Once again, we felt powerless. A question arises: Are we incapable of controlling nature and safeguarding it?
Produced by a star billions of years ago. Now it is in abundance here on our planet. It envelops us. It is present in the bowels of the earth, in the seas, in the mountains. It is inside us, in the food we eat, in the trees. Now it is there wandering lightly in the air in good company. It’s carbon. It is doing what it has been doing for hundreds of millions of years. Together with oxygen, it forms CO2 molecules and protects us by absorbing the infrared radiation emitted by the Earth (maybe too much lately!). Carbon is not bad. It is everywhere and that is why it is the basis of our life.
The same carbon now frightens us and we hold it responsible for global phenomena such as global warming and ocean acidification. These are some of the biggest problems that humanity faces today and that it cannot control. We have so much carbon that we think it is inexhaustible. It is in our cars, there is carbon in the kitchen gas and the plastic bottle we drink from. It belongs to our lifestyle. With our daily habits, we release large quantities of it into the atmosphere and we don’t even realise it.
On May 24, 2015, humanity received from pope Francis a wonderful document. In addition to underlining the serious environmental crisis that our planet is going through, it instils hope in those who live and work for this “sick” world. «Hope invites us to recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems». [LS61] As never before, on the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, have we had the opportunity to reflect on our possible contribution to improving the reality around us.
Carbon is part of every biological entity. Like the virus that brought humanity to its knees in just two months. Once again, we felt powerless. A question arises: Are we incapable of controlling nature and safeguarding it?
However, «Covid-19 can be an opportunity to increase environmental awareness and change personal lifestyles, revolutionize the world socio-economic system and take a stand against climate change», says climate physicist Luca Fiorani, author of the book Il sogno folle di Francesco (Francis’ crazy dream).
There are some positive effects of the crisis triggered by Covid-19. CO2 emissions have in fact been reduced considerably, we learned to do smart working and limit travel to a minimum, with enormous benefits for the environment and we have given free rein to our creativity by rediscovering the richness of each person. «All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings. Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity» [LS211].
The vision of integral ecology contained in the Laudato Si’ creates a bridge between the way we treat nature and the people around us, offering simple but profound truths about the bonds that unite us. Yes, because we now know that we too are part of nature. Like the pieces of a great puzzle that finally complete it, we can now understand the origin of many dynamics of planetary dimension that characterize our time: immigration, world hunger, diseases of the twentieth century, wars and much more. All of them can be traced back to our lifestyle.
Many initiatives have been launched during the week dedicated to the Laudato Si’ Encyclical promoted by the Global Catholic Movement for the Climate (GCCM) and some events are already scheduled for the coming months. Not to be missed is the appointment of 23-25 October at Castel Gandolfo: a conference organized by EcoOne, the international ecological initiative of the Focolare Movement, to reflect concretely on the development of an integral ecology.
After 5 years, Laudato Si continues to be an essential reference point for a joyful care of our common home. «Let us sing as we go! May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away from us the joy of our hope» [LS244].