“The single biggest heresy that allows us to misinterpret the scriptural tradition is individualism, revealed now in the problems we are facing with climate change, pollution, the loss of biodiversity, and the extinction of many species.” Richard Rohr “Daily Meditations” 7 February 2020
We are so in trouble. The rampant individualism of our society is blinding us to the truth of our interdependence. Consequently, what happens to rainforest in South America is irrelevant we say. Climate change is just a hoax. Does every beetle matter? Who cares if another butterfly dies as long as I get my coffee? Biodiversity is not such a big deal anyway. Pick the best and get rid of the rest.
Biodiversity reigns in the Amazon
Since we have no idea what that beetle does to contribute to the balance on our planet, we have trouble picking. Which is the best? We have been trying to figure that out for centuries, justifying ethnic cleansing whenever it suited our agenda. We are at it again. Biodiversity reigns in the Amazon. Fifty percent of all living creatures, plants and animals live in Amazonia, an area about the size of Australia. It also produces twenty percent of the Earth’s fresh water which we are happily polluting with mines and oil fields. Do you know in which country most of those extraction companies are based? Canada.
As we relax in the comfort of our “better” half of the world, we can watch the Amazon burn. In the name of progress and the accumulation of more wealth, we watch. While those who guard and nurture the biodiversity of this unique place are being isolated, demonized or worse, killed, we watch. Thirty million people live in Amazonia, the invisible guardians of the forest. Like our own native peoples, they are standing up and saying “no” to the mass destruction of Mother Nature for profit.
Do our investments support biodiversity?
Maybe one thing we could do is to verify which companies our investments support, if we have investments. Money talks. At the end of the day what is more important? The dividend that helps us buy our box of chocolate or the biodiversity necessary for the sustainability of the cocoa tree? Do we want our great-grandchildren to know what chocolate tastes like? Maybe the pharmaceutical companies should get involved. Much of their wealth is based in the plants unique to the Amazon region.
Other helpful doings
Donating to the cause, signing petitions and holding our government to account for their complicity, praying and supporting organizations which educate and empower the local people to defend not only the biodiversity but their way of life, might be other avenues of assistance. Perhaps together we will be able to repair some of our fractured world.
Development and Peace, the NGO organized by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1967, has just launched its fall campaign, caring “For our Common Home”. In the fall workshop this last weekend we learned about why the Amazon is so important. We also learned why turning it into an eventual desert in the name of profit may not be the best idea.
Caring for the Amazon
The Amazon is the largest equatorial forest in the world due to its position along the equator. The prevailing easterly winds bring in the moisture off the oceans. The Andes capture and redirect it. Consequently most of the South American continent benefits from this arrangement. What I did not know was how much of the rain is actually created by the forest itself. I also learned this function diminishes as each tree is felled so that rainforest becomes savanna, an irreversible process. Caring for and maintaining the present irreplaceable forests is essential for global health.
Canadian funded destruction
We learned how we might contribute to caring for our planet. Own backyard or community garden is a place to start. Even a small plot of land yields a wealth of knowledge about the balance of nature and how to maintain or enhance it. Holding our mining companies and our government to account is another. Through them we have a hand in the destruction and the demise of indigenous peoples who get in the way of “progress” . One Canadian funded mining company is part of the intimidation forcing local inhabitants, the Mura, to vacate their land. Furthermore, the Canadian government has signed all kinds of international agreements for the safeguarding of peoples and places, except those which are legally binding.
Caring is our responsibility
Caring for the abundance and the diversity of our world essentially means survival. The smallest contribution towards a healthier planet becomes significant when multiplied by many hands. As we store the few tomatoes and the last of the zucchini away, we can be thankful for the plastic packaging we avoided. When we go shopping for Hallowe’en, we can refuse to buy certain treats. One company in particular does much to harm the Earth and its peoples.
Our consumption is the problem
We, the peoples of the northern hemisphere, are responsible for the overconsumption driving the pursuit of bigger profits. Carefully choosing what we buy and how much would go a long way in caring for our common home. Informing ourselves about the business practices behind the labels on our clothing or examining our food sources may lead us to look at locally produced goods and a simpler way to live.
For more information
Do drop in on the Development and Peace website for more information. You may wish to explore previous campaigns. They all have the same motive at heart: caring for creation. Check out my events page for the latest news on my upcoming attempt to announce the same message.