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Wednesday, 01 March 2017 03:35

The Time Is Now

Written by Marie Venner
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Marie Venner – Denver Chapter

As a US Maryknoll Affiliate, MLK Day and the presidential inauguration caused me to step back to re-evaluate and consider how we might step forward. So I have gone back to notes and excerpts from books I’ve read the last couple years to look for helpful guidance. 2017 is an amazing time, in so many respects. I feel very unqualified to be living now and to respond to all that this era demands. In particular, we face a crisis of millennia with climate change – a crisis we/our culture have brought on, and which will take the lives of many if we do not do something about it very soon. We are late in the game, so I must and will say very clearly: it is time for us to get off of fossil fuels—now—all of us. Ethical, even pro-life action carries a deeper urgency and moral call. This is something we must do. It’s as big a deal as the Holocaust.

A couple years ago, world-known ice scientist Eric Rignot said that melting in the Antarctic would be irreversible. Less widely publicized was the “if”: If we do not bring the global temperature back to what it was in the 1970s. The first step is: stop filling the bathtub that is our global atmosphere! Stop using the brilliant sky above us like an open sewer! Stop acting as if the pollutants from our cars are not toxic to very many people—the medical research in even just the past two years has been shocking! (Please email if you’d like a summary compendium, assembled from just what has come out on ScienceDaily – https://www.sciencedaily.com/.) This is all hard for us to digest, but we must change our system entirely.

At the very least, we Catholics must figure out how to step forward: how our churches can be prophetic and leaders in the change that must occur. There is no reason to wait or delay; these changes are coming anyway. We must have courage, as Jesus did. Some places, like the four-county Monterey Diocese of 46 parishes, are helping their communities make the switch to renewable energy. Through Monterey Bay Community Power, they think they can get to 85% renewable in the next 10 years!  We can do this in many of our communities. They can opt for a Community Choice Aggregation path (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Choice_Aggregation), and those of us with regulated monopoly utility providers (37 states) can also press our local elected officials to write to our utility, and write ourselves, insisting—insisting!—that we make a rapid shift off of fossil fuels. 

We can do this! We aren’t risking our lives, as many Catholics were in Germany in WWII. We can share the vision, share the necessity, have a cup of coffee with city council people! 

Utilities never want to do it. Even when shown that 80 percent of Xcel Energy’s coal capacity could be shut down, soon, profitably, if they get into wind instead, they still opt for more profit for their shareholders by operating their coal infrastructure just as long as they can. People’s lives, right to life, respect for life, being all in for all life, are not part of the calculation. The unborn, future generations are not considered. Whether my state (Colorado) will be able to even support life by the end of the century is not part of their calculus. Looking at my 12- and 15-year-old children, I worry about their right to life…

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