The Pope, the New Encyclical, and Me

Tim Lambert Around the Province

 

st-francis-statue

A statue of St. Francis in the garden at Holy Name College (Photo courtesy of Basil Valente)

Around Holy Name Province, people and ministries are following the pope’s lead in caring for creation. The pope’s encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” released in June, has motivated a member of St. Camillus Parish near Washington, D.C., to make changes in his life, which he describes in the following essay. The HNP Communications Office welcomes friars as well as ministry staff members to submit information about how “Laudato Si’” has affected their perspectives and their work, by emailing communications@hnp.org.

I was glad to hear Pope Francis sound the alarm about climate change in his new encyclical “Laudato Si’.” But nothing will change unless ordinary people respond. What can one person do? After examining lots of options and doing some homework, I made my own personal plan:

  1.  Stop eating red meat. It turns out that the global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined. Red meat is by far the worst — you release as much greenhouse gas by producing a half-pound of hamburger as by driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.
  2.  Install solar panels on my roof. The panels I’m installing produce the same amount of electricity that otherwise would add more than a ton of carbon each year to the atmosphere and will save me money. The check I would otherwise send to the utility company goes to finance the panels, and after 10 years, they are paid off and my electricity is completely free. The process was made easy by a local cooperative, MD SUN (mdsun.org), which organizes homeowners to negotiate lower installation prices and provides technical assistance.
  3. Join Citizens Climate Lobby. I’ve joined several climate groups, but I’m most excited about CCL. It’s a non-partisan, one-issue group established solely to pass a carbon fee and dividend bill in the US Congress, and to promote similar legislation elsewhere. It’s a strategy that many climate scientists and economists say is the best first-step to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic climate change from global warming. The approach has garnered support from both liberals and conservatives (including President Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz). CCL has rapidly grown to include 278 local chapters with the goal of lobbying every member of Congress, regardless of their political affiliation. I like that the group is for something (and not just against the status quo), works to bridge the partisan divide, and actually has a chance of success.

The pope has done his part. Now it’s our turn.

— Tim Lambert is a member of the Franciscan Action Network and a parishioner at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md.

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