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Section 2

Why has Pope Francis Declared a Climate Emergency?

“What kind of world do you want to leave to the next generation, to children who are now growing up?” (Laudato Sí #160).

Those present explored briefly what is happening to our world  ‘…  the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’.

Jane shared her experience of her Climate Pilgrimage to COP 24 in Poland in 2018, journeying with survivors from climate disasters in Philippines. She gave some of her personal testimony, sharing on this experience.  This Climate Pilgrimage was part financed by the six largest coal producers in Poland. This wrankled hugely with Jane,  but was a frightening insult to Joanna Sustento who had survived typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and who is a climate activist  joining a global movement in taking legal action against the world’s biggest climate polluters. (See her story in the video clip below).

Section 3 

Greta Thunberg meets Pope Francis is St. Peter’s Square – April 2019

‘When Greta Thunberg  met Pope Francis ~ The abundant life of the Youth Climate Movement’.

The youth of the world are now calling out to us. Let us explore the power of this grassroots movement. Why should faith communities become involved? Where do we go from here? An ecological conversion  ~ is our hope from action.

In this section of Jane’s input she inspired hope when she spoke of her impression that Greta Thunberg could be described as a modern day prophet. She felt that the connection that Greta makes underlines the importance of an inter-generational response to the Climate Emergency.

Laudato Sí calls upon all of us to be protectors of the Earth and to be responsible for the stewardship of our Earth for the generations to come.  This is eminently possible “with a burst of love”,  but not possible with a “business as usual” approach.   There must be a radical change and this calls for an “ecological conversion”.

All of this Jane said, must “begin with ourselves”.  She urged those present  “not to feel old but to feel connected”.

Pádraic Fogarty followed on from Jane Mellet (for the mid-morning session) presenting on the theme: “Beauty in the Wild”

About Pádraic Fogarty

Pádraic is an ecologist and scientist, and currently serves as Campaign Officer for the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT). Pádraic was chair of the Irish Wildlife Trust from 2008-2012, editor of the magazine ‘Irish Wildlife’ from 2009-2018. He is also author of the 2017 book: “Whittled Away – Ireland’s Vanishing Nature”.

Pádraic began with the idea that firstly “we have to engage with the dark space to find our way out of it”.  The beginning of Pádraic’s talk was a comment on all that we have lost, and are losing at an alarming rate, that has given rise to the declaration of a “Biodiversity Emergency” in Ireland. His description of his work set the scene rather starkly, when he told us that his job is very much about looking for what is absent or gone from our countryside,and that this is rather disheartening.  He went on to paint the bleak picture.

Ireland’s biological diversity is under pressure like never before. The ongoing programme of conservation assessments conclude that on average 20% of the species that have been assessed are considered to be at risk of extinction in Ireland. Extinction is not a new phenomenon as Ireland has already lost many species. Among the species that are already considered extinct in Ireland are the Grey Wolf, Corn bunting, the Hornet Moth, Solitary bee, the Great Auk and the Brown Bear,

Pádraic is hugely concerned about:

  • the destruction of our sea the over-fishing and the culture catch and throwback that is a feature of bottom trawling that destroys sea habitats.
  • our centuries of turf cutting were not a problem until we began to machine cut and extract turf in huge amounts destroying habitats in the process and releasing carbon into our overheating atmosphere.
  • the decimation of our natural oak forests was obvious when he showed us a map of oak forests remaining in Ireland. Those sacred places are now barely visible on the map.

The way out of this inevitable demise? 

Pádraic outlined the following pathways towards change:

  • We need to reassess how we are farming and the over-dependence on EC or other subsidies promotes some types of dysfunctional or harmful farming. We are farming with pesticides, clearing land and overproducing. The net effect is such that ecosystems are being destroyed with permission and without care, as if there is a Plan B. There is no Planet B.
  • We must learn about our systems, species, our environment, our seas, rivers, forests, bogs and climate. From this learning will come a transformation.  We need to re-remember our dependence upon nature.
  • We need to reconnect with our natural environment and the transformation that comes from this will be the beginnings of a recovery. However, time is of the essence and emergencies demand priority.
  • We must remember that we are all only a generation or two from working the land, but yet this connection is well and truly broken and this is obvious to all.
  • Economic growth as we know it exacts a profit from the natural environment. Increasing wealth has been directly linked to the continuing extraction of fossil fuels. We must look closely at the link between economic progress and the destruction of our natural environment, and somehow we must re-balance and perhaps even overcompensate to ensure that our natural environment has a decent chance of a noticeable and sustaining recovery.

Looking at the SDG’s

When we look at the SDGs and the three pillars Social, Economic & Environmental, we need to be concerned with an equality of progress that assures all three pillars are strategically developed in an effort to restore the natural balance. The figure(right) shows the optimum relationship that will yield lasting results for a sustainable planet.


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