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Deacon Tom Cervone, Ph.D., on Carbon Neutral Indiana

Editor’s note:

This series takes a deeper look at Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical On the Care for Our Common Home, “Laudato Si’”.

It was written by Deacon Tom Cervone, Ph.D., Sister Maureen Houlihan, D.C., and Nicole Cervone-Gish, Ed. M.S. It was published in The Message, southwestern Indiana's Catholic community newspaper.

The majority of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the United States, like CO 2 , come from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation (EPA). They cause climate change by trapping heat, and have far-ranging environmental and health effects (National Geographic, Carbon dioxide levels are at a record high. Here’s what you need to know. Christina Nunez, 5/13/19). A simple way to help Our Mother Earth is to become carbon neutral.

What is carbon neutral? Daniel Poynter from Carbon Neutral Indiana (CNI) says: “Every individual and organization has a carbon footprint, and this is the amount of GHGs they release annually. A person or thing is carbon neutral when it does not add GHGs to the atmosphere. Carbon neutrality means being net-neutral, i.e., the entity still emits some GHGs, but it takes responsibility for its carbon footprint and cleans up its “carbon trash.” How? It invests financially in projects that soak up the same amount it emits, e.g., a tree-planting project or a landfill methane-capture project.”

There are very few carbon neutral organizations in the country, and CNI is the only one in Indiana. Their mission is to help households and businesses clean up their carbon footprints and shift culture so that it’s normal to be carbon neutral. They are a non-profit 501c3 organization.

Working with CNI or any other reliable carbon neutral organization, members can attain carbon neutrality by cleaning up their “carbon trash.” By doing so, people make a big difference in the climate crisis. Becoming carbon neutral allows people to do something positive, rather than do nothing. It also helps us become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Carbon neutral is especially important when we consider Indiana is ranked 8 th in CO 2 emissions in the country (World Atlas, US States by Carbon Dioxide Emissions per Capita, Amber Pariona, 4/25/17).

You may consider contacting CNI or any other reliable carbon neutral organization for help in becoming carbon neutral. The former uses a carbon calculator developed by UC Berkeley. From your responses in a short phone interview, they can calculate your carbon sequestration (or that carbon captured) on your property compared with that released.

CNI and other carbon neutral organizations can reduce global warming and climate change by investing, for example, in preserving existing forests, reforestation, development of more grasslands and wetlands, improvements in agriculture practices, reduction of methane from landfills, and more. For example, CNI reported helping in 2020:

  • 200+ people measure their carbon footprint
  • 160+ households and businesses become carbon neutral
  • clean-up 5,000+ tons of CO 2 e (annualized), like taking 1,000 cars off the road forever
  • prevent over $1.1 million in social damages.

Therefore, it is in our best interest to become carbon neutral and then work to be pro-active in other ways to improve air quality. It will help protect Our Mother Earth now and for future generations to come.

Other ways of helping Our Mother Earth are to consider putting into practice the 10 Ways Dioceses Care for God’s Creation by Jonathon Braden (1/3/22, Laudato Si’ Movement), and the 52 Ways to Care for Creation by Pedro Jimenez (12/22/21, Laudato Si’ Movement).

What can we do? Please visit:

“It is our collective and individual responsibility… to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live” (Dalai Lama, Nobel Laureate 1989). Pray and thank God for all our blessings, and become Carbon Neutral.

Dr. Tom Cervone is a deacon at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Evansville, Indiana with 50 years of experience in ecology. He graduated from St. Bonaventure University, a Franciscan University. Sister Maureen Houlihan, D.C. is a support sister on the Seton Harvest Farm started by the Daughters of Charity in response to the Communities - Care of Mother Earth. This CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farm grows all natural produce for shareholders and the poor. Nicole Cervone-Gish, Ed. MS. is an award winning ELL (English Language Learner) teacher, who lives in Evansville, Indiana with her family.

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