Climate Change: An Update and a Response

by | May 18, 2023 | Formation, Reflections, Vincentian Family at the U.N. | 1 comment

Since starting my work as the NGO Representative for the Sisters of Charity Federation at the United Nations at the start of the year, there is a plethora of justice issues that demand our attention.

Climate change is one of the many issues that demands an urgent response. Unlike other justice issues where data collection by governments can be more of a challenge, the area of climate change presents scientifically proven data and practical strategies that can still reverse the damage humanity has caused to our planet.

Working previously in higher education, and as a witness to the changing environment around me, I had an awareness of the climate crisis. What I did not realize, as I imagine is the case among many others, is how bad the situation is and how power, greed, and indifference is what is keeping us from reversing course.

Recent news out of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is another example of the impact climate change. Fatal floods killed more than 400 people in early May, devastating the villages of Bushushu and Nyamukubi, both in South Kivu province.

A week earlier, 130 people were killed and more than 5,000 homes were destroyed by heavy rains that caused floods and landslides in neighboring Rwanda.

Warming temperatures due to climate change are increasing the intensity and frequency of Africa’s rains, and a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) brought even worse news: it is likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century. Likely limiting warming to below 2°C would then rely on a rapid acceleration of mitigation efforts after 2030.

The good news is that if we respond with the urgency this deserves, both individually and collectively, we can bring this to a halt.

Here are some practical resources that we can pursue as members of the Vincentian family to learn, act, and pray:

For some inspiration and food for the soul, check out this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize winners, reflecting inspiring individuals who are taking extraordinary actions to protect our planet.

The debate on the existence of climate change is no longer the question. The essential question is if we will finally change our behaviors to save our planet and all who call it home.

By James R. Walters, Ed.D
Sisters of Charity Federation NGO representative to the UN

1 Comment

  1. MaryAnn Dantuono

    Thanks Jim. We need constant reminders of the urgency of this important issue. Climate change is devastating many communities but its greatest impact is on persons living in poverty.