Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 22, 2019

Earth Concerns News

Earth Charter, Principle 5 by Sister Debbie Timmis, CSJ

Principle Five Addresses Heart of the Matter


Earth Charter Principle 5: Protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.


As our awareness of Earth and the impact our species has had on the environment slowly creeps into our social awareness, principle #5 has become pivotal to groups with interests ranging from science to New Age. Principle #5 is one of the longest principles of the Earth Charter=s sixteen principles and addresses the heart of the matter. Unless we protect and take action to restore Earth=s ecological systems, we may destroy the very home that gives all Earth=s species shelter, food and rest.

This principle speaks to us about principles we value on other levels as well, namely diversity and complementarity. I find it interesting that the definitions of these terms span the spectrum from physics to social action. For example, complementarity is defined as:


!       noun: 1. a relation between two opposite states or principles that together exhaust the possibilities 2. the interrelation of reciprocity whereby one thing supplements or depends on the other; Athe complementarity of the sexes@ 1


!       The concept is that the underlying properties of entities (especially subatomic particles) may manifest themselves in contradictory forms at different times, depending on the conditions of observation; thus, any physical model of an entity exclusively in terms of one form or the other will be necessarily incomplete. For example, although a unified, quantum mechanical understanding of such phenomena as light has been developed, light sometimes exhibits properties of waves and sometimes properties of particles (an example of wave-particle duality). 2


Diversity is defined as:


!       The fact or quality of being diverse; difference

!       A point or respect in which things differ

!       Variety or multiformity: "Charles Darwin saw in the diversity of species the principles of evolution that operated to generate the species: variation, competition and selection" (Scientific American). 3


Diversity=s definition too illustrates the various ways we can think about diversity from diversity of thought to biological diversity. This type of thinking across sciences and integrated into the whole of life is a challenge for us as we move into a more complex and complicated world view and consciousness. Yet we are being called to such thinking from various voices that make up our lives. From our 2007 Acts of Chapter which call us to, Aurgent concern for Earth and the survival of its life systems@ and to Arecognizing the urgency of working to protect and restore Earth=s healthy living systems in these next years@ to our country=s and our world=s concern about affordable non-Earth-threatening sources of energy as we journey into the future, AClimate change is real. And it=s happening much faster than was predicted just a few years ago. The good news is that we can solve this crisis. We can switch 100 percent of America's electricity to clean-energy sources within ten years. To make the switch, repowering America must be a priority for our leaders. If leaders know you care, they will take action. Join us today and be a voice for solutions.@( from

We may feel that we are only a small part of the solution or that we are not able to have much of an effect at all. However, small steps can be taken on our part from awareness of our local ecology to research on the web where our fingers can help us take action to be part of the solution.

I close with this thought that I read a few days ago from Thomas Moore=s Book AThe Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life. AEnchanted ecology is the work of religion more than science, love more than understanding and ritual more than heroic action. It is rooted in both a love for home and a willingness to let the place where we live set limits on our lives, define our personalities and shape our values. This kind of ecology is concerned not simply with the natural world but with our place in the human environment as well, and it has as much to do with meaning and emotion as with the protection of literal nature.@


1 complementarity. (n.d.). WordNet7 3.0. Retreived November 01, 2008 from website:


2 complementarity. (n.d.). The American Heritage7 Science Dictionary. Retrieved November 01, 2008, from website:


3 diversity. (n.d.). The American Heritage7 Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved November 01, 2008, from website:


(November 2008)