Green is looking like the official color of Magis & World Youth Day 2013. And we don’t just mean the fact that the Magis website is decked out with it. Safeguarding the environment is shaping up to be a major theme during this year’s pilgrimage to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro.
Home to the Amazon, the largest rainforest on the planet, Brazil is often referred to as the “lungs of the world.” The vast acreage of natural forest plays a major role in cleaning carbon dioxide from the air we all breathe. It was clear to planners from the beginning that World Youth Day 2013 would have an ecological focus, and planning got a major boost with the election of Pope Francis, who highlighted the need to care for creation in several major addresses in his first week, including his homily at his inauguration mass:
Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, protect creation…It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live.
And along with the “lungs of the world,” Brazil has some unique issues impacting its ecology. The Amazon itself faces a triple threat of deforestation: eucalyptus, soy, and cattle. Vast areas of the indigenous hardwoods and tropical habitat are being replaced by fast-growing eucalyptus plantations to feed to world’s paper and pulp industries. Even more is being replaced by soy plantations, and millions of hectares are being converted to cattle ranching operations. Given global consumption of these products, these are issues that go far beyond Brazil’s borders. On a local level, rapid urbanization and the expansion of informal communities has led to pollution issues in the cities.
Are you planning on joining us in Rio this July? Here’s your chance to reduce your ecological footprint while you make your pilgrimage. What can you do? Travel responsibly by offsetting your carbon output and being a responsible pilgrim. As the world gathers in Rio, let’s work together to preserve our planet for future generations!