TakeTimeOutForNature - photo:canva.com
Switching off power and devices during Earth Hour (8.30 pm – 9.30 pm local time) on the 25th March, whether it’s 60 seconds or 60 minutes, is a way to draw attention to the need to take time out for nature.
This year, Earth Hour takes place on the day before the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Lent is a time for lament and hope. Columban Fr Charles Rue says, “in our Lenten prayer, we benefit from naming current social and ecological realities…that ground our prayer in the reality of life on this planet, lived as an evolving human journey.” We remember that God is with us in our humanity with all its ups and downs, and when we need to change direction.
As we acknowledge the realities of climate change and environmental desecration, we confess that we are living out of balance. Since the time of industrialisation, the Earth has warmed an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius, and each year global emissions reach a new record high. The impacts of climate change are adversely affecting the lives of people on every continent and exacerbating existing poverty, including in countries with mega populations. Australian climate scientist, Professor Mark Howden says in the last few years, the world has been increasingly using up more of the remaining carbon budget, making it increasingly difficult to keep global temperatures within the 1.5-2.0 degrees Celsius limit of the Paris Agreement. During Australian National University’s Climate Update in February 2023, Professor Mark Howden said simply, “we are not taking our foot off the accelerator.” And yet, affordable solutions are at hand and can be scaled up to make a real difference.
Faith leaders and communities are called to reflect on the signs of the times and be bearers of hope. Our lives are part of the ongoing creativity of God’s gift of creation and we help shape what comes next. The Catholic Church alone has about 1.3 billion members and eighty-four percent of the world’s population identifies as belonging to a faith tradition. The potential for collective leadership in caring for Earth our common home, people and planet together, is considerable.
As part of a global Divestment Week of Action, Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long spoke at a multi-faith service on 9th March at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. The Catholic Leader reported, Bishop Vincent Long called on Australians to “act decisively to reduce our carbon footprint, to invest in renewable energy, to divest from fossil fuels, to consume less and waste less”. Faith-based organisations in Australia and worldwide are among the first to divest financial investments from fossil fuels. Last year, Holy See spokesperson Fr Joshtrom Kureethadam observed “this is how prophetic institutions can live out our values and help the most vulnerable among us.”
Sr Caroline Vaitkunas RSM
Peace, Ecology and Justice Office
Columban Mission Centre, Essendon