By Sister Mary Ann Garisto

The following is from the Autumn 2021 issue of Vision.

Sister Mary Ann Garisto

The release of the recent United Nations climate change report gives new urgency for us to take individual and collective action on behalf of the environment. In their August 2021 report, the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) state unequivocally that human actions have created not just the potential but the reality of global warming. Drawing on 14,000 scientific studies, the report finds that the Earth’s temperature has gone up 1.1 degrees Celsius since the pre-indus­trial age, with several harmful effects now irreversible. 

While many aspects of climate are locked in, aggressive and timely steps can be taken to halt carbon emissions and protect against even further warming. Limiting warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius is critical, because the “tipping point” would bring catastrophic and unsustainable change. If emissions were drastically reduced we could see imme­diate benefits such as cleaner air. 

In the spirit of Laudato Si’, we con­tinue to discuss ways to reduce our carbon footprint and take better care of our common home. 

The following are a few additional ways to promote a healthier and more balanced relationship with our environment.

» Switch to LED light bulbs 

LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs use energy more efficiently than other bulbs, requiring far less wattage than the old fluo­rescent lights. The old bulbs were far from efficient, wasting most of the energy on heat and not on light! While LED bulbs cost more, they last longer, are more environmentally safe than CFL bulbs and help lower the average electricity bill. 

» Beware of “vampire” energy 

Conserving energy is not only good for the planet but it’s a good way to lower consumer costs. Unplug devices when you’re not using them. Plug several devices into the same power strip, and then turn off the whole device to conserve energy. 

» Collective action 

While lowering one’s own carbon footprint is a positive step, it’s clear that collective action is necessary to address the cur­rent climate crisis. Global crises demand coordination and solutions at all levels – neighborhood, state, national, and global. As Laudato Si’ acknowledges, “self-improvement on the part of individuals will not by itself remedy the extremely complex situation facing our world today.” (212) Even taking part in an effort to clean a local river or protect a park can help strengthen relationships and build ties to a larger community. 

On July 29, the Global Catholic Climate Movement changed its name to Laudato Si’ Movement (LSM) to better reflect the collective organi­zations’ commitment to integral ecology, ecological conversion, and ecological justice. Member organizations have resources on how to become more involved, including prayer gatherings, tips for making your local parish more green, and strategies to divest from fossil fuels.