Shattered Records Means Climate Action is Urgently Needed
Clogher Diocesan Event and Antrim Anti-Fracking Protest Highlight Issue
On Saturday last, people gathered in Monaghan to mark the first anniversary of the publication of the Pope’s encyclical on climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty ‘Laudato Si’. On the same day a group gathered at Woodburn in Antrim to celebrate the departure of fracking rigs that were exploring for oil in that area. Meantime we hear that greenhouse gasses that cause climate change are rising sharply. If climate chaos is to be avoided in the coming years, resolute action on the climate issue is now needed in every community.
Pope Francis published the ‘Laudato Si’ encyclical in June 2015 but in the year that has passed the issues he highlighted have become even more urgent. This week we hear that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exceed 400 ppm (parts per million) all of this year. The safe level is 350 ppm and we will be at 450ppm in twenty years. Global temperatures records have been shattered each month so far this year and extreme weather becoming more frequent. Sea levels are rising leading to the displacement of some island and coastal communities. These trends are likely to continue. The effects on biodiversity are significant. Last week the first confirmed extinction of a mammal due to climate change has been reported. The Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic mammal species the Bramble Cay melomys has been completely wiped-out.
CLOGHER EARTH DAY EVENT AT ST MACARTAN’S CATHEDRAL
The Clogher Diocesan Earth Day event in Monaghan on Saturday last involved a prayer service on the grounds of St Macartan’s Cathedral followed by a tree planting ceremony. Sr Nellie McLaughlin introduced the event by reminding everyone of the focus of the encyclical on the earth and on the poor. Nellie is author of a book entitled ‘Life’s Delicate Balance’ which is a response to the encyclical. The prayer service involved members of the Clogher Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Group who were the organisers of the event. There was also a musical contribution by Helena Connolly and Aoife McCooey, both of Clogher don Óige.
Bishop of Clogher, Liam MacDaid attended the event and spoke about the encyclical andreferred to the importance of its message of the need to care for our environment. Following his address he planted a rowan tree close to the statue of St. Macartan, the patron saint of the Diocese. He said that the rowan was picked as it is a native Irish tree and it is mentioned in stories relating to St. Macartan.
Bishop Liam MacDaid speaking at the Clogher Earth Day event outside St Macartan’s Cathedral
Ecologist Billy Flynn speaking to Group beside a rowan tree that was planted at the Cathedral to mark Clogher Earth Day
The event concluded with a talk on the importance of biodiversity by Billy Flynn an ecologist. He referred to the fact that his own perspective on the work in the area of biodiversity has changed in recent years. Initially he would have just focused on the numbers and features of a particular species. Now he also values the animals and plants in their own right and the place that they have on our planet.
FRACKING EXPLORATION RIG DEPARTS FROM ANTRIM SITE
Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas and oil in the rock. At Woodburn near Carrickfergus the company Infrata had been drilling an exploratory well. A ‘Stop The Drill’ campaign has been protesting at the site for many months. The protestors included a number of environmental groups from across the island of Ireland. Mícheál Callaghan and Conan Connolly of Transition Monaghan recently joined the protest for a day.
The opposition to the drill was because of the potential adverse impact it would have on the water supply to nearby reservoirs and also for climate change reasons, i.e. to stop fossil fuels at their source.. Last week the drilling company decided to leave the site as no oil was found. James Orr, the Northern Ireland director of Friends of the Earth, said the “earth has spoken”. “Today is a time for celebration – this is fantastic news for the community, our water, our climate and our wellbeing,” he said. had previously attended the protest site a few weeks ago.
- One billion people worldwide live on less than 2 US dollars (€1.77) a day
- 1% of the world’s population uses 30% of the world’s resources
- 3 million people have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the 18 years of age. 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution
- 10 million people are stateless – they have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.
The first two statistics above were given by Douglas Frantz of the OECD (Organisation for European Co-operation and Development) in an interview on RTE Radio One’s ‘This Week’ programme on Sunday, 19 June. The interview in full is available on RTE Radio Player. The other statistics were published by the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency to mark World Refugee Day 2016 on Monday last. For further details, see http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html. Both sets of statistics highlight the growing global issue of inequality which combined with the climate change issue will require considerable political leadership if they are to be tackled and the world is to be a better place in the coming decades.