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 issue. 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.