Heat raises the question: ‘what color is my footprint’

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 Heat —it surrounds us, aggravates us, fuels our conversation, dominates our news, impacts our entire earth—gives us pause to think.

Besides constantly figuring out the best ways to stay cool, we are asking ourselves where all this excessive heat comes from, and if it will become the order of the day. Nobody seems to be talking about global warming publicly, but plenty of us have been projecting it forward in our thinking.

In 2006 former Vice President Al Gore released a prophetic video directed by David Guggenheim that won two Oscars. I watched “An Inconvenient Truth” more than once because I was intrigued with the tremendous impact the human carbon footprint is making on this earth we call home.

The title seemed so appropriate because the facts about global warming were compelling, and yet unlikely to be taken too seriously. After all, to protect our earth would mean a tremendous “about face” on multiple levels for the individual, the family, and the way we do business—from top to bottom.

God created everything in the natural world as a tremendous endowment for us. Our good and gracious Creator looked at all that now existed and found it to be “very good.” He then entrusted it in good faith to Adam and Eve for their enjoyment and care, and for all the generations that would follow. All of us are continuing this legacy for ourselves and our children. We extend this prophetic mission of preserving our earth by protecting, using wisely, enhancing this home that is ours.

We are already familiar with the cry “reduce, recycle, reuse.” It has been on our lips for the last 20 years. The temptation is to assume that because we sport it on our shirts means we really buy into it with our lives. If we believe that the power of one person to make our world better is useless, maybe the following truism will help. “Anyone who doubts the power of one has never been in bed with a mosquito.”

We transform our carbon footprint from brown back to green when we do simple things like saving water by showering under four minutes, turning off water while using the toothbrush, washing dishes in the sink rather than the dishwasher, hanging out some of our clothes rather than using the dryer.

We transform our footprint back to green when we turn off unnecessary lights, use compact fluorescent light bulbs, unplug technology more, walk instead of drive sometimes, grow our veggies or buy them from our local farmers’ markets.

We expend time, energy and money on caring for the material goods we own. Let the legacy of earth stand side-by-side with these in importance.

 Sister Paula Gohs is pastoral assistant at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Carrollton, Ky.