FSPA offered offset travel to fall gathering

By Beth Piggush, FSPA integral ecology director

Where do you see yourself in 11 years? Have you moved? Bought a new car? Taken a few road trips? Life can certainly change in all that time. 

And it must. Scientists have reported that we have just 11 years to prevent irreversible damage from climate change. We need to find simple ways to make positive changes. Now.

Pope Francis has said that we are in a climate crisis that “threatens the very future of the human family.” He challenges us, through Laudato Si’, to consider our interconnectedness on Earth and how our daily actions affect us all. This can feel daunting and overwhelming, but researchers suggest that one change at a time leads to greatest success.

In the United States, transportation is the largest contributor to carbon emissions. In an effort to lessen our impact on the earth, we can examine our daily transportation needs. Can you bike or carpool to the office today? Can you complete all of your errands in one trip? Have you tried facilitating a virtual meeting at work? Becoming aware of emission-saving options is one step in lowering your transportation impact. 

With this in mind, the FSPA offices of affiliation and ecospirituality collaborated to call awareness to the transportation impact of the October affiliation fall gathering by offering a new course of action: giving attendees the opportunity to “offset” their travel miles. Offsetting, essentially a form of trade through which an investment is made toward a low impact/environmentally-positive project to counter detrimental carbon emissions, puts a price on our daily actions.

If an attendee drove the approximate 300 mile-round trip from Madison, Wisconsin, to La Crosse in a medium-sized gasoline automobile, 0.23 of carbon may have been emitted. That carbon emission becomes part of the global atmosphere and contributes to climate change. A carbon calculator from nativeenergy.com determined that the cost to offset those emissions was $3.55, the equivalent of which was donated to a third party-approved water purification project in Honduras.

It is a challenge to stop and think about how our daily transportation actions connect us locally, regionally, and globally, but we share the same atmosphere and we share the same reality — we have just 11 years to work together to prevent irreversible damage from climate change. The bottom line is that we need to hold ourselves accountable. As Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si’, “There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions.”

Please stay tuned as the FSPA Ecospirituality Office continues to build awareness and provide resources at fspa.org. For additional information, we’ve added links to Pope Francis’ climate energy declaration and a document demonstrating U.S. energy consumption by source and sector to fspa.org (visit Ecological Advocacy under the Ministries option).

Affiliates Tim Sullivan and Charlotte Willenborg traveled to the affiliation fall gathering from Harlan, Iowa, with more than the ministry of living the Gospel in mind. “One of the primary reasons Charlotte and I chose to be affiliates is the charism of Care of Creation,” says Tim. “It was great to see that care put into action with the carbon offset aspect of the gathering.”

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