Friday, August 28, 2015
Today marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and there will be plenty of public spin about the recovery of the city of New Orleans and the triumph of the human spirit. No doubt little will be said about how human hubris created this catastrophe in the first place. The growing intensity of storms due to climate change and the destruction of natural barriers created a recipe for disaster. Nor will there be much attention given to the neighbourhoods of the city which have not recovered from the devastation, not to mention the tens of thousands who left New Orleans. The population of the Big Easy has decreased by roughly 100,000, or twenty percent. Billions have been spent on restoration yet there is little evidence of this in the poorest neighbourhoods such as the Lower 9th Ward.
Pope Francis' recent environmental encyclical addresses the effect of climate change on the poor, who are and will be the most vulnerable as weather becomes less predictable and sea levels rise. Many of the migrants who are dying as they seek new homes are environmental refugees.
I wonder if religious groups will offer a memorial service today, remembering those who died, those who were displaced, and the groaning of God's creation? I hope so. This is a profoundly spiritual issue and one we should all keep in the forefront of our thoughts and prayers.