A Jesuit take on 'Nature's Dangerous Decline'

A Jesuit priest who has lived in Zambia for the past 65 years says a recent intergovernmental report titled ‘Nature’s Dangerous Decline’ strongly echoes the case made by Pope Francis in his landmark encyclical of 2015 - Laudato Si’.

‘Nature’s Dangerous Decline’ was published last May by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and is the most comprehensive scientific report ever undertaken on the natural environment.

Fr Michael J Kelly SJ is a vocal advocate of conservation and sustainability and has served as a consultant for several international agencies (including the UN). In an extensive article written for the Independent Catholic News this week, he writes:

“Laudato Si' and the IPBES report are fully in agreement that the time has come to draw the line and to institute a major 'transformative change' - a fundamental, system-wide reorganisation of the technological, economic, political and social features that govern the world today, including its ideals, goals and values.

“While massive global efforts must extend to the provision of food, water, energy, health and the achievement of human well-being for all, they must do so in ways that will conserve and use nature sustainably.”

The IPBES report details the ways in which humans are continuing to damage the planet and the toll this is talking:  

  • Around 1 million of the Earth’s estimated total of 8 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.
  • Each year, three to four million tons of waste materials from industrial facilities are dumped into the world’s rivers and oceans.
  • 40% of the world’s population still lacks access to clean and safe drinking water, while it is estimated that by 2030 demand for freshwater will exceed supply by 40%.
  • Over the past two decades the global average sea-level continued to rise at a rate of 3mm per year, putting up to 300 million more people at increased risk of floods, hurricanes and the loss of coastal habitats.
  • As of 2015, 33% of sea-fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels.

In September 2019, Jesuits in Britain opened the Laudato Si’ Research Institute at Campion Hall in Oxford. The work of the institute will be to support scholarship that can inform practical ministries and projects and influence the public policy debate.

Fr Michael’s full article in the Independent Catholic News can be read here.  

[Photo credit: ICN]