(Fr. Shay's columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
The most powerful and deadly typhoon to hit the Philippines, Taiwan and China one after another this past week left hundreds dead and million of dollars in damage. Landslides in Taiwan buried entire villages. In the Philippines, highways were swept away by floods as if nature was wiping down a table. The ferocity and magnitude of the storms that repeatedly sweep in from the ever warmer oceans in greater frequency are truly shocking. The runaway melting of huge sections of the ice caps at the poles and the resulting rise in sea levels are causing irreversible damage and eventual disappearance of low lying islands like the Maldives.
Gloom and doom? Yes! That's the stark reality and the enormity of the task facing the community of nations that will meet in Copenhagen this December 7 to 18 this year. The leaders have to agree to massively reduce the burning of fossil fuels and stop the emissions of CO2 and change to wind and solar power and other non-polluting, non-nuclear means to generate electricity. Besides this, humans have to adopt to simpler, less wasteful and environmentally destructive lifestyles. We should be recycling nearly everything and turning to organic food production in a massive scale.
The United Nations-sponsored meeting has to create strong enforceable global contracts to stop CO2 production, end forest destruction, replant billions of trees, promote organic farming and reverse the poisoned march of chemical farming.
We, the public need to support these UN-brokered planet-saving measures and help reduce global warming that is so destructive to life. If humans are in biblical terms “stewards” of the beauty and magnificence of God’s creation, we are failing miserably.
Making these changes in our way of inhabiting the planet and spending lots of money, that burden lies mostly on the developed world, China and India that burn most of the fossil fuel in coal and oil-fired plants to generate electricity.
For those who deny that the planet is heating up for the first time in 11,000 years need only to see the resulting natural disasters. This is what scientists are calling a new unprecedented geological epoch in the history of the planet, the first ever caused by living creatures. In the past earthquakes, volcanoes, meteors, crashing asteroids and planetary realignments brought about geological change.
Humankind is now an agent of change in the geological and environmental history of the evolving planet. It is change that is not good for humanity, the planet’s food supply has evolved and thrived in a cooler climate if the temperature keeps rising with all that CO2 and methane and other greenhouse gases we are pumping into the sky, there will be massive crop failure, draughts and price increases that will cause food riots and massive social unrest.
What bothers me the most is that a lot for that CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, they are more acidic now than they have been for millions of years, life just can’t survive in acidic waters. The sensitive corals die and then the plankton and the bigger fish and then people. Millions of poor coastal dwellers around the world depend on fish. Besides the massive irresponsible commercial fishing fleets are over fishing the oceans with kilometer wide nets and fishing lines and are driving many species to extinction.
The once great forests that girdled the planet were great absorbers of CO2 that helped grow more trees but they are not there as before. They have been cut down to provide land to grow corn and grass for millions of cud chewing cows so the rich can eat beef. The cows pass millions tons of smelly methane gas into the atmosphere adding to the thick blanket of gas around the earth that is blocking the escape of heat from the earth’s sun scorched surface. The growing of more crops like corn, means millions of tons of nitrogen are used and the run off into the oceans is a poison killing off all life. Dead zones now affect 245,000 sq. km of ocean waters.
We have created poisoned oceans and an atmospheric oven in which we are cooking ourselves and the planet to death. END
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Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines.
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