The present environmental crisis is a moral issue for those of all faiths, writes retired Anglican Bishop George Browning, in The Canberra Times.
- George Browning is the retired Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra/Goulburn. He writes here for the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change.
This week, faith leaders across a range of religious traditions were in Canberra speaking with one voice about the nation's approach to climate change. As religious leaders, we suggest that in a global world 'freedom' cannot mean seeking maximum individual or national advantage, but true freedom means being willing and able to contribute to a common good which is accessible to and benefits all.
We make this suggestion with a sense of urgency. The latest report from working group II of the UN International Panel on Climate Change, to be officially released on March 28, outlines in painstaking detail a deepening environmental crisis. This will be especially challenging if average global temperatures rise above the internationally agreed upper limit of 2 degrees Celsius.
The greater variation and intensity in weather events across the globe with only a 0.9 degree rise looks likely to be a mild foretaste of what is to come.
The report resoundingly confirms extrapolations from existing research on climate vulnerability, that these changes will most affect those who are already poor. It will be no surprise to anyone that 95 per cent of deaths from extreme weather-related events occur in developing countries.
The report warns of decreasing crop yields for those who are already hungry, pressures to migrate for those who are already hanging tenuously to their homes and heightened conflict in zones already marred by political unrest.
No nation is independent of the activity and influence of other nations. To seek maximum advantage is to exacerbate injustices and court conflict with those who are disadvantaged.
We are not scientists, but simply acknowledge that the overwhelming body of scientific opinion confirms that exploitative human behaviour is now not only threatening life options for future generations, but is already causing sufficient change as to threaten the ecological diversity upon which life depends. It is also increasing the poverty cycle for those least advantaged in the global family.
We argue therefore that the environmental crisis, with global warming at its centre, is a moral issue. Further, we argue that because of our relative wealth, we Australians are in a position to lead in terms of the targets we set.
Photo: Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, protest in Canberra
FULL STORY We must all join together to fight climate change (The Canberra Times)