The following was written by Deacon Tom Cervone, PhD, Sister Maureen Houlihan, DC, and Nichole Cervone-Gish, ED MS. It was published in The Message, the newspaper for Southwester Indiana's Catholic Community. They are encouraging their community to measure their carbon footprints, and become carbon neutral, through 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.’”
Did you know that in 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act, which required some federal agencies to take part in certain regulations, policies, projects, licensing and permitting? The NEPA has been a blessing for 50 years because it requires projects to realize their impacts on the environment and be held accountable. It was developed to avoid, minimize and mitigate/lessen our impacts upon Earth’s air, water and soil.
In some larger projects, NEPA has even required millions of trees to be planted, preserved in place and protected forever, along with avoidance and protection of many other human and natural resource issues. As Christians around the world committed to enriching the lives of others through our faith and humanitarian aid, how can we find a loving balance in humanity and nature, and sustainability of goodwill towards our Mother Earth for another 50 years?
We urge you to take to heart Pope Francis’ wisdom from Chapter 1 of “Laudato Si’” – “What is Happening to our Common Home?” Pope Francis calls all people in the world to discover ways to protect nature and “Save our Planet Earth.”
Our world is a precious gift given to us by God, and we oversee its health. But to do this, questions arise. Among them:
- How can we be heroes to our Mother Earth following Pope Francis’ encyclical and fully take to heart our earthly actions?
- What are the best practices to reduce greenhouse gases and for us to become carbon neutral, so we can breathe better and not witness so many devastating storms and wildfires?
- How can we participate in a Climate Action Plan and implement it while also meeting carbon-neutral goals like greater use of clean renewable energy forms, protecting and promoting biodiversity, and guaranteeing clean water to all?
- How can we set aside ways in our own lives to care for our common home, our Mother Earth, one day at a time?
In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote the book “Silent Spring,” which urged humans to act responsibly, carefully and in haste. It left an indelible mark on the concept of reducing pollution. In 1965, Adlai Stevenson, then the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said, “We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable resources of air, water, and soil, for our safety, to its security and peace as preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and the love we give our fragile craft.” In 2018, a young 15-year old Swede named Greta Thunberg inspired millions in an international movement to fight climate change.
Today, we encourage agencies, universities, scientists, engineers, companies, farmers, teachers and others to resolve climate change, consumerism, pollution, global warming and urban sprawl. Working with Pope Francis, let’s care for and protect our Mother Earth as we would a brother or sister. As good people with endless potential, possibilities and hearts, let’s empower humankind to act with urgency, love and support for our Mother Earth. To do this, though, we need everyone – including you! We need your wisdom, strengths, compassion and dedication so we can follow the moral compass that proclaims, “Do no harm!”
What can you do?
Please consider any of the following:
- Visit the City of Evansville’s website to learn more about its Draft Climate Action Plan.
- Carefully measure and clean up your household's carbon footprint (Visit: https://www.carbonneutralindiana.org/about).
- Join the local interfaith group Tri-State Creation Care (Visit: fcom/tristatecreationcare).
- Join the statewide network of Indiana Catholics for Creation (Visit: org).
- Join the Global Catholic Climate Movement (Visit: global).
- Encourage and promote a “green team” at your parish.
- Be a role model. Pick up litter, safely dispose of chemicals, plant trees, garden, compost, reduce, recycle and reuse.
- Pray for all of our earthly actions to shine love upon our Mother Earth!
Deacon Tom Cervone, Ph.D. is an ecologist (St. Bonaventure University – Franciscan College); Daughter of Charity Sister Maureen Houlihan 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 Community Supported Agriculture Farm grows all-natural produce for shareholders and the poor. Nicole Cervone-Gish, Ed. MS., is an award-winning English Language Learners teacher.