National, congressional, community, and faith leaders will share ideas on how we can work together and ensure the Clean Power Plan creates health, wealth, and opportunity for low-income communities and communities of color.
From 9 to 11 am, at the National Press Club located at 529 14th Street NW in Washington, D.C.
Last month, D.C. scored a big victory when the Public Service Commission unanimously rejected Chicago-based energy giant Exelon’s attempt to take over Pepco. Their decision made it clear that this merger is NOT in the public interest. But our fight isn’t quite over.
Exelon has indicated they will try and push their bad deal through. Their first key step would be reaching a back room deal with Mayor Bowser and the D.C. Government. We won’t let that happen!
Next Thursday at noon, join us in front of the Wilson Building to show Mayor Bowser that we stand together against this bad deal – and we won’t let Exelon sneak it under the door at the last minute.
- WHAT: Rally to keep Exelon out of D.C. (and our region)!
- WHEN: Thursday, September 17th at noon
- WHERE: In front of the Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
- WHO: The Power DC coalition, you and all of your friends who live or work in downtown D.C.
- WHY: We need all hands on deck to keep our victory intact—and to protect our electricity bills and our progress on clean energy from Exelon’s top-down, anti-renewable energy, nuclear-driven business model.
Just since August 24, hundreds of letters have been sent to Mayor Bowser urging her to stand firm—now it’s time to show our strength. We can protect D.C. residents from higher bills and keep our region heading toward cleaner, more efficient power.
As a part of the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change’s continual effort to advocate for environmental justice principles, we will be convening a briefing on Capitol Hill for Members of Congress and their Staff members. The purpose of this briefing is to provide Member and their Staffers with a brief history of the Environmental Justice movement, share concrete examples of environmental injustices and highlight opportunities to integrate environmental justice into the state planning process of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.Our panel will include influential members of the Environmental Justice Movement including
- Ms. Monique Harden Esq., Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (LA)
- Dr. Charlotte Keys, Jesus People Against Pollution (MS)
- Ms. Sharon Lewis, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CT)
- Dr. Nicky Sheats, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance (NJ)
- Ms. Peggy Shepard, WE ACT for Environmental Justice (NY)
- Ms. Kim Wasserman, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (IL)
- Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome, WE ACT for Environmental Justice (DC)
- Rev. Leo Woodberry, Kingdom Living Temple (SC)
- Dr. Beverly Wright, Deep South Environmental Justice Center (LA)
U.S. Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (MD-4) is co-hosting this briefing with the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change. For more information, go to www.ejleadershipforum.org
Originally published at The Jacobin.
At the beginning of August, President Obama unveiled with great fanfare the “Clean Power Plan,” a “Landmark Action to Protect Public Health, Reduce Energy Bills for Households and Businesses, Create American Jobs, and Bring Clean Power to Communities across the Country.”
Stripping away the poll-tested language, the president was announcing — after epic delays — EPA regulations for carbon-dioxide pollution from existing power plants, finally fulfilling a 2000 George W. Bush campaign pledge. The proposed rule’s compliance period will begin in 2022.
From a policy perspective, the proposed rule is a perfect distillation of the Obama administration’s approach to governance: politically rational incrementalism that reinforces the existing power structures and is grossly insufficient given the scope of the problem.
The information necessary to understand the rule is impressively buried on the EPA website amid “fact sheets” that list out-of-context factoids and fail to cite references from the one-hundred-plus-page technical documents or ZIP files of modeling runs. The structure of the plan is complex (for example, states can choose to comply with “rate-based” pollution-intensity targets or “mass-based” total-pollution targets) and carefully designed to satisfy a wide range of stakeholders.
With sufficient inspection, the plan’s impact on climate pollution — its entire purpose — emerges: the rule locks in the rate of coal-plant retirement that has been ongoing since 2008, and that’s about it.
Under both the rate-based and mass-based approaches, the projected rate of change in coal-fired generation is consistent with recent historical declines in coal-fired generation. Additionally, under both of these approaches, the trends for all other types will remain consistent with what their trends would be in the absence of this rule.
Now, that’s a pretty good accomplishment in political terms. The administration is seizing on the ascendant power of the natural-gas industry to codify an existing economic trend at the expense of the presently weak coal industry. Coal-plant pollution has been protected from air-pollution regulation for generations; some of the plants in operation today were built during the Great Depression. These plants — immensely profitable for their owners — are not only climate killers, but destroyers of the lives of anyone who lives downwind of their poisonous effluvia. These rules were crafted in the face of the sociopathic opposition of the Republican Party to any climate policy, let alone one administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.
From the perspective of actual reality, however, the proposed rule is so weak as to be potentially destructive. It is built around the premise that the United States will extend its commitment to fracked gas for decades to come, even as the climate targets Obama personally signed onto can only be met if the dismantling of all fossil-fuel infrastructure begins immediately.
The rule’s expectations for renewables are clear evidence of the political power of the fossil-fuel industry trumping that of clean power. Since 2009, US wind generation has tripled and solar generation has grown twentyfold. Yet the EPA expects much slower renewable electricity growth in the next fifteen years. This assumption is why the rule will deliver de minimis cuts to greenhouse pollution from the electric power sector—unless states implementing the rule voluntarily adopt stronger goals.
More than anything else, the Clean Power Plan is a triumph of messaging discipline. The Obama administration has learned some lessons from the political debacle that accompanied the death of the Waxman-Markey climate bill in the Senate. Although there was significant money put into a grassroots mobilization for climate legislation, that mobilization failed spectacularly.
The organization 1Sky — which was formed in 2007 with the sole purpose of building grassroots support for climate legislation — had support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, NRDC, Friends of the Earth, and others. But its efforts came to naught. (1Sky was absorbed by 350.org in 2011.)
The White House discouraged grassroots mobilization, and instead focused their attention on the inside game, the elite stakeholders in Washington DC. The insider strategy relied on the chimera of gaining Republican votes for transformative climate policy. As a result, climate policy elites and grassroots activists spent years in conflict, while opposition was effectively organized under the Tea Party banner. By the middle of 2009, both public and elite support for climate legislation had collapsed.
This political collapse should have come as no surprise, in particular to Obama, who won the White House using a campaign strategy built from the lessons of leftist community organizers, most notably campaign advisor Marshall Ganz. However, even before he took the oath of office, Obama abandoned the grassroots-mobilization infrastructure in favor of a fully centralized approach.
The administration’s approach was actually in part an attempt not to repeat the failures of the Clinton-Gore approach to climate. Their policy attempts — a “BTU” energy tax proposed in 1993 and the Kyoto Protocol global treaty Gore negotiated in 1997 — ran up against congressional opposition. So the Obama White House, populated by many of the veterans of the Clinton years, deliberately took their hands off the tiller and let their allies in Congress, namely Rep. Henry Waxman and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and Rep. Ed Markey and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, take the lead.
So climate policy failed yet again, in a different manner. It’s almost as if the real problem wasn’t how various policies were presented to Congress, but instead the political composition of Congress itself.
This time they have deliberately coordinated with grassroots environmental groups, including environmental justice organizations, to sell the EPA rule. The mainline environmental groups, at the behest of the administration and funded by Democratic-aligned grants, burned the midnight oil to get their members to submit eight million comments in support of the rule, an accomplishment almost unparalleled in terms of the amount of effort expended to achieve minimal political influence.
The environmental justice community — a diverse and fractious network of predominantly local, non-white environmental organizations — took a different approach in response to elite outreach. They accepted grants to engage on the Clean Power Plan, but used their seat at the table to advocate forcefully against the previous draft of the rule.
Because Obama’s first EPA administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, had previously established mechanisms to consider environmental justice in the rule-making process, the activists’ concerns about this rule were at least partly addressed.
But it’s not nearly enough. Dismantling the global fossil-fuel economy is a civilization-scale fight. Fossil-fuel industrialists have every incentive to resist democratic control to prevent their economic extinction. And that extinction is what climate policy needs to bring about, not forestall — global warming won’t stop until we stop burning fossil fuels. The Obama years have been spent in skirmishes and accommodations that have served mainly to delay the inevitable, seismic conflict between extractive capitalism and democratic society.
The modest accomplishments for climate and environmental justice in the Clean Power Plan will have little meaning unless they turn out to be the first salvos in a relentless assault on the carbon economy. In 2008, Obama envisioned that he would oversee from the White House “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
That moment has not yet come.
Speaking in Alaska at a conference on the Arctic, President Barack Obama spoke with force about the urgency of addressing climate change, acknowledging the failings of his own administration’s efforts. His speech, a far-reaching address on national and international climate policy, was given at the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER) in Anchorage before various foreign ministers grappling with the geopolitical implications of an Arctic region on “the leading edge of climate change.”
“It’s not enough just to talk the talk,” Obama concluded. “We’ve got to walk the walk. We’ve got work to do, and we’ve got to do it together.”
Obama’s speech came days after approving oil giant Shell’s application to commence exploration for oil in the melting Arctic Ocean.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Thank you. It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Alaska.
I want to thank Secretary Kerry and members of my administration for your work here today. Thank you to the many Alaskans, Alaska Natives and other indigenous peoples of the Arctic who’ve traveled a long way, in many cases, to share your insights and your experiences. And to all the foreign ministers and delegations who’ve come here from around the world – welcome to the United States, and thank you all for attending this GLACIER Conference.
The actual name of the conference is much longer. It’s a mouthful, but the acronym works because it underscores the incredible changes that are taking place here in the Arctic that impact not just the nations that surround the Arctic, but have an impact for the entire world, as well.
I want to thank the people of Alaska for hosting this conference. I look forward to visiting more of Alaska over the next couple of days. The United States is, of course, an Arctic nation. And even if this isn’t an official gathering of the Arctic Council, the United States is proud to chair the Arctic Council for the next two years. And to all the foreign dignitaries who are here, I want to be very clear – we are eager to work with your nations on the unique opportunities that the Arctic presents and the unique challenges that it faces. We are not going to – any of us – be able to solve these challenges by ourselves. We can only solve them together.
Of course, we’re here today to discuss a challenge that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other – and that’s the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.
Our understanding of climate change advances each day. Human activity is disrupting the climate, in many ways faster than we previously thought. The science is stark. It is sharpening. It proves that this once-distant threat is now very much in the present.
In fact, the Arctic is the leading edge of climate change – our leading indicator of what the entire planet faces. Arctic temperatures are rising about twice as fast as the global average. Over the past 60 years, Alaska has warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the United States. Last year was Alaska’s warmest year on record – just as it was for the rest of the world. And the impacts here are very real.
Thawing permafrost destabilizes the earth on which 100,000 Alaskans live, threatening homes, damaging transportation and energy infrastructure, which could cost billions of dollars to fix.
Warmer, more acidic oceans and rivers, and the migration of entire species, threatens the livelihoods of indigenous peoples, and local economies dependent on fishing and tourism. Reduced sea levels leaves villages unprotected from floods and storm surges. Some are in imminent danger; some will have to relocate entirely. In fact, Alaska has some of the swiftest shoreline erosion rates in the world.
I recall what one Alaska Native told me at the White House a few years ago. He said, “Many of our villages are ready to slide off into the waters of Alaska, and in some cases, there will be absolutely no hope -– we will need to move many villages.”
Alaska’s fire season is now more than a month longer than it was in 1950. At one point this summer, more than 300 wildfires were burning at once. Southeast of here, in our Pacific Northwest, even the rainforest is on fire. More than 5 million acres in Alaska have already been scorched by fire this year – that’s an area about the size of Massachusetts. If you add the fires across Canada and Siberia, we’re talking 300  million acres – an area about the size of New York.
This is a threat to many communities – but it’s also an immediate and ongoing threat to the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect ours. Less than two weeks ago, three highly trained firefighters lost their lives fighting a fire in Washington State. Another has been in critical condition. We are thankful to each and every firefighter for their heroism – including the Canadian firefighters who’ve helped fight the fires in this state.
But the point is that climate change is no longer some far-off problem. It is happening here. It is happening now. Climate change is already disrupting our agriculture and ecosystems, our water and food supplies, our energy, our infrastructure, human health, human safety – now. Today. And climate change is a trend that affects all trends – economic trends, security trends. Everything will be impacted. And it becomes more dramatic with each passing year.
Already it’s changing the way Alaskans live. And considering the Arctic’s unique role in influencing the global climate, it will accelerate changes to the way that we all live.
Since 1979, the summer sea ice in the Arctic has decreased by more than 40 percent – a decrease that has dramatically accelerated over the past two decades. One new study estimates that Alaska’s glaciers alone lose about 75 gigatons – that’s 75 billion tons – of ice each year.
To put that in perspective, one scientist described a gigaton of ice as a block the size of the National Mall in Washington – from Congress all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, four times as tall as the Washington Monument. Now imagine 75 of those ice blocks. That’s what Alaska’s glaciers alone lose each year. The pace of melting is only getting faster. It’s now twice what it was between 1950 and 2000 – twice as fast as it was just a little over a decade ago. And it’s one of the reasons why sea levels rose by about eight inches over the last century, and why they’re projected to rise another one to four feet this century.
Consider, as well, that many of the fires burning today are actually burning through the permafrost in the Arctic. So this permafrost stores massive amounts of carbon. When the permafrost is no longer permanent, when it thaws or burns, these gases are released into our atmosphere over time, and that could mean that the Arctic may become a new source of emissions that further accelerates global warming.
So if we do nothing, temperatures in Alaska are projected to rise between six and 12 degrees by the end of the century, triggering more melting, more fires, more thawing of the permafrost, a negative feedback loop, a cycle – warming leading to more warming – that we do not want to be a part of.
And the fact is that climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it. That, ladies and gentlemen, must change. We’re not acting fast enough.
I’ve come here today, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and its second largest emitter, to say that the United States recognizes our role in creating this problem, and we embrace our responsibility to help solve it. And I believe we can solve it. That’s the good news. Even if we cannot reverse the damage that we’ve already caused, we have the means – the scientific imagination and technological innovation – to avoid irreparable harm.
We know this because last year, for the first time in our history, the global economy grew and global carbon emissions stayed flat. So we’re making progress; we’re just not making it fast enough.
Here in the United States, we’re trying to do our part. Since I took office six and a half years ago, the United States has made ambitious investments in clean energy, and ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions. We now harness three times as much electricity from wind and 20 times as much from the sun. Alaskans now lead the world in the development of hybrid wind energy systems from remote grids, and it’s expanding its solar and biomass resources.
We’ve invested in energy efficiency in every imaginable way – in our buildings, our cars, our trucks, our homes, even the appliances inside them. We’re saving consumers billions of dollars along the way. Here in Alaska, more than 15,000 homeowners have cut their energy bills by 30 percent on average. That collectively saves Alaskans more than $50 million each year. We’ve helped communities build climate-resilient infrastructure to prepare for the impacts of climate change that we can no longer prevent.
Earlier this month, I announced the first set of nationwide standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants. It’s the single most important step America has ever taken on climate change. And over the course of the coming days, I intend to speak more about the particular challenges facing Alaska and the United States as an Arctic power, and I intend to announce new measures to address them.
So we are working hard to do our part to meet this challenge. And in doing so, we’re proving that there doesn’t have to be a conflict between a sound environment and strong economic growth. But we’re not moving fast enough. None of the nations represented here are moving fast enough.
And let’s be honest – there’s always been an argument against taking action. The notion is somehow this will curb our economic growth. And at a time when people are anxious about the economy, that’s an argument oftentimes for inaction. We don’t want our lifestyles disrupted. In countries where there remains significant poverty, including here in the United States, the notion is, can we really afford to prioritize this issue. The irony, of course, is, is that few things will disrupt our lives as profoundly as climate change. Few things can have as negative an impact on our economy as climate change.
On the other hand, technology has now advanced to the point where any economic disruption from transitioning to a cleaner, more efficient economy is shrinking by the day. Clean energy and energy efficiency aren’t just proving cost-effective, but also cost-saving. The unit costs of things like solar are coming down rapidly. But we’re still underinvesting in it.
Many of America’s biggest businesses recognize the opportunities and are seizing them. They’re choosing a new route. And a growing number of American homeowners are choosing to go solar every day. It works. All told, America’s economy has grown more than 60 percent over the last 20 years, but our carbon emissions are roughly back to where they were 20 years ago. So we know how to use less dirty fuel and grow our economy at the same time. But we’re not moving fast enough.
More Americans every day are doing their part, though. Thanks to their efforts, America will reach the emission target that I set six years ago. We’re going to reduce our carbon emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. And that’s why, last year, I set a new target: America is going to reduce our emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 10 years from now.
And that was part of a historic joint announcement we made last year in Beijing. The United States will double the pace at which we cut our emissions, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting its emissions. Because the world’s two largest economies and two largest emitters came together, we’re now seeing other nations stepping up aggressively as well. And I’m determined to make sure American leadership continues to drive international action – because we can’t do this alone. Even America and China together cannot do this alone. Even all the countries represented around here cannot do this alone. We have to do it together.
This year, in Paris, has to be the year that the world finally reaches an agreement to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can.
So let me sum up. We know that human activity is changing the climate. That is beyond dispute. Everything else is politics if people are denying the facts of climate change. We can have a legitimate debate about how we are going to address this problem; we cannot deny the science. We also know the devastating consequences if the current trend lines continue. That is not deniable. And we are going to have to do some adaptation, and we are going to have to help communities be resilient, because of these trend lines we are not going to be able to stop on a dime. We’re not going to be able to stop tomorrow.
But if those trend lines continue the way they are, there’s not going to be a nation on this Earth that’s not impacted negatively. People will suffer. Economies will suffer. Entire nations will find themselves under severe, severe problems. More drought; more floods; rising sea levels; greater migration; more refugees; more scarcity; more conflict.
That’s one path we can take. The other path is to embrace the human ingenuity that can do something about it. This is within our power. This is a solvable problem if we start now.
And we’re starting to see that enough consensus is being built internationally and within each of our own body politics that we may have the political will – finally – to get moving. So the time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers is past. The time to plead ignorance is surely past. Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They’re on their own shrinking island.
And let’s remember, even beyond the climate benefits of pursuing cleaner energy sources and more resilient, energy-efficient ways of living, the byproduct of it is, is that we also make our air cleaner and safer for our children to breathe. We’re also making our economies more resilient to energy shocks on global markets. We’re also making our countries less reliant on unstable parts of the world. We are gradually powering a planet on its way to 9 billion humans in a more sustainable way. These are good things. This is not simply a danger to be avoided; this is an opportunity to be seized. But we have to keep going. We’re making a difference, but we have to keep going. We are not moving fast enough.
If we were to abandon our course of action, if we stop trying to build a clean-energy economy and reduce carbon pollution, if we do nothing to keep the glaciers from melting faster, and oceans from rising faster, and forests from burning faster, and storms from growing stronger, we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair: Submerged countries. Abandoned cities. Fields no longer growing. Indigenous peoples who can’t carry out traditions that stretch back millennia. Entire industries of people who can’t practice their livelihoods. Desperate refugees seeking the sanctuary of nations not their own. Political disruptions that could trigger multiple conflicts around the globe.
That’s not a future of strong economic growth. That is not a future where freedom and human rights are on the move. Any leader willing to take a gamble on a future like that – any so-called leader who does not take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke – is not fit to lead.
On this issue, of all issues, there is such a thing as being too late. That moment is almost upon us. That’s why we’re here today. That’s what we have to convey to our people – tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. And that’s what we have to do when we meet in Paris later this year. It will not be easy. There are hard questions to answer. I am not trying to suggest that there are not going to be difficult transitions that we all have to make. But if we unite our highest aspirations, if we make our best efforts to protect this planet for future generations, we can solve this problem.
And when you leave this conference center, I hope you look around. I hope you have the chance to visit a glacier. Or just look out your airplane window as you depart, and take in the God-given majesty of this place. For those of you flying to other parts of the world, do it again when you’re flying over your home countries. Remind yourself that there will come a time when your grandkids – and mine, if I’m lucky enough to have some – they’ll want to see this. They’ll want to experience it, just as we’ve gotten to do in our own lives. They deserve to live lives free from fear, and want, and peril. And ask yourself, are you doing everything you can to protect it. Are we doing everything we can to make their lives safer, and more secure, and more prosperous?
Let’s prove that we care about them and their long-term futures, not just short-term political expediency.
I had a chance to meet with some Native peoples before I came in here, and they described for me villages that are slipping into the sea, and the changes that are taking place – changing migratory patterns; the changing fauna so that what used to feed the animals that they, in turn, would hunt or fish beginning to vanish. It’s urgent for them today. But that is the future for all of us if we don’t take care.
Your presence here today indicates your recognition of that. But it’s not enough just to have conferences. It’s not enough just to talk the talk. We’ve got to walk the walk. We’ve got work to do, and we’ve got to do it together.
So, thank you. And may God bless all of you, and your countries. And thank you, Alaska, for your wonderful hospitality. Thank you.
In this week’s address, the President spoke about his upcoming trip to Alaska, during which he will view the effects of climate change firsthand. Alaskans are already living with the impact of climate change, with glaciers melting faster, and temperatures projected to rise between six and twelve degrees by the end of the century. In his address, the President spoke to ways in which we can address these challenges, including the transition away from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources like wind and solar, an effort in which America is already leading. And he stressed that while our economy still has to rely on oil and gas during that transition, we should rely more on domestic production than importing from foreign counties who do not have the same environmental or safety standards as the United States. The President looked forward to his upcoming trip, and promised that while he is in office, America will lead the world to meet the threat of climate change before it’s too late.
Hi, everybody. This Monday, I’m heading to Alaska for a three-day tour of the state.
I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. Not only because Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in a country that’s full of beautiful places – but because I’ll have several opportunities to meet with everyday Alaskans about what’s going on in their lives. I’ll travel throughout the state, meeting with Alaskans who live above the Arctic Circle, with Alaska natives, and with folks who earn their livelihoods through fishing and tourism. And I expect to learn a lot.
One thing I’ve learned so far is that a lot of these conversations begin with climate change. And that’s because Alaskans are already living with its effects. More frequent and extensive wildfires. Bigger storm surges as sea ice melts faster. Some of the swiftest shoreline erosion in the world – in some places, more than three feet a year.
Alaska’s glaciers are melting faster too, threatening tourism and adding to rising seas. And if we do nothing, Alaskan temperatures are projected to rise between six and twelve degrees by the end of the century, changing all sorts of industries forever.
This is all real. This is happening to our fellow Americans right now. In fact, Alaska’s governor recently told me that four villages are in “imminent danger” and have to be relocated. Already, rising sea levels are beginning to swallow one island community.
Think about that. If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect ourselves. Climate change poses the same threat, right now.
That’s why one of the things I’ll do while I’m in Alaska is to convene other nations to meet this threat. Several Arctic nations have already committed to action. Since the United States and China worked together to set ambitious climate targets last year, leading by example, many of the world’s biggest emitters have come forward with new climate plans of their own. And that’s a good sign as we approach this December’s global climate negotiations in Paris.
Now, one of the ways America is leading is by transitioning away from dirty energy sources that threaten our health and our environment, and by going all-in on clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar. And Alaska has the natural resources to be a global leader in this effort.
Now even as we accelerate this transition, our economy still has to rely on oil and gas. As long as that’s the case, I believe we should rely more on domestic production than on foreign imports, and we should demand the highest safety standards in the industry – our own. Still, I know there are Americans who are concerned about oil companies drilling in environmentally sensitive waters. Some are also concerned with my administration’s decision to approve Shell’s application to drill a well off the Alaskan coast, using leases they purchased before I took office. I share people’s concerns about offshore drilling. I remember the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico all too well.
That’s precisely why my administration has worked to make sure that our oil exploration conducted under these leases is done at the highest standards possible, with requirements specifically tailored to the risks of drilling off Alaska. We don’t rubber-stamp permits. We made it clear that Shell has to meet our high standards in how they conduct their operations – and it’s a testament to how rigorous we’ve applied those standards that Shell has delayed and limited its exploration off Alaska while trying to meet them. The bottom line is, safety has been and will continue to be my administration’s top priority when it comes to oil and gas exploration off America’s precious coasts – even as we push our economy and the world to ultimately transition off of fossil fuels.
So I’m looking forward to talking with Alaskans about how we can work together to make America the global leader on climate change around the globe. And we’re going to offer unique and engaging ways for you to join me on this trip all week at WhiteHouse.gov/Alaska. Because what’s happening in Alaska is happening to us. It’s our wakeup call. And as long as I’m President, America will lead the world to meet the threat of climate change before it’s too late.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.
To resounding applause, Texas Senator Ted Cruz told the attendees of an exclusive Koch brothers retreat that man-made global warming is a scientific conspiracy. Under questioning by Politico’s Mike Allen, Cruz claimed that “power-greedy politicians” have colluded with climate scientists for decades in attempts to impose “massive government control of the economy.”
From the National Review:
Allen asked Cruz if he is concerned by a Boston Globe story published on Saturday that suggests Republicans will pay a price in 2016 for their skepticism about climate change. Cruz’s response? “Not remotely.” He went on to recall the 1970s panic over global cooling and a coming ice age. “The solution they proposed was massive government control of the economy, the energy sector, and our lives. Then the data disproved it,” he said. ”Then it became global warming. Interestingly enough, the solution was identical: massive government control over the economy, the energy sector, and our lives. Then the data didn’t support it, so they entered theory number three, climate change. Now, to any power-greedy politician, this is the perfect theory, it can never, ever, ever, be disproven, if it gets hotter, if it gets colder, if it gets wetter, if it gets drier.” The climate issue is in the news once again with the administration set to unveil sweeping new regulations on carbon emissions from power plants. President Obama earlier in the day released a video that warns of “hotter summers, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events.” Asked whether the president is exaggerating, Cruz said, ”You know, there’s a different word than exaggerating.”
Time’s Philip Elliott reports:
“If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there’s been zero recorded warming,” Cruz said in California’s Orange County. “The satellite says it ain’t happening.”
Instead, Cruz said, government researchers are reverse engineering data sets to falsify changes in the climate. “They’re cooking the books. They’re actually adjusting the numbers,” Cruz said. “Enron used to do their books the same way.”
Cruz said scientists four decades ago were studying “global cooling, a global ice age was coming,” and they were as wrong as those who now say the earth is warming.
“Senator, you’re not saying global warming isn’t real?” interrupted his interviewer, Politico’s Mike Allen.
“I’m saying that data and facts don’t support it,” Cruz said to applause from 450 donors to the political network organized by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.
Charles and David Koch are the world’s wealthiest carbon-industry titans, with a combined petrochemical fortune of greater than $100 billion. The identity of other attendees at the retreat were kept secret, with the agreement of the reporters in attendance.
On July 5th thousands of people will gather in Toronto for the March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate. The march will tell the story of a new economy that works for people and the planet.
It starts with justice, creates good work, clean jobs and healthy communities, recognizes that we have solutions and shows we know who is responsible for causing the climate crisis.
The March will tell this story by being organized so that people are in four contingents:
1 It starts with justice
2 Good work, clean jobs, healthy communities
3 We have solutions
4 We know who is responsible.
Assembly Location: Queen’s Park – In front of the Ontario Legislature Building (located by Queen’s Park Crescent West & University Avenue)
The encyclical concludes with these two prayers.
A prayer for our earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
A Christian prayer in union with creation
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!
Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
Full English Translation of Pope Francis' Climate and Environmental Encyclical, 'Laudato Si': Chapter Six
The leaked draft of “Laudato Si’”, Pope Francis’ widely anticipated encyclical on the crisis of climate change and other global environmental concerns, contains 246 numbered paragraphs contained within a preface and six chapters. The translation below from the original Italian is very rough, a Google translation amended by Brad Johnson.
ENCYCLICAL: PRAISED BE
THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE OF OUR COMMON HOME
Table of Contents
- Praised be, my Lord [1-2]
- CHAPTER ONE: WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR HOME [17-19]
- CHAPTER TWO: THE GOSPEL OF CREATION 
- CHAPTER THREE: THE ROOT OF HUMAN ECOLOGICAL CRISIS 
- CHAPTER FOUR: INTEGRAL ECOLOGY 
- CHAPTER FIVE: SOME GUIDELINES AND ACTION 
- CHAPTER SIX: EDUCATION AND ECOLOGICAL SPIRITUALITY 
- Pointing to another way of life [203-208]
- Educating the alliance between mankind and the environment [209-215]
- The conversion scheme [216-221]
- Joy and peace [222-227]
- Civil and political love [228-232]
- The sacramental signs and the celebratory repose [233-237]
- The Trinity and the relationship between the creatures [238-240]
- The Queen of all creation [241-242]
- Beyond the sun [243-246]
202. Many things need to reorient their route, but first of all it is humanity that needs to change. Lacking is the consciousness of a common origin, a mutual belonging and a shared future for all. This knowledge base would allow the development of new beliefs, new attitudes and lifestyles. Thus emerges a great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge involving long processes of regeneration.
203. Since the market tends to create a compulsive consumerist mechanism to place its products, people end up being overwhelmed by the vortex of purchases and unnecessary expenses. Obsessive consumerism is the subjective reflection of the techno-economic paradigm. What happens Romano Guardini already signaled: the human being “takes ordinary objects and the usual forms of life as well as are imposed by rational plans and normalized by the machines and, overall, he does so with the impression that this is reasonable and just.” [144 Das Ende der Neuzeit, 19659 Würzburg, 66-67 (ed. it. The end of the modern era, Brescia 1987, 61).] This paradigm makes everyone believe that they are free by retaining a claim to the freedom to consume, when in fact those who own freedom are those that are part of the minority who hold economic and financial power. In this confusion, post-modern humanity has not found a new understanding of itself that can direct itself, and this lack of identity is lived with anxiety. We have too many paths to limited and stunted purposes.
204. The current situation of the world “causes a sense of precariousness and insecurity, which in turn promotes forms of collective selfishness.” [145 John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1990, 1: AAS 82 (1990) , 147.] When people become self-referential and isolate themselves in their consciousness, they increase their greed. The more a person’s heart is empty, the more he needs items to buy, possess and consume. In this context it does not seem possible that anyone could accept that reality poses a limit. In this perspective, there is not even a true common good. If this is the type of person who tends to predominate in a society, the rules will be respected only to the extent that they do not contradict their needs. So we do not think only to the possibility of terrible weather phenomena or major natural disasters, but also to disasters derived from social crises, because the obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, especially when only a few can sustain it, will only result in violence and mutual destruction.
205. Yet, all is not lost, because human beings, capable of degradation in the extreme, they can also overcome, returning to choose the good and regenerating, beyond any social and psychological conditioning that is imposed on them. They are able to look at themselves honestly, emerging from their disgust and to new paths to true freedom. There are no systems that nullify completely the doorway to goodness, truth and beauty, nor the ability to react, that God continues to encourage from the bottom of our hearts. Every person in this world, I ask you not to forget this dignity that no one has the right to remove from you.
206. A change in lifestyle may come to exert a healthy pressure on those holding political, economic and social power. It is what happens when consumer movements can cause you to stop buying certain products and thus become effective in changing the behavior of companies, forcing them to consider the environmental impact and production patterns. It is a fact that, when social habits affect corporate profits, these forces are seen to produce in another way. This reminds us of the social responsibility of consumers. “Buying is always a moral act, as well as economic.” [146 Benedict XVI, Enc. Lett. Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 66: AAS 101 (2009), 699.] To this day, “the theme of environmental degradation due to the behavior of each of us.” [147 Id., Message for the World Day of Peace 2010, 11: AAS 102 (2010), 48.]
207. The Earth Charter was calling us all to leave behind a stage of self-destruction and to start again, but we have not yet developed a universal consciousness that makes it possible. For this I dare to propose that precious challenge again: “As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning [...]. May ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life. “[148 the Earth Charter, The Hague (29 June 2000). ]
208. You can always develop a new ability to leave self-interest for others. Without it you do not recognize in other creatures their own value, do not care to take care of something for the benefit of others, lack the ability to set limits to avoid suffering or degradation of our surroundings. The fundamental attitude of self-transcendence, breaking the isolated consciousness and the self, is the root that makes possible all caring for others and the environment, and brings forth the moral reaction to consider the impact caused by any action and from any personal decision outside of oneself. When we are able to overcome individualism, it can actually produce an alternative lifestyle and can become a significant change in society.
209. Awareness of the seriousness of the cultural and ecological crisis must be translated into new habits. Many know that the current progress and the accumulation of objects or simple pleasures are not enough to give meaning and joy to the human heart, but they do not feel able to give up what the market offers them. In countries that should yield the greatest changes in consumption habits, the young have a new ecological awareness and a generous spirit, and some of them are fighting admirably for environmental protection, but grew up in an environment of high consumption and of well-being that makes the maturation of other habits difficult. This is why we are faced with an educational challenge.
210. Environmental education has been expanding its targets. If at first it was very centered on scientific information and on awareness and prevention of environmental risks, now it tends to include a critique of the “myth” of modernity based on instrumental reason (individualism, indefinite progress, competition, consumerism, market without rules) and also to recover the different levels of ecological balance: with the inner self, to solidarity with others, the natural one with all living beings, the spiritual with God. Environmental education should prepare us to make that leap towards Mystery, from which ecological ethics draws its deepest meaning. On the other hand there are teachers able to reset the pedagogical itineraries of ecological ethics, so they actually help to grow in solidarity, responsibility and care based on compassion.
211. However, this education, called to create an “ecological citizenship”, sometimes merely informs and cannot cultivate habits. The existence of laws and regulations is not sufficient in the long term to restrict bad behavior, even when there is a valid control. In order for the rule of law to produce lasting significant effects it is necessary that most of the members of society accepted it with adequate motivations, and respond through personal transformation. Only starting from the solid virtues is it possible to cultivate the gift of self in an ecological commitment. If a person, although his economic conditions enables him to consume and spend more, usually blankets himself a bit instead of turning on the heating, it is supposed he has acquired beliefs and ways of feeling favorable to environmental care. It is very noble to assume the task of taking care of creation with small daily actions, and it is wonderful that education is able to motivate them to give shape to a way of life. Education for environmental responsibility can encourage various behaviors that have a direct and important effect in caring for the environment, like avoiding the use of plastic or paper, reducing water consumption, waste separation, only cooking what you can eat reasonably, handling with care other living beings, using public transport or sharing the same vehicle between several people, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, and so on. All this is part of a generous and dignified creativity, showing the best of the human being. Reusing something instead of discarding it quickly, starting from deep motivations, can be an act of love that expresses our dignity.
212. One should not think that these efforts will not change the world. These actions spread good in a society that always produces fruits beyond what we can see, because they cause within this land a benefit that tends to spread, sometimes invisibly. Moreover, the exercise of such behavior gives us a sense of our dignity, leads to greater existential depth, allows us to experience that it is worth going through this world.
213. The educational aspects are various: the school, the family, the media, catechesis, and others. A good school education in childhood and adolescence plants seeds that can produce effects throughout life. But I wish to emphasize the central importance of the family, because “it is the place in which life, the gift of God, can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed, and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth. Against the so-called culture of death, the family is the heart of the culture of life.” [149 John Paul II, Enc. Lett. Centesimus Annus (May 1, 1991), 39: AAS 83 (1991), 842.] In the family is cultivated the first habits of love and care for life, such as the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and the protection of all creatures. The family is the place of integral formation, in which the different aspects of personal maturity, intimately related to each other, unfold. In the family you learn to ask permission without arrogance, to say “thank you” as an expression of heartfelt appreciation for the things we receive, to dominate aggression or greed, and apologize when we do something wrong. These small acts of sincere kindness help build a culture of life and shared respect for our surroundings.
214. At the political and the various associations the effort to form conscience competes. Competes before the Church. All Christian communities have an important role to fulfill in this education. I also hope that in our seminaries and religious houses of instruction is education of a responsible austerity, grateful contemplation of the world, care for the fragility of the poor and the environment. Because much is at stake, as well as needing institutions with the power to penalize attacks on the environment, we also need to control ourselves and to educate each other.
215. In this context, “should not be overlooked [...] the relationship that exists between adequate aesthetic education and the maintenance of a healthy environment.” [150 Id., Message for the World Day of Peace 1990, 14: AAS 82 (1990), 155.] Paying attention to the beauty and love helps us to get out of utilitarian pragmatism. When you do not learn to stop to admire and appreciate the beautiful, is not it strange that everything will turn to the subject of the use and abuse without scruples. At the same time, if you want to achieve profound changes, it must be remembered that the thought patterns actually affect behavior. Education will be ineffective and its efforts will be fruitless unless we are also concerned to promote a new model about the human being, life, society and the relationship with nature. Otherwise it will continue to run on the consumer model transmitted by the media and through efficient market mechanisms.
216. The great wealth of Christian spirituality, generated by twenty centuries of personal and community experiences, constitutes a magnificent contribution to offer to the effort to renew humanity. I wish to propose to Christians a few lines of ecological spirituality arising from the convictions of our faith, because what the Gospel teaches us has consequences on our way of thinking, feeling and living. It is not so much to talk about ideas, but above all of the reasons that derive from spirituality in order to feed a passion for the care of the world. In fact you will not engage in great matters only with the doctrines, without a mysticism that encourages us, without “some inner motive that drives, motivates, encourages and gives meaning to the action staff and community.” [151 Apostolic. ap. Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 261: AAS 105 (2013), 1124.] We must recognize that we Christians have not always collected and made to yield the riches that God has given to the Church, where the spirituality is not separate from your body, nor from the nature or reality of this world, but he lives with them and in them, in communion with all that surrounds us.
217. If “the external deserts multiply in the world, because the internal deserts have become so vast,” [152 Benedict XVI, Homily for the solemn inauguration of the Petrine Ministry (24 April 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 710.] the ecological crisis is a call to a profound inner conversion. However we must also recognize that some Christians committed and devoted to prayer, with the pretext of realism and pragmatism, often flout environmental concerns. Others are passive, deciding not to change their habits and becoming incoherent. Therefore they lack an ecological conversion, which involves letting out all the consequences of the encounter with Jesus into relations with the world around them. To live the vocation of being guardians of God’s work is an essential part of a virtuous life, it is not something optional and not a secondary aspect of the Christian experience.
218. We recall the model of St. Francis of Assisi, to propose a healthy relationship with creation as a dimension of the conversion of the whole person. This also requires recognition of ones errors, sins, faults or negligence, and repenting of the heart, changing from within. The Bishops of Australia have been able to express the conversion in terms of reconciliation with creation: “To achieve this reconciliation, we must examine our lives and recognize how we offend God’s creation with our actions and with our inability to act. We need to experience a conversion, a change of heart. ” [153 Conference of Catholic Bishops, A New Earth. The Environmental Challenge (2002).]
219. However, it is not enough that everyone is improved to resolve a situation as complex as that facing the world today. Individuals may lose the ability and the freedom to overcome the logic of instrumental reason and end up succumbing to consumerism without ethics and without social and environmental sense. Social problems are answered with community networks, not just the sum of individual goods: “The needs of this work will be so immense that the opportunities for individual initiative and cooperation of the individual, individualistic formats, will not be able to answer. It will require a combination of resources and a unit of contributions. “[154 Romano Guardini, Das Ende der Neuzeit, 72 (trans. Trans .: The end of the modern age, 66). ] The ecological conversion that is required to create a dynamic of lasting change is also a communal conversion.
220. This conversion involves various attitudes that combine to enable a cure that is generous and full of tenderness. First involves gratitude and gratuity, namely a recognition of the world as a gift received by the love of the Father, which causes as a result of the gist free provisions and generous gestures even if no one sees them or recognize them, “Do not let your left hand know what your right is doing [...] and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6.3 to 4). It also implies the loving consciousness of not being separated from other creatures, but to form with other beings in the universe a wonderful universal communion. For the believer, the world is contemplated not from without but from within, recognizing the links with which the Father has united with all beings. In addition, increasing the peculiar skills that God has given to every believer, the ecological conversion leads him to develop his creativity and enthusiasm, in order to resolve the tragedies of the world, offering himself to God “as a living, holy and acceptable sacrifice “(Rom 12,1). He does not interpret his superiority as a ground for personal glory or irresponsible dominion, but as a different ability which in turn imposes a grave responsibility that comes from his faith.
221. Several convictions of our faith, developed at the beginning of this encyclical, help to enrich the sense of such a conversion, as the awareness that all creation reflects something of God and has a message to send, or the certainty that Christ took in himself this material world and now, risen, dwelling within every being, surrounding them with his affection and penetrating them with his light. As well as the recognition that God created the world by inscribing it in an order and a dynamism that the human being does not have the right to ignore. When we read in the Gospel that Jesus speaks of the birds and says that “not one of them is forgotten before God” (Lk 12,6), will we be able to maltreat them and cause them harm? I invite all Christians to make explicit this dimension of his conversion, allowing the force and the light of grace received also to extend to their relationship with other creatures and with the world around them, and raise the sublime brotherhood with all creation that St. Francis of Assisi lived in a so luminous manner.
222. Christian spirituality offers an alternative way of looking at quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, able to rejoice deeply without being obsessed with consumption. It is important to accommodate an ancient teaching, present in different religious traditions, and even in the Bible. This is the belief that “less is more”. In fact, the constant accumulation of the ability to consume distracts the heart and prevents appreciating everything and every moment. On the contrary, being present serenely in front of every reality, however small it may be, opens up many more possibilities for understanding and fulfillment. Christian spirituality proposes an increase in sobriety and a capacity to take delight with less. It is a return to simplicity that allows us to stop and enjoy the little things, to thank the possibilities that life offers, not clinging to what we have nor grieving for what we do not possess. This requires you to avoid the dynamics of domination and the mere accumulation of pleasures.
223. Sobriety, lived freely and consciously, is liberating. Not less life, not low intensity, but quite the opposite. For those who taste more and live better each time are those who will stop pecking here and there, always trying what they have not, and experiencing what it means to appreciate every person and every thing, they learn to become familiar with the simplest realities and they know how to be delighted. In this way they can reduce unmet needs and reduce fatigue and anxiety. You may need very little and live well, especially when you are able to make room for other pleasures and satisfaction that lies in fraternal meetings, in service, in building on your personal gifts, in music and art, in contact with nature, in prayer. Happiness needs to be able to limit some of the needs that daze us, thus remaining available for the many possibilities that life offers.
224. Sobriety and humility have not enjoyed a positive consideration this last century. But when we weaken across the board the exercise of any virtue in personal and social life, it ends up causing multiple imbalances, including environmental ones. For it is no longer enough just to mention the integrity of ecosystems. We must have the courage to speak of the integrity of human life, the need to promote and to combine all the great values. The disappearance of humility, in a human being overly impressed by the ability to dominate everything with no limit, can only end up harming society and the environment. It is not easy to mature this healthy humility and a happy sobriety if we become autonomous, if we exclude God from our lives and our ego occupies his place, if we believe it is our subjectivity to determine what is good and what is bad.
225. On the other hand, no person may mature into a happy sobriety if not at peace with himself. And part of a proper understanding of spirituality is to broaden our understanding of peace, which is far more than the absence of war. The inner peace of the people is closely linked to the ecology and care for the common good, because, authentically lived, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle coupled with an ability to surprise leading to the depth of life. Nature is full of words of love, but can we hear in the middle of constant noise, of permanent and anxious distraction, or of the cult of appearances? Many people experience a profound imbalance that drives them to do things at full speed to be occupied, in a constant hurry, which in turn leads them to overwhelm everything they have around them. This affects the way we treat the environment. An integral ecology requires spending some time to recover the serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our way of life and our ideals, contemplating the Creator, who lives among us and in our surroundings, and whose presence “is not to be built, but is discovered and revealed.” [155 Apostolic. ap. Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 71: AAS 105 (2013), 1050.]
226. We are talking about an attitude of the heart, which lives throughout with serene attention, which knows how to remain fully present in front of someone without stopping to think about what comes next, which is delivered at all times as a divine gift to be lived in fullness. Jesus taught us this attitude when he invited us to look at the lilies of the field and the birds of the sky, or when in the presence of a disciple, “he fixed his gaze on him” and “loved him” (Mk 10:21) . Yes, he knew how to stay fully present before every human being and before every creature, and so showed us a way to overcome the sick anxiety that makes us superficial, aggressive and recklessly consumerist.
227. An expression of this attitude is to stop and thank God before and after meals. I propose to believers that they take this valuable habit and live with depth. This time of blessing, although very short, reminds us our dependence on God for life, strengthens our sense of gratitude for the gifts of creation, is grateful to those who by their work provide these goods, and strengthening solidarity with the most needy.
228. Caring for nature is part of a lifestyle that involves the ability to live together and communally. Jesus reminded us that we have God as our common Father and that this makes us brothers. Brotherly love can only be free, can never be compensated for what another produces, nor an advance for what we hope to do. Therefore it is possible to love our enemies. This same gratuity leads us to love and accept the wind, the sun or the clouds, although they submit to our control. This is why we can speak of a universal brotherhood.
229. We need to hear again that we need each other, that we have a responsibility to others and to the world, that it is worth it to be good and honest. Already for too long we have been in moral degradation, by taking as a game ethics, goodness, faith, honesty, and the time has come to recognize that this cheerful superficiality serves us little. Such destruction of any foundation of society ends up setting us off against each other to defend our interests; it causes the rise of new forms of violence and cruelty; and it prevents the development of a true culture of environmental care.
230. The example of Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practice the little way of love, not to miss the opportunity of a kind word, a smile, any small gesture that sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made of simple everyday actions in which we break the logic of violence, exploitation, selfishness. Conversely, the world consumption is exasperated at the same time the world’s mistreatment of life in all its forms.
231. Love, filled with small gestures of caring for each other, is also civil and political, and manifests itself in all actions that seek to build a better world. The love for society and commitment to the common good is an eminent form of charity, which concerns not only the relations between individuals, but also “macro-relations, social, economic, political relations.” [156 Benedict XVI , Lett. enc. Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 2: AAS 101 (2009), 642.] For this reason the Church has proposed to the world the ideal of a “civilization of love”. [157 Paul VI, Message for the World Day Peace 1977: AAS 68 (1976), 709.] Social love is the key to genuine development: “To make the company more human, more worthy of the person, should be reassessed love in social life – wide, political, economic, cultural – making it the constant and supreme norm of action. “[158 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine Church, 582.] In this framework, together with the importance of small everyday gestures, social love urges us to think about grand strategies to halt environmental degradation effectively and encourage a culture of care that permeate all of society. When someone recognizes the call of God to act together with others in these social dynamics, he must remember that this is part of his spirituality, which is the practice of charity, and which in this way matures and sanctifies.
232. Not all are called to work directly in politics but in society there flourishes an innumerable variety of associations intervening in favor of the common good, protecting the natural and urban environment. For example, they care for a public place (a building, a fountain, a neglected monument, a landscape, a square), protecting, restoring, enhancing or beautifying something that belongs to everyone. Around them develop or regain ties and is a new local social fabric. So a community frees itself from consumerist indifference. This also means cultivating a common identity, a history that is preserved and transmitted. In this way we take care of the world and the quality of life of the poorest, with a sense of solidarity that is at the same time awareness of living in a common house that God has entrusted to us. These community actions, when they express a love that gives itself, can turn into intense spiritual experiences.
233. The universe grows in God, who fills everything. So there is a mystery to be contemplated in a leaf, in a path, in the dew, in the face of the poor. [159 A spiritual master, Ali Al-Khawas, from his experience, stressed the need to not separate too much the creatures of the world from the experience of God within. He said: “There is no need to criticize a priori those seeking the ecstasy in music or poetry. There is a subtle secret in each of the movements and sounds of this world. Initiates come to pick up what they say the wind blowing, the trees bend, flowing water, the flies that buzz, the creaking doors, the birds singing, the sound of the strings and flute, the sigh the sick, the cry of the afflicted … “(Eva De Vitray Meyerovitch [ed.], Anthologie du soufisme, Paris 1978, 200; trans. it.: The mystics of Islam, Parma 1991, 199). ] The ideal is not just going from externality to interiority to discover the action of God in the soul, but also get to meet him in all things, as taught by St. Bonaventure: “Contemplation is much higher as man feels in himself the effect of divine grace or the more God can be recognized in other creatures.” [160 In II Sent., 23, 2, 3]
234. St. John of the Cross taught that all that is good in things and experiences of the world “is eminently in God in an infinite manner or, to say it better, he is each of these sizes you preach.” [161 Cántico Espiritual, XIV, 5.] It is not because the limited things of the world are truly divine, but that the mystic experiences the intimate bond that exists between God and all beings, and so “feels that God is for him all things.” [162 Ibid.] If he admires the greatness of a mountain, he cannot separate this from God, and feels that this inner admiration that he lives must rest in the Lord: “The mountains have peaks, are high, impressive, beautiful, pretty, flowery and fragrant. As those mountains is the Beloved to me. The secluded valleys are quiet, pleasant, cool, shady, full of sweet water. For the variety of their trees and the gentle birdsong and recreate the sense and delight greatly in their solitude and silence their offer refreshment and rest: this valley is my Beloved to me.” [163 Ibid., XIV, 6-7.]
235. The Sacraments are a privileged way in which nature is taken up by God and transformed in mediation of the supernatural life. Through worship, we are invited to embrace the world in a different plane. Water, oil, fire and colors are taken with all their symbolic power and are incorporated in praise. The hand is the instrument of God’s blessing and reflected the closeness of Christ who came to join us in the journey of life. The water that is poured on the body of the child who is baptized is a sign of new life. Not fleeing from the world nor denying the nature when we meet with God. This can be felt especially in the spirituality of Eastern Christianity: “Beauty, which in the East is one of the words most frequently used, is usually expressing the divine harmony and the model transfigured humanity, appears everywhere: in the shape of the church, in the sounds, colors, lights and scents.” [164 John Paul II, Lett. Ap. Orientale Lumen (2 May 1995), 11: AAS 87 (1995), 757.] For the Christian experience, all the creatures of the material universe find their true meaning in the Incarnate Word, because the Son of God has incorporated in his person part of the material universe, where he introduced a seed of ultimate transformation: “Christianity does not reject matter, corporeality; on the contrary, it rejoices in the liturgical act, in which the human body shows its intimate nature of the temple of the Spirit and comes to join the Lord Jesus, He also made the body for the world’s salvation.” [165 Ibid.]
236. In the Eucharist, creation finds its higher elevation. Grace, which tends to appear to an appreciable extent, reaching a wonderful expression when God himself became man, gets to be eaten by his creature. The Lord, at the height of the mystery of the Incarnation, could reach our intimacy through a piece of matter. Not from above but from within, so in our own world could we meet him. In the Eucharist this fullness has already been realized, and is the vital center of the universe, the heart overflowing with love and inexhaustible life. Joined with the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. In fact, the Eucharist is in itself an act of cosmic love, “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some sense, on the altar of the world.” [166 Id., Lett. Enc. Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 April 2003), 8: AAS 95 (2003), 438.] The Eucharist unites heaven and earth, embraces and penetrates all creation. The world, that come from the hands of God, returns to Him in worship and joyful: in the Eucharistic Bread “creation is projected towards divinization, toward the holy wedding feast, toward unification with the Creator himself.” [167 Benedict XVI, Homily at the Mass of Corpus Christi (June 15, 2006): AAS 98 (2006), 513.] Thus the Eucharist is a source of light and gives reasons for our concerns for the environment, and gives direction to be custodians of all creation.
237. On Sunday, the participation in the Eucharist is particularly important. This day, just like the Jewish Sabbath, offers a day of restoration of the relations of human beings with God, with themselves, with others and with the world. Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation, the first fruits of which is the humanity of the risen Lord, guaranteeing the final transfiguration of all created reality. In addition, this day announces “man’s eternal rest in God.” [168 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2175.] In this way, Christian spirituality integrates the value of rest and celebration. Human beings tend to reduce contemplative repose to the scope of the useless and sterile, forgetting that one takes off work so that its most important attribute is found: its meaning. We are called to include in our work a receptive and free dimension, which is different from a simple inactivity. This is another way of acting which is part of our essence. In this way human action is preserved not only from an empty activism, but also from the unbridled greed and isolation of consciousness that leads to chase exclusive personal benefit. The law of the weekly rest requires you to abstain from work on the seventh day, “so that you can enjoy quiet your ox and your donkey may rest and the son of thy handmaid and the stranger” (Exodus 23:12). This rest is an extension of the gaze that allows you to return to acknowledging the rights of others. So, the day of rest, whose center is the Eucharist, spreads its light over the entire week, and encourages us to take care of our nature and the poor.
238. The Father is the ultimate source of all, a loving and communicative foundation of what exists. The Son, who reflects, and through whom all things were made, joined this land when he took shape in the womb of Mary. The Spirit, infinite bond of love, is intimately present in the heart of the universe and animating and sustaining new paths. The world was created by the three persons as a single divine principle, but each of them carries this common work according to his own personal identity. Therefore, “when we contemplate with admiration the universe in its grandeur and beauty, we must praise the whole Trinity.” [169 John Paul II, Catechesis (August 2, 2000), 4: L’Osservatore 23/2 (2000), 112.]
239. For Christians, believing in one God who is a Trinitarian communion leads us to believe that all reality contains a properly Trinitarian imprint. St. Bonaventure came to say that the human being, before the fall, he could find out how each creature “testifies that God is triune.” The reflection of the Trinity could be recognized in nature “even when that book was obscure for the man, nor the man’s eye was fouled.” [170 Quaest. disp. de Myst. Trinitatis, 1, 2, concl.] The Franciscan saint teaches us that every creature carries a properly Trinitarian structure, so real that it could be spontaneously contemplated if the gaze of the human being is not limited, dark and fragile. In this way he shows us the challenge of trying to read reality in a Trinitarian key.
240. The divine Persons are subsistent relations, and the world, created after the divine model, it is a web of relationships. Creatures tend towards God, and in turn belongs to every living thing tending towards something else, so that within the universe we can see countless ongoing relationship that secretly weave together [171 Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, q. 11, art. 3; q. 21, art. 1 to 3; q. 47, art. 3.]. This not only invites us to admire the many links that exist between the creatures, but also leads us to discover a key to our own realization. Indeed the human person especially grows, matures and sanctifies as he enters into a relationship, when he leave himself to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. So he assumes in his life that triune dynamism God has imprinted in him ever since his creation. Everything is connected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of global solidarity that flows from the mystery of the Trinity.
241. Mary, the mother who took care of Jesus, now takes care of this wounded world with maternal affection and grief. As she wept with her heart pierced Jesus’ death, now she has compassion for the suffering of the crucified poor and of the creatures of this world exterminated by human power. She lives with Jesus completely transformed, and all creatures sing her beauty. She is the woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” (Rev 12,1). High in the sky, she is Mother and Queen of all creation. In her glorified body, along with the risen Christ, the creation has reached the fullness of her beauty. She not only keeps in her heart all the days of Jesus, who she “kept” carefully (cf. Lk 2,19.51), but now also includes the meaning of all things. So we ask you to help us look at the world with wiser eyes.
242. Together with her, in the holy family of Nazareth, stands the figure of St Joseph. He took care of and defended Mary and Jesus with his work and his generous presence, and rescued them from the violence of the unjust by taking them to Egypt. In the Gospel he looks like a good man, hardworking, strong. But in his figure also emerges a great tenderness, that is not of one who is weak but who is truly strong, caring in reality to love and serve humbly. For this he was declared guardian of the universal Church. He, too, can teach us to care, can motivate us to work with generosity and tenderness to protect this world that God has entrusted to us.
243. In the end we will meet face to face with the infinite beauty of God (cf. 1 Cor 13:12) and we read with admiration the joyful mystery of the universe, who will participate with us in the endless fullness. Yes, we are traveling towards eternity on Saturday, toward the new Jerusalem, towards the common house of the sky. Jesus tells us: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21,5). Eternal life is a marvel shared, where every creature, luminously transformed, will take its place and will have something to offer to the finally freed poor.
244. In the meantime, we unite to take care of this home that was entrusted to us, knowing that whatever good there is in it will be taken on the feast of heaven. Together with all creatures, we walk on this earth seeking God, because “if the world has a beginning and was created, who created it look, look who gave beginning, the one who is his Creator.” [172 Basilio Great, Hom. in Hexaemeron, 1, 2, 6: PG 29, 8.] We walk singing! Amid our struggles and our concern for this planet we take away the joy of hope.
245. God, who calls us to generous dedication and to give everything, gives us the strength and the light we need to move forward. In the heart of this world is always present the Lord of life who loves us so much. He does not abandon us, do not leave us alone, why he joined us permanently with our land, and his love leads us always to find new ways. To Him be praise! * * *
246. After this prolonged reflection, joyful and dramatic collection, I propose two prayers, one that we can share all of us who believe in God the creator and father, and another that we Christians know assume commitments for creation that the Gospel of Jesus It offers us.
that you are present throughout the universe
and in the smallest of your creatures,
You who surround with your tenderness
all that exists,
pour into us the strength of your love
so that we take care
of life and beauty.
Flood us with peace,
so that we live as brothers and sisters
without harming anyone.
Father of the poor,
help us to redeem the abandoned
and forgotten in this land
that are so worthy in your eyes.
Heal our lives,
so that we protect the world
and not plunder it,
so that we sow beauty
and not destruction and pollution.
Touch the hearts
of those who seek only benefits
at the expense of the poor and of the earth.
Teach us to discover the value of everything,
to contemplate with amazement,
to recognize that we are deeply united
with all creatures
on our way to your infinite light.
Thank you because you are with us every day.
Support us, please, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
Praise You, Father, with all your creatures,
which are emanences from your mighty hand.
They are yours, and are full of your presence
and your tenderness.
Son of God, Jesus,
you were all things created.
You have taken shape in the womb of Mary,
you’ve been part of this land,
and you looked at this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in all creation
with your glory of the risen.
Holy Spirit, that with your light
directs this world to the Father’s love
and accompanies the groaning of creation,
you also live in our hearts
lead us to good.
Lord God, One and Three,
beautiful community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate
the beauty of the universe,
where everything is about you.
Awaken our praise and our gratitude
for all that you have created.
Give us the grace to feel intimately united
with all that exists.
God of love, show us our place
in this world
as instruments of your love
for all beings of this earth,
because not one of them is forgotten by you.
Illumine the masters of power and money
so that they do not fall into sin of indifference,
love the common good, promote the weak,
and take care of the world we inhabit.
The poor and the earth are crying:
Lord, take us with your power and your light,
to protect all life,
for a better future,
so that comes your kingdom
of justice, of peace, of love and beauty.
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on May 24, the Solemnity of Pentecost, in the year 2015, the third of my Pontificate.