“Jerry, I’m terrified!” a Lancaster father told me last week. This father wants the enchanted outdoor world of his own childhood to be the same world his young son can enjoy. But he clearly understands that’s not going to happen and he’s scared.
He cited a World Wildlife Fund report that concluded “Between 1970 and 2010 populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish around the globe dropped 52 percent.” ( 2014 Living Planet Report)
My friend also reminded me about the dying of ocean life, an even bleaker picture. Oceans are experiencing a steady and deadly increase of carbonic acid from absorbing so much carbon dioxide, which is at historic highs in the atmosphere. http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/ In addition the water is warming around the globe, making it unsuitable for species accustomed to lower temperatures. Destructive fishing techniques further decimates marine life.
Seeking to encourage him, I told my friend about the pro-life message I expected to hear from Pope Francis. The Pope’s encyclical calls people everywhere to care for God’s creation, including animal life. Francis also urges us to protect the poor who are most at risk when the purity of the land, water and air is contaminated.
This young father perked up some. But to fully allay his fears requires millions of Americans recognizing this climate crisis as the moral challenge of our day and then advocating for workable solutions. Thank God, the Pope has clearly told us that this cause is one people of faith must now take up.
Photograph courtesy Michelle Johnsen Photography