As the dreadful coronavirus pandemic clearly illustrates: Life is fragile.

In just a matter of a few months, the highly contagious COVID-19 has killed over 225,000 people, sickened many more, eliminated millions of jobs and is threatening to nearly double the number of severely hungry people throughout the world.

The World Food Program warned that the already grim number of 135 million people facing acute hunger and starvation is projected to dramatically increase to 265 million by year’s end –“unless swift action is taken.”

World Food Program’s Chief Economist, Arif Husain pleaded, “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock – like COVID-19 – to push them over the edge. We must collectively act now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe.”

Yes! We must collectively act now!

Please contact your national representatives urging them to significantly increase comprehensive funding efforts to assist these poorest of the poor.

In the U.S., the Christian anti-poverty organization Bread for the World is urging us to please call our two senators and representative (Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) urging them to provide an additional $12 billion toward COVID-19 global relief funding for food, medical and economic relief. In addition, please also use this link to easily send them an email alert https://bit.ly/3f8Yxn1.

Also, kindly donate to Catholic Relief Services https://bit.ly/2KJdKNr.

In light of the recent 50th anniversary of Earth Day (see: https://bit.ly/2W9gEAa), we are reminded that the life of our common home is also fragile. Somewhat like what COVID-19 is doing to humanity, we humans are doing to the earth.

We continue to sicken our planet with filth. Industries, vehicles and other human activities continue to pump lethal chemicals into our air, land and water. A tragic example is plastic. Watch the eye opening PBS Frontline documentary “Plastic Wars” (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/plastic-wars/).

And our burning of fossils fuels – oil, gas and coal – is causing the earth to dangerously heat up – resulting in more frequent and more intense floods, droughts, storms, wildfires and greatly increased human hunger, poverty and sickness.

What kind of a world are we leaving our children, grandchildren and generations yet to be born? This is a very serious question.

And we don’t have much time!

Leading climate scientists of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are warning us that if major changes to reverse global warming – like converting to solar, wind and geothermal energy production and massive reforestation – aren’t largely in place worldwide by 2030 environmental disasters and human suffering will be catastrophic (see: https://bit.ly/2VMMeVy).

As with so much in Catholic social teaching – like protecting the environment and caring for the poor – our approach must always be both/and, not, either/or.

In his celebrated environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis teaches, “Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag6@comcast.net.