Heal the Wounds of Climate Change

Thursday 2nd August 2018

Bishop John writes:

Speaking in 2015, Pope Francis said:

“We received this world as an inheritance from past generations, but also as a loan from future generations, to whom we will have to return it!”

That is why I recently joined with a number of Catholic academics who backed calls from charity Plan B Earth urging the Government to do what is necessary to tackle climate change.  Plan B Earth were hoping to persuade the Government to reduce the 2050 carbon target, even to the point of taking legal action against them. The legal action was unsuccessful but that does not mean that this issue disappears.

The question of Climate Change can no longer be dismissed as something that is happening elsewhere. We are experiencing an impact on our own seasons, with the heavy snow and increasing cold of winter to the recent prolonged heat of a summer with almost no rain for weeks. These severe fluctuations have an increasingly detrimental effect on agriculture.  And locally, in recent weeks, we saw first-hand the devastation and drain on resources that wildfires can cause, with danger to life and property. We might have chosen to ignore the impact of Climate Change in distant places, with rising sea-levels swamping farmlands in Southeast Asia, to punishing heatwaves in Japan and cyclones in America – but change is clearly happening here. Unless we take the issue of climate change more seriously, future generations will suffer in unprecedented ways.  We have one planet, Earth, and we are responsible for it. Pope Francis calls us to care for our common home.

There is no doubt that many people are beginning to understand the challenge. It is certainly my experience that young people in our schools are more aware of their responsibility for caring for the planet and its resources, than any generation before them. As I visit local schools, I see the fascination that pupils have in their study of the environment and the innovation that they display towards the challenges that future generations face.  But while we must all learn to take our part, even in simple everyday tasks, there are some decisions and changes that are beyond our control. This is when the Government has a duty and unique opportunity to step forward and lead. The current 2050 carbon target does not treat the issue of fossil fuels with any real urgency. When we see wildfires in the Arctic Circle we need strong and determined action, not complacency. The damage we have inflicted on our planet has been great but Pope Francis believes that it is not too late to heal the wounds. We all need to work together. 

This article was first written for publication in the Manchester Weekly News on 2nd August 2018.

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