Why does it take an enormous tragedy like Hurricane Sandy to drive home the reality of climate change? The late Fr Thomas Berry, cultural historian and geologian, predicted this might be the case, asks Sharon Abercrombie in NCR Online.
People would have to suffer before realising that exploiting the earth brings terrible consequences. We would have to become hungry, wet, cold; our homes under water or on fire; and at last count, 110 of us dead in New York and New Jersey before connecting these miseries to our unsustainable "mysticism of progress" and our fixated preoccupation with fossil fuels.
In The Great Work, Berry writes:
"A person can only marvel that scientists generally seem never to have reflected on or explained to the community why the petroleum is buried in the earth in the first place. Even the slightest reflection would reveal that nature has taken great care to bury the vast amounts of carbon in the coal and petroleum in the depths of the Earth and in the forests so that the chemistry of the atmosphere, the water, and the soil could be worked out with the proper precision.
"This needs to ... be thoroughly respected lest anyone intrude into this delicate balance by extracting and using the petroleum or the coal, or by cutting down and using the great forests of the planet without consideration of what will happen when these forces will not longer be able to fulfill their role in the integral functioning of the Planet.
Berry often posed the question; "After we burn our lifeboat, Earth, how will we stay afloat?"
Until Sandy's appearance, many environmentalists and scientists knew the elephant named Climate Change was not recognised. And they wondered mightily about it, because it was not taking place within most sectors of our US administration. President Barack Obama until very recently has not said much about this pressing issue. It never came up during the presidential debates, though website petitions demanded the moderators include it in their list of questions.
An Eco Catholic sum-up: Once upon a time, in the spring of 2009, the White House invited some of Barack Obama's allies in the environmental movement to a big meeting around plans for getting a climate change law through the then-Democratically controlled House and Senate.
Among the guests were Bill McKibben, now of 350.org movement; Betsy Taylor, president of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions, an organisation that works with philanthropic and nonprofit clients; and many other earth-friendly activists.
FULL STORY Climate change: the elephant in our living room (NCR)