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What needs to be done

Ann Rennie  |  21 May 2020

It’s no longer possible to ignore the fact that our climate is changing. Now we need to find the courage to act.

In the Genesis story of creation, God created the world with its marvellous creatures of the sea and sky, its lumbering and lithe land animals, its mountains and rivers and valleys. Over all that swam and flew and crawled and ran, over all living things, he gave humankind dominion.


Such dominion was never meant to become domination. Such dominion never meant that some groups would benefit from the earth’s abundance while others would be marginalised and impoverished; such dominion was never meant to lead to a fragile planet and a precarious future for those who now live on it.

This is us, you and me, and the intentions and actions we enable every day when we are complicit or accepting that things are not that bad.

Our common home is now badly wounded. It is not yet fatal to the species, but we need to find – and quickly – ways to restore the planet so it remains the life-giving source on which we all depend.


Pope John Paul II called for global ecological conversion and an authentic human ecology that prioritised the dignity, integrity and livelihood of each person. Our place in the creation story is shared with all species. This conversion is about the reframing of mindsets that, instead of profit and plunder, see the Earth as a place of beauty and bounty that must be safe-guarded and stewarded for future generations.

In July last year a funeral for the loss of a glacier was held in Iceland. A plaque unveiled at the site sends a clear and cautionary message when it states: Ok (Okjokull) is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. We know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it. This inscription is directed towards future generations – our children’s children.


In Laudato si’ Pope Francis speaks of the cry of the Earth and links this to the cry of the poor – those who are displaced, dispossessed or ‘disappeared’ because climate change and resource depletion have impacted on their traditional work of farming, fishing and forestry. He reminds us that we have a social and ecological debt to the poor. He speaks of the throw-away culture which worships at the altar of consumerism. He proposes a circular model of production where items are re-purposed and sustainability is the new imperative. He reminds us that the common good for all should take precedence over profits.

Our beautiful world is bleeding. We urgently need to disrupt patterns of waste and excess. We need to act with firm and faithful resolve, even if only in the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives.

We know what is happening and what needs to be done.


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