Peace & Justice Blog

Stay up to date on peace and justice issues, both locally and internationally, and learn how you can take action.


Climate Change and Our Pets

Blog by Associate Judy Hardy

Next Wednesday we celebrate the Feast of St. Roch, the patron saint of dogs. So today seems like a good time to look at how we can protect our canine and feline friend by doing our part to prevent climate change.

We may not consider this, but climate change affects our pets.  Our pets will endure the same hotter weather, hurricanes, and floods that afflict humans. In addition, there are unseen dangers, like parasites and diseases, that climate change can make worse.

The evidence about parasites becoming more dangerous is real:

These pests are on the move because of warmer and wetter weather. Current climate conditions are now more favorable than ever for these parasites to be infective for longer times. In fact, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) released a report stating that climate change has a direct impact on the life cycle of ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, and intestinal and respiratory parasites.

Often, the pet-loving public and even veterinarians aren’t aware that certain parasitic diseases — like heartworm or Lyme disease — have invaded their region. As a result, many pets don’t get any or adequate prevention, particularly when a parasite is new to the neighborhood.

Climate change is putting our pets at higher risk for: heartworm; tick-borne diseases; flea infestations and associated diseases; and GI and respiratory parasitic disease

Fleas have always been a problem since they can survive indoors. Many parts of the country with cold winters could treat their pets in the warm “flea season.” Warmer temps in the fall and spring, however, means year-round flea treatment is necessary.

Being aware of how climate change affects pets means you’ll know what parasitic diseases to watch out for. And then you can help protect your pets before they become sick.

Recent extreme weather events is another reason to be aware of how climate change affects our pets. The destruction of homes and displacement of families affect pets’ well-being. While pets can be lost or killed in a severe hurricane, storm, flood, or fire, they may also become homeless.

Create an evacuation plan that considers your pet’s needs as well as your own in the case of an impending severe weather event.

Our pets are the source of much joy in our lies.  Being aware of the possible effects of climate change on pets can help us be prepared to protect them.

Source: Petful,  Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMDcontributor


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Coral Reef Awareness Week

Blog by Associate Judy Hardy

Coral reefs are important ocean habitats and offer a compelling case of the risks of climate change. Reefs provide a large fraction of Earth’s biodiversity—they have been called “the rain forests of the seas.” Scientists estimate that 25 percent of all marine species live in and around coral reefs, making them one of the most diverse habitats in the world.

Coral reefs are a vital part of the ocean ecosystem. Coral reefs help to keep our planet’s carbon dioxide levels under control by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Coral reefs are fragile and sensitive to changes in water quality and temperature. When pollution causes changes in water quality or temperatures exceed their natural tolerances, corals will become stressed and may die if conditions don’t improve.

Stressors to coral reefs include:

  • Bleached areas of the Great Barrier Reef. Photos from The Guardian.

    Rising water temperatures: Corals thrive in relatively warm water, but when water temperatures rise too high, the zooxanthellae are forced to leave. Since these algae give the corals color, when they leave the coral becomes white, appearing bleached. This coral bleaching can cause the reef to die.

  • Ocean acidification: Ocean acidification can affect coral health by making less calcium carbonate available in ocean waters, making it harder for corals to form their skeletons.
  • Predation: Some species can cause damage to coral reefs, like damsel fish and crown of thorn starfish. While they may not be invasive, outbreaks of these species can wreak havoc on reefs.
  • Overfishing: Coral reef ecosystems support an abundance of species, but overfishing can deplete these populations and affect the entire ecosystem.
  • Recreational Impacts: Boat groundings and anchors can harm corals by breaking or scarring them. Sunscreens that include certain chemicals, harm coral reefs and other plants and animals that live in the ocean. Protect yourself and the reef by covering up or wearing mineral-based sunscreens.

While coral reefs are a wonderful sight when on vacation in a tropical area, it’s important to remember that overfishing or recreational use can put significant stress on these delicate micro-environments. Treat them with care – don’t walk on them or try to take a “souvenir.” Our life – and those of future generations – depend on it.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Planting a “Mary Garden” that Honors Earth

On Thursday, July 14, we honor St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the patron saint of ecology and the environment, people in exile and Native Americans. Born 1656, she came to be known as the “Lily of the Mohawks” in recognition of her kindness, prayer, faith, and heroic suffering.  She was canonized on October 21, 2012, the first North American Indian canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

One way to honor this special saint is to plant a traditional “Mary Garden,” with plants that represent Mary, or some aspect of scripture. To make your Mary Garden environmentally friendly, be sure to use plants that are native to the United States and to your area of the country. Native plants provide food for pollinators and sequester carbon, as well as increase biodiversity.

The Saint Kateri Conservation Center has begun a project to identify native alternatives to traditional Mary Garden plants. Some of the native plants were chosen because they look similar to the traditional versions. However, some of these plants have the same genus as their European relatives!

This Mary Garden includes species native to the east coast of the USA, in a site with full to partial sun, that is slightly moist to dry most of the time. You will see the common name of the plant, the symbolic meaning, and the European plant it is replacing. You will also see three plants with no meaning. These are there to show that you can also add other important native alternatives to the garden along with the symbolic plants. Native plants are often not sold at your normal department stores! To purchase native plants, you must either visit a native plant nursery, or purchase plants online. The Center has created a Native Plant Nursery Map to help you find your closest nursery! This is the best option, because local ecotype plants are best.

To view maps of native-species Mary Gardens for moist, sunny locations and dry sunny locations, click here.


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Art to Celebrate Laudato Si’

Our world is an amazing, glorious, functioning whole. Although we humans have abused the earth in the short time we have lived on it, I still have hope that we can restore its pristine beauty and functionality. In my painting, “Laudato Si’” I wish to echo the glory of creation as pointed out by Pope Francis and encourage us all to care for Earth with the love of God’s original creating actions.

Laudato Si’ by Sr. Thoma Swanson


All powerful God,
you are present in the universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle,
for justice, love and peace.


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Art to Celebrate Laudato Si’

Justice is an important part of caring for creation. God tasked Adam with caring for all of the creatures of Earth, including Eve and his other brothers and sisters.

In her painting “Two Rivers of Fire,” Sr. Thoma Swanson shows two columns of orange, yellow, and red flames as they close in on black-and-white drawings of countless men, women, and children An Arabic prayer above and below the image translates to, “May the people of Iraq have peace at last.”

“May the people of Iraq have peace at last.” by Sister Thoma Swanson, excerpted from Columbus Alive – Joel Oliphint, Associate Editor


                                            A PRAYER FOR JUSTICE
                      Father, you have given all peoples one common origin.
                     It is your will that they be gathered together as one family in
                     Fill the hearts of mankind with the fire of your love
                     and with the desire to ensure justice for all.
                     By sharing the good things you give us,
                     may we secure an equality for all
                     our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
                    May there be an end to division, strife and war.
                    May there be a dawning of a truly human society built on love and peace.
                                                               We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord.


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog