Fr. Sean McDonagh EcoPriest


Sweet Water Founation’s Co-founders James Godsil and Emmanuel Pratt Introducing Eco Priest Fr. Sean McDonagh to a Sweet Water Workshop at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

Why Buying Fair Trade Chocolate Is Important

The bitter – sweet taste of chocolate
Fr. Seán McDonagh, SSC

Like many other people I like chocolate. I find it sweet, and the aroma lingers on after you have eaten the them. Something so delightful as chocolate must surely have a respectable and positive history. Unfortunately, it has not. As we will see, the rainforests of West Africa are being destroyed to grow more cacao for the chocolate industry. Sadly, the farmers who are the primary producers of cacao, are poorly paid.
The people of Central America were the first to begin drinking chocolate around 1900 B.C. The Spanish conquistadors introduced chocolate to Europe in the 16th century after they had discovered it in Central America. In the 19th century, the industrial revolution developed machinery to process chocolate and that, and the availability of cheap sugar, made chocolate available to the western public for the first time.

The essential element in making chocolate is the plant cacao. Young seedlings require shade, a good supply of water, and proper drainage. As cacao is grown in the tropical forest. the shadow of the tall trees protects the plants from the burning heat of the sun and strong winds.

Today, the growth of the chocolate industry is promoting massive deforestation right across West Africa. As much as 40 percent of the world’s cacao is grown in the Ivory Coast. Since 1960, rainforest cover in the Ivory Coast has been reduced by 80 percent. Due to this severe habitat loss, the Ivory Coast’s chimpanzees are now endangered, and its elephants are nearly extinct. In recent years, the annual rate of deforestation inside designated national parks has doubled in Ghana. In 2017, the Ivory Coast and Ghana, along with 20 chocolate companies such as Mars, Nestle and Mondelez came together for a ground-breaking Framework for Action so that cacao can be produced in a sustainable way.
Up to 70 percent of the world’s cacao is produced by 2 million farmers in West Africa. According to Ruth Maclean of The Guardian, the global demand for chocolate means that ‘dirty’ beans from deforested national parks are entering big business supply chains and being mixed with ‘clean’ cacao. Multinational companies are aware that cacao farming is destroying the tropical forests at an extraordinary rate. Such level of deforestation cannot last forever. Rainforest scientists believe that cacao is a monster which will eventually eat itself. As cacao becomes scarce we will have to pay much more for chocolate.

After planting the cacao tree, it takes about five years to produce flowers. The flowers appear every six months. A small number of these flowers will develop into cacao pods. After six months, the pods are fully grown and ready to be harvested. Farmers use long knives to collect the fruit from the pulp which contains 40 or 50 cacao beans. It is important that the beans are left to ferment for 5 to 7 days. During the fermentation process, the beans change color from brown to purple and develop their distinctive aroma. When fermentation is complete, the cacao bean are spread out in the sun and left to dry for about 6 days.

After the beans have dried, they are taken to collection centres and then on to warehouses. There the beans are packed into sacks and shipped to cacao processing plants and chocolate making factories in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Transforming cacao beans into chocolate is a complex process. It takes time and temperature plays a crucial role. The cacao beans are cleaned and dried. Then they are broken and roasted. Finally, they are ground into a fine liquor mass which is the cacao liquor. Often vanilla or vanilla essence is added to enrich the taste. The mixture is then refined between rollers to form fine chocolate power which gives the chocolate its texture and flavour. The chocolate power is placed in large tanks known as conches and kneaded for several hours until the aroma has fully developed. When this is completed, the chocolate is ready to be converted into the multiple ways we like to eat it.

Chocolate is a thriving and growing business. In 2014, Euromonitor International estimated that the industry was worth a $100 billion. Contrast that with the fact that many cacao farmers earn less than $1.24 a day. Cacao growers today receive only 6,6% of value of a tonne of cacao. This why involvement with chocolate can be a bitter experience for farmers trying to look after their families.

Within the global value chain, most of the money is made after the beans have reached the Global North. At the same time, many cacao farmers and workers in the Global South must get by on less than 1.25 US dollars a day. That is why our concern for justice should always motivate to seek out and buy Fair Trade Chocolate.

Visiting the President of Ireland


Myself and the 10 contributors to the book Laudato Si’ An Irish Response were invited to visit the President of Ireland, Michael C. Higgins at Aras An Uachtarain, today, January 18th 2018.

For one hour we discussed many of theme on justice, ecology and spirituality which feature some prominently in the papal document Laudato Si’. The President was thoroughly familiar with the encyclical and highlighted the place it should have in challenging the economic, social and ecological policies which are doing such damage both to planet earth and human well-being.

He felt that every teacher in Ireland should be given a copy of the book Laudato Si’ An Irish Response.

Kind regards,
Sean McDonagh, SSC,
St. Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Navan, Co. Meath.
tel 00353872367612
visit my blog at

Visiting the President of Ireland


Myself and the 10 contributors to the book Laudato Si’ An Irish Response were invited to visit the President of Ireland, Michael C. Higgins at Aras An Uachtarain, today, January 18th 2018.

For one hour we discussed many of theme on justice, ecology and spirituality which feature some prominently in the papal document Laudato Si’. The President was thoroughly familiar with the encyclical and highlighted the place it should have in challenging the economic, social and ecological policies which are doing such damage both to planet earth and human well-being.

He felt that every teacher in Ireland should be given a copy of the book Laudato Si’ An Irish Response.

Kind regards,
Sean McDonagh, SSC,
St. Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Navan, Co. Meath.
tel 00353872367612
visit my blog at

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Aesthetics As Evolutionary Force

Bowerbird males provide Prum some of his most convincing examples. These remarkable birds woo their potential mates by constructing circles, cones, or maypole-like structures out of twigs, then ornamenting both the structures and the ground within and around them with stones, shells, beetle cases, colorful fungi and other found art. Both the architecture and the male’s behavior invite the female to observe and consider while leaving her both the space to do so and a clear escape path. In some bowerbird species the male laboriously arranges and rearranges his display, examining it from various angles and making small fixes, writes Prum, with the care of a “fussy florist.” The males of several species observe the female examining their work while half-hidden behind a tree or some fencelike part of the bower. If she likes what she sees, she stretches her neck and raises her tail in invitation, and the male comes to mate. (This takes only seconds, and the two will never meet again.) If she doesn’t, she leaves.

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A few articles on the future of cars.

2017 End of the Road For Petrol Desel Cars 1

The Future is With Electric and Automatic Cars 2

2017 July Volvo it will not make diesel and petrol cars after 2019 3

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Naomi Klein “New Yorker” Essay “A Radical Vatican” Introduces Fr. Sean McDonagh

Before bed, I spend a little more time with “Laudato Si’ ” and something jumps out at me. In the opening paragraph, Pope Francis writes that “our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.” He quotes Saint Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Creatures,” which states, “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.”Several paragraphs down, the encyclical notes that Saint Francis had “communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them ‘to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason.’ ” According to Saint Bonaventure, the encyclical says, the thirteenth-century friar “would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister.’ ”

Still, once an official Papal teaching challenges something as central as human dominion over the earth, is it really possible to control what will happen next?

This point is made forcefully by the Irish Catholic priest and theologian Seán McDonagh, who was part of the drafting process for the encyclical. His voice booming from the audience, he urges us not to hide from the fact that the love of nature embedded in the encyclical represents a profound and radical shift from traditional Catholicism. “We are moving to a new theology,” he declares.
To prove it, he translates a Latin prayer that was once commonly recited after communion during the season of advent. “Teach us to despise the things of the earth and to love the things of heaven.” Overcoming centuries of loathing the corporeal world is no small task, and, McDonagh argues, it serves little purpose to downplay the work ahead.

For McDonagh, the changes at the Vatican are even more striking. “The last time I had a Papal audience was 1963,” he tells me over spaghetti vongole. “I let three Popes go by.” And yet here he is, back in Rome, having helped draft the most talked-about encyclical anyone can remember.

McDonagh points out that it’s not just Latin Americans who figured out how to reconcile a Christian God with a mystical Earth. The Irish Celtic tradition also managed to maintain a sense of “divine in the natural world. Water sources had a divinity about them. Trees had a divinity to them.” But, in much of the rest of the Catholic world, all of this was wiped out. “We are presenting things as if there is continuity, but there wasn’t continuity. That theology was functionally lost.” (It’s a sleight of hand that many conservatives are noticing. “Pope Francis, The Earth Is Not My Sister,” reads a recent headline in The Federalist, a right-wing Web magazine.)

As for McDonagh, he is thrilled with the encyclical, although he wishes it had gone even further in challenging the idea that the earth was created as a gift to humans. How could that be so, when we know it was here billions of years before we arrived?
I ask how the Bible could survive this many fundamental challenges—doesn’t it all fall apart at some point? He shrugs, telling me that scripture is ever evolving, and should be interpreted in historical context. If Genesis needs a prequel, that’s not such a big deal. Indeed, I get the distinct sense that he’d be happy to be part of the drafting committee.

A millennia-old engine designed to proselytize and convert non-Christians is now preparing to direct its missionary zeal inward, challenging and changing foundational beliefs about humanity’s place in the world among the already faithful. In the closing session, Father McDonagh proposes “a three-year synod on the encyclical,” to educate Church members about this new theology of interconnection and “integral ecology.”


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Sweet Water Meets Laudato Si Draft Writer, Fr. Sean McDonagh and Visits Aquaponics Experiment at Dublin’s Belvedere College

In August, 2016, a Sweet Water Foundation team had the amazing good forture to participate in an eco/art exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art last Februrary. While there we were were given a tour by the creators of a rooftop garden(including aquaponics) at the Jesuit H.S. Belvedere College; and we also were blessed with Fr. McDonagh’s presence at one of our presentations(with our director Emmanuel Pratt’s arm around him front and center).

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Fr. Sean On US Withdrawal From Paris Accord

Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris accord is irresponsible and immoral

By Fr. Seán McDonagh SSC

Through-out his campaign for the US Presidency, Donald Trump constantly called global warning a hoax which was invented by the Chinese government to weaken US manufacturing. Given the fact that climate change is accepted by almost all scientists and countries and that its negative effects in terms of droughts, severe weather and rising ocean are well-known, the decision of President Trump to leave the Paris accord on climate change which was signed by 197 nations is both irresponsibility and immoral. Trump’s spurious claim that other nations are being given an unfair advantage over the U.S. is totally untrue. In fact the opposite is the case as we will see later.

In the last 20 years, the US has experienced extreme weather associated with climate change. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city of New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Alabama. Almost one- and-a half million people were displaced and 1,800 people lost their lives. Apart from the human misery caused by Hurricane Katrina, the clean-up bill came to over a $100 billion.

But climate change is causing severe weather right around world which is leading to drought and famine in many areas. In early 2017, climate change and the El Nino effect in the Pacific Ocean, have caused drought and starvation in many parts of east Africa. Aid agencies such as Concern are well aware of the hunger which climate change in causing in so many communities.

Typhoons are common each year in the Philippines. However, typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Typhoon Yolanda was one of deadliest to ever hit the Philippines. On making landfall, near Tacloban in November 2015, the storm destroyed huge areas in the Philippines, damaging 20 million homes and causing the death of 6,300 people.

Because climate change affects so many people, it is natural that it became one of the focal points on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. In No 23, the pope writes that “there is solid scientific consensus which indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climate systems.” The pope directly contradicts President Trump’s assertions by pointing out that climate change “represents one of the principal challenges to humankind in our day.” (No 25). In the same paragraph he points out that “ Its (climate change) worse impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades (No 25). But he is also concerned that the poor suffer disproportionately from climate change, although their lifestyles have done little to cause it in the first instance. The Pope writes that “many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. (No. 25),

At the meeting between Pope Francis and President Tump in the Vatican on May 24th 2017, the pope gave President Trump a copy of Laudato Si. The president told the pope that he would read the text, but obviously he rejected what the pope had written on climate change by abandoning the Paris accord.

Climate change affects not only humans, but other creatures as well. The largest living organism on earth is the Great Barrier Reef which runs along the east coast of Australia up towards New Guinea. It is the only living system which can be seen from space. Although reefs cover less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the ocean floor, they are the nursery ground of a quarter of all marine species.1 Research on the Barrier Reef published in early June 2017, estimated that 29 percent of the shallow-water reefs have died from bleaching in the northern area of the reef in 2016. The bleaching in the previous year reached 22 percent. Bleaching occurs when sea water temperatures increase beyond the level which the algae can bear. As the ocean water warms, through climate change, the coral polyps eject the algae in self-defence, leaving only the bare white coral skeleton.

The International Society for Reef Studies has warmed that if the surface temperature of the ocean rises by 2 degrees Celsius that over the next few decades, this will lead to the widespread destruction of coral ecosystems on the Barrier Reef. This would be a catastrophe for life on earth. To stop this happening, we need to refrain from pumping 40 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere every year. That is why building on the Paris accord is so vital for our world, and the window which we have to stop it happening is closing quickly.

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Abandoning the Paris Protocols will be bad for America

By Fr. Seán McDonagh, SSC

Last week I wrote that President Trump’s action to withdraw the United States from the Paris accord was irresponsible and immoral. In this article, I will argue that it is stupid on a number of fronts. Since the middle of 2016, oil prices have bottomed out and investing in fossil fuels is no longer considered a profitable investment. Last year iinvestments were moving towards renewable energy. For many years energy corporations invested in renewables mainly for public relation reasons ,rather than for profit. They wanted the public to think that they had done the right thing morally. Now, with fossil fuel prices declining and the profitability of renewables growing, investors are currently looking at renewable energy as a source for their term-long investments.

In January 2017, at United Nations Investor Summit on Climate Risk which was attended by 500 investors representing estimated $22 trillion. Most of those who spoke said that they were now investing in renewable energy, not for public relation reasons, but for profit. It became clear at the meeting that companies and investors which are shunning sustainable low-carbon assets stand to lose a lot of money, 1 By abandoning the Paris accord, President Trump is lining up with the fossil fuel companies which have polluted the environment and contributed to global warming in a very significant way. It is clear that President Trump is placing himself and his administration at the wrong side of history.

A study published in The Guardian on June 13th 2017, entitled “Global demand for coal falls in 2016 for second year in a row,” It is clear, even in the United States,, that renewable is on the brink of become as cheap as fossil fuel. Even those in the fossil-fuel industries, do not believe that Donal Trump will revive the fossil fuel industries. 2

While the fossil fuel industries are in decline, renewable energy is becoming increasingly viable and cost effective. At the UN Investor Summit on Climate Risk, former vice-president Al Gore stated that the cost of solar power has fallen by 10 percent per year for the last number of years, mainly because solar energy has been become so popular in China. If that downward curve continues, the price of renewables will fall “significantly below the price of burning all kind of fossil fuels in a few short years,”3 Research conducted in 2017 confirms the momentum behind renewables is unstoppable.4 The researcher Wood Mackenzie believes that most of the largest oil and gas companies are beginning to transform themselves in the face of climate change and increasing low demand. Analysts are forecasting annual growth rates of 6 percent for wind and 11 percent for solar, compared with 0.5 for oil.5

Many people, including politicians and religious leaders disagree with President Trump policies on climate change. When making the announcement on withdrawing from the Paris accord, Trump the president said that he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris. The mayor of Pittsburgh, William Peduto, replied curtly by saying that, “President Trump’s decision is disastrous for our planet, and for cities such a Pittsburgh.”6 In fact, Trump could not have picked a worse city to make his point. In the past Pittsburgh was known as acoal-burning city with a lot of pollution and poor air quality. Today in 2017, Pittsburgh is recognised in the United States as a leader in the area of investment renewable energy. These new industries are also creating jobs and the air is much clearer. Pittsburgh has 13,000 employed in renewable energy as against 5,300 in the iron and steel manufacturing.

Pittsburgh is not alone in disagreeing with President Trump’s actions on climate. Gov. Jerry Brown of California will oppose Thump’s policies in the United States and also overseas. In June 2017, Gov Brown plans to fly to China for a meeting with climate leaders on ways to curb global warning. Gov Brown has said that climate change is one of the top priorities for his last year in office. In an interview, he said that the president’s action was a “colossal mistake and defies science.”7

California is the largest state in the union, with a population of 39 million people. It is the sixth largest economy in the world. Support for reducing greenhouse gas levels is also supported by Republicans. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a republican who was governor of California from 2003 to 2911, led an aggressive campaign of pollution control and global warming. Mario Molina, a Nobel Prize winning and consultant to many countries on climate change, makes the point that “California demonstrates to the world that you can have a strong climate policy with hurting your economy.” 8

1 Bruce Wanson “Have we reached the tipping point for investing in renewable energy’? The Guardian, 15 February 2016.


3 ibid

4 Adam Vaughan, “Big oil ;at risk’ if fails to invest heavily in renewables,” The Guardian, June 13, 2017, page 22.

5 ibid

6 Vicki Arroyo, “US is the biggest loser on the planet thanks to Trump’ calamitous act,” The Observer, June 4th 2017.

7 Coral Davenport and Adam Nagourney “California Engages World, and Fights Washington, on Climate Change,” The New York Times, May 23, 2017.

8 ibid

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Many states in the Union are opposed to Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris Protocol

By Fr. Seán McDonagh, SSC

Last week I wrote about opposition to President Thump’s decision to abandon the Paris accord on climate change. California is not the only state with differs with Washington on climate change. On June 6th 2017, Hawaii became the first state to pass a law committing the state to abide by the Paris accord on climate change. The state’s governor, David Y. Ige, signed two bills at a ceremony at the state’s capitol rotunda in Honolulu. One of the bills was explicitly geared toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the landmark goals adopted by world leaders at the Paris Accord in 2015.

Hawaii is one of more than 10 states that have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition committed to upholding the Paris accord despite the federal government’s withdrawal from it. The alliance, announced by the Democratic governors of California, Washington and New York also includes Minnesota, Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont. 1

It is not just President Trump and his administration who are responsible for this immoral decision on climate change, the vast majority of, congressional republicans and senators applauded Trump’s decision. Paul Ryan said in a statement that “in order to unleash the power of the American economy, our government must encourage (the) production of American energy“2 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who helped lead the opposition to the Obama administration’s clean power rule, said the move will help protect jobs in the coal industry and keep energy prices low. He simple repeated the message of President Trump that the Paris climate agreement was simply a raw deal for America. Signed by President Obama without Senate ratification, it would have driven up the cost of energy.

Catholics across America reacted strongly to Trump’s decision. Speaking on behalf of the US Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Oscar Cantú,.the chair of the committee of international committee for justice and peace, called the decision “deeply troubling”3 He continued: “The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and for each other in solidarity. The Paris Accord is an international agreement that promotes these valued. President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest and most vulnerable communities.”4Cardinal Blasé Cupich sent out several tweets. “Climate change is real. Failing to protect the earth is not just a failure of leadership. It is moral failure.”5 The Catholic Climate Covenant issued a statement saying that they were disappointed with the president’s decision and urged him to reconsider it.

Rev Michael B Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church said that the Church can continue to take bold action to address the climate crisis.  The phrase, “We’re still in,” became a statement of commitment for many of us who regardless of this decision by our President are still committed to the principles of the Paris Agreement.”6

The CEO of the American Jewish World Service said “the longer the U.S. denies climate change and fails to take responsibility for its outsized contribution to global warming, the greater the risk posed to the entire world, especially the poorest people on Earth.”

Scott Wright, Director of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach in Washington said that:  “Columbans around the world stand strongly opposed to this decision. Withdrawal from this crucial agreement directly jeopardizes the health and sustainability of our common home, including vulnerable communities both at home and abroad.” 

1 Jonah Engel Bromwish,” Defying Trump, Hawaii Becomes First State to Pass Law Committing to Paris Climate Accord, The New York Times June 7th 2017.

2 JulieGrace Brufke, “Top Congressional Republicans Applaud Trump’s Decision To Pull Out Of Paris Climate Agreement,”The Daily Caller, June 1st 2017.

3 Michael Sean Winters and Tom Heneghan, Fury greets Trump’s climate change withdrawal,”The Tablet, June 10tth 2017, page 25

4 ibid

5 ibid

6 Brendan Gu, Universal Backlash From Leaders on Trump’s Paris Blunder June 09, 2017,

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This is not the first time that the US has abandoned climate change

By Fr. Seán McDonagh SSC

This is not the first time that the United States has failed to support international efforts to address climate change. In the run-up to the UN Conference in Kyoto in 1997, climate scientists estimated that the world would need to reduce emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by 60 percent in order to stabilize our climate. The UN conference in Kyoto could only agree on a 5.2% −7% reduction on 1990 levels by 2012 for rich countries. While European countries were willing to take further cuts, the US administration dragged its feet because of domestic pressure from powerful corporations.

Companies which opposed cuts in fossil fuels production were called the Carbon Club. These involved included powerful companies such as Exxon Mobile, Shell, Ford General Motors, and companies involved in coal, steel and aluminium production. While the Clinton administration signed the Kyoto Protocol, the Byrd-Hegel resolution passed in 1997, urged the U.S Senate to reject any treaty which would damage the US economy. The US Senators obliged by voting 90 to 0, to defeat the Kyoto Protocol.

In the run-up to the Kyoto Conference , the Carbon Club ran advertisements to block any US involvement in Kyoto. Companies, especially those involved in the energy sector, were afraid that their profits would fall if there was a drop in fossil fuel consumption. The President, at the times, George W Bush’s administration removed the US from the Kyoto Protocol.

One of the reasons which the United States gave for abandoning the Kyoto Protocol was that it did not set limits for greenhouse gas levels for China and India .The same unfairness rhetoric is also present in President Trump’s reasons for abandoning the Paris accord. What Presidents George W Bush and Trump forgets is that Europe and the United States have been emitting large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for the last two hundred years. Industrialization has helped the United States and Europe develop reducing poverty dramatically in their countries. On the other hand, both India and China only began to develop industries in the past 40 years and still have many citizens living below the poverty line. So the Kyoto Protocol was moral.

But massive changes are occurring in the area of renewable fuels in both India and China. The editorial of the New York Times assesses the record of India, China and the US today in an editorial publication on May 22, 2017, “Until recently, China and India have been cast as obstacles, at the very least reluctant conscripts, in the battle against climate change. That reputation looks very much out-of-date now that both country have greatly accelerated their investments in cost-effective renewable energy sources – and reduced their reliance on fossil fuels. It’s America – Donald Trump – that now looks like the laggard.”1

President Trump’s budget for 2018, will cut $3.1 billion from energy research programs at the Energy Department, an 18 percent reduction from last year’s spending. These programmes are aimed at developing innovative technologies like better batteries for electric vehicles or carbon capture for coal and gas plants — all of which could one day help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat global warming. The New York Times editorial chides the Trump administration for “undermining every initiative on which President Obama based his pledge in Paris to substantially reduce America’s greenhouse gases: this plan to close old coal fired power plants, his proposals to reduce methane emissions for oil and gas wells, his mandates for more fuel efficient vehicles.”2

Scott Pruitt,, now head of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has sued the past the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) fourteen time and yet Trump appointed him as secretary of that agency. Naturally, he will do everything he can to negate Obama legacy on the environment,

Critics say these cuts will undermine US leadership in cutting-edge clean energy industries. “It is incredibly short sighted to slash funding for energy R&D and let other countries take the lead in developing new technologies and markets that are going to grow quickly in the years to come,” said Jason Bordoff, the director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.3

1 the Editorial, “ China and India Make Big Strides on Climate Change, New York Times, May 22, 2017.

2 ibid

3 Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport, “Trump Budget Proposes Deep Cuts in Energy Innovation Programs”, New York Times, May 23rd 2017.

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President Trump’s decision on climate change will hurt the United States’ global leadership.

By Fr. Sean McDonagh SS

President Trump’s decision to withdraw for the Paris accord weakens the United States global leadership. Responses from the leaders of the G7 countries were negative. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was very critical of President Trump’s decision, calling it “extremely regrettable and that is putting it mildly.”1 She went on to say that “We need the Paris agreement to protect creation and nothing can or will hold us back.”2 She realized that there were groups and companies in the United States who have vowed to stand by the Accord. There sentiments were echoed by political leaders across Europe. Unfortunately, the British prime minister, Theresa May, did not sign the joint statement which was issued by the French, German and Italian leaders.

The French president Emmanuel Macron was scathing. President Trump excuse for leaving the Paris accord was that he wanted to make America Great Again, President Macron inviting scientists and those who work for climate change in the US to come to France so we can all address these issues together in order to make Our Planet Great Again. He continued that “if we do nothing, our children will know a world of migrations, of wars and shortages. a dangerous world.” 3 Macron was clear that the U. S. has turned its back on the world. Is this the beginning of the end of the American century?

Because the U.S has abandoned the Paris accord, China has made it clear that it sees Paris as a vehicle to present itself as a leader in the international community. At a summit with the Chinese leader Xi-Jinping in Brussels, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council said: “We are convinced that yesterday’s decision by the United States to leave the Paris Accord is a mistake. The fight against climate change, and all the research, innovation and technological progress it will bring, will continue with or without the U.S.”4

What the Trump administration and the Republican party seem to be missing is that the rest of the world has commitments to address climate change which currently is doing huge damage and will only get worse if we fail to address it adequately.

Writing about a visit to the Vatican on June 17th 2017 of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the veteran journalist John Allen feels that President Trump has turned his back on the world by abandoning the Paris accord. Angela Merkel may now the “New Leader of the Free World,” Her policies are much closer to Pope Francis’ than those of Donald Trump. She is an ardent support of the Paris Accord. At the meeting with the Pope, he encouraged her to work to preserve the Paris climate accord despite the US withdrawal.5 Almost alone in Europe she has taken a principled approach to supporting immigrants. 1n 2015 an estimated million migrants and refugees settled in Germany.

Writing in The Irish Times on June 1, 2016, Fintan O’Toole believes that by leaving the Paris Agreement is the beginning of the end of US global leadership. According to him, “the announcement shows that Trump is definitively opting back into the extremist nationalist agenda that got him elected. Pulling out of the Paris Accord is an enormous self-inflicted blow to the power, prestige and economic might of the US. 6

Since Trump has articulated an “America first” policy, without understanding its global role. However, the Chinese leaders, who do understand the implications of long-term, engagements this is seen as an opportunity to place themselves as world leaders in the area of tackling global warming. For the US to cede this role to them is simply breathtaking. Modern economies are based on science, technology and innovation. Many, both inside and outside the US, will find this approach unbelievable. And, of course, the Republican party is complicity with Trump in this drive to abandon science and opt for pollution associated with fossil fuels.

Backing the coal industry with promises of returning jobs in the mining industry is a return to a myth past. The reason that these industries are in decline is because mining jobs have automated and that there is competition from renewal energy. The research which is improving renewal energy will move from the U.S to countries such as Japan, Korea, Germany and China. The tragedy for all of us who share this one planet, is that we will all be harmed by the U.S abandoning the Paris Accord.

1 Suzanne Lynch and Derek Scally, “Allies warn US that deal cannot be renegotiated,” The Irish Times, June 3rd 2017, page 12.

2 ibid

3 Lara Marlowe, “Macron mocks Trump slogan on live TV,” The Irish Times, June 3, 2107. Page 12.

4 ibid

5 Merkel says Pope urged her to fight for Paris climate deal,” Irish Independent, June 17th 2017.

6 Fintan O’Toole, “Accord exit signals end ofUS global leadership,” The Irish Times, June 2, 2017, page 14.

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You Tube Offerings

Reflections on Laudato Si’

Caring for Our Common Home

Climate Change: Religious Lobby 2008 (Part 3)

A New Day Dawns with Laudato Si’

Last edited by Godsil. Based on work by godsil and Tyler Schuster.  Page last modified on May 14, 2018

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