There is urgent need of action to save Goan environment
There is no need to accuse the environmentalist for being up in arms against projects that affect the environment in Goa. Our pristine state, despite being a popular tourist destination on the western coast of India, faces several environmental issues due to rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and tourism.
Goa’s coastline, for instance, is eroding at an alarming rate due to increased construction, sand mining and the alteration of natural water flows. This has serious implications for the local ecosystem and the communities living along the coast.
Deforestation, primarily for construction, is a significant concern. Loss of forest cover disrupts local biodiversity, affects water retention and contributes to soil erosion.
Water bodies in Goa, including rivers and lakes, are heavily polluted due to industrial discharges, untreated sewage and excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides in agriculture. This pollution affects aquatic life and poses a health risk to humans. Improper waste management is a pressing issue.
The influx of tourists significantly increases the amount of waste generated, while the lack of efficient recycling and disposal systems leads to littering and environmental pollution.
Goa has a history of iron ore mining, which has resulted in deforestation, habitat destruction and water pollution. Although mining activities have been partially restricted, the legacy of environmental damage remains.
The increase in vehicular traffic, industrial emissions and construction activities has led to deteriorating air quality in urban areas, contributing to respiratory issues and other health problems among the residents. Habitat destruction and pollution have led to a loss of biodiversity. Several plant and animal species native to Goa are endangered due to these environmental pressures.
Rising sea levels, changing weather patterns and extreme weather events associated with climate change pose a significant threat to the coastal areas of Goa.
Vulnerable communities are at risk of displacement and loss of livelihoods. The rapid growth of tourism has put immense pressure on natural resources. Unregulated construction of hotels and resorts, water sports and other tourist activities contribute to environmental degradation.
These are issues that need our attention. Pope Francis in his recent apostolic exhortation published on October 4, 2023, on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi cautioned the world that the creation is in need of our help. That climate crisis is the major cause of concern and we need to actively put our hands together to safeguard our planet.
Pope Francis clearly states that the human family has neglected their relationship with creation, one another and God. The document is 7,000 words long and focuses on the global climate crisis, highlighting the need for repentance and reparation. Pope Francis argues that human activity, pollution and extraction have led to climate change, causing deadly natural disasters, ecosystem collapse and rising temperatures.
He also critiques the technocratic paradigm, which assumes goodness and truth come from technological advancements and economic power. He argues that the climate crisis is not solved by simply transitioning to electric cars or lab-grown meat. Instead, he emphasises that humans are part of creation and cannot be separated from it, and advancements often only indicate their potential use.
Laudate Deum advocates for collaboration from the grassroots, emphasising the importance of respecting the dignity of each person and the necessity of a common home, rather than supporting institutions of and for the more powerful.
Climate conferences, held annually since 1995, have been a source of hope but have not led to action or progress in addressing the climate crisis. Scientific understanding continues to grow, but international accords often fail to address the global common good. And therefore, we need the environmentalist who can clearly be the voice for the creation around us.
Laudate Deum’s call for a deeper, social and political shift is more profound than just environmental concerns. It can be the catalyst for recognizing the depth of the crisis and making meaningful strides towards climate justice. Pope Francis’ message is a call for a community on pilgrimage, united by God and all creation, to turn from sinful degradation to faithfulness to God.
A humanitarian response to the climate crisis is not about recycling or electric cars, but renouncing extractivism and overconsumption. Pope Francis invites all of us to a renewed vision of community and solidarity, where we are called to collaborate with liberating grace in our hearts, communities and earth.
The Pope isn’t silent about those who dismiss or play down the climate change issue. He says, “what we are presently experiencing is an unusual acceleration of warming, at such a speed that it will take only one generation – not centuries or millennia – in order to verify it.”
Aren’t we able to verify or do we not want to, is the question we must ask? Is Goa doing badly when it comes to the environment, is a strong question that must be asked again and again?