It may be Spring here in the North Carolina Piedmont according to the calendar, but the thirty and forty-something degree morning temperatures say something else. There is hope though. The weather wizards on the tv are holding out for better numbers this week.
All this leads me to what I really want to talk about, global climate change. Unless all of us on this rather fragile planet we call Earth begin to take this business seriously we are going to leave our children and their heirs a world that may, in most chances, be uninhabitable.
We all have seen the extreme and dangerous storms this year that have crossed the nation from mid Texas to Delaware. One after another of these “supercell” tornadic events have not spared small towns to large cities in their destruction.
In many other ways we have seen the warming effects in our own particular locales. California has experienced the extremes of climate from dire drought to aerial rivers to unbelievable snowfalls. Our seacoasts are impacted by rising oceans due to the polar icecaps melting.
Even here in the Piedmont of North Carolina the weather has changed.
As Franciscans, we are often accused of being the keepers of the bird baths but truly we are called as part of our charisma, our vocation, to recognize God in his total creation. We read in the psalms where the woods and the fields sing, singing the glory of God. As one writer once put it, all creation has God’s DNA. As is all life is sacred from conception to eternity, this planet we all inhabit is no different. We are called, all of us, to respect and love not only God himself but each and everything He has created.
Whatever we do has an impact. If we have to have fresh fruit in the middle of winter and it has to be imported from some South American country, we are adding to global warming. If we buy those expensive sneakers that are manufactured in some overseas factory we are adding to global warming. Why? It takes burning some variety of fossil fuels to transport them and that is a major contributor to the problem.
Each community, large or small, once had an economy that was centered in that place. We had a local market or markets that were supplied by local farmers. We had local merchants who in many cases sold what was locally produced. There were local manufacturers who produced goods that were in a limited geographical area. In the winter we ate what we had stored up from the previous harvest.
On a national scale, we once had our own manufacturing. Our factories made our clothes, our automobiles, our furniture and provided jobs. These goods were distributed more or less in our own nation. We did not need to use tons of fuel to import those goods.
What has happened? We have forgotten God. We have forgotten that as Christians we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked. By putting ourselves and our own desires, not our needs, above all else we have created a situation where we are not loving anyone but our own selfish ways of living over the needs of those who may live in areas of this world who do not have enough.
When we consume more than we need we not only cause those who are in need to have less we are also contributing to global warming through our demands for goods that have to be transported globally.
There is no real easy answer to this. It is going to take a major sea change in all of us who live on this small planet. We all are going to have to truly love our neighbor as ourself even if that neighbor lives halfway across the world from us. If that means doing without fresh fruit on our table in January, we need to do it. If we refuse to buy any item that is made in some sweatshop in Asia or in Central America, we need to do it. If we can buy our food or whatever goods locally where we can, we need to do it.
We also need to speak up against the global greed that has caused all of this. We can do it. God is on our side.