6.5 Why should I care about the environment? Must I believe in climate change? How is this linked to solidarity? Should we look for a new planet?
God entrusted the earth into our care (Gen 1:28). Care for our common home includes fighting global warming or climate change. Our wasteful way of living has an important impact on the environment. Is it really fair that less than a quarter of the population of the world consumes 80% of the global resources? The principle of solidarity urges us to strive for a better global distribution of the richness of the earth. After all, it has been given by God to all humanity.
Prophets of doom say that we need to look for another planet if humanity is to survive. This is the worst expression of a ‘waste culture’. A better answer would be to see how God is always waiting for us to turn around (Lk 15:20) and implore his help, while doing what we can to preserve the earth.
What does the seventh commandment require?
The seventh commandment requires respect for the goods of others through the practice of justice and charity, temperance and solidarity. In particular it requires respect for promises made and contracts agreed to, reparation for injustice committed and restitution of stolen goods, and respect for the integrity of creation by the prudent and moderate use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe with special attention to those species which are in danger of extinction [CCCC 506].
How should we treat the environment?
We fulfil God’s commission with regard to creation when we care for the earth, with its biological laws, its variety of species, its natural beauty, and its dwindling resources, as a living space and preserve it, so that future generations also can live well on earth [Youcat 436].
“By an ill-considered exploitation of nature [humanity] risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation… This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family. The Christian must turn to these new perceptions in order to take on responsibility, together with the rest of men, for a destiny which from now on is shared by all. [Pope Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens, 14 May 1971, 21].