Wednesday 01 April 2015 at 17:10To Love And Cherish Creation
by Dr. Pablo Canziani, Global Catholic Climate Movement
Today, our planet is losing the things which makes it a unique place in this solar system, if not the universe. Each day, unrestrained human activities, either unknowingly or knowingly (which is definitely much worse), will lead to the perturbation, degradation, or even disappearance of a component of the biosphere. This currently unchecked destruction of our only home, planet Earth, has reached such magnitude and such a rate that the scientific community at large, considers that our impacts rival the natural processes that shaped the different geological eras.
Hence they have given the current era a name: the Anthropocene.
The forces we have unleashed, primarily through our human greed and lack of restraint and respect for dignity in our relationships with our brothers and sisters and with God's creation are putting societies, environments, and life as a whole at risk. We are tinkering with systems that sustain the planet. We are tinkering with societies, nature, and ultimately, we are tinkering with life. This essentially uncontrolled experiment is called Global Change.
We have forgotten that our lives are bio- and geo-dependent. Our zest for technology distorts our vision of reality, making us mistakenly believe that we can do anything, including replace nature. Such a wanton, self-centred vision undercuts our roots with nature and with our fellow humans. We do not fully appreciate that the world we live in is a complex combination of physical, chemical and biological processes, in which haphazard combinations of various processes result in present state of the planet.
To begin with, we must accept that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, i.e., that the earth as such is much more than the mere juxtaposition of physics, chemistry, geology and biology. Our unique planet has been shaped by life, even to the extent that the evolution of the Earth's cortex is very different from other planets due to the presence of a usually rare gas in other planets' atmospheres: oxygen.
Vitally, our atmosphere is a product of life and is regulated by life.
To Christians, this fact should sound familiar: life that giveth life. Hence, when we pollute the atmosphere, destroy biodiversity, ruin soils, and deregulate the water cycle, we are destroying the essence of this planet: Life. Thus, I am afraid that includes us too.
In essence, life is what we are talking about when we discuss climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification and soil degradation, land-use changes, water pollution and deregulation, over production, over-consumption and extractivism. All of these issues are not independent; they all interact with each other, through multiple links and feedbacks, which are highly complex and non-linear. By non-linear, we mean that small changes combined could result in major consequences.
Non-linear systems, such as the biosphere function about mean equilibrium states small changes to such equilibrium states can result in abrupt change into other unknown states of equilibrium. And that, I have to say, is what our greed, inequalities and discriminations are doing to our beleaguered planet.
To speak about life implies that we are speaking of love.
For Christians and for all women and men of good will, knowingly or unknowingly, we are speaking about Love. When we speak and discuss the environment, humanity, and their relationships we are ultimately talking about God's gifts to all, about His Love expressed throughout the material world that surrounds us and his endless gift of life.
We are nature dependent not just through its material dimension, but also because it is a gift of God, and as such we must understand this gift and take care of it because this gift is not ours, it belongs to us all—past, present, and future. And it just does not belong to us humans, it belongs to all of God's creatures because, as Pope Francis recently pointed out, God loves all of them.
In order to love and cherish creation, we must first understand what nature is and how it works. Indeed, love grows and blooms when we understand the object of love. Understanding creation implies understanding both its material dimension and its spiritual dimension. Hence, science can help us part of the way, to make this love bloom. I hope this knowledge will lead you to care more about the atmosphere and the environment, thus opening a path for you, and through you to others, for ecological conversion and improvement to your daily life.
Originally published on Global Catholic Climate Movement
Dr. Pablo Canziani is a Global Catholic Climate Movement founding member, a Senior Scientist for the Argentine Research Council (CONICET), and a member of the Lay Department Board of the Argentine Conference of Bishops.
Photo via flickr user Rubén Moreno Montolíu