“We have become a force of nature” – Vatican’s Report on Climate Change calls for Habitat Protection and Action

Fragile Ecosystems, like those in the Maldives, bear the brunt of the ecosystem impacts like sea level rise, warned of in the Vatican's report on climate change

In a new report commissioned by the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, written by a world-class team of scientists affiliated with one of the world’s oldest scientific academies, the Vatican urges dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The report highlights world renowned and Nobel-prize winning Paul Crutzen’s term the “Anthropocene era.” His theory is that we have entered into a new geologic epoch, where human activities and emissions impact our ecosystem. The Vatican’s report highlights how we have imperiled vulnerable societies across the globe. The report suggests that if we claim to care about humanity, we have a responsibility to protect our environment:

“We are committed to ensuring that all inhabitants of this planet receive their daily bread, fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink as we are aware that, if we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us…”

Tom Painter, a NASA snow hydrologist, who was present at the Vatican meetings, candidly states that “We have become a force of nature.” The report called for three urgent measures:  reducing the amount of “warming air pollutants” such as methane and soot by as much as 50 percent; reducing worldwide carbon emissions by stopping deforestation and other initiatives;and preparing for now-unstoppable chronic and abrupt changes.

How do we – the “force of nature” – suggest that those in the “drowning island” countries prepare for these chronic, abrupt changes? Consider countries like the Maldives, which is comprised of roughly 1,200 tiny, nearly flat islands in the Indian ocean. The Maldives already lost 20 islands during the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami*. Or Tuvalu, a Pacific ocean island with under 11,000 inhabitants and a peak elevation of less than 5 meters. Or the Marshall Islands, which has a maximum elevation of 10 meters, with most of the country living just inches above the sea. How do we expect them to cope with what we have done and with what we, the force of nature, continue to do. Comments on this question would be much appreciated, because as I show in the picture above and the picture below (the daily crew of sandbag fillers and movers), sandbags are about as helpful as you can imagine…

A Maldivian work-crew filling and placing sandbags- this is a daily practice on many Maldivian islands (and one that is certainly practiced even naturally, as seasonal tides displace sand)

Find the New York Times Article here: http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/05/06/06climatewire-green-smoke-is-sighted-as-vatican-releases-g-91480.html



3 responses

  1. Hi, I have been visiting your blog. ¡Congratulations for your work! I invite you to visit my blog about literature, philosophy and films:

    Greetings from Santa Marta, Colombia

    May 6, 2011 at 10:45 am

  2. Hey there, totally agreeing with what you’re saying about us being a force of nature! very ironic seeing as we’re destroying instead of improving our home planet.
    If only everyone could see the full extent to which we are affecting the world…

    ps, thanks a lot for visiting my blog, very much appreciated! and thanks for your feedback as well!

    May 7, 2011 at 8:52 am

    • Well, with the pictures like the ones you post, at least more people will be able to see the full extent! Looking forward to following your work!

      May 7, 2011 at 8:41 pm

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