Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Losing our Life-Giving Water

March 18, 2014

  By Angela Garvey, CCAO Environment Intern

Climate Change has come to be nearly undisputed. However, many see it as just big storms and strange weather. In the faith community, we understand that these changes have very far-reaching effects. Climate change causes caring for God’s creation to take new meaning. Now not only our earth, but also our brothers and sisters suffer.  Currently, 783 million people lack access to clean drinking water. If nothing is done, we will see this number grow with the increased onset of climate change.

Regions across every continent including western Africa, Pakistan, the Indian subcontinent, Australia, China, and the Americas are currently experiencing the effects of desertification and are at high risk for significant increase in the coming years. Islands in the Pacific, including Fiji, are facing rising water levels.

The People’s Republic of China, has experienced severe effects of climate change. In the past decades, 400 million people have felt the effects of desertification. The Gobi Desert in central China engulfs 3,600 square kilometers of surrounding grassland each year. This creates powerful sandstorms and robs farmers of land they need to produce food. The result: thousands of people are displaced from their homes and have to live without the basic resources they need.

If approximately one third of China’s population is currently affected by desertification, how much will this number grow in the future? If we abandon our call to protect God’s creation, how many more people will be without the life-giving water they need? How many more climate refugees will result from increasing desertification and droughts?

Now is the time to act. We must speak up. If legislators around the world hear millions of global citizens speaking out to stop climate change, we will see action. There is hope. On March 11th, U.S. Senators stood up and spoke about climate change and the effects here in the United States. Our elected officials must also use their leadership to lift up vulnerable populations globally who are already experiencing the effects of climate change and acknowledge the role we play in the lives of our sisters and brothers in the Global South and in island nations. These words must be enforced with action.