Green Junction: The Pandemic has tested the capacity of populations. By Julie Peller Ph.D.

The damage from humanity’s exploitation of the earth’s natural resources plays out daily around the globe. However, significant parts of the population experience milder effects of climate change, massive waste, biodiversity loss, etc. How attentive are those who do not experience intense, direct effects of these massive global problems? Do people of faith feel empathetic for populations experiencing significant impacts/suffering enough to act? 

The pandemic has tested the capacity of populations of people to function for others, including children and the elderly. The truthful outcome of this test is both heartwarming and distressing. To overcome the coronavirus pandemic, simple solutions are in place – a safe and effective vaccination and proven public health measures. Many have responded. Yet, millions of people refuse to act on behalf of the greater good and ignore the commandment to love thy neighbor.

At the G7 Summit in June, Sir David Attenborough, whose documentaries include Planet Earth and A Life on Our Planet, said the decisions currently facing the world’s wealthiest countries are “the most important in human history.” This past April, 126 Nobel Prize laureates met to assess the global challenge of climate change that is described as “daunting as straightforward.” They stated that in the upcoming November summit in Glasgow, “ambitions that governments bring to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) must be commensurate with the scale and urgency of the challenge.” 

Some of the leading suggestions by this esteemed group include: 1) more significant investments in science, 2) explorations of new business models to elevate the sharing of scientific knowledge, 3) education with a “strong emphasis on the nature of evidence and the scientific method, to help build immunity against lies and misinformation spread by special interest groups and partisan media,” 4) a strategy to phase out coal and 5) a focus on the rights of coming generations to a livable biosphere.

Live on behalf of the more effective suitable means embracing incredible accomplishments that protect the living, such as the coronavirus vaccination and climate solutions, with an all-in approach of love, compassion, and respect. To address the urgent need for climate action, call your elected officials and ask them to act now to slow down global warming. Pope Francis’s recent message to all was to be vaccinated “as an act of love.” “Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable.” 

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 ~6 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

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