By Sarah Mac Donald - 09 October, 2014
The chair of Catholic aid agency Trócaire has warned that the scientific evidence of climate change is unequivocal and that not only is our climate changing, it is changing as a direct result of carbon emissions from human activity.
Bishop William Crean was writing in the Irish Times following the re-launch of the bishops’ pastoral document ‘The Cry of the Earth’.
In his article, the Bishop of Cloyne said that if emissions continue as they are, experts warn that, by 2100, average global temperatures will be between 3.7 and 4.8 degrees higher than today.
“Such a rise would have a profound impact on sea levels, rainfall patterns and the frequency of extreme weather events,” he warned.
He highlighted that crop yields are predicted to fall by up to 50% in some African countries as a direct consequence of climate change.
This has led to predictions that there will be an additional 86 million malnourished children in the world by 2050.
“We do not have to look to the future to see the devastation of climate change, of course. Today, one in 12 people across the world is at risk of hunger.”
Referring to his work with Trócaire, the Bishop said he had seen how drought, storms and floods are plunging people into further poverty.
He reminded the faith that one of the central tenets of Christianity is the notion of stewardship, which tells us of our responsibility to care for God’s Earth and to pass it to the next generation in good health.
The Bishop also cited St John Paul II’s rebuke in 2001, when he accused mankind of “humiliating” the Earth, saying “Man is no longer the Creator’s steward, but an autonomous despot who is finally beginning to understand that he must stop at the edge of the abyss.”
He also highlighted how Pope Francis has made the environment a core aspect of his papacy.
“In the homily of his inauguration Mass, he explained that “protecting all creation [and] respecting the environment in which we live” is the responsibility of everyone,” Bishop Crean underlined.
Referring to the re-publication of the Irish Bishops’ pastoral reflection ‘The Cry of the Earth’, he said it was a call for action on climate change.
“This document reminds Catholics in Ireland of their Christian duty to care for the Earth,” Bishop Crean said.
“While climate change is a technical, scientific and economic issue, it is also a moral one. The choices we make can undermine the wellbeing of millions of people and condemn future generations to live in an inhospitable world.”
“We need change. Each of us has a role to play, be it in our homes, our schools or our businesses. Climate change is no longer simply a scientific concern; it is a human crisis.”
“We have a moral obligation to rise to this challenge and ensure that future generations do not pay a terrible price for our failure to cherish this beautiful planet,” he said.