New Evangelist campaign will look at ways people in the Diocese of Albany can make a difference.
New Evangelist campaign will look at ways people in the Diocese of Albany can make a difference.

Wildfires in Australia continue to devastate the country and have killed an estimated one billion animals.

Historically strong hurricanes continue to ravage the United States and islands in the Caribbean on a yearly basis, most notably Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which obliterated the Bahamas, and killed an untold number of people. The financial toll from flooding and fires in the United States topped $1 billion last year.

Record single-day temperatures from France (114.6 degrees) to Germany (108.6) made 2019 the second hottest year on record. Just this January, Norway recorded its hottest day ever (66.2) for the month. 

Pope Francis, who famously authored “Laudato Si” (On Care for Our Common Home) in 2015, continues to demand action from world leaders, who don’t seem to know the difference between weather and climate (or don’t care), refer to global warming as a “hoax” and are unmoved by the mountain of scientific evidence and dire warnings that we may have already reached a point of no return when it comes to curbing or eliminated fossil fuels and saving the planet. 

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day,” this is what Pope Francis said in the encyclical. And that was nearly five years ago!

Last year, the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which almost 200 countries signed pledges in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gases. The U.S. is the only nation to pull out of the deal. Also, last year was the year of Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate-change activist, who traveled the globe highlighting the effects of global warming.

NASA on its website, (https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/), has identified nine factors that have contributed to global climate change: global temperature change, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreats, decreased snow cover, sea level rise, declining arctic sea ice, extreme weather events and ocean acidification.

This is science. This is not a hoax. 

If it seems overwhelming, it is. We have abused this planet for the last 200-plus years to the breaking point. And scientists are warning of global food shortages that could unleash untold suffering on billions — mostly the poor — if something is not done.

We at The Evangelist want to make it a point to shine as much light on the crisis as we can in 2020 and to perhaps offer the smallest solutions to people in the Diocese of Albany. Everyone can do their part in making a difference. We have to decide how we want to leave this planet for generations to come. April 22 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but as it says on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website, “Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. … This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.” 

In the coming weeks and months, myself and staff writers Emily Benson and Franchesca Caputo will bring you stories, features and columns about the impacts of global warming and what people are doing in the Diocese and beyond to inform others and combat the issue. All of these stories will be formed and influenced by the message of Laudato Si’ and we hope to feature initiatives and people, young and old, who are making a difference. We will be using Catholic News Service to provide international stories and viewpoints. We will identify each story with the picture of the globe with the words “Care for the Earth” under so they are easy to see. And we also ask you, our readers, for ideas. You can email me at mike.matvey@rcda.org or call the office at (518) 453-6688.

We ask you to have an open mind about our campaign. We humbly hope to enlighten and inspire. Every small step, every small action just might lead to real change.