Fifteen-year-old Jessy Oreoluwa Sodimu, of Cardinal Newman Catholic High School, Warrington came second in the Columban Young Journalists Competition 2019 (print) for his article on Climate Change.
We have all been gifted with some things in life – some more than others. But one undeniable gift we all received is “Our Sister, Mother Earth”(Pope Francis in Laudato Si’). As stated in 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”.
So, the question is; why have we exploited the gift of Our Sister and Mother for selfish desires? Why have we not been faithful stewards of God’s magnificent creation? Why do we keep harming her and polluting her and causing climate change, even though all she wants is to keep us safe and wrapped in her gentle and comforting arms?
Constantly observed by scientists, climate change can be referred to as, the changes in global weather patterns, which can be worsened by global warming; caused by the emission of greenhouse gases through human activity. The greenhouse effect works, as greenhouse gases such as CO2, absorb the heat energy from the sun’s infra-red radiation as it attempts to leave Earth’s atmosphere, causing an increase in the average global temperatures.
According to researchers at the Global Carbon Project and National Geographic website, worldwide we have recently dumped 41.5 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, and we even dare to eradicate swaths of trees half the size of England on an annual basis, therefore not only worsening the problem but inevitably devastating nature’s
equilibrium and “we have no such right” (Pope Francis).
The recklessness of our actions have led on to bigger and more aggravating effects on the environment, wildlife and even our own health, but the problem is that we are too blind to even acknowledge any of it. Researchers have found a strong correlation between climate change, depression, anxiety, stress and suicide, which have greatly damaged the UK. The WWF agrees that climate change has greatly impacted places such as the Amazon, Arctic, Coastal East Africa, and Eastern Himalayas, meaning that we are responsible for damaging some of the world’s most beautiful natural landscapes. Also, the IPCC says that a 1.5°C average temperature rise may put 20-30% of species at risk of extinction, and such may include Tigers, Asian Rhinos, African Elephants, Polar Bears and Adélie Penguins. So would it take household pets, being at risk of extinction for people to start caring about the topic and take action?
In January 2014, when I was 10 years old, as Italy was facing recession, my parents decided that moving back to our home country Nigeria in Africa for about three years rather than staying in Italy would be a great idea for me and my siblings. On arrival there, it wasn’t long till I noticed the stark differences between climates and the effects of climate change on Nigeria. Due to its climatic conditions, Nigeria suffers from long seasons of drought, Harmattan or dust storms, heatwaves and flash floods.
As there were several periods of drought, such meant that water in the houses often ran out, and as a result, people were often compelled to go and get their water supply from external sources, as global warming was evaporating lots of our water supplies and putting Nigeria under water stress. Which meant that people were forced to carry massive buckets of water, which could weigh up to 30 pounds which often lead to unbearable amounts of pain through the entire body, all under 100°F. We were forced to travel unbelievable distances, in the most horrendous of circumstances for the sole reason that nearby water sources weren’t taxed, and shut down by government officials. Regardless, in those situations, I could have still called myself lucky, as my parents were able to afford better-living conditions than the average Nigerian child, who in most cases would be unable to get the indispensable access to water, food and electricity.
Still, I remember getting so upset about the situation, which made me question, why the situations in Nigeria and Italy were complete contrasts to each other and why such a topic was rarely discussed. Luckily, I had a teacher who felt sorry for me and told me that climate change and global warming had serious and devastating impacts on the water cycle and
told me that everybody, including I, were at fault for this issue, as everybody had forgotten Pope Francis’ words “We must never forget that the natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone”.
After those three years of stay in Nigeria, and the financial recession in Italy coming to a halt, my family and I decided to go back for the winter season. On the way back all I was able to think about were the days back when I was 7-years old and winter was my favourite season. I would think about, all the snow-angels, snowmen and even snow-fights I had with my brothers on that sparkling, massive white blanket of fairy dust. As I arrived and days went by without any sign of snow, I reassured myself that the white snow fairy would come late this year – but it never did. At that realisation, my heart sunk beneath the ground and tears rolled out of my eyes as I couldn’t believe that climate change had won this battle. It felt almost as if all the magic and wonder from childhood fairy tales were torn to shreds and burned to ashes. That was the first time I saw climate change in its truest form.
In those moments, with the Pope’s words echoing inside my mind, I told myself that the monster we know as climate change, must and will be stopped; using our collective gifts and talents to help climate believers worldwide and pressure the government to put laws against greenhouse emissions and most importantly pressure ourselves to use renewable
energy, recycling and gardening to treat and respect Our Beloved Sister
and Mother Earth, the way she should be treated.