We began this Lenten series of Praying the Earth’s News posts reflecting on repentance and on the Litany of Penitence from the Book of Common Prayer. As we begin Holy Week, we look at some of the earth’s news of the week and revisit the place of repentance as we become more aware of “catastrophic climate disruption”.
Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect For the Conservation of Natural Resources (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 827)
Please pray for:
People suffering from famine and disease resulting from the drought in eastern Africa. According to Voice of America, three hundred new cases of cholera and dozens of deaths are being reported every day in Somalia. The incidence of cholera is expected to increase greatly with the arrival of the rainy season. VOA reports that “more than six million Somalis, half the population, need food, water and medical assistance.”
Climate stability, and the wisdom to act now to prevent disaster. New research published this week makes the immediacy of the choice between cutting greenhouse gas emissions and “pushing the climate outside the bounds that have allowed civilization to thrive” clear. If we don’t change course, by the middle of this century — which is fast approaching — the atmosphere could reach a state “unseen in 50 million years”. When this atmospheric state was last seen, writes Brian Kahn, “temperatures were up to 18 degrees F (10 degrees C) warmer, ice was nowhere to be seen and oceans were dramatically higher than they are now.”
Climate refugees. The Guardian reported this week on former US Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Sherri Goodman’s analysis of the impact of climate change as a “threat multiplier” for security, igniting conflict and contributing to new waves of “mass forced migration” from areas such as the Pacific islands, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. Ben Doherty quotes Goodman talking about the role of climate disruption in the situation in Syria:
From 2006 to 2010, 60% of Syria had its worst long-term drought and crop failures since civilization began. About 800,000 people in rural areas lost their livelihood by 2009. Three million people were driven into extreme poverty, and 1.5 million migrated to cities.
The courage to repent. Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, Fr. John Surette argues that we are approaching a “planetary precipice”, and that our best response — “the smartest and holist thing to do” — is to repent. He emphasizes that repentance means a “total change in direction”. Fr. Surette encourages us to ask ourselves these questions as we finish Lent: “Do we want to repent? Do we have the courage to make that 180-degree turn? What will humans choose to do?” (Fr. Surette’s article Climate change is the prophetic call to repentance of our time. is well worth reading as Holy Week begins.)
O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for the Future of the Human Race (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 828)