BY Ryan McDougall | September 6 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Keynote speaker of two Catholic conferences reveals why we need to ‘wake up’ to Climate Change

Trócaire’s project coordinator Lorna Gold is issuing a rallying cry to fight back against the destruction of the planet before she attends two Scottish Catholic conferences later this month.

THE Amazon rainforest is on fire. Trawlers are devastating the ocean floor. The ice in Greenland is melting at an unprecedented rate, and the world’s coastal cities are threatened by rising sea levels.

Amid such perilous circumstances, the Church has become a leading voice in the fight to save the planet.

In June, Pope Francis declared a climate emergency, and various Catholic charities around the world are now taking action.

Trócaire is the sister organisation of Scotland’s SCIAF, part of the Church’s Caritas Internationalis. Together, they have been paving the way for a brighter and sustainable future.

Falkirk origins

In a new book, Climate Generation: Awakening to Our Children’s Future, Trócaire’s project coordinator Lorna Gold is issuing a rallying cry to fight back against the destruction of the planet.

Later this month, Ms Gold will launch her book at Justice and Peace Scotland’s Climate Conference and, on September 21, will speak to Catholic parents at a Scottish Catholic Education Service gathering at St Francis Xavier’s Primary School in Falkirk, where she grew up before moving to Ireland.

She will reflect on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ encyclical ‘on care for our common home.’

Speaking with the SCO ahead of her talk, Mrs Gold said the climate emergency facing the world requires decisive action or ‘our children will face a very uncertain future.’

Radical changes

The action required to reverse the catastrophic trend, however, can ‘often seem too hard for ordinary families—either we feel our efforts are too small and won’t make a difference, or we might not even see the relevance of this to our Faith,’ Mrs Gold said. “Often, we just don’t know where to start,” she said.

Reflecting on the ‘uncertain future’ we could face as a result of the climate emergency, she added: “It’s hard to say what will happen within the next 10-15 years, but the best case scenario would be that the world wakes up in the next one to two years.

“We need to radically reduce emissions, as we’re still going to see a rise of up to two degrees global warming, and for Ireland and Scotland that means more flooding.

“Some people paint it as if Ireland will become like the south of France, but it won’t. What we are going to see is significant storms like storm Ophelia, and the ‘Beast from the East,’ which left six feet of snow in Scotland.”

Meat intake

Mrs Gold believes the two main courses of action required are a reduction in the amount of meat consumed and the amount of travel.

Raising livestock for meat, mostly red meat, contributes 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and takes up about 70 per cent of agricultural land, meaning deforestation and biodiversity suffer as a result.

A means of alleviating this, Mrs Gold says, is by cutting down on our meat intake and introducing a more plant-based diet in the household.

Flying is the other major issue highlighted by Mrs Gold. A flight from London to New York and back, for example, generates approximately 986kg of carbon dioxide emissions, according to German non-profit organisation Atmosfair.

Future affected

Mrs Gold’s own awakening to the threat of climate change occurred after she became a mother.

“It was when I became a mum 10 years ago that I had a massive wake-up call,” she said. “I was looking at graphs showing the rising temperatures of the world, and went to a conference where I looked at timeline [detailing global ­warming] and suddenly I saw it from the eyes of my kids, and thought, ‘these predictions aren’t that far away,’” she said.

“I thought, ‘oh my goodness, this is actually happening now, the impact is going to affect my kids.’

“Even though I’d been working on the issue for years this started a passion in me. We can’t fail our kids.”

Different impacts

She added: “Pope Francis’ Laudato si’ really made me realise the power of Faith.

“Here, we have a Pope who is really progressive on the environment, so there’s a real opportunity to bring this to parishes.”
Having worked across the world with Trócaire, Mrs Gold has witnessed first hand the devastating effects that the climate emergency has had on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“There’s a variety of different impacts, especially in east Africa,” she said.
“When the rains don’t come there’s drought, which has been a huge factor in Malawi, and there’s a horrendous drought in the north-east of Africa too.

“Then what happens is when the rains come, their crops are completely swept away. The tragic thing for me is seeing people who have been working so hard to work their way out of poverty then this happens and they don’t know why.
“Decades of work can be completely undone. It’s one of those things that really sticks with you when you see it.”

Scottish conferences

Inviting people to come to her talk in Falkirk, Mrs Gold said it is ‘hugely important’ for Catholic parents to come together to explore the issues which are destroying the planet.

She said: “In today’s world in particular, when we are bombarded by information, taking a day out together in a reflective space is more important than ever. I hope people will go home from this day revitalised and inspired to put some of the ideas they have heard about into practice.”

Mrs Gold’s talk takes place during the SCES parent conference on Saturday September 21, from 9.30am-3pm at St Francis Xavier’s Primary School, Falkirk. Attendance is free, but booking is essential. To book, visit www.sces.org.uk or phone 0141 556 4727

Mrs Gold will also speak at Justice and Peace Scotland’s conference on Laudato Si’, to be held in Renfield St Stephen’s, Glasgow, on September 21 from 10am-4pm. Tickets cost £10 and include lunch. For bookings, visit www.justiceandpeacescotland.org.uk

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