I have been thinking a lot this week about global warming, probably because of my anxiety about the destruction that Scott Pruitt, the nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, can do to the future of the planet. So, is this a political concern or an expression of our faith that the Earth is the Lord’s? Is this an act of justice or mercy?
Pick your favorite 10-year-old and then think about how climate change will impact her:
- In 2030, she will be 23, and there will be 8.5 billion people on the planet.
- In 2050, she will be 43, and scientists estimate that one million people will die each year because of climate change.
- In 2080, she will be 73, and the world’s population will begin to decline as more people die than are being born because global warming is killing the planet.
- In 2100, she will be 93, which SHOULD be possible with improvements to medical care and nutrition. Her grandchildren would have turned 40 or 50 that year, but they are dead because the earth’s population will have fallen from eight billion to one billion as the planet struggles to sustain life.
Since September 11, 2001, Americans have been obsessed with the war on terror, yet, as President Obama pointed out, climate change already kills more people every year than terrorism. About 20,000 people died from terrorism in 2016, mostly in the Middle East. Although attacks in places like Paris received lots of global attention, 70,000 people died in Europe during the summer of 2003 in a deadly heatwave. In fact, more than 350,000 people already die every year because of climate change. The overwhelming majority of these deaths are people of color and those in the world’s poorest nations.
Maybe that is why we just don’t care enough to do anything. I’d blame the government and greed, but I wonder sometimes if we don’t get the government we deserve.
So, is fighting climate change justice or mercy? Jesus was pretty blunt about religion that was heavy on piety but didn’t care for the poor and vulnerable. Do something today to help the 10-year-old children that you love to have a better future.
Rev. Michael Piazza