The Great Gift of "Laudato Si"  

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Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and Professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia University, has written about Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si” as being “a great and timely gift to humanity”. That’s what it is. Pope Francis is trying really hard to build a dialogue with every person on this planet, wether they are religious people or not. Sometimes we need to focus back on how we are dealing with the environment. The idea of an infinite growth is putting down roots and establishing its place in the world and it is becoming more and more entrenched in policy makers plans. It’s time to focus on human development, and environment is part of this idea of development. 

 

Pope Francis explains, "Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”.

Climate scientists all agree about one thing: climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. In this we recognize the short-sightedness of our own policies: we know what we are getting into, but we are not able to do something important to unblock the situation.

 

The problem is that we are into a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels - that is, coal, oil and gas - while the Pope urgently calls for global conversion from the use of these fossil fuels to "clean and renewable energy" - wind, solar and geothermal.

Professor Sachs also said that “Pope Francis offers a brilliant explication of the importance of a new form of research, one that I like to call the emergent field of sustainable development, to integrate the areas of specialized knowledge into a comprehensive and interconnected form of understanding”. And he quotes the encyclical on this point:

Ongoing research should also give us a better understanding of how different creatures relate to one another in making up the larger units which today we term “ecosystems”. We take these systems into account not only to determine how best to use them, but also because they have an intrinsic value independent of their usefulness. Each organism, as a creature of God, is good and admirable in itself; the same is true of the harmonious ensemble of organisms existing in a defined space and functioning as a system. Although we are often not aware of it, we depend on these larger systems for our own existence.

 

According to Professor Sachs, “Laudato Si offers a compelling, eloquent and reasoned appeal to a new way of understanding, an inspiring call on humanity to use reason and faith to create a world in which the economy is once again bound by the common good”.

 

Every year the climate situation is getting worse, and we are aware of this, but our efforts are still too weak. Pope Francis tries to awaken the consciences of all, especially the economically and politically powerful, to the plight of the poor. First, the change we need has to be supported by the international community, and then by everyone. We don’t have to ignore the help of everyone to this change. 

 

Matteo Catania

 

Here’s the link to read more on the article of Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs:

 

http://americamagazine.org/issue/great-gift-laudato-si

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