In the Biblical account of Creation, we read how God created the earth before He fashioned humans. Humans came into being only after the earth was furnished with plants, animals, water, and air. While the Bible apparently considers humans as the crown of creation, it also insists on their role as stewards of the created world: “Till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). The Earth Day which has been celebrated every April 22, since 1970, is a fitting occasion to remind ourselves of this primary responsibility.
This Earth Day was envisaged by American politician, Gaylord Nelson, to promote the idea of ecology, to encourage respect for life on Earth, and highlight growing concerns about different kinds of pollution. Gaylord deplored the human carelessness towards environment. Uncontrolled development is depleting the earth’s finite resources. We hardly ever realize that we need to leave something for the posterity.
The Church has always voiced its concern about the way we treat mother nature. Pope Paul VI, in Pacem in Terris, referred to the ecological concern as “a tragic consequence” of unchecked human activity. Years later, Saint John Paul II, in his first Encyclical Redemptor Hominis, warned that human beings frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption”. Pope Francis, who chose St Francis of Assisi, the champion nature lover, as his model, felt the urgency to write an Laudato Si on care for the earth. It is everyone’s responsibility, not just that of the Catholics, to protect the earth.
The earth, which Pope Francis calls ‘Our Home,’ has been over exploited and distorted over the years in a quest for more wealth and more comfort. Inventions and discoveries have brought great conveniences to our houses, but, at what cost. The results of this imbalance in ecology are already showing up in our country itself, the first few months of 2017 have witnessed drought in the south, unusual snowing in the north, relentless rain in the east and soaring heat in the west, all happening at the same time. The past months have been named among the hottest months in the past decades, and mercury is expected to rise in the coming months. That means more deaths due to heat. The agitating TN farmers at Jantar Mantar, the farmers waiting to waive off their loans are a testimony to how the changing environment is causing havoc in the lives of the people.