Adapted from a 2010 article by Bishop Medardo Gómez of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church. Translation by Rip McManus.
Note: These comments from Bishop Gómez speak to the responsibility we at EcoViva feel as people in the United States to support local communities in El Salvador as they face drastic changes in their climate, including powerful new tropical storms from the Pacific and longer periods of drought. These phenomena are mostly the result of emissions from our country and other ‘rich’ countries around the world. Not only is it our responsibility to stand with the most vulnerable communities, but we also benefit from being involved: we can learn from our partner communities’ creative climate adaptation strategies, as the effects of climate change will eventually impact us all.
Each nation has a responsibility for the protection of the climate system that future generations will inherit. There must be terms of security with a basis in fairness, in accordance with the abilities of each region or country.
The rich possess the means and the conditions to protect, adapt, and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. The poor confront the damages done by a problem they have not created. This is ecological injustice.
The rich must participate and contribute with their investments and technology transfer so that the poor can have sustainable development, conducive to conditions of sustainability and security.
Social injustice and climatic injustice go together. Climatic tragedies bring to light the social tragedy living among needy communities, declaring in this way that the biggest tragedy is the vulnerability that lives within the poor.
The only way to address this is to mitigate the negative effects, with preventative measures, measures that must be oriented to change development models and lifestyles: that is, an improvement in living conditions that doesn’t harm the planet or the environment, one that promises better living conditions in the future.
Whoever does the damage must pay for it, to ensure justice for the planet, creation, and for the poor of the world. On the other hand, the responsibility must be to eradicate the cultural mentality, it must change the way of thinking, it must enable us to be conscious of effecting urgent changes in lifestyles, ways and customs. We must restore our mission and our ecological being. We are caretakers of creation, not the owners. We are just one more species, the only ones who can assume responsibility.
Ultimately, poor countries must call on rich countries to commit to reducing the emission of gases by a significant percent.
San Salvador, November 9, 2010