Nigerians and the human race in general have been asked to take necessary precaution to cushion the effects of looming energy and food crises that may hit the world due to environmental pollution and climate change. The charge was given by Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, while giving his welcome address during the Lagos Archdiocesan environmental and energy conference held at the Event Hall, O/L of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Victoria Island, Lagos. Calling the people’s attention to the need to respond to Pope Francis’s call in his encyclical Laudato si, care of the earth the common home, Archbishop Martins noted that among other challenges, the world has been facing great environmental pollution challenges.
According to him, “since the seven years the Pope released his encyclical Laudato si, we have listened to the sounds of changing time; we have heard the troubled cry of the earth. Coming together as a proof to the world which is interconnected as a people. Speaking on climate change, which he said has manifested itself in varied and unprecedented ways that have led to uncontrolled forest fires, incapacitating large sources of land, progressing desertification, among others, the Archbishop noted that chemical and technological pollution have led to artificial diversity and destruction of the eco system. Archbishop Martins noted that collective and individual lifestyles and habits have affected the existence of species of animals and plants.
He said: “All these has more impact on humans not only as individuals, but also as interconnected people of the world such that we cannot but hear or feel the cry of the extremely poor who are forced to migrate because their land cannot sustain them anymore. “Sometimes, because of all these that arise from effects of climate change of their environment, pollution of the environment which result in lack of portable water, loss of income and resultant of negating the seasons have made the cry of the poor louder and more widespread with attendant ill-health that arises. Speaking at the event, Prof. Akin Abayomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Health noted that the 2021-2022 global energy crisis is the most recent in a series of cyclical energy shortages experienced over the last 50 years. He listed increase in energy and electricity prices, disruption in global supply chain, increase in cost of doing business, unemployment and loss of government earnings as economic effects of energy crisis, and increase in greenhouse gas emission, environmental degradation for wood, global warming, air pollution and loss of biodiversity as environmental effects.
Very Rev. Fr. Julius Olaitan, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Victoria Island speaking from the church perspective noted that the Church’s goal is to become painfully aware, to turn the sufferings of the world into its own personal suffering and thus discover what each person can do to turn things around. He said in the midst of gloom in which humans find themselves, the Pope calls them not to give up, but play their part in restoring the beauty and joy of creation.
He added that a Church capable of communion and fraternity of participation and subsidiarity, in fidelity to what she proclaims will be able to stand beside the poor and lend them her voice. For her part, Dame Marie Fatayi-Williams, Coordinator of the Archdiocesan Ecology Work Group disclosed that the Pope had foreseen the challenges and effects of environmental pollution and climate change, hence, his release of the Laudato si document seven years ago. She said: “We as a church is taking it up again. It’s not only for Christians; it’s for all of humanity. The survival of humanity is in great danger.” On sustainability of the event, she said: “It’s never a one-off event. We did something three years ago. We launched Network of Young Catholic Cares of the Environment (NYCCE). They are not only Catholic youths in it, but we formed with them first and then clicked in the other faiths to do this; to plant trees.” The event with the theme, “Listening and journeying together: Energy crisis and sustainable lifestyle for church and state had in attendance Priests, religious, Lagos Archdiocesan Association of the Lay faithful, administrators and students of Catholic secondary schools among others.