It certainly has been a wet year. At Saint Ignatius College we have been flooded twice and survived a recent close call. We have spent many lunchtimes indoors as ‘the heavens opened’ during break times. Our football oval still has an average of two centimetres of water over the entire surface and the road near our school was 30cm under water for a second time last week.
It was not long ago that we were praying for rain. Just last year our water storages were at 40 per cent, and only a few years prior, during the decade long drought, the water storages for the region fell to an alarming 18 per cent. They now sit at 73 per cent, but with our rapidly increasing regional population, this will fall steadily as summer begins.
Even with permanent water saving measures, there is a tendency to believe we will always have enough, especially when we have had so much this year. Of course, this is an illusion, we need to manage our water use carefully if it's to last.
For the most part, we are insulated from the weather that occurs around us. With the amenities we have, we do not suffer due to hot, cold or the wet weather; until of course the power goes out, or our drainage systems can not cope. All in all, we move through the year removed from the reality of the weather and at times unaware of the natural cycles in our world. This makes it hard for us to have conversations about our environment, and in particular to connect our day to day decisions with their impact on our globe.
Pope Francis reminds us in his encyclical Laudato Si’ that those most affected by climate change and adverse climatic events are the poor. Those in the world with less are always the people who suffer more. This situation can be witnessed today in Central and North America as Hurricane Irma peters out, and in India, Nepal and Bangladesh as communities recover from the massive flooding there. We see the damage that has been caused, and the cost in both human and financial terms to the countries affected.
Natural disasters like this remind us that we are part of a global human family, needing to support all people in their time of need. They also prompt us to reflect upon our lives and lifestyles. There is certainly a level of discomfort when we observe our affluent misuse of the earth’s resources, which then impacts upon the lives of others.
St Ignatius offers us all a keen insight into why we should do everything we can to protect and enhance our environment. His awareness of ‘God in all things’ gives us a clear perception of the precious gift we have been given. With this as a framework, we can move forward and not only improve our local environment but the entire world.
Maybe all of this rain will give us the perfect reason to pause and consider the environment, then strike up a conversation about the weather, with a poorly camouflaged follow up discussion about how connected we are to the wider world.
Brendan Nicholls is liturgy coordinator at St Ignatius College, Geelong.