Submitted by: Fr. Emmet Farrell

Have you been listening to the news about the extreme weather storms in the central and Southern areas of our country? There has been a huge increase in the number and severity of storms. So far in 2024 the U. S. has had 859 tornados. On the Memorial Day weekend tornados killed 25 people across four states. They have caused billions of dollars of destruction in towns like Valley View, Tx. and Greenfield, Ia. These storms bring winds of over a hundred miles an hour, causing power outages to millions of Americans, making some air travel treacherous and causing thousands of trip cancellations and delays. 

The cold Jet Stream coming out of the Northern Artic dips far South and clashes with the warm Gulf Stream that is laden with moisture from the Gulf. The clash causes the moisture to fall causing flooding and hailstorms. The cause behind these clashes is climate change, caused by the increased amount of carbon dioxide that traps the heat of the sun in our atmosphere causing temperatures to rise, thus changing our climate, affecting all life and bringing severe storms.

Social media channels have, for the most part, termed the severe and destructive weather a result of climate change. As a Catholic priest, I turn to sacred scriptures and social doctrines for a faith- based focus on climate change. I follow closely the declarations of Pope Francis, especially his 2015 letter LAUDATO SI- The Care of Our Common Home. In that document he declares that there is very solid scientific consensus that we are witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. He goes on to affirm that the warming is due to human activity, principally the intensive burning of fossil fuels.

The destruction caused by severe weather, in my judgement, has been exacerbated by climate change, which is now at crisis level. Around 80% of Americans consider themselves to be believers. Every faith tradition has produced declarations from a moral and spiritual perspective on climate change. So, for a majority of us, what is happening to our environment, to our quality of life and causing severe storms is a matter of conscience, requiring a personal and communal action response.

But the problem also, for a majority of our society, believers and non-believers, is what some of us call the “globalization of indifference.” In order to mitigate and reverse climate change we all need to examine our thinking, our values and especially our daily routines. A majority of us need to change from the “status quo” of indifference and find a way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, consume more consciously, waste no food, water or energy. The very lives of many affected by climate change depends on actions, as does the quality of life for all of us, especially the youth and future generations.

Scientists tell us that we are approaching a critical point. This is why we need to move from a mentality of indifference to a mindset of conscious actions. Our technological development has not been accompanied by a development of our human responsibility. We don’t always realize that we are part of the very nature our technological “development” is destroying.

In the past few decades representatives of over 190 countries have met twenty-eight times as the Conference of Parties (COP) to reduce fossil fuel emissions. In spite of this global emissions  have continued to increase.. Emissions by individuals in the U. S. are almost 2 times larger than for individuals in China. 

The book of James in the bible states that we should be doers and not just hearers of the word; because what good is it if someone says he has faith but does not have works; faith without words is dead. Edmund Burke said: The only thing necessary for evil to thrive is for good people to do nothing.” We are facing a human and social problem that requires all of us to discern what we should do and then DO it.

Fr. Emmet Farrell

6864 Quebec Ct., Unit 4
San Diego, Ca. 92139

Creation Care
Catholic Diocese of San Diego

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