Environmental Justice

Michael D. Pfeifer
Reproduced with Permission

At the start of the Third Millennium, a new awareness of the magnificence and uniqueness of Earth as one intertwined community of life is growing among all people everywhere. The lack of care and respect for all life on Planet Earth has brought about an environmental crisis of staggering dimensions. The Earth crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis and calls for a serious examination of human life in relation to all other life on Earth. We need to transform our relationship with the planet, especially by working for environmental justice.

Environmental justice is defined as the search for a just solution to the disproportionate burdens of environmental degradation. The basis of environmental justice rests on the underlying fact that the Earth, the entire universe, is our most beautiful gift form a loving God who calls us to be stewards of creation. There is an integral connection between environmental justice and sustainable development with an emphasis on social and economic development that not only protects the sustainability of natural resources, but also promotes a just distribution. At its core, the environment is a moral challenge.

Environmental justice calls us to a new and transforming relationship with Planet Earth, which reminds us that the web of life is one, and that there is a connection among all forms of life. This calls us to listen to what is happening in nature and the world that surrounds us. Environmental justice makes us realize that the capacity of the planet to carry life is being exhausted by human habits.

A major work of our time is to make sure that the Earth does not fall into deficit as a result of our presence on it. What sense does it make to have healthy humans living on a terminally ill planet? The bottom line of our businesses must not be "profit," but a "health globe." Environmental justice calls us to live in the web of life as sustainers rather than damagers of the world.