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Last week, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg arrived in New York following a journey on a yacht across the Atlantic. She travelled to America to raise awareness of Climate justice which is surely one of the most pressing issues for humanity in the present and for the future. Greta caught the imagination of teenagers around the world by organising a 'climate strike' that brought thousands of people out on to the streets of towns and cities, demanding a different and more just approach to climate change and a greater awareness of those effected most.

The bottom line is that our current rates of consumption of fossil fuels and plastics in unsustainable. The greenhouse gases produced by the burning of carbon fuels disrupt weather systems in ways that lead to droughts, floods and other occasions of severe weather. The Arctic ice shelf is melting at an alarming rate leading to a huge increase in the water levels of our seas and oceans. Of equal concern is our production of plastic. It is estimated that 72% of all plastics ever produced is lying around somewhere as it is not biodegradable. This amounts to millions of tons which find their way into the seas, oceans and even into the food chain where micro-plastics have been found in fish.

Earlier this year, the Government published plans to tackle climate change but each of us must take responsibility for the amount of CO2 we produce, the energy we consume and that the plastic we dispose of. Like Greta who went to America by yacht without consuming any fossil fuels. Incidentally, just for our information, I discovered recently that one person taking a return flight from Europe to California produces the equivalent impact of 2.5 tons of CO2 - similar to the yearly output of the average Irish car.

This Sunday, 1st September is 'World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation'. It is an initiative of Pope Francis following the publication of his encyclical 'Laudato Si' a few years ago. At this critical moment in the Irish reaction to climate change, it needs to become a more influential text within our society.

The climate change issue is one where the Church can step up and not just wait for the government to take the lead. Another all ages climate strike has been organised for 20th September. For more information, contact the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice who will be there and invite others to join them. See their website at:

I conclude with the words of Pope Francis that exhort Catholics and all Christians to become active in this fight for climate justice.

Pope Francis on Caring for Our Common Home

“We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family.”

“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”

“Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years.”

“We are not God. The Earth was here before us and was given to us.”

“The idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology … is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry at every limit.”

“Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”

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