Green Junction: Climate, Advent, and Hope by Julie Peller, Ph.D.


Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese recently wrote an article in Earthbeat (National Catholic Reporter) expressing his profound concern about climate change: the inaction, the minimal communication, and general apathy toward human/earth rights. “Advent should be a time of hope. As a social scientist, I have little hope. As a Christian, I must have hope. This Advent, I will pray for the conversion of hearts to an environmental mindset. I will pray that those born in the coming year will experience the coming of Christ and not the environmental catastrophe scientists predict.”

The forces that resist the truth of climate change and continue to promote fossil fuels are strong and supported with lots of money. Last month’s headlines read, “oil and gas companies are reporting record-breaking profits,” while consumers worldwide paid high fuel prices. A US congressional probe just determined that many in the oil industry continue to plan for increasing production while they publicly communicate a willingness to combat climate change. 

In the state of California, deception by this industry was uncovered on a local level. A new state law bans new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of places where people live and work and strengthens the oversight of existing operations. The bill was signed by the governor on a Friday. An oil industry representative filed a referendum to overturn it the following Monday. The referendum requires 625,000 signatures to be on the 2024 state ballot; however, the qualification for the ballot stops law enforcement. Oil companies can expand or continue drilling in those areas until the ballot outcome. A reporter from Inside Climate News recently discovered that the industry members created a petition to appear to support the law (oppose new gas and oil wells in these areas); it was actually a written statement to overturn the new law. Several people signed the petition believing it was in support of the law. The investigation showed that the industry spent millions of dollars to gain petition signatures without regard to truth and transparency. 

Solutions to climate change require truth and attention, especially by people in positions of power and influence. “Prophets are truth-tellers, and truth tellers are essential.” (Karoline Lewis in A Truth-telling Advent.) In Psalm 85, “kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.” 

Julie Peller, Ph.D., is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ). Julie has been writing a weekly column 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 advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), and student and citizen participation in environmental work.


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