If you’ve been watching the Women’s World Cup, you know southern France reached an unprecedented high of 115 degrees during the tournament. In fact, average global temperatures hit a new record for the month of June, breaking the previous record of 2016. This year, the Lower Mississippi River Valley has experienced unheard-of flooding. Meanwhile, the Colorado River Basin enters the 19th year of a historic drought. This May, the USA saw a new mark of 12 consecutive days with at least eight tornadoes per day. As these record-breaking examples illustrate, climate change encompasses more than the warming of the earth.
We are experiencing a worldwide decline of insects, including pollinators, with a third of butterfly and moth species threatened and half of surveyed bee species threatened. There are multiple causes —such as deforestation, the replacement of small family farms with their hedgerows and wildflowers by massive industrial monoculture farming, and overuse of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides — but climate change is a contributing factor.
Some say it is too expensive to combat climate change. Yet, how much is it costing to mitigate the massive damage to our infrastructure from repeated flooding, droughts, and monster storms? How much are we spending on health care to offset the effects of cancer-causing pollutants? How much income is being lost when farmers can’t grow corn because their fields are too wet? Can we even calculate the large-scale loss of insects, which serve as the base of the food web, break down waste, and pollinate our crops?
Some believe it is vanity to think humans can change the climate. Yet, one of the first stories in the Bible is about Adam and Eve destroying paradise by greedily wanting more than they needed to live a good life.
St Francis, who saw all created things as his “brothers” and “sisters,” instead of Adam and Eve, should be our guide. Humans have the ability to husband the earth, rather than exploit it. All it takes is the compassion, courage, and will to do so. Waste less, reuse more, plant trees, support renewable energy, and advocate for a green economy.