• The Planet under attack

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    Fr. Shay Cullen

    Fr. Shay Cullen

    Powerful storms, tidal surges, high winds toppling trees and electric posts and massive floods over a wide area are natural disasters typical of the Philippines. We have endured 25 such storms in the past year more than ever before. Millions of people have lost their houses, land and crops. Thousands of light fishing boats were destroyed or damaged and over 6,000 people were killed. Many are still depending on relief food and are surviving in tents.

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    What I describe above is now happening to a lesser degree in Ireland and England as I write this. In the United States and Canada, massive ice and snow storms have paralyzed the North Eastern side of the continent, and to the South West, in California, there is extreme drought. This is the worst in living memory, according to the people living there and whose cattle are dying by the thousands and crops are burning up.

    In Australia, bush fires are devouring homes and forests year after year, and in South America, likewise forest fires are destroying the beautiful wilderness of Chile. In China, massive unprecedented yearly floods destroy lives and property. Huge sand storms coming from encroaching deserts in the North East are engulfing the capital Beijing every year.

    In days gone by, they were called acts of God, or natural disasters, over which humankind has no control or responsibility for. The overwhelming scientific evidence (despite billions of dollars spent to deny it) shows that the climate has changed dramatically and become more violent, with the change caused by human activity.

    Yes we, humans with the big brains and intelligence, and the duty and responsibility to protect all life and creation, are causing this. Our lifestyles are excessively damaging to the environment. It’s called global warming due to the non-stop pumping of obnoxious poison gases and chemical fumes into the atmosphere for the past one hundred years. This has caused a blanket of methane, CO2 and every other gas produced by industry to rise to the stratosphere and blanket the globe. Inside the blanket of gas, the suffering planet is overheating. Its finely tuned sensitive and balanced interdependent ecosystems are being disrupted.

    This happened hundreds of millions of years ago, when volcanic eruptions and later crashing asteroids spewed dust and chemicals that brought life to the brink of total extinction.

    Human intelligence developed a gigantic chemical industry driven by coal and oil-burning electric power stations that pour gas and chemicals into the atmosphere non-stop day and night. No wonder that cancers of all kinds are spreading all over the planet.

    In the Northern hemisphere, people grew wealthy and cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens are now produced on an industrial scale and are fed chemically-tainted foods. They changed the diet from one that is predominately vegetables, fruits and fish to that based on fatty meat and dairy products on a gigantic scale. The result is cholesterol-clogged arteries and heart attacks.

    To make more pastures for the animals, the rich land-grabbers and corrupt government officials cut down the rainforests for pastures and meat production, resulting in animals by their billions producing billions of tons of methane gas every year, adding to the ever thickening blanket of gasses in the atmosphere making the planet warmer.

    The ice caps melt so the hot sunbeams are not reflected back into space but are absorbed by the oceans, which results in warmer oceans, more melting, rising ocean levels, greater storm surges, more evaporation, clouds, torrential rain, more floods.

    The deforestation has deprived the planet of its protective forests that absorb naturally occurring CO2. The Philippines had 92 percent forest cover in 1903. Today, this has shrunk to three percent. The oceans are also damaged. The CO2, methane, and sulphur gasses are absorbed by the ocean, making the waters more acidic, which poisons fish or kills their eggs, bringing marine life closer to extinction and could result in people going hungry. Billions of tons of industrial plastic float on the ocean, killing marine life and depriving fish of their natural foods.

    Everything is connected in the planet’s ecosystem, and industrial pollution and global warming are damaging everything. If planet Earth were a living creature that is being tortured and tormented by swarms of attacking mosquitoes, it would be driven to retaliate and react to the threat. That’s how I see the planet today. It is reacting to human attack.

    The Gaia theory developed by James Lovelock in the 1970s suggests that planet Earth is a magnificent self-organizing entity, whereby all systems promote life and life forms evolve and adapt to maintain a healthy life-sustaining environment. But it is being attacked by cancer and that’s us, humans. We attack the planet in parts and as a whole through industrial production, and that disrupts the delicate balances of all ecosystems.

    We, as a species, have societies with uncontrolled greed and excessive consumption. We have no natural enemy to eliminate us other than deadly viruses and our own self-destructive lifestyles and violence against one another and against nature.

    We have to master and control both or we will destroy ourselves and eventually become extinct. And that may not be such a bad thing after all.

    shaycullen@preda.org, www.preda.org

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