By Pat Finan
Something as simple as polar ice can be a polarizing issue. And while some folks might go to the ends of the earth to avoid this conflict, simple solutions to climate change can sometimes be found inside the walls of your parish.
That was the case Nov. 11, when St. Anthony’s in Knoxville welcomed Sister Cathleen Real, CHM, to discuss “The Burning Truth of the Climate Crisis.” Sr. Real is a soft-spoken woman who witnesses to hard truths. She has helped convince me that human activity has a direct impact on our atmosphere and sea temperatures. But whether you believe this, the greater issue is human change — not climate change.
The most basic change is to take more seriously the challenge God gave us in Genesis 1:28 to be good stewards of God’s creation, and to think beyond our own wants and consider the common good.
“The earth is not here just for me,” Sr. Real says. “It’s for everyone.”
And it will take everyone working together and making sacrifices to lessen the impacts of human activity. That’s what made our event special — a variety of folks offering ways to change our lives and help the environment.
Around our church hall were exhibits about solar, wind and geothermal energy. Exhibitors talked about recycling, land stewardship and environmentally friendly household products. Best of all, you could not only discover local producers of vegetables, honey, eggs and goat cheese, but you could eat the fruits of their labors at the refreshment table. And wash it down with some locally produced apple cider!
It’s often tempting to feel we’ve done our fair share toward solving a problem. For instance, I’m writing this under the light of a compact fluorescent bulb, in a house that has a geothermal system, and I just wiped my computer with a recycled paper towel. But the common good demands that we think bigger and seek deeper sacrifices. It might be as simple as actually remembering to bring my reusable grocery bags into the store next time I shop, or as challenging as supporting the passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
Sr. Real urged us to take steps now to mitigate possible negative impacts of climate change in the future. I encourage you to hear her speak, or to explore more at www.climatecrisis.net or www.catholicsandclimatechange.org. Together, we can be the change that curbs climate change.
(Finan is a member of St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville.)