Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury's lecture on 13 Oct 2009

The Climate Crisis: Fashioning a Christian Response

Due to a meeting I was in London on 13 October and so was able to go to hear Dr Rowan Williams. Over 1000 people had filled Southwark Cathedral to hear the Archbishop. You can read the text of his speech on his website. I was pleased I had gone early enough to get a seat beside the central aisle and spent time leaning out into the central aisle trying to take a picture without flash... grateful in the knowledge that if I did not catch everything he said, the text would be put up on line afterwards (Read it here)

In question time he said things that I found a bit more concrete: .. these answers do not appear to be online but this is what I remember as the gist of what he said:

That perhaps we (the audience) could be the Wilberforces and the Martin Luther Kings of the Green movement.

That God had created the world and "saw that it was good". that he had created us in his image .. so we should see that it is good too, and so look after it.

On rereading his speech I see he does not mention anything about the evidence that CO2 is the main driver of global warming -(allowing people to play it both ways). It is an academic lecture after all. And his lecture will stand in three years or thirty years time whichever way it turns out. He said

"Mike Hulme, in a provocative and original new book, Why We Disagree About Climate Change, argues that the anxieties around global warming and related matters are actually a welcome opportunity for us to look hard at fundamental issues concerning our social and ethical situation. He quotes (p.354) the somewhat startling remarks of a former Canadian government minister who said that even if the science around climate change was mistaken, the focus on the question had provided the best possible impetus towards more equality and justice in the world."

At the bottom of the post I will put some useful quotes from his written text. But I would like to tell you about the three great points about the day for me -

  1. To be privileged to hear the leader of the C of E give a talk about care of the environment in this ancient Cathedral
  2. To walk from Westminster, then along the shingle beach of the south bank of the Thames, waves lapping on the flint pebbles of the shore, two fishermen fishing from a jetty, with St Pauls, opposite, the Gherkin and bridges lit by the setting sun . History. (And how high would the Thames rise?) and (sadly) how high will buildings rise around St Pauls?
  3. Asking my neighbours in the congregation "Who are you?" (well a bit more politely than that) - each answer delighted me.. It was like opening those little pictures on an advent calendar. I remet a man I had met 12 years ago - now ordained; - I met Ben Brangwyn of the Transition Towns Movement - I met Thaddeus Dell who is the the Carbon reduction Policy Officer of the Methodist Church; I met a lady who had come all the way from Sheffield specially for the talk.

Here are some quotes from his speech:

"To act so as to protect the future of the non-human world is both to accept a God-given responsibility and appropriately to honour the special dignity given to humanity itself."

“Each of us can bring pressure to bear on institutions we are connected with to conduct a rigorous carbon audit; for those involved in the Church of England, the website of the Shrinking the Footprint initiative offers help with such projects.”

“There are the various specific choices we can make about our refuse, our travel, our domestic energy use”

“But I'd want also to underline the need for us to change our habits enough to make us more aware of the diversity of life around us. I once suggested that one necessary contribution to a better awareness of these issues was to make sure we went out of doors in the wet from time to time (a suitable lesson from Noah...), and – if we haven't got gardens of our own – make sure we took opportunities of watching the changing of the seasons on the earth's surface.”

I liked this last one best – we have plenty of opportunity to get wet in Ribblesdale.

... So I returned to Settle the next day (220 miles by train - carbon footprint - 21kg CO2 = 84kWh

(And for it to be a fair world we should aim to just produce 6kg CO2 per day or 24kWh. )

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