From Thomas Berry and the Sisters of Loretto (and Co-Ls) Earth Network

August 25, 2018

Shared by Libby Comeaux, Co-Member, Sisters of Loretto

Women’s communities, along with everyone else, are called to accept a new role along with every other component of human society, the most W role that any of us have been asked to fulfill, that of stopping the devastation that humans, principally our western commercially-driven humans, are inflicting on the planet. Otherwise the natural world will not survive in any integral manner. Nor in this situation will humans or Christians survive in any acceptable mode of fulfillment. …

Our only security lies in an integral human relation with the life systems of the planet. Every human activity, every professional role, every religious tradition, must now be judged by the extent to which it inhibits, ignores, or fosters [a] mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship. … We know now that the universe story and the human story constitute a single story. …Devastation of the outer world is simultaneously the devastation of the inner world. To be isolated from the phenomenal order of the natural world is to be alienated from the deeper dimensions of our own being.

Most congregations of women religious in the US have studied the new cosmology presented by Miriam MacGillis based on the writings of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme. We appreciate Cosmogenesis – the billions-year in-process emergence – as the First Book of Revelation, and we see Integrity of Creation as foundational to our spiritual practice. Naturally we have oriented ourselves to the lands, water, air, and species including humans in our local bioregion. Yet the urgent climate crisis has also alerted us to the worldwide suffering our industrialized, privileged way of life has caused all species and ecosystems, notably Indigenous Peoples and other economically poor, in less “developed” regions, while contributing significantly to wars and the refugee crisis.
We want to attend to this challenge, and we are aware of at least two ongoing ways to do so. One is by continuing our ever-deepening, regenerative involvement in our local community of species, gathering neighbors together for gardening celebrations, solar gardens and the like, raising our voices as we can. Another is to commit to, and monitor, our specific share of the reductions in carbon emissions that are required if the US is to meet our obligation under the Paris Climate Accord.

We thought it would be helpful to consult friends from other communities to share questions and ideas, building on our own significant dedication and accomplishments to date. Not surprisingly, we found a lot of inspiration among our friends.

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How do I summarize the vast deluge of information over three days in St. Louis? 16 scientists, two evangelicals for life and Earth, a cardinal who helped write Laudato Sí, a director of Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (85 mayors and 10 states), the Corporate Eco-Forum chairman, a former president of the Sierra Club, an amazing 17-year-old, and many others including engineer-entertainer educator Bill Nye? I am out of breath just writing this! It was amazing to be in the room with these talented and driven people.

Add to this mix the comprehensive presentation of our current world problems as presented in Leonardo DiCaprio’s film, “Before the Flood.” That ended the first day, a discouraging note because what is already happening is big, but the problems will only get much bigger. It was good to hear the scientists speak of what they have done and will do in the future; that gave me hope.

I realized that the political show is really a sideshow. The main act is going on in the labs, in the classrooms, by scientists and technologists and everyday folk around the world. We are living in
a time of great flux where some amazing breakthroughs will also happen. We will learn to live with what we can’t fix, to repair what we can, and still make our world better. Carl Pope, past president of the Sierra Club, co-authored The Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet. His talk was followed by a mock interview with Bill Nye, who drew more than a few laughs. Nye had one great question and one great statement that stood out for me. First, with his arms held wide, he asked “What do you think of those kids?” Everyone knew who he
meant. Our young folks are taking up the banner more courageously than ever. His repeated statement said with gusto: “We can do this, we can do this!” Yes, we can – and we must face the
challenge ahead. The map of the US with ALL of Florida gone was a real eye opener. Moving through the 21st century, we can expect a rising ocean to intrude into the middle of our southern
plains. We have time to respond. We can do mitigation – carbon capture in forests, for example. So I say we get on with it.

I will leave you with some good news. We know the ocean is suffering; it supplies half of our oxygen but is consuming so much CO2 it is becoming acidic, harming coral and shellfish. There’s a fisherman who has figured out how to do something like 3-D biodynamic farming in the ocean, regenerating the ocean ecosystem while allowing it to yield more healthy food that we need. This approach aids the nitrogen balance of the ocean and acts as a storm surge breaker, somewhat like mangroves on the coast. His Green Wave Facebook page has a really good 60 Minutes
interview, and it includes a West Coast scientist working to monitor the results. Bren Smith began Green Wave and offers a two-year training for new ocean farmers free of charge.

“We are ocean farmers creating jobs and protecting the planet,” the website begins. I was especially impressed with Kehkashan Basu, the winner of the 2016 International Children’s Peace
Prize. She spoke with as much poise as the Ph.D’s. Founder and President of Green Hope Foundation, she engages and empowers thousands of youth, especially girls and the marginalized.
Also, universities are doing their part, greening their campuses, leveraging community participation – forty campuses have joined 2700 cities, states, universities, NGOs and faith-based organizations in the WE ARE STILL IN CAMPAIGN, fully supporting the Paris Climate Accord. Mary Evelyn Tucker continues to move religions into an ecological phase so our spirituality
can support the planet. She spoke of Reverence-Respect-Restraint-Redistribution-Responsibility.  Global Footprint Network provides ways for organizations or individuals to figure
out the size of their own footprint.

A Chinese company, BYD, is the largest seller of electric vehicles (busses as well as cars). Shenzhen, China has gone totally electric in its bus pool as of January this year. San Francisco is transitioning to all electric. NY has begun a pilot program. St. Louis has a goal of all electric by 2020.

There is much more to learn by visiting the website for the forum and then exploring the websites associated with the various speakers. Tell the world to plant trees! This is my new mantra.

By Roberta Hudlow SL
Intercommunity Ecological Council of STL

When is the best time to plant a tree? Yesterday.
When is the second best time? Today.
Chinese Proverb