Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Pope Francis Speaks up for the Environment


When I was a kid, our local church was on a hill near the ocean. The wall behind the altar was made of glass and through it we could see the sky, the trees, and birds, squirrels or even dogs running by. We were in nature without being exposed to the elements. Every Sunday I tuned out the priest (oops!) and took in the view instead. I don't know if I believe creationism but if I did, it would make more sense to meditate and pray in nature. I find that my intuition is louder when I'm sitting in a park, and energetically it also becomes very clear that we are all part of one living breathing ecosystem. Somehow we've lost sight of the fact that hurting the planet ultimately hurts us as much as it hurts the environment. This is why I was thrilled to read Pope Francis' Environmental Encyclical last week, an  open letter imploring all of us to take better care of the planet. He starts by referencing St Francis of Assisi, whose name he took, as a prime example of  respect for non-human lifeforms. Pope Francis also condemns the view that we own the Earth and have the right to pillage it's resources. We've been doing it for centuries without any thought for the consequences, which he also lays out:

Climate Change and Pollution: Here he highlights the damage that fossil fuels are doing to the environment and calls on our governments to look for other, sustainable sources that won't wreak havoc on the climate. He also mentions environmental toxins that make people sick and all of the trash that our society creates (though population control isn't mentioned). I think this point has to be tackled at a macroeconomic level although I wouldn't underestimate the voice of the public. It's a shared responsibility we all have, especially when we consider our consumption habits and "brand" loyalties. 

The Water Crisis: This is a hard one to wrap your head around, if you think that 70% of the surface area on the earth is water. Fresh drinking water can be hard to come by in some parts of the world, putting human survival at risk and also increasing the cost of our food supply. Also, growing up in California we were constantly told to be mindful of our water consumption because of the droughts. I learned to appreciate rain so much that living in drizzly London for five years felt like a dream.

Loss of Biodiversity: I'm a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio's Facebook Page, and even though I love his movies, it's the environmental posts that grabbed my attention. Elephants are in danger of extinction because of the illegal ivory trade, and a lot of that ivory finds it's way to the US through legal misdirection. We know and love elephants so we're moved to action, but as Pope Francis points out in his encyclical, there are plant and animal species that we're not even aware of, and they are likely being wiped out by commercial developments that affect our rainforests and oceans. We don't really know what the implications will be or how it will affect that "global equilibrium"  

Quality of Life: Our social structures are also affected when we deplete the earth's resources and build cities that grow into the tens of millions of residents without proper planning for water, transportation, clean air and waste management (especially common in developing nations).  I can attest to this as my hometown has more than 20 million inhabitants and being near one of the few parks is a huge privilege. We need fewer cars on the streets and better urban planning when it comes to new developments. Not being able to drink water without boiling it is also a hassle, so we buy twenty-gallon jugs instead. 

I don't know enough about sustainability but I'm keen to learn. So far Netflix and blogs have been my main source of inspiration. There's a great Ted Talk where the speaker starts by Googling "paradise" and he comes up with pristine nature scenes. There's a reason so many of us crave holidays on a remote beach or in the mountains. We have (or had) that, but our way of life is pushing that paradise further and further away. Spending time in nature can also be healing on so many levels and we are shooting ourselves in the foot by trampling our surroundings and pretending that nothing is wrong. 



Pure Shores from The Beach




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Reiki hugs, Regina


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