Climate change an urgent moral issue: ‘We have been called to a revolution’ says bishop

Published November 22, 2010

Bishop John Chapman of the diocese of Ottawa.
Photo: Art Babych

OTTAWA – Action on climate change is becoming so urgently needed that even 
scientists trained not to make value judgements see it as a moral

 What’s more, we may be “running out of time,” says Dr. John Stone, adjunct
 research professor, geography and environmental studies, at Carleton
 University in Ottawa.

“Climate change has now become such a threat 
to our society, economy and environment that some of us find it difficult,
 if not irresponsible, to remain within our [objective] disciplinary domains,” 

he told a Nov. 14 workshop at The Church of St. John the 
Evangelist (Anglican) Church here. “We have defined the problem, now we need to put all our efforts
 into developing and implementing solutions.”

Dr. Stone is also vice-chair of a working group of the
 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The workshop is part of a series on 
environmental decline and climate change moderated by the Rev. Dr. Mishka Lysack, an Anglican priest and assistant professor of social work at the 
University of Calgary.

Bishop John Chapman of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa, spoke from
 a faith perspective to the over 50 people who attended the workshop,
 entitled, Science and Faith: Climate Change as a Moral Issue.
 “Through the cross, Christ redeemed the world, not just humanity, he said.
 “All has been redeemed.”

It is the theology of the cross that “embraces 
covenant rather than domination,” and one that requires a change in the way
 many Christians think, said Bishop Chapman. 

”Truly, we have been called to a revolution-and I’m thinking of the
 word in terms of how we react to
 one another, how we interact with the established norms that we have
 inherited generation after generation,” he said. “That’s revolutionary and there’s sacrifice when one engages in a revolution.”

The bishop noted that General Synod 2010 in Halifax in June unanimously adopted
 a resolution on climate change that includes joining with other faith
 communities and secular groups to press the federal government to adopt a 
climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40 per cent 
by 2020. In October, in his “charge” to the synod of the diocese of Ottawa, Bishop Chapman said he will ask the diocesan council to form an
 environmental working group to provide information
 and guidance on environmental issues.

In an interview, Dr.
 Lysack said that workshop discussions indicate “people 
want to take action and on many different levels.” Further, he feels that the moral-based
 social movement seems to be at a “tipping point’ where 
people want to take collective action on climate change. What’s needed now, he said, are community structures “that will help us work effectively together, share resources
 and develop a clear, prophetic, as well as a moral voice in 
the public square.” In some ways, he added,” by doing this we may be 
reclaiming the very essence of our faith that perhaps we’ve been out of 
touch with for some time.”

The workshop was held the same day as Conservative senators, in what the
 NDP called “an ambush,” voted down a climate change bill that had been
 passed in the House of Commons. Bill C-311 would have had the government
 establish five-year plans to meet greenhouse gas emission targets by 2050.

Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice and a co-chair
 of the climate change series, told the Journal that for the organizers of 
the meeting, “This vote represents a major defeat in the efforts of
 Canadians to responsibly meet our stated goal to reduce greenhouse gas 
emissions.” He called the vote in the Senate “an indication of the
 current government’s refusal to abide by commitments Canada has already 
made, and shows the profound depths to which this government’s leadership 
on environmental issues has sunk.”

Art Babych is the editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the diocese of Ottawa.


  • Art Babych

    Art is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.

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