Notre Dame and Climate Change

As most of you probably know, last week part the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France caught on fire and suffered major damages as a result. In the wake of this unfortunate event, the richest members of our global society (and many others) have demonstrated just how generous they can be when they care about something: over 1 billion dollars have been donated so far to repair the damages that the fire caused. I couldn’t believe my roommate when he told me that one French billionaire donated over 200 million US dollars to this cause. I do not know how much it takes to repair a cathedral in our modern era, but I certainly would have guessed the cost to be much less than 200 million US dollars, let alone the billion that’s been raised. What’s more is that this money has been donated to an institution that can most likely already afford to repair the damages on its own, although I cannot say this for sure as I’m not that familiar with the Church’s financial status.

Notre Dame Cathedral Fire, April 15, 2019.

When I thought about all that was going on with the fire and its aftermath, I felt inclined to connect it to the topic of time. The way in which I connected time to the Notre Dame Cathedral is different from the way in which Kavita connected the two matters in her blog post, “The Consequences of the Notre Dame Fire.” I find it interesting that we both wrote about at the same event yet came up with completely different ways of connecting it to the topic of time.

When I first read this article about the fire, I was shocked to learn that the Notre Dame Cathedral had been built over 850 years ago. It is fascinating how a building could live through 850 years of our tumultuous world yet a fire ultimately altered it forever in a matter of hours (15 as Kavita mentioned in her post). In light of this, I started to connect the age of the Cathedral to the age of our planet. What inspired me to make that connection was a post I saw on twitter which pointed out all of the other causes that people could have donated to, but instead donated to the reparation costs of the cathedral. One of the causes mentioned in the post was climate change and cleaning up our planet.

Deforestation in Kalimantan, Indonesia

I remember reading not too long ago that scientists have begun to assert that all of us humans only have about 11 years to change the terrifying trajectory of our planet before the damage is irreparable. To me, this is a terrifying finding. Perhaps if the richest members of our society would look at the earth in the same way they looked at stained glass windows, they would be more inclined to donate to combating climate change. I imagine what saddens many people about the Notre Dame Cathedral fire is the age of the building and the loss of so much history. While I am in the same boat as these people, I am also just as saddened by the loss of our rainforests, biodiversity, and other natural environments that have been on earth for millennia. In spite of these losses, there’s a clear lack of sufficient action being taken to prevent the destruction of these beautiful parts of our natural environment.

I believe that part of the reason why people seem to be less distraught over the destruction of our natural environment than they are with the destruction of a manmade building has to do with time. If all of the deforestation, coral bleaching, species loss, etc, that has happened in the past 50 years instead happened in the matter of hours, I imagine that people would be much more distraught than they currently are. This is not to say that plenty of people do not already donate to helping our natural environment, because I know many do. As a matter of fact, in the time after I wrote this post, I read that a Swiss billionaire pledged 1 billion US dollars towards combating climate change. Hopefully, more people will start to consider the age of our planet and the fact that at some point no amount of money will be able to turn back time and repair the damage that’s being done to it.