There are many ways to engage in acts of kindness for the healing and protection of nature, our Common Home. Many simple acts of kindness can address the critical challenge of the changing climate. Higher global temperatures are associated with increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat-absorbing gases, driven largely by the burning of carbon fuels. Last month’s NASA measurement of the global average concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide was 412 ppm, compared to 388 ppm in October 2009 and about 310 ppm in 1950. The recent measurements indicate that the concentration continues to rise, even as the scientific community warns of the severe consequences of the corresponding warming rate. The acts of kindness for Mother Nature that will reduce these emissions are essential.
There are many small ways that each person can conserve energy and be part of the necessary changes to protect Mother Earth. Here are several suggestions: replace light bulbs with high efficiency LED lights; make sure your refrigerator/freezer is not set too cold; open window coverings during the day to allow the sun to warm your home during the cold weather months; clean appliances and filters for optimum energy use; check windows and doors for leaking air and seal them; wash clothes in cold or room temperature water; cook using slow cookers or microwaves, which require less energy; take chargers out of wall sockets when not in use; turn off the lights when you leave a room, and many more, including conservation measures in transportation.
More significant ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions involve converting to alternative sources of energy, those that do not generate carbon dioxide. Many energy companies offer the option of getting electricity from renewable resources, such as solar or wind. Installing solar panels on your home, business or institution is a significant act of kindness to the natural world and is becoming more affordable. Geothermal units can be installed in most locations now and utilize existing heating/cooling ventilation systems. Geothermal uses the natural heat/cool air from the earth, which is consistently 50-60 degrees F and does not require the burning of fuel.
Great impacts (very significant acts of kindness) are made on the societal level. When people collectively prioritize protection and healing of the earth through the election of leaders who work on behalf of environmental and human health, acts of kindness are put in place for one another, Mother Earth and future generations. As Pope Francis expresses, “The climate is a common good belonging to and meant for all.. Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods.”
Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~5 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work.