One of my friends just posted this amazing YouTube video of Severn Suzuki who, at age 12, addressed the United Nations at the first Earth Summit in Rio twenty years ago. Her words ring out with perfect clarity now as they did then, except that the world has done little to heed her child-heart call. Now instead of fighting for her own future, she is fighting for the future of her son. I challenge you to go to this two decades old call to action and watch it. Here this child’s prophetic words. You cannot help but be moved.
Let us all be moved – moved to action. Since the first Earth Summit, world population has increased from 5 to 7.7 billion – and all of those billions of people are trying to join what Joanna Macy terms the “industrial growth society” of which the United States is the exemplar. While there are still billions of people without clean water, sanitation or healthy food, there are billions more who are chasing after the consumer dreams that cause our water to be poisoned, our air to be polluted, our soil to be killed, our resources to be depleted and our connection to God’s creation to be fractured almost beyond repair. Our apparently insatiable appetite for “things” made with limited resources and cheap fossil fuel energy has generated a global assault on our Earth home; it’s killing mountaintop ecosystems, boreal and tropical rain forests, entire species, and ultimately threatening us. We have changed the climate already and are now guaranteed at least a two degrees centigrade increase in global temperature within this century – more if we do not act now.
I know people who are at Rio+20 trying to breathe new life into the promise of Agenda 21. I pray for their success, but most of us are living ordinary lives with local spheres of influence. Even if the rhetoric is right at the international level, in the USA and in NC right now, the politicians are not responding. (We are all painfully aware of the brilliant satire on the Colbert Report recently and the current rush to fracking in our state.) It is up to us, the ordinary people, to drive change at the local level. That is the work of NCIPL – we work with faith communities on confronting the painful realities of climate change and then searching for positive responses that will bring us back into right relationship with creation and our Creator. The scientists are our prophets, and children like Severn are our prophets. We as people of faith need to hear their words and respond. It is time to dig down deep into our faith for the guidance and resources we require to become the change we need in the world.
Let us watch with interest what comes out of Rio+20, but not wait for others to move. Join NCIPL in this great work. We all have the opportunity to design a future that is weaned off of destructive consumption and fossil fuels, one that is instead powered by the gifts of sun, wind and earth and uses resources with love and respect for all of life now and into the future.
— Kathy Shea, Co-Director, NCIPL