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Season of Creation – Amazonia

by Sep 26, 2021Care for Creation

The Pan-Amazon nations, our South American neighbors, are home to the world’s largest rainforest and millions of indigenous persons. The importance of this region for both its immense biodiversity and climate stabilizing capacity, cannot be overstated. Yet, after years of intense deforestation and exploitation by international interests, the Amazon is approaching an “irreversible tipping point of ecological collapse,” according to the nonprofit Amazon Watch. As we approach the second anniversaries of the October 2019 Amazon Synod, and the February 2020 “Beloved Amazon” Apostolic Exhortation, we recall that Pope Francis has urged immediate intervention regarding this vital ecosystem. We are called to support the conservation of our most environmentally and culturally significant places, and to more quickly adopt globally sustainable consumption practices.

In February of 2020 the synod document was released in which the Pope elaborates on the “four great dreams” that, he says, “the Amazon inspires in me.” The four dreams are “social,” “cultural,” “ecological” and “ecclesial.” As regards the third dream…

“I dream of an Amazon region that can jealously preserve its overwhelming natural beauty and the superabundant life teeming in its rivers and forests.”
Pope Francis

He recalls that “in a cultural reality like the Amazon region, where there is such a close relationship between human beings and nature, daily existence is always cosmic. Setting others free from their forms of bondage surely involves caring for the environment and defending it but, even more, helping the human heart to be open with trust to the God who not only has created all that exists, but has also given us himself in Jesus Christ.”

In a forceful paragraph (No. 48), Francis states that “the equilibrium of our planet also depends on the health of the Amazon region,” but aware of the threat to the region from “the conquest and exploitation of resources,” he declares that “the interest of a few powerful industries should not be considered more important than the good of the Amazon region and of humanity as a whole.”

Why is Amazonia important to the US?

Earth is a spaceship, and the Amazon is a crucial part of our life-support system, creating up to 20% of our oxygen. Here’s why we need the world’s largest rainforest:

  • The Amazon helps keep the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide levels in check.
  • Researchers have calculated that the Amazon holds up to 140 billion tons of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of 14 decades’ worth of human emissions.
  • Plants and trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air through the process of photosynthesis. This is why the Amazon is often referred to as the “lungs of the planet”: It produces between 6% and 20% of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere. (Estimates vary — climate scientists Michael Mann and Jonathan Foley calculated the 6% figure, while a report from Amazon Watch estimated it’s closer to 20%.)
  • The Amazon plays a large role in rain patterns because the moisture that its vegetation traps and releases travels as clouds for thousands of miles.
  • Climate models show that the Amazon’s moisture affects rainfall as far away as the US. If the Amazon ecosystem were to collapse, that would cut Texas rainfall by 25%, cut the Sierra Nevada snowpack in half, and reduce precipitation by up to 20% in the US coastal northwest.

Watch the video to sign and learn more about the “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition.  How will we heed our Christian leaders’ guidance to begin to “…pursue generosity and fairness in the ways that we live, work, and use money…” during this Season of Creation – honor Creation , honor the Creator