EarthBeat Weekly: “The Earth speaks; she tells us that we have no more time ‘| Earth beat
A man and boy from the Uru-eu-wau-wau tribe inspect an area deforested by invaders on indigenous land near Campo Novo de RondÃ´nia, Brazil, in 2019 (CNS Photo / Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters)
Editor’s Note: EarthBeat Weekly is your weekly newsletter on faith and climate change. Below, the November 19 edition. To get EarthBeat Weekly delivered to your inbox, sign up here.
As climate change dries up parts of Amazonian ecosystems, indigenous communities are among those most at risk of loss. This is a message that Indigenous leaders have been carrying to climate summits, with steadily increasing visibility, for over a decade.
But even participating in these events is heavy.
Txai Surui, a 24-year-old indigenous activist from Brazil, spoke forcefully at the opening of the United Nations climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, telling the story of a childhood friend, Ari Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, who was murdered for defending the territory of its people. She added: âIndigenous peoples are on the front lines of the climate emergency, and we must be at the center of the decisions that are made here.
She urged her listeners – among them, over 100 heads of state attending the opening world leaders’ summit – to “end the pollution of empty words” and “fight for a liveable future and present.” . The audience applauded, but Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who stayed away from the conference, said attacked her, saying that she had no right to criticize her country.
Two weeks later, the home of another indigenous leader, Alessandra Korap Munduruku, in SantarÃ©m, Brazil, was stolen and vandalized just after Munduruku’s return from COP26. Seeing suspicious activity, she and her children had stayed elsewhere that night.
The verbal and physical assault on these two indigenous women is a continuation of the violence that each year claims the lives of hundreds of people around the world who have worked to defend their land against powerful economic interests.
The violence shows how difficult it will be to meet climate goals without addressing the economic injustice that Pope Francis has identified as the underlying cause of climate change.
Pope Francis meets JosÃ© Gregorio Diaz Mirabal during the Amazon synod in 2019 (CNS Photo / Vatican Media)
For Gregorio DÃaz Mirabal, leader of COICA, a coordination group of indigenous Amazonian organizations, it remains to be seen whether the promises made at COP26 – including ending deforestation and helping indigenous communities protect their forests and rivers – will be held. The key, he said, is to ensure that indigenous communities have legal rights to their territories, and this is a demand that various Amazon countries continue to drag their feet on.
Meanwhile, these communities strongly oppose illegal activities in their territories, from mining wild gold to farming medicinal plants. Often, the products of these activities are eco-laundered on the way to market.
Earlier this year, Patricia Gualinga, an Ecuadorian indigenous leader who is also a lay member of the Amazon Church Conference, told me that illegal loggers were stripping Ecuador’s Amazon watersheds of balsa trees. The lightweight lumber was then exported legally – ironically, primarily to China to be used for making wind turbine blades.
Patricia Gualinga, an advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples from Ecuador, speaks at a press conference at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon in 2019 (CNS Photo / Paul Haring)
Fast-growing balsa trees are found in low-lying areas where they help mitigate the effects of flood water, Gualinga explained. By stripping trees, loggers put communities at increased risk of more severe flooding, all in the name of âgreenâ energy.
When I spoke to DÃaz this week, he had specific post-COP26 requests from people in the United States. First, he said, they must “insist that the president keep his promise that the Amazon rainforest will stand.” They must also ensure that the activities of American companies do not lead to deforestation, he added, and they should urge the United States government to use its influence to prevent Amazonian countries from funding activities that lead to Deforestation.
There is a lot of work to be done to follow through on the commitments made in Glasgow, say Catholic activists, who add that although progress was made at the summit, it was not enough and not fast enough, as reported NCR Environmental Correspondent Brian Roewe. .
As Indigenous leaders repeatedly point out, many of the decisions made – and not made – at the climate conference raise questions of justice, which are issues on which Catholics must speak out and act, argues one. NCR editorial.
With a world stage in Glasgow, Txai Surui said “Earth is speaking; she is telling us that we are out of time.” The deadline, she said, is “not 2030 or 2050 – it’s now”.
Here are the other new features of EarthBeat:
- Following COP26, believers are not waiting for politicians to act, but acting themselves, write TomÃ¡s Insua of the Laudato Si ‘movement and Dan Misleh of Catholic Climate Covenant in a comment.
- One line of action is the Laudato Si ‘Platform for Action, which the Vatican officially launched on November 14, and which calls on Catholics around the world to take concrete action on sustainability and climate change, such as Roewe reports.
- Dan Stockman of Global Sisters Report talks about a workshop where religious participants learned that if investments are part of a congregation’s charisma, then these investments not only should not harm the earth, but should actively improve it.
- Lucien Chauvin of the Catholic News Service reports that environmental issues will feature prominently on the agenda of the Sixth Latin American Church Assembly to be held November 21-28 in Mexico City and virtually throughout the region.
- Kenya’s bishops have urged the country’s leaders to take action to mitigate the impact of a drought affecting millions of people in more than 12 arid and semi-arid counties, writes Frederick Nzwili for Catholic News Service.
- Home Secretary Deb Haaland has announced that her agency will protect and improve Indigenous peoples’ access to sites they consider sacred, reports Emily McFarlan Miller of Religion News Service.
Here are some of the novelties in other climate news:
- Severe floods and landslides, possibly exacerbated by forest fires in summer, left some 18,000 people stranded in British Columbia, after heavy rains hit the Pacific Northwest and western Canada, Leyland Cecco reports for The Guardian. These extreme weather conditions are consistent with scientists’ predictions of climate change.
- Jason Arunn Murugesu of New Scientist spoke with climate negotiators from small island countries on the physical and emotional toll talks at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $ 2 trillion spending bill that includes funds for fight against climate change, writes Tony Romm to the Washington Post.
- Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry auction of 308 blocks of oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico, after a court ordered the continuation of the rental cycle, which had been suspended by the administration, Matthew Brown and Janet McConnaughey report to The Associated Press.
- Is the shift from in-person to online shopping, which has accelerated with the COVID-19 pandemic, better or worse for the environment? It is complicated, writes Catherine Boudreau to Politico.
Events to come:
This week’s events include a November 22 discussion on Thomas Merton’s Exploration of Sufism, sponsored by the Deignan Institute for Earth and Spirit at Iona College.
You can find more information about this and other events on the EarthBeat Events page, and you can add your own group’s events here.
Fall can cool things off in the Northern Hemisphere, but here in Lima, Peru, where I live, spring seems to have finally set in. There are basil and dill plants growing on my kitchen window sill, and the mangoes are in season. They remind me to be grateful for the gifts of the Earth and the hands that collect them.
And as Thanksgiving approaches, we at EarthBeat are grateful to you, our readers. We wish you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day with your family and friends. Thanks for reading EarthBeat!
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