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The Year of the Smog

HONG KONG (UCAN): Northern and northeastern China welcomed 2017 as the Year of the Smog, experiencing heavy pollution in 61 cities. However, this is not a surprising event, as it is in keeping with the predictions of a study by the World Health Organisation that shows China home to the deadliest outdoor air pollution in the world.

The China Meteorological Administration issued an orange alert prior to New Year’s Eve, which deteriorated into a red alert on January 4.

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Across the board religious concern for creation

July 2016 was the hottest month since records began in 1880. Jos Lelieveld, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute, has warned that large areas of the planet could become so hot that they would be virtually uninhabitable for humans.

This would trigger an exodus of hundreds of millions of refugees. Lelieveld maintains, “The July temperatures must underline the urgency of the crisis.”








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Good and bad news on plant species

I made my first visit to Kew Gardens in London in the early 1980s. It is a beautiful and highly scientific place and in May this year, it produced an extraordinarily important report on The State of the World’s Plants.

The good news is that the staff now believe that there are 390,000 species of plants on earth. The director of science at Kew Gardens, Kathy Willis, spoke to Damian Carrington of The Guardian about the importance of plants for humans.








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Getting Church out of fossil fuels

MANILA (SE): Father John Leydon, the co-convener of the Global Catholic Climate Movement and its local representative in The Philippines, made an appeal to Church organisations to divest themselves of their investments in the mining and fossil fuel industry.

“These divestments are an important step toward fulfilling the promise and the call of Laudato Si’ (Praise Be: On care for our common home),” Father Leydon said.

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A chilling reminder things are hotting up

The El Niño is causing damage to the Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s northern east coast in a manner that was predicted by Pope Francis in his encyclical, Praise Be: On care for our common home (Laudato Si’).








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An evolving value system

HONG KONG (UCAN): Increasing numbers of young people in Hong Kong are taking the road less travelled and shunning well-paid jobs in favour of low-paying careers in fields that work to protect and nourish the health of the environment, often much to the chagrin of their traditionally-minded parents.

It is not an easy road to follow, but they defend their choice saying that it helps to make the city more independent and pleasant to live in.

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Healthy living in unhealthy environment

HONG KONG (SE): Although it may not be strong enough to make you glow in the dark, a researcher in environmental and health care issues, Mamie Lau, said at a forum on July 31 that the atmosphere in which we live in Hong Kong today is plagued with radio activity and chemical toxins.

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Will a wonder of nature be an environmental catastrophe?

It is one year since Pope Francis published the encyclical Praise Be: On care for our common home (Laudato Si’) on 18 June 2015 and much of the initial attention from politicians, economists and environmentalist centred on what he would say about climate change.

What he did say is expressed in paragraph 23. The pope was clear, saying, “Very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing, a disturbing warming of the climatic system.”








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The revelations of Kew Gardens

I vividly remember my first visit to Kew Gardens in London in the early 1980s. I was on my way to Ireland for a holiday after my first term as a missionary among the T’boli people in the highlands of south-eastern Mindanao in The Philippines.

I had enjoyed my time there learning their language, listening to their music, watching their intricate dances, observing their rituals and celebrations, especially around marriage.








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A polluted mind will pollute the land

HONG KONG (SE): Addressing pollution problems stemming from rapid economic development must go hand in hand with a change in social attitudes, a seminar organised by the Centre for Catholic Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong was told on April 15.

Gloria Chang Wan-ki, the campaign manager of Greenpeace Hong Kong, told the seminar that rapid economic development in China has resulted in a wide range of serious pollution problems.

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