with, your MP, MLA & municipal councillors and urge them to act with urgency and put Care for Creation, the poor, & the common good ahead of short-term special interests
• Encourage your community to support public transit & other alternatives (e.g. car pools) to personal cars for commuting
• Consider the footprint of products before you buy them: from resource extraction, to production, distribution, consumption, & disposal
• Consider the social and environmental cost of goods & service: Who is making this product? How and where is this made? Using what resources? Are living wages paid? Are working conditions adequate? How long will it last?
• Reflect on ways to simplify your life: What are my needs vs. wants? How might I reduce the amount of resources I consume?
• Learn about Catholic Social Teaching on the environment and share the good news that Catholics are called to Care for Creation, care for the poor, seek the common good & respect all life. Read the pastoral letters linked below

PRAY The Canticle of the Creatures and pray:
• For all: that we see Creation as a sacramental gift to be cherished, protected & shared with all rather than a commodity to be exploited & consumed by a few;
• For the poor: that our hearts be opened to their plight, that their dignity be upheld, and that we advocate on their behalf so they, & we, can pursue integral human development;
• Forelected officials and corporate executives: that they act prudently & place Care of Creation, the poor, & the common good ahead of short-term interests.

Fair Trade websites:

Worm composting websites:

Integrity of Creation, An Issue for Religious Today: Global Warming and Climate Change

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Social Affairs Commission, 2003
A Pastoral Letter on the Christian Ecological Imperative. (also available in French)

Bouchard, Bishop Luc, 2009
The Integrity of Creation and the Athabasca Oil Sands, Pastoral Letter, Diocese of St Paul, Alberta (also available in French)

SIGN the Development and Peace message of solidarity

LEARN ABOUT: T he Earth Charter
LEARN ABOUT: Green Church
LEARN ABOUT: Greenpeace
LEARN ABOUT: David Suzuki Foundation
LEARN ABOUT: Local farmers markets and the 100 mile diet
WATCH THIS FREE FILM: Home, about our planet and its problems (90 mins)