Michelle Martin

A warm sunny day

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Teresa and I spent much of Saturday afternoon outside in the backyard.

We played some Wiffle ball, tossed a Nerf football around, drew with sidewalk chalk and blew bubbles and watched to see how far the breeze would carry them before they popped.

The dog basked in the sun, only getting up to bark at the dogs who walked on leashes past the fence.

After a while, we walked around the house picking up litter to make everything look a little neater.

Teresa was in short sleeves; I had a sweatshirt on over a T-shirt.

It was January.

As pleasant as the afternoon was — and there were plenty of smiles and giggles to go around — it gave me pause.

I know that one day of unseasonably mild weather doesn’t mean that the world’s climate is changing, but seeing it — seeing so many warm days in January – brings home the reality that 2016 was the hottest year on record, and it was the third year in a row to claim that title.

Air temperatures around the word are rising, as are ocean temperatures. Glaciers, polar ice and winter snow cover are decreasing.

Severe weather, from floods to storms to droughts, is becoming more frequent. In the American south, tornado season is becoming more like Christmas shopping season: It starts earlier and lasts longer every year.

Lest anyone consider climate change a political rather than a spiritual issue, Pope Francis called climate change a sin last year on Dec. 15, the World Day of Prayer for Creation.

“To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God,” the pope wrote. At the same time, he designated care for the earth, “our common home,” as a work of mercy.

Climate change is one of the main issues addressed in “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical addressed to “every person living on this planet.” In it, he wrote about not only the damaged caused by rising temperatures, but also about how the brunt of that damage is being borne by the poor.

In late November, after the U.S. presidential election, the pope implored scientists gathered at the Vatican to work for the continued implementation of global environmental pacts, saying that the “‘distraction’ or delay” in implementing global agreements on the environment shows that politics have become submissive “to a technology and an economy which seek profit above all else.”

That warm Saturday afternoon was the same day that an estimated more than 2.5 million people turned out in cities and towns across the United States and the world to protest many of President Trump’s announced policies, including the rollback of environmental regulations.

About 250,000 of them were in Chicago, enjoying the warm weather.

We are told in Ecclesiastes that “there is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens” (Eccl 3:1). As lovely as that Saturday afternoon was, it was January.

Maybe it would be a better time to ask, “Do you want to build a snowman?”


  • pope francis
  • vatican
  • politics