Pollution, Waste and a Throwaway Culture

By Deacon Tom Cervone, Ph.D.; Sister Maureen Houlihan, D.C.; and Nicole Cervone-Gish, Ed. M.S.

Our Mother Earth

Editor’s note: This series takes a deeper look at Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the care for our common home, “Laudato Si.’”

Did you know air pollutants can cause health problems, like cancer, and change the Earth’s climate too? For instance, greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide absorb heat and increase air and ocean temperatures resulting in global warming. It is global warming ― warmer temperatures, melting glaciers, and increasing sea levels ― that causes climate change, which forces people and animals from their homes.

Concurrent with global warming, COVID-19 has taken many precious lives; and being sheltered in place, we’ve had time to think about what is important and to examine how we live our lives. We’ve seen air quality improve, and we’ve helped many friends and family each day survive. Through these acts of mercy, we’ve shown many holy moments.

We urge you to take to heart Pope Francis’ wisdom from Chapter 1 of “Laudato Si’,” specifically: Pollution, Waste and a Throwaway Culture. Just think of the frequency, severity and magnitude of storms, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires and hurricanes. Our goal is to respond, resolve and repair causes of global warming; and, thus, undo climate change. Just like there is social justice, so too, there is climate justice.

But pollution is not just limited to the air. Our water and soil have been polluted by mining, burning of fossil fuels, and contaminated dumps, landfills, and brownfields. Our laws do protect us, but there is also a powerful force destroying us; and frankly, it’s us! Albert Einstein once said, “Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”

“The waste problem is a vast and growing problem, and impacts the health of our planet and everyone,” says Nicole Richards, CEO of Allonnia. What’s exciting about this company is its mission to facilitate a “waste-free, pollution-free environment.” Allonnia copies natural processes to recycle wastes. It uses enzymes, proteins and/or microbes to break down contaminants, rendering them inert or binding valuable elements such as metals and plastics for upcycling. Nature already contains the “ingredients” to do this work, but it takes time. Allonnia takes these ingredients and improves them so the process is done quickly and efficiently. As Aristotle said more than 2,000 years ago, “In all things of nature, there is something marvelous.”

Changes in society are happening so fast, leaving us with more products, choices, wastes and pollutants. Littering, dumping of wastes and deforestation are major concerns; and, regrettably, we are called a throwaway culture. The Earth is our home, and we can no longer take it for granted. To help our Mother Earth, we encourage more interest in conservation, preservation, restoration and remediation.

Climate change is a global problem that won’t get better until humans make it their first priority. The use of renewable energy sources like water, wind, solar and geothermal will help. Excellent habitats for capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide are healthy soils, wetlands, forests and oceans. If we are resolute not to pollute, our legacy of hope for our children and grandchildren will be clean air, clean water and healthy soils.

What can you do?

Please consider the following:

  • Visit https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-effects-solutions-of-air-pollution.php to learn more ways of conserving energy.
  • Use less energy; reduce, reuse and recycle; drive fewer miles; drive energy-efficient vehicles; telecommunicate more; and reduce utilities.
  • In addition, donate money to reliable global efforts to plant trees, maintain rainforests, invest in clean water, and empower people in caring for themselves, crops, and livestock.
  • Let us show compassion for all our neighbors throughout the world!

Deacon Tom Cervone, Ph.D. is an ecologist (St. Bonaventure University – Franciscan College); Sister Maureen Houlihan, D.C. is a support sister on the Seton Harvest Farm started by the Daughters of Charity in response to the Communities - Care of Mother Earth. This CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farm grows all-natural produce for shareholders and the poor. Nicole Cervone-Gish, Ed. MS. is an award-winning ELL teacher.