Climate Change and the church

by Richard on September 10, 2009

Former chief scientist to the British government (and now President of the British Science Association) Lord May on Monday called for faith communities to take a lead role in motivating people to respond to the challenge of climate change.

Lord May highlighted the value of religion in uniting communities to tackle environmental challenges ahead of his presidential address to the British Science Association festival at the University of Surrey in Guildford today.

He will use the address to raise what Charles Darwin considered one of the great unsolved problems of his time: the evolution of co-operation. While scientists can explain the emergence of co-operative behaviour in small, related groups of animals, understanding co-operation among distant human societies has been more difficult, he said.

May will argue that the puzzle is as pressing today as it was to Darwin 150 years ago, because of the urgent need for global co-operation to tackle the environmental issues of water shortages, greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable energy consumption.

In a letter to The Guardian today, Martyn Atkins (the General Secretary of the Methodist Church) has responded

I fully support Lord May’s call to religious leaders to play a role in mobilising people to take action against global warming (Report, 7 September). The Methodist church urged Christians to acknowledge their complicity in systems which have exploited creation, and commit themselves to making our planet a safer space, at the Methodist conference in Wolverhampton in July. The conference also pledged to reduce the church’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

The National Eco-Congregation Scheme, which helps churches make the link between environmental issues and Christian faith, is popular among Methodist congregations, and Rev David Gamble, president of the Methodist conference, has spoken out in support of the Climate Change Day of Prayer on 4 October in the run-up to the UN climate change summit.

The Methodist church supports the 10:10 campaign and Tamsin Omond, the 10:10 interfaith co-ordinator, has met Methodist church staff to discuss it. Social justice has always been a strong feature of Methodism and climate change is one of the most pressing issues of today. As a people of faith, we must act.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports the troubling news that the British public are becoming more sceptical about climate change.

The British public has become more sceptical about climate change over the last five years, according to a survey.
Twice as many people now agree that “claims that human activities are changing the climate are exaggerated”.
Four in 10 believe that many leading experts still question the evidence. One in five are “hard-line sceptics”.

That’s a bit bizarre, as the evidence for the influence of human activity on the climate has continued to strengthen, but I’m not naive enough to believe that people always base their judgements on something as trivial as evidence. What this shows is that there is a big job to do if there is ever to be sufficient political will to address what will become an increasingly urgent issue. I hope that the church will play its part.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>