The Earth is Dying.

I know it’s not a popular subject, and perhaps not the most interesting or entertaining. I know there are a lot of skeptics, too. I also know there is a lot of proof.  We are killing our planet. And, last week, our government’s Administration took the first step to officially withdraw our country from the Paris agreement on climate change, which – by the way – every other country on Earth has signed. Yes, every.

Climate change is already affecting every sector and region of the United States and the global earth is warming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has maintained global average monthly and annual records of combined land and ocean surface temperatures for more than 130 years. These data show that temperatures have climbed to more than 1.8°F (1°C) above pre-industrial levels as of 2015, and the long-term global upward trend is clear. In fact, the past five years were the warmest in history and we have rising seas, glaciers are melting, sea levels and ocean heat content are rising, and we have increased storm surge and tidal flooding, hurricanes, and historic wildfires. Patterns of rainfall and snow, droughts and storms, and lake and sea ice are changing, too. Not to mention plant and animal distributions and interactions are changing, with potential severe effects on crop pests.

You see, driving cars that burn gasoline and making electricity by burning coal and gas releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Curing of cement emits carbon dioxide, too.  Since the late 19th Century, when factories powered by coal became common, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year has increased. And all of this climate change also threatens national security, our security preparedness as a nation and leader.

Our parish has been on the forefront of implementing ‘Green’ technologies. We have upgraded to Energy Star and efficient systems from HVAC to lighting to insulation to roofing and windows since we began at our current home. We use recycled materials, compost, recycle, and use ‘green’ technology wherever possible, and try to bring our own Carbon Footprint down every year. Just this past week we reduced our printing for the weekly newsletters to help, too! Oftentimes, these changes are not cheap, but the legacy is for our children and grandchildren, not for the momentary inconvenience to us today. The future is at stake. Yes, it is that serious; that grave. And I have even taken these plans to my own home and currently enjoy a 100% solar panel home with top insulation values. Cheap? No. But my coming child will one day thank me. I hope yours will, too.

It’s not too late. And that is why this Sunday we will gather, listen, learn, sing and pray to be better stewards of God’s planet. The choices we make today can help determine what our climate will be like. Putting a limit on heat-trapping emissions and encouraging the use of healthier, cleaner energy technologies, such as solar and wind power, would help us to avoid the worst potential consequences of global warming.

The Paris agreement was a good start, not the finish line. But it was the best ignition switch the world could agree on to spark international cooperation on this critical issue. I pray you will also be encouraged and determined to help. Join us in the spirit of St Francis, the Patron Saint of Ecology. He will be proud you did; so will I.

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