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Br. Steve Herro's Blog

"THERE IS NO VIRTUE SO TRULY GREAT AND GOD LIKE, AS JUSTICE."

Br. Steve HerroBr. Steve Herro, O. Praem., professed solemn vows to the Community of St. Norbert Abbey in 1991. He has served in Catholic social action ministry for St. Norbert Abbey, the Diocese of Green Bay, Catholic Charities USA, and St. Norbert College.

DISCLAIMER: This blog represents Br. Herro's own opinions and experiences. It does not represent an official position or opinion of St. Norbert Abbey or of any individual Norbertine.

September 1, 2015
Entry #43: "Ranchers, wildfires, and global climate change"

by Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

Ten years after the most horrific U.S. natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, we still regularly battle disasters worsened by extreme weather conditions, heavily influenced by global climate change caused by the overabundance of human carbon and methane emission. This summer's wild fires in California, Montana, and Washington might not be as "sexy" as coastline hurricanes that ravished metropolitan areas in Louisiana, New York, and New Jersey in the last 10 years, but don't tell that to ranchers and farmers in the western United States.

When I resigned my position from Catholic Charities USA last May, I promised my Vice President and direct supervisor that I would keep the staff, volunteers, clients, and donors of U.S. Catholic Charities agencies in my thoughts and prayers. An August 29 e-mail exchange with Scott, a former colleague from Catholic Charities Spokane, included the following struggles facing the people of the state of Washington:

...and the fires have gotten noticeably worse in just the past 24 hours three firefighters killed late yesterday in a little town called Twisp in north central Washington that falls within my diocese, home to a delightful little parish called St. Genevieve. Rob and I will meet this morning to advise our bishop on our past experience with these fires and on our disaster planning options. Much of the fire activity was outside of our diocese until just the past two days. The sky is so filled with smoke that the sun is always orange and shrouded. I could actually see little flakes of ash on my neighbor's deck railings, even though we're about 100 miles from any of these major fires. People are describing it as "apocalyptic" although I prefer the term 'eerie.' We're used to smoky/hazy days at this time of year, but this year we've reached another level.

Research connecting California draught and wildfires to climate change can probably be projected to include Scott's Washington wildfires as well. (See "Global warming worsened the California drought, scientists say," Washington Post, August 20, 2015.) As Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si, it is about time that the entire world community adjusts its consumption and carbon emission rates in order to protect our common home and the world's most marginalized people.


 

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