The caption on the cartoon of the Sentinel’s Nov. 2 opinion page provided a wonderful follow-up: “Question: What’s the perfect baby gift for the planet’s 7 billionth person? Answer: Clean water and adequate food.”
Climate change is making clean water and adequate food less available, especially to the poor in developing countries. Subsistence farmers have few resources to deal with rising sea levels and erratic weather patterns that bring storms, floods and droughts. People who already spend most of their income on food cannot afford the higher food prices induced by climate change.
So climate change is a social-justice issue. Historically, the United States and Western Europe have been the primary emitters of greenhouse gases, yet those most severely hurt by climate change are the poor of the developing world. The UN Human Development Report 2007-2008, “Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World,” states, “Inequality in capacity to adapt to climate change is emerging as a potential driver of wider disparities in wealth, security, and opportunities for human development.”
How should we respond? As a nation, we can commit to lowering our greenouse-gas emissions by increasing our efficiency and turning to renewable sources of energy. We can help developing nations adapt to the climate change that has already occurred and help them acquire clean-energy technologies.
As a community, we can adopt and implement the proposed Holland Community Energy Plan. This plan is ambitious but realistic. Let us be a leader in developing an efficient, sustainable community, a community which responds positively to God’s call for stewardship and justice.
As individuals, we can each take steps to help transform our world into a place where all of creation is respected and protected and all of humanity has clean water and adequate food.