Thousands stood on their feet with thunderous applause. The United Nations Climate Change Agreement negotiated by 195 nations had passed! I was amazed as both developed and developing nations agreed upon a foundational document to address the gravest challenge humanity faces. What a privilege it was to be an official observer with Franciscans International at the U.N. Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris in December and sponsored by my Franciscan community of Rochester, Minnesota.
Capital E: Earth
It's not "the earth," it's our home. In Capital E: Earth, GSR delves into climate change, ecology, sustainable living and eco-spirituality.
COP21 Paris - As the penultimate day of the Paris climate summit drew to a close Friday, Dec. 11, chants could be heard from one of the forum areas in the center of the public Climate Generations space adjacent to the official COP21 site: "Black Lives Matter!" "One-point-five to stay alive!" "Keep the oil in the soil!"
COP21 Paris - For most people climate change is a scientific abstraction posing a distant threat. "It's in the Arctic or distant in time," said Dan Price, an English climate scientist in his 20s, speaking in the "green" Climate Generations area adjacent to the official "blue" area where the COP21 climate negotiations are taking place.
COP21 Paris - As the second day of the International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature opened in the packed auditorium of Maison des Métallos, a cultural center in the heart of Paris, a disturbing word was shared about the COP21 negotiations taking place just north of the city.
COP21 Paris - The study, which examines 100 incidents of co-violations of human rights and rights of nature, underscores the reality that the well-being of humans and nature is inextricably linked.
COP21 Paris - "Expectations are very high," Sr. Odile Coirier, Franciscan Missionary of Mary, said, describing the mood at the start of the second day at the Paris climate summit. "But there is also great concern that those expectations may not be met."
COP21 Paris - The line for passport control at the Charles de Gaulle Airport took an hour and a half to navigate, the first sign of tightened security in Paris as thousands of delegates and civilians gathered for the COP21 climate summit, Nov. 30-Dec. 11.
The pomegranates on our tree cracked open while I was at the World Parliament of Religions in Salt Lake City in mid-October. Green flesh burst forth revealing multitudinous iridescent juicy ruby seeds. When they burst they are not spoiled, but very ready to be eaten and shared. This pomegranate experience for me has become a heralding of this moment beginning with the amazing Parliament of the World’s Religions experience.
Twenty years ago I was in a small group visiting with geologian Thomas Berry. We got to talking about the deplorable state of the planet. Our stories, statistics and images of widespread destruction, abject poverty, species loss and war piled high on the table around which we crowded. Many heavy sighs. “It’s hard not to despair,” someone said. I nodded slowly. Thomas cut in: “Despair is a luxury we can’t afford right now.”
Long before the publication of Laudato Sí and Pope Francis’ call for an "ecological conversion," Catholic women’s communities had already recognized that their “communities have an important role to play in ecological education” and have “strived to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society, and our relationship with nature.” These initiatives have taken many and diverse forms, including establishing environmental centers. I am currently participating in a sabbatical program at one: An Tairseach Dominican Ecology Center, in Wicklow, Ireland.