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8 June 2021
Playing our part in protecting the world and its inhabitants
Words Sandra Pawar
Climate change is increasingly becoming a threat to the global community, especially to the most vulnerable among us. Its consequences are devastating and heartbreaking. The lives of men, women and children worldwide are being destroyed and torn apart by climate change, and community after community is suffering.
Thankfully, there is now a global awareness of the immense damage that climate change is causing, and people are beginning to understand that something must change. Communities are becoming increasingly aware that pollution and plastic waste are ruining our oceans and destroying our fish and sea life.
There is a growing awareness that the rising temperatures are causing the sea levels to rise too, and forcing people to relocate their homes and communities. There is the knowledge that droughts and severe heat levels are catastrophic for farmers and growers. There is evidence and an awareness that people face severe water and food shortages in regions facing the effects of climate change. The people affected the most are the poor, the powerless and the vulnerable – those who are already struggling to survive.
Climate change is an incredibly complex and challenging issue, with so many factors coming into play. What is neither challenging nor complex is that we need to make changes because more and more women and children worldwide are suffering because of our action or inaction. It has become abundantly clear that we cannot just move forward with business as usual. The result of climate change globally is countless victims and untold suffering, and something needs to be done today.
One person who has been vocal on this issue is Pope Francis, who, in 2015, first urged the United Nations to “take a greater interest in this phenomenon, especially human trafficking caused by environmental issues, and the exploitation of people.”
Even further back, at the United States Catholic Bishops Conference in 2011, why the Church cares about, and responds to, global climate change, was discussed: “At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God’s creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both ‘the human environment’ and the natural environment.”
It does my heart good to see fellow Christians acknowledge the issue and talk about what we need to be doing to protect the earth and its inhabitants.
We serve a God who deeply loves all his creation. His love for all his children should be enough to challenge us and make us commit to living our lives in different ways, to ensure that climate change does not worsen and that more victims are not created.
We must be challenged, and we must become self-reflective about the daily habits and practices we have that could be leading to the destruction of the environment and, ultimately, our exploitation as God’s children.
We must understand that we need to protect and fight for the rights of all humans, not just those within our communities but those around the world. It means we understand that the choices we make today affect us today and impact future generations. It means we care especially for the poor and vulnerable. It means we learn about how our daily habits can affect them and how the products we use or the food we eat can impact the struggling.
It is time to make choices in our own lives that help allow people worldwide to flourish and grow and not live in fear. What we choose to do today affects more than just ourselves; it has consequences that travel around the world.
Let’s do better, and let’s be better so that those consequences bring life and hope for the future.
Captain Sandra Pawar is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in New South Wales.