Most of us can read the signs for concern regarding our environment: climate changes; depletion of natural resources; abuse through economic power. Various groups working with environment highlight their needs, often in opposition to each other. Economy (jobs) vs. conservation of natural resources is such a conflict. Environmental scientists now propose that only a spiritual basis, a common spiritual ground, will resolve the conflict. This would be the sustaining factor for maintaining a balance in our environment. Our Christian spirituality of creation shares with several other religions a belief in the unity of all of creation imbued with a divine love which is a symbol of God’s presence in our world. Spirituality fosters a respect for environment as the gift of and manifestation of God in our world. Respect for the environment as God’s gift to us overrides any group interest, and forms a common bond.
Scriptural interpretation of “naming” the fruit and animals in the garden of Eden has led to the idea that humans are in control of the environment, to use at will. Yet, Old Testament writers, the early Fathers and wisdom writers from various religions speak more of a unity of all things in God through creation. Today, scientist-theologians have more and more taught of the continual creation of the world, with humans as co-creators with God. Creation is the expression of God’s Love; our respect for the earth is our response in Love to God. Our Carmelite heritage, our contemplative charism, inspires us to see our world as God sees it, to be open to God’s movement within us in using wisely the gifts that are given – those gifts which are manifestations of God’s Goodness and Presence. This is not just our motivation, but a call to care for the earth – God’s Gift to us. Sr. Barbara Nell
Genetically Engineered Food
The problem with GE corn and soy being produced is the added gene which enables them to tolerate high concentrations of glyphosate, the most common weed killer. GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods also contain a gene from a bacterium, Bacillus thurigensis, which produces a protein that has insecticidal properties. Not only are food products made from GMO corn and soy contaminated with large amounts of glyphosate, which has been associated with tumors and organ damage, but the proteins they produce have been shown to cause severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract in young pigs fed the GMO products.
Update on Fracking
In NE Louisiana the Haynesville shale bed has many fracking wells in production, but recently the Tuscaloosa Marine shale bed which extends down into central Louisiana is under proposed development for fracking. A St. Tammany well was included in this proposal and residents are alarmed enough to have collected 30,000 signatures on a petition forcing the Parish Council to use a referendum process before allowing the wells. Although a study done by EPA in the early 2008 found no problem with environmental pollution, more recent studies have collected evidence of polluted water sources near fracking wells. Most recently a report came from Oklahoma seismologists stating that seismic activity in the state has increased by 50% in the past five years since fracking wells have been in production. The whole substratum of the shale beds has been disrupted by the fracking activity in Oklahoma. Another distressing factor is that the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) has failed to inspect more than ¾ of the 3700 wells designated as high priority because they are located near water supplies. The BLM claims they have inadequate funding for 2009-2013 and even those wells inspected cannot be monitored.
Global Climate Change
CNN recently reported that a major section of the Antartic ice sheet has begun melting at an alarming rate and is expected to raise sea levels 3 feet by 2100. The ocean currents are forcing warmer water and both field data and 40 years of satellite data confirm the unstoppable changes occurring. There still are various theories about why climate change is occurring but no scientists are in denial about the dramatic changes that have begun.
Insect Repellants: In 2012, the CDC confirmed 5,674 cases of West Nile Virus in the United States resulting in 286 deaths. Both dengue fever and encephalitis are also carried by mosquitos.
- The two least toxic and effective repellants are made with Picaridin or Lemon Eucalyptus oil.
- Both Deet or IR 3535 are also recommended but will dissolve or damage any plastics with which they come into contact.
Sunscreens: SFP values are not usually the best measure of sunscreen effectiveness as they do not predict the amount of UV blockage. Melanoma (deadly skin cancer) rates have tripled in the last few years.
- Avoid Retinol or vitamin A in sunscreens or lotions as new federal studies have indicated they speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.
- Avoid Oxybenzone in lotions as it can cause hormonal disruptions.
Sr. Maggie Williams is the chairperson and author.