Cardinal Turkson will lead off a Globethics series centered on Laudato Si’, exploring the system change we need and getting on a 1.5 C path

May 25, 2017

The most important question in the world may be how we can proceed as directly and effectively as possible on climate change and a more just system that allows flourishing for all.  An ethical response to climate change requires timely action, justice, and dignity for all.  To explore this path, what the church is calling for, and what we all can do, Cardinal Turkson will lead off a Globethics series on the change we need and getting on a 1.5 C path.

In partnership with Globethics and in support of GCCM’s worldwide 1.5 C petition, which drew 900,000 signatures including the papal office and was supported by Vatican leaders,  this 2017-2018 weekly webcast series will examine the systemic changes needed and called for in Laudato Si’ and explore what should be done.

Cardinal Turkson gives the 1.5 C sign called for by GCCM and frontline communities

The 26-week worldwide keynote and webinar series starting in September 2017 will be streamed to 8,000 campuses and 650,000 subscribers located in 132 countries and reach over 45,000 college professors and ethics professionals, says Stephen DeVol of the Catholic Worker, who is leading production of the series.  It focuses on the big challenges related to climate change, inequality and exclusion, and democracy vs. the common good, taking on how we can carry out our responsibility to all life, current and future generations.

A key component of just system change for the benefit of all is rapidly shifting off of fossil fuels to try to get on the 1.5 C path endorsed by 195 nations.  To achieve this we must make that transition “without delay”, changing direction and beginning to bring CO2 emissions down in the next couple years, before 2020.  Pope Francis implores us to change course now, to avoid ecological disaster and embrace “the radical change which present circumstances require” (LS, 161), as “the effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now” (LS, 171).

Globethics is an association of 176,000 ethics professionals worldwide, a network of persons and institutions interested in various fields of applied ethics, as well as a leading global digital ethics library and platform for collaborative web-based research, conferences, online publishing and information sharing.  Ethicists, theologians, and people of faith participate in the Globethics network.

This series will reference Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care of Our Common Home, which calls for “transition off of fossil fuels without delay” (LS 165).  It will also underscore traditional Catholic social teaching and values of life and dignity of the human person; family, community and participation; rights and responsibilities and subsidiarity; option for the poor and vulnerable; the dignity of work and the rights of workers; solidarity; and care for creation.

The timing and scale of the shift is critical and determines the choices we will have in the future.  The series will offer facilitated break-out working groups using the zoom platform, after each keynote speaker (20 minutes), Q&A (10 min.), and panel discussion.  The series will make speakers’ keynotes and a library of educational resources available to students and universities for open access by all.  This series will be produced by a Catholic Worker Movement peer-supported community of homeless men and women in recovery from addictions who publish the Catholic Internet Television Network (CITVN), distributed for free to over 650,000 subscribers located in 132 countries. CITVN distributes worldwide for free under a Creative Commons license with attribution.

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The Guardian reported on Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, and Cardinal Turkson, who will lead off the series.  Highlights follow:

Pope Francis has called for urgent action to stop climate change and proposed that caring for the environment be added to traditional Christian works of mercy such as feeding the hungry and visiting the sick.

Francis described man’s destruction of the environment as a sin. “Global warming continues,” the pope said. “2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events.

Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact. ”

The pope said the faithful should use the Holy Year of Mercy throughout 2016 to ask forgiveness for sins committed against the environment and our “selfish” system motivated by “profit at any price”.

“We must not be indifferent or resigned to the loss of biodiversity and the destruction of ecosystems, often caused by our irresponsible and selfish behaviour,” he said. “Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence … We have no such right.”

The pope asked people to reflect on a society that lacked concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature. “The resolve to live differently should affect our various contributions to shaping the culture and society in which we live,” he said.

Francis urged political and business leaders to stop thinking of short-term gains and work for the common good while taking steps to resolve the “ecological debt” between the global north and south.  “Repaying it would require treating the environments of poorer nations with care and providing the financial resources and technical assistance needed to help them deal with climate change and promote sustainable development,” he said.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Vatican’s council for peace and justice, said: “The first step is to humbly acknowledge the harm we are doing to the Earth through pollution, the scandalous destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, and the spectre of climate change.

“And to realise that when we hurt the Earth, we also hurt the poor.”

The Ghanaian cardinal, who helped draft the original encyclical, has just been appointed to head a new Vatican dicastery that will be responsible for the environment, migration, justice and healthcare. He told a Vatican media conference it was possible to create change and arrest environmental destruction.