Anna Keating ’06 | October 24, 2019
Recently I led a seminar at Colorado College on Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and caring for our common home. My CC students, much like students at Notre Dame, care deeply about the environment. Many have switched to a plant-based diet. They know where their food comes from, work to reduce waste, carry reusable coffee mugs and bike to class. They participate in gear swaps, organize tool libraries and push for the college to make its buildings more energy efficient, which it has, cutting on-campus emissions in half since 2009.
Some of my students even advocate in the community for the switch to renewables. They love rock climbing and hiking and being in nature. Also, much like Notre Dame students, many come from homes in the top 20 percent in terms of family income.
They are informed. They know that the richest one percent of the population consume far more and produce more waste and pollution than the poorest 15 percent worldwide. They are attracted to minimalism and tend to value experiences over things. It’s not uncommon for them to say they don’t plan to have children, because the average American generates about 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year — triple the global average. Most seem not to agree with Pope Francis, though, when he argues that “to blame population growth, instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.”
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