The importance of protecting the environment has been reinforced during a BBC Radio interview with a Liverpool Hope University academic.
This month sees the beginning of the annual ‘Season of Creation’, a global, church-led conversation about sustainability and climate justice that encourages the world to unite in ‘taking action’ for ‘our common home’ - planet Earth.
The Season starts September 1st and runs until October 4th - the date of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology and the environment.
Hope’s own Reverend Paul Rooney, Head of Geography & Environmental Science, was invited to appear on BBC Radio Lancashire to discuss environmental change with the programme’s host Joe Wilson.
And Rev. Rooney, a Permanent Deacon in the Archdiocese of Liverpool as well as an expert on the management and protection of coastal dune nature reserves, said he hoped the Season of Creation 2021 would help promote real change.
He said: “This is about trying to get us all to refocus and to put the environment at the centre of our lives, on a day to day basis.
“The activities planned for the Season of Creation are there to prompt an internal change in us all - a change of values, a change in understanding, a change in our relationship with the environment and also with God.”
Events planned include sustainability projects, climate justice advocacy as well as prayer.
Rev. Rooney revealed: “Any change is difficult and challenging for people. We like to have an easy life. And we can’t expect people to change their behaviours overnight.
“But if we can make small steps in the right direction, that’s enormously helpful. And those small steps need to be taken much more urgently now. Looking at the evidence on climate change from the last ten years, we actually need to break into a jog to ensure we protect the planet.”
Rev. Rooney described how fossil fuels are the main driver of human-induced ‘anthropogenic’ climate change.
He explained: “We have to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and we need to help people to do that, structurally and financially.
“But we also need to make the internal change within ourselves, to want to change our behaviours.”
The Hope academic acknowledged that there are important questions to be pondered when it comes to the relationship between climate change and God.
Stating how God was ‘loving and forgiving’, he added: “Humans have been given the power of free choice. And as we’ve got free choice, let’s choose to make the steps necessary to look after God’s creation.
“We’ve made mistakes over the environment and we now find ourselves in a climate emergency. But we can still make strong steps in the right direction. It’s up to us now - let’s make the change.”
You can learn more about the Season of Creation here.
Meanwhile it’s not the first time Rev. Rooney has spoken out in order to protect the natural environment.
Earlier this year he also urged those enjoying Merseyside’s coastal areas to do their bit to protect visiting birds to the area.
Rev. Rooney, who is overseeing a new Conservation Biology degree at Hope, explained: “We’re blessed with an abundance of natural landscapes on our doorstep.
“And places like the Sefton coast - Formby, Ainsdale, Crosby - the North Wirral coast, and the Mersey estuary have become increasingly important for people when it comes to local exercise and, more importantly, contact with nature.
“So, if you are lucky enough not to have to travel to these places, they should absolutely be enjoyed and savoured - but also used responsibly.
“Our estuarine environments are internationally important for overwintering birds - Dunlin, Sanderling, Oystercatchers as well as enormous flocks of Pink-footed geese. Coming to the UK is their equivalent of going on a relaxing summer holiday to Benidorm.
“It’s vital that when they’re here they rest, feed and conserve energy.
“So when we use these beaches now, particularly at high tides, it’s really important that we distance ourselves from flocks of birds and we keep dogs under control in order to minimise the disturbance to birds feeding and roosting.
“When you disturb the birds - what’s known as ‘flushing’ - it might look spectacular, but the energy that the birds expend going into flight can literally be the difference between life and death for them.
“It’s as serious as that. These wetland spaces are important, not just on a European scale, but on a global scale. It’s vital we look after them.
“So bring your binoculars - and watch the birds from afar.”