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Issue Date:  June 17, 2005

Imagining our planet's future

Too often discussion of the relationship between humans and their habitat is muddied by a preternatural ecosystem of statistics, reports, polemics and partisanship, so much so that it becomes difficult to disentangle even the most discussed issues from the scientific jargon and politically charged sound bites doing battle on the networks and in our newspapers. And it becomes more difficult still to discern a course of action.

In this special section on the environment -- NCR’s first -- we attempt to back the conversation up a bit and highlight a fundamental Christian and Catholic framework for understanding the situation we and our planet are facing and how we must respond.

We look at the environmental legacy of the late Pope John Paul II, who said in 2001: “Humanity has disappointed God’s expectations. … Man is no longer the Creator’s ‘steward,’ but an autonomous despot who is finally beginning to understand that he must stop at the edge of the abyss.” ( See story)

For many, humanity’s journey to the edge of the abyss is most evident in the planet’s changing climate. We take a look at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ attempt to affect discussion of our time’s most pertinent and complicated environmental issue: global climate change ( see story).

The evangelicals have something to say about the environment as well and we talk to leading evangelical voices of the “creation care” movement. ( See story)

In a report from Joe Feuerherd, we also peer into the meeting rooms of the nation’s major environmental groups to see how they are facing another four years with a president whom they worked tirelessly to defeat ( see story).

Finally, we look at some local attempts to imagine a better future while still rooted in the present. Community mapping and the activism it inspires is explored on ( see story), while NCR columnist Rich Heffern takes a quirky look at the spiritual benefits of driving a hybrid car ( see story).

“Men and women without any particular religious conviction, but with an acute sense of their responsibilities for the common good, recognize their obligation to contribute to the restoration of a healthy environment,” John Paul II wrote at the turn of the century.

“All the more should men and women who believe in God the Creator, and who are thus convinced that there is a well-defined unity and order in the world, feel called to address the problem.”

-- Jeff Severns Guntzel

Ideas for an environmentally friendly home and garden Resources

National Catholic Reporter, June 17, 2005

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