It is said in the Old Testament, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock” (Ezekiel 34: 2-3).
We have reached a moment in time where we can no longer ignore the global climate crisis. It has been 30 years since scientists first started to form a consensus about the dangers of human-caused global warming, and since then things have only gotten worse. Yet, there is hope for a better future if we act now.
In his encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis makes a desperate appeal to communicate the “immensity and urgency of the challenge we face.” He refers to the earth as our “common home,” emphasizing this is not any single country’s issue, but a global one.
He writes that “Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world.” God entrusted us to protect His creation, and he shows us how to care for it with generosity and tenderness as Mary cared for Christ. The ideas presented in this encyclical are a part of Catholic Social Teaching—the Church’s doctrine on matters of human dignity and common good in society—and have been around since the times of the Old Testament and the early days of the Church.
As Christians, we should all be striving to protect God’s creation and all living things. Catholic Social Teaching asks us to care for creation, the Bible asks us to care for creation, Pope Francis asks us to care for creation and God asks us to care for creation.
So, why has climate justice been turned into a political issue? Why is human-caused, global climate change called a hoax and dismissed by so many in this country?
Climate change is an issue that affects every soul on earth. It is an international crisis that should be our primary focus in the upcoming election.
At the University of Dallas, we strive towards truth and justice. The truth is that climate change is real; this is not a matter of opinion. At UD, we learn to evaluate sources based on credibility. According to NASA, “97% or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.”
This is not a hoax.
If we continue on our current path, carbon emissions will continue to rise, which in turn will cause the global temperature to rise. As the planet warms, everything will feel its effects. Thousands of species will go extinct from loss of habitat due to deforestation. The arctic will be completely ice-free in the summers. Without the ice, less of the sun’s energy will be reflected back into space, speeding up the global warming process even more.
As the oceans warm, coral reefs will die, leading to loss of marine biodiversity. Loss of marine life leads to food shortages for humans. Sea levels will rise and eventually flood many coastal cities. The weather will become harsher and more extreme. There will be more droughts and heatwaves; hurricanes will become more intense.
All this is likely to take place in our lifetimes unless we do something about it.
Now is the time for action and radical change from the highest office in this country. There is one candidate running this year who stands for climate justice and has a plan to pour $2 trillion into the fight to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. That candidate is former Vice President Joe Biden.
President Donald Trump’s plan is to deny, dismiss and diminish the threat. While in office, he has reversed many of the climate policies put into place during the Obama administration, including, but not limited to an executive order to rescind President Obama’s 2013 Climate Plan focused on cutting carbon emissions, appointing not one, but two oil lobbyists to head the EPA, reducing the size of two national monuments in Utah by two million acres in the largest rollback of federal land protection in our nation’s history and lifting the moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands.
He also withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement within the first 6 months of his presidency. Biden promises to rejoin the agreement, whose central aim is to strengthen the global response to climate change. Trump promises “America First,” so then why does he consistently enact policies to damage our environment? He does not care about America; he cares about profiting off her destruction. We are one of the world’s biggest superpowers, yet due to Trump’s actions we are ranked 61st in the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index.
As young people, we need to stand up and fight for our futures and the futures of our children and grandchildren. As 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg said, “We must admit that we are losing this battle. We have to acknowledge the older generations have failed.”
It is up to us and our generation to fix this crisis.
Individual change is important, but there must also be a systemic change from real people in power. We cannot ask politely or timidly. We must demand action from our politicians. It is time for Americans to say no to Trump’s incompetence and prove ourselves as a country that fights for environmental justice.