Turfing out fossil fuels – ‘Laudato sí’ five years on…and a conversion story
The Church’s commitment to clean energy finds
its roots in its tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Global efforts to promote divestment from fossil fuels expanded further as 47 faith institutions announced their divestment from fossil fuels on Monday, in the largest-ever announcement of its kind among religious leaders.
This announcement comes after the Vatican’s first-ever operational guidance on the environment was issued as part of the celebration of the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical Laudato sí.
Laudato si’ in Australia: a conversion story
Care for our common home is at the center of Knox Peden’s conversion. Originally from the United States, Professor Peden moved to Australia about ten years ago. Having grown up Presbyterian, he experienced a period of personal and professional reflection which led him to embrace Catholicism in July 2019. He is a historian and a philosopher, and a Laudato si’ Animator in the Global Catholic Climate Movement, organizing conversations with fellow parishioners in Canberra on the message contained in Pope Francis’s Encyclical, as well as prayer walks in nature.
Yes, 5 years on and how has the landscape changed? Well in North America, the first person to be tested for plastics ingestion has taken place – who would have thought? Synthetics ingestion – it’s a thing these days – plastic bits filling up the oceans. Is this a cancer that is growing alongside creeping fascism (corporatism)? Yes – apparently since the 70s.
As a Laudato si animator in Canada, my only contribution was starting to investigate the corporate (government) gaps in being able to transition to a different mode-de-vie. The biggest gap I could find was that although capitalism was leading to abundance, its footing was placed firmly in the fossil fuel industry and all the poisonous by-products were being spread around the population due to them not being able to dedicate entire countries (or off-planet locations) for their disposal. How is that gap bridged? Neri Oxman of MIT in Massachusetts affirms that all extracted synthetics can be replaced by plant-based means but single-use plastics would need to be rethought however plastic bans in this paradigm could lead to deforestation in numbers previously not experienced.
This is all a very slippery slope. Permaculture is a thing and the science is there but everything on an industrial complex scale is frightening. Sustainability outside a cosmo-local complex doesn’t make sense at all. In 2019, I was approached by a global group to partake in Hack Humanity as a social hacktivist/environmental artivist – mainly due to my ability to hack my way into social groups where influence and clout seemed to be paving new ways forward (imagine?) Many hats – not enough time. Slow and steady is what people are telling me. They don’t completely understand how at-risk that plankton/phytoplankton truly is.
So the Catholic Church is finding different avenues to invest its money – that’s reassuring at this stage…new markets to dominate might be the heart of the issue. The industrial complex needs tweaking on a tight timeline. In my travels, local, which is something I hadn’t done for decades, I found a gentleman who tells me there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of decaying munitions at the bottom of the oceans too. He has had a hard time establishing a local science and technology centre because of consistent government interference – a government that doesn’t want to come clean with the true extent of the disaster…truth is such a dirty word at times when a level of purity exists on the dirtiest of planets.
So slow and steady shall win the race I guess, despite science telling different tales. You can’t hurry love. You can’t impose fear as a motivator either it appears. To not wrestle with worldly affairs means that local interest is paramount. If you enter the global, then be sure to expect issues to be global in nature.
The Bridgers Club was inspired by a man who held feet to the fire here and introduced me to story-telling, sense-making, and question-asking on a different level. It is a gap filler – the localized public approach that was needed. The locals here are passing it around while the pandemic creates snapshots in time that frame life in the future as we know it.