November 24, 2011
Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga and Caritas South Africa will be leading a delegation of representatives from the Caritas members to UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa. [Read press release from 24 November 2011] The 20-strong Caritas delegation will be taking part in several events in Durban in focusing on the impact of climate change in Africa. [Read Caritas Internationalis statement to the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)] Cardinal Rodriguez said, “Urgent action is necessary. Climate negotiators in Durban must not further delay agreeing to international legislation to curb the threat of climate change and set the world on a path to a more just and sustainable future.” Follow the Caritas delegation in Durban here.
October 12, 2011
By Bishop Theotonius Gomes CSC, President of Caritas Bangladesh Bishop Theotonius Gomes CSC is President of Caritas Bangladesh. He travelled to international climate negotiations in Poznan in 2008 and in Copenhagen in 2009 as part of Caritas efforts to get a fair deal for the poor. In Bangladesh, food is the basic daily concern. There is much unjust poverty. There is a lack of “daily bread” for many. The smallest available food is treated with great care; and it brings joy to the poor. The success of any government, aid agency, society or family lies in providing food security. Bangladesh has achieved three times higher food production over the last four decades by maximizing new technology. But progress is under threat as a result of rising sea levels and extreme or unusual weather patterns. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Bangladesh will lose the largest amount of cultivated land globally due [...]
By Bishop Theotonius Gomes CSC, President of Caritas Bangladesh One essential aspect of the mystery of the human person is its union of the earthly body and the heavenly soul, a union on earth destined for eternity. On earth, the body has to be a true home for the eternal spirit; in eternity the soul has to be home of the risen body. On earth, food assists the body in its essential function to keep “body and soul together” towards the fulfillment of that mystery of the human person. Thus ‘food security’ is hardly a mere earthly affair, it has eternal overtures. The Lord’s Prayer is no common petition. It is the prayer for the coming of the Kingdom of God. In it we pray for the “daily bread”, the everyday food of the poor leading to the eternal bread of tomorrow for all. Scripture refers to food as the basic earthly need: At creation, no [...]
by Martin de Jong, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Against a backdrop of severe drought across the central Pacific, Caritas Oceania representatives from eight different nations gathered in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand earlier this month for their annual forum. About 25 people attended the week-long event, including representatives from Caritas Internationalis, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) – Asia. Many of the states represented, such as Tonga and Kiribati, are among the most vulnerable to climate change due to their low-lying nature or vulnerable shorelines. A closing statement from the forum said its members stand ‘in solidarity with the poor and marginalized of the region. We are particularly concerned by the impact of climate change in our area.’
July 20, 2011
By Caritas Algeria staff Like many countries in Africa, Algeria has not been spared by the effects of extreme or unseasonal weather. Known for its arid and semi-arid climate, the region is highly vulnerable to changes in climate. Over the last 50 years, an increase in extreme weather events has been observed. Phenomena that bear witness to this change, which are recorded in climatological studies carried out by the National Meteorological Office, include an increasing frequency in torrential rainfall, especially in the high plateaus (e.g. Ghardaïa and Béchar in 2009–2010), that has caused flooding for the first time ever. By 2020, maximum daily rainfall may exceed the normal annual average in the south of the country. Other extreme phenomena have occurred: cyclogenesis, drought, heat waves and sandstorms. Scientists have estimated that rainfall will decrease by around 20 percent in the coming years. Experts from the ‘Hydro-meteorological Institute for Training and Research’ foresee a [...]
In the United States, Catholic hospitals, medical centers and health care centers came together in 1915 to form the Catholic Health Association (CHA). Its goal was to support one another in the ministry to the sick, the poor and the vulnerable. Today CHA remains dedicated to serving the nation's Catholic health care organisations and supporting the strategic directions of mission, ethics, and advocacy. CHA is also a leader in the United States regarding environmental issues, especially the “greening” of hospitals. You are invited to see their publications, inviting and challenging Catholic health institutions to become better stewards of the environment. In a recent publication entitled Environmental Sustainability: Getting Started Guide, CHA provides some great Green Tips. Here are some tips related to leadership: Green tip: What does leadership look like? Announces policies Develops an environmental mission Encourages dialogue Promotes/publicises your successes Develops an executive sustainability dashboard Identifies a lead person and committee structure for sustainability activity Apply for awards Develops a [...]
Participants from the Church in Africa and Caritas Africa members have met in Johannesburg, South Africa to plan their response to the challenges of climate change. The Consultative Meeting of Secam-Caritas Africa Working Group on Natural Resources and Climate Change (SECAM stands for the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) brought together 25 participants from 7 to 11 May. “This conference took place at very opportune time in South Africa when a debate was raging about the issue of [the oil company] Shell’s proposed exploration for gas in the Karoo by means of ‘fracking’” said Sr. Aine Hughes, Caritas South Africa. “The Karoo is one of the most sensitive and unique bio-diverse areas and the impacts of the ‘fracking’ include pollution of aquifer water, air pollution and of course, climate change impacts from the burning of gas and the release of methane—a potent greenhouse gas,” she said. “The church encourages the [...]
By Caritas Bangladesh staff Fishing for crabs in the vast mangrove forest of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh is a dangerous way to make a living. A local poem says you always have a ‘shiver of fear’ as you travel the complex network of waterways, mudflats and small islands because the Royal Bengal Tiger does not work to a ‘timetable’. The Sundarbans, or “beautiful jungle”, is the single largest swathe of mangroves in the world. The coastal mangroves and seasonally-flooded fresh water inland swamp covers 10,000 sq.km. of the Bay of Bengal, half of which are in Bangladesh. They are one of the wonders of nature, home to a diverse eco-system of flora and fauna. They are a source of livelihood for the local people, who catch fish, collect wood, crabs, tiny shrimps and honey there. In the dark forest and canals, however, tigers find it easy to stalk and attack men and [...]
By Dr Stephen Humphreys, Lecturer in Law, London School of Economics This much is clear: climate change will impact human rights. Rights to food, water, housing, health, ‘peaceful enjoyment of property’—all these will be affected, often on a vast scale. Thousands, or more likely millions, of people will lose their homes, their livelihoods, even their cultures. Islands will disappear leaving their inhabitants potentially stateless. Coastal cities will sink. Changing weather patterns will eliminate traditional lifestyles, such as those of the Sami reindeer herders in Norway. Droughts, floods and tornadoes will expose thousands to catastrophe. Mass upheaval and migration. War. These, at least, are the predictions of the world’s leading authority: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its last report of 2007. And although the effects could, in principle, be stopped, it is looking likely that many of them won’t be. If the expected effects of climate change are chilling, [...]
By Christine Campeau, Caritas Internationalis Human actions are having ‘‘serious and potentially irreversible impacts’ on the warming of the Earth, according to a report published by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in April. The report, ‘Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene’, looks at one specific area of climate impact: the melting of mountain glaciers. The co-authors detail the impact that this will have on communities living downstream from the glacier flows and to the destruction to infrastructure that could come as a result. When this is added to the numerous other ecosystems that are changing at parallel speeds, the reality becomes frightening. Anthropocene is term suggesting a move away from the usual shifts between ice ages to one in which the actions of humans are profoundly altering nature. The Pontifical Academy’s research says regular ice ages and inter-glacial triggers are linked to planetary movements. These triggers normally occur every 10,000 years. However, the [...]
In western Nepal’s Syangja district there’s been no snowfall for three years and water sources which used to flow all year round have run dry. The villagers know their climate is changing. Twenty-four-year-old Sita Sharma Dhakal is worried that now rainfall is unpredictable and there are hailstorms which damage the crops. Sita studied to become a “farmer-trainer ” with Caritas Nepal and now teaches skills to other women in her village, Panchamul. “My trainees have increased their yields of cauliflower, beans and cabbages and some are even growing tomatoes in plastic greenhouses. But now for the last training course we had to pipe in water. I hope there will soon be enough in the stream again.” Caritas Nepal in partnership with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, has helped the villagers tell their stor y of living with climate change in a new 15-minute film called “ Without Rain”. The film is being [...]
March 14, 2011
Available in French and Spanish by Dan Misleh, Executive Director of Catholic Coalition on Climate Change In an article appearing in U.S. Catholic magazine this coming month (April 2011—and posted in December 2010 online), I suggested that those of us in developed nations have an addiction to oil. To overcome this addiction, we might learn from the 12-step programmes that help other addicts: realizing our powerlessness over the problem; seeking a higher power to help overcome our weakness; and taking things “a day at a time” meaning that we should consider how our daily choices have consequences for a warming planet. What we buy, how we move, what we waste, how we conserve, how we spend our time: all of these things impact our planet and its people.