As a child working in the fields in Buckeye, Arizona, David Damian Figueroa remembers the intense heat. Many farmworkers around him suffered heatstroke or fell ill. When he would complain to his mother about the heat, she would tell him to repeat the phrase, "barbas de oro," calling on God to bless the farmworkers with a cool breeze or dust devil.
Today, farmworkers are facing even more extreme heat conditions, with temperatures approaching 120 degrees in some areas.
Now director of development at Farmworker Justice, Figueroa works to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers by improving their living and working conditions, immigration status, health, occupational safety and access to justice.
In addition to heat, other challenges today's farmworkers face include immigration status, lack of housing, unjust wages, little to no worker protections, intense wildfire seasons and grueling physical labor. For many, their Catholic faith provides hope and comfort during what is otherwise exhaustive and demanding work. At the same time, the church is also involved, through parishes and other institutions, working for justice and building community for farmworkers.
A future of rising temperatures and extreme weather — stronger and more frequent storms and heat waves, combined with intense drought — is unavoidable in the coming decades, according to a new report by an international panel of scientists. But the direst outlooks can still be averted, the experts said, if the world's countries stop burning fossil fuels and take other immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.
The report, released Aug. 9 by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is the group's first review of climate science research since 2013. The IPCC provides periodic assessments on the science behind and risks related to climate change, as well as reports on possibilities for mitigation of and adaptation to impacts.
No region of the Earth has escaped the effects of climate change, and even if emissions were immediately reduced to no more than the amount that the Earth's soil, plants and oceans could absorb naturally, some of the impacts already set in motion would be irreversible within centuries or millennia, the report says.
Sign up here to receive regular email updates from EarthBeat.
In a commentary for NCR, Brian Cahill, the former head of Catholic Charities, writes about how he opposes discrimination against LBGTQ foster and adoptive parents.
At Global Sisters Report, read a Q&A with St. Joseph Sr. Mary Elizabeth Clark who has composed more than 30 mealtime prayers centering around care for our common home in an upcoming booklet, From Pope to Pew.
ICYMI: Two fully vaccinated Jesuit university presidents who recently tested positive for COVID-19 have spoken out about their experience as an urgent reminder of the need to get vaccinated.
ICYMI: Italian police have launched an investigation after postal workers discovered an envelope containing three bullets and addressed to "the pope."