The least we can offer
The Rio + 20 Environment Conference mentioned last month’s Reflection has turned out to be a severe disappointment. The Living Planet Index shows that if we continue to consume natural resources at current levels, we would theoretically need to double the size of Earth by 2030, just over 15 years from now! Here in Ireland and in the western world in general we are relatively sheltered. We have insurance. We can make alternative arrangements. If food crops are lost here, they can be imported. We won’t be hungry, at least not for the present. Not so in developing countries, which are really paying the true cost of our insatiable needs, or more accurately, our insatiable wants. The least we can offer, then, to those who come here from places where human life is becoming extremely challenging, is genuine hospitality, once one of our most valued qualities.
One ray of hope at Rio was the idea of including the environmental cost when pricing goods and services. So the price of a car, for example, would also include its carbon emissions, the cost to the earth of oil extraction; the cost to human health for communities living near oil wells and so on. As part of the “Green Economy” our comforts will become more expensive - we will have to share their true cost. We have to ask ourselves, are we, in the name of our communion with Christ, each other and the Earth, willing to share the cost of saving it for our children?