800 million people go to bed hungry every night. 45 million of them in the United States, but 40 percent of all food in the United States is wasted – tossed out or left to rot. Meanwhile the large number of hungry people in many different countries is increasing and much of the elevated hardships are associated with the negligence of care towards food waste and more importantly, the environment.
The most shocking cost of food waste are the social costs and the impact that it has on world hunger, political stability, the environment, and climate change. Recently, even the Pope weighed in and addressed the need to eliminate the waste and disposal of food and said, “this culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.”
Human activities, waste and pollution are the most significant factors in the increase of global greenhouse gas emissions and they are the principal drivers of observed climate change. Climate change could disrupt every sector of the economy, from agriculture and transportation to energy. Climate change is also rapidly becoming the moral issue of our time. Again, Pope Francis commented and observed in his major teaching document, that we have turned the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”
Many critics believe the Pope should leave science to the scientists. Then again, many believe the Pope is helping change the conversation on ecological damage. And many more believe that shifting our energy system from a carbon-intensive one to a low-carbon one could help slow global warming. People from all demographics and all corners of the world are beginning to voice their concern on global warming. But transitioning from a fossil fuel-based economy to a cleaner energy economy and building up the necessary infrastructure will be a long and expensive process. It will take major investments in the economy, and innovative leaders. But if we continue to rely on fossil fuels, we are going to see significant changes in our ecosystem that are going to severely impair our planet.
Of course, not everybody buys into this narrative. But it seems that care for the environment is not only good, but a moral conversation that needs to be heard. I am not Catholic, but I admire and agree with Pope Francis’ for stating that men and women were placed on earth “to cultivate and care for it” and that “A culture of solidarity should prevail over our culture of waste, because when we care for and cultivate creation – including the human person – when we share our resources, we all have enough.”