The Papal Encyclical in Action on Campus
A Commitment to Mother Earth

Pope Francis Laudato Si

 

Laudato Si (Praise Be), the new encyclical from Pope Francis, describes climate change as a moral issue, one that disproportionately affects the poor. He warns that “The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming.”

 

“A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system,” he writes. “In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”

 

Later in the encyclical, he addresses ways in which individuals can help. “Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices.”

 

Because Neumann is a Catholic Franciscan university (St. Francis, after all, is the patron saint of the environment), it has been concerned with its carbon footprint and care for Mother Earth for years. Here are some of the initiatives Neumann has taken in recent years to reduce carbon emissions and promote ecological responsibility.

 

  • The Mirenda Center, the newest building on campus, is LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified.

  • New LED lighting has been installed in the library, Arts and Sciences faculty offices, and the campus chapel.

  • Energy efficient air handlers have been installed in the same three locations.

  • Solar-powered lights were installed in the parking lots throughout campus.

  • The facilities department has used a brine-based, EPA-registered disinfectant to clean floors, saving about 475 gallons of floor-stripping chemicals per year.

  • The Care for Creation committee and dining services hosted “Weigh the Waste” events, measuring the waste from students’ plates right in the dining hall. Wasted food creates methane, a greenhouse gas.

  • Eight filtered water fountains have been installed on campus, eliminating the need for students to purchase new, plastic water bottles.

  • The university hosts electronic recycling days twice a year.

  • The Sisters of St.  Francis manage Red Hill Farm, a local example of community supported agriculture.

  • A faculty member and students in the SEA Club (Students for Environmental Awareness) have made Pennell Road from Concord Road to I-95 their Adopt-A-Highway project since 2009.

 

Of course, there are courses in environmental science as well as lectures, films and discussion groups on ecological topics throughout the year.

 


6/18/15

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