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In his 184-page papal encyclical released today, Pope Francis had harsh words for how humanity has treated the earth. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he wrote. "Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain." Encyclicals—papal letters that represent some of the Catholic church’s most important documents—are typically addressed directly to the Catholics around the globe. But this year, the pope had a larger audience in mind, saying the letter was addressed to “every person living on this planet.”

The pope took more than a year to write the encyclical, which was released in at least five languages and cites research from dozens of scientists and scholars. In it, he acknowledged that humans are primarily at fault for the large change in global temperatures. He argued that climate change is having serious consequences, including hurting the poor, and that developed countries have a responsibility to help less developed countries take steps to fight climate change. Slowing down the destruction of the earth will take a “bold cultural revolution,” he argued, which will require people in all areas of society to combat consumerism and structural injustices and practice responsible stewardship.

"We are not God," he wrote, "The Earth was here before us and has been given to us" ... Discuss

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A new Living Planet Index report from the London Zoological Society and the World Wildlife Foundation says the world’s populations of wild animals are an average of half the size they were in 1970. The index tracked the populations of more than 10,000 representative populations of species from 1970 to 2010 and showed a bigger decline than previously thought (prior studies estimated that populations had declined by 30 percent). The report sites human consumption—and the resulting habitat loss—as the main reason for the decline. According to the report, there are only 3,000 tigers left in the wild today, as opposed to 100,000 a century ago. And Elephant populations in West Africa are living on about 7 percent of their historic land due to deforestation. You can check out the full report here for more information and ways to get involved to slow the decline ...

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The area around Lake Tanganyika, located in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa, is touted as one of the few “unspoiled ecosystems” on the planet. The longest freshwater lake in the world and the second deepest, Tanganyika’s crystal blue depths hold around 18 percent of all available fresh water at any given time. It also contains well over 200 species of fish that occur nowhere else in the world.

For generations, communities along the shoreline have thrived on the lake’s clean water, vibrant fishery and accessible boat transportation. Read More

There are a lot of empty Coke bottles that are disregarded around the world every day. But, as the video below shows, the soda maker may have figured out a way to encourage people to hang on to their used plastic bottles instead of just throwing them away. The company has created 16 custom caps that turn old bottles into everything from squirt guns and spray bottles to sauce dispensers and saltshakers. Coke is sending tens of thousands of the caps to several Asian countries later this year ... Discuss