It is not easy to see the effects of climate change in our daily life here in Canada. Climate change doesn’t seem as urgent and pressing when you are living in a country that does not have to suffer directly from its effects.
Despite numerous reports about the dangers of global climate change for future populations, many choose to simply ignore it. I see this in my personal life constantly. I, myself, am guilty.
The issue of global climate change shows the interconnectedness of God’s creation. What is done in one area of the Earth can affect people and the environment elsewhere. Our actions have consequences.
Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’, which calls for the care and protection of our common home, is becoming increasingly relevant as leaders around the world are failing to protect the environment at the expense of short-term economic prosperity.
Although climate change is largely caused by the wealthy, it disproportionately affects the most vulnerable. The consequences significantly impact developing countries where the people are mainly dependent on the environment and natural resources for living and working.
Climate change is causing and will continue to cause low-income countries to suffer from stronger natural disasters, longer heat waves and unpredictable weather.
Climate change is typically thought of as solely an economic, scientific and political problem, but it is a moral one as well. It is a sign of a more significant crisis — the world’s irresponsible and reckless consumption of natural resources and increasing industrialization in its pursuit of more wealth and power.
It is the result of what Pope Francis calls a “throwaway culture,” where little value is placed on life and the environment. This extends past our treatment of the Earth and encompasses our behaviour towards human life as well.
We need to stand in solidarity with those exploited and left vulnerable as a result of climate change — to protect the environment is to protect the integrity and dignity of human life. When we see other living things simply as things to be used, exploited and then discarded for personal gain, we fail as stewards of the Earth.
God’s creation is not the property of a few individuals but rather a gift we should equally share. This gift is not just for the present, but for the future. Our duty as humans is to live sustainably and responsibly, such that there are enough resources for everyone.
(Chelmecki, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)