A Christian Apporach to Climate Change

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Transcript A Christian Apporach to Climate Change

The Christian Response to
Climate Change
 The
Science (The Facts)
 The Theology
 Action for Change
• Personal,
• Community,
• Beyond Community
4 Recent Events
Premier Pete in the election campaign promises
a Category 5 cyclone-proof building in every
town in Qld north of Mackay due to Global
warming predictions.
 South American Glaciers melting
Hole in Ozone Closing
 El
Nino Returns
Part 1:
The Science
Australian Catholic Bishops 2005
Climate Change Our Responsibility to Sustain God's Earth
Bishop Christopher Toohey
Chair of Catholic Earthcare Australia
Member Bishops Committee for Justice Development Ecology & Peace
Member Bishops Committee for Family & Life
Archbishop John Bathersby
Deputy President Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Chair Bishops Committee for Justice Development Ecology & Peace
Deputy Chair Catholic Earthcare Australia
Archbishop Adrian Doyle
Chair Caritas Australia
Chair Bishops Committee for Social Welfare
Member Catholic Earthcare Australia
Bishop Christopher Saunders
Chair Australian Social Justice Council
Member Bishops Committee for Evangelisation & Missions
Bishop Eugene Hurley
Chair Bishops Committee for Family & Life
Deputy Chair of Caritas Australia
Bishop Patrick Power
Member Bishops Committee for Media Deputy Chair Australian Social Justice Council
Australia's 5 million Catholics are as morally
bound to combat the loss of biodiversity as they
are to protect the rights of the unborn child.
Rapid climate change as the result of human
activity is now recognised by the global
scientific community as a reality.
People around the world are experiencing the
impacts of increasing land temperatures, rising
sea levels, and a change in the frequency of
extreme climatic events.
Australian Catholic Bishops 2005
The chemical composition of the atmosphere
cloaking our Earth is being changed by pollution
caused by human activity. The resultant
chemical substances strengthen what is called
the greenhouse effect.
As a result, Earth's climatic patterns are being
altered at a pace not experienced in at least
10,000 years.
Atmospheric conditions are now outside the
envelope they have occupied for the last 400,000
It is entirely feasible that in 100 years time
Earth’s climate will be more like it was 20 million
years ago.
Fr Denis Edwards
Fr.Denis Edwards MA
Fordham, STD, CUA - is
a senior lecturer in
systematic theology in the
School of Theology of
Flinders University. He
teaches for Catholic
Theological College
within the ecumenical
consortium of the
Adelaide College of
Divinity. He is a priest of
the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Adelaide.
Tim Flannery: The Australian: “Climate calamity
forecast by end of century”
 By the end of the century, temperatures will have risen
by 3 degrees
 The cause: our use of fossil fuels
 Australia burns more fossil fuel per capita and exports
more coal than any other nation
 50% of CO2 emissions come from cars.
 3 degree rise: the loss of world heritage areas and
coral reefs and our cities under increasing water
stress. The Murray could dry up, and seas could rise
by up to 6 metres
 2 degree rise: loss of places like Kakadu and our
mountain rain forests, with their fauna; the extinction
of the polar ecosystems
Humans as Agents of Climate Change
1992: Governments, including Australia, signed UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change
Under this convention, research of hundreds of
scientists from many countries assembled in
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Its 4th report is due in 2006. Its 3rd report (2001),
states: “there is new and stronger evidence that
most of the warming observed over the last 50 years
is attributable to human activities”
Human activities will continue to change
atmospheric conditions during the 21st century
Humans as Agents of Climate Change
Global average temperatures and sea levels are
projected to rise under all IPPC scenarios
Increase in global average surface temperature of
between 1.4--5.8 degrees C over the century
Global average temperature: increased 0.75 of a
degree C during the period of extensive
measurement beginning in late 1800’s
About 0.5 has occurred after 1950
Climate modeling by CSIRO’s Division of
Atmospheric Research: average temperatures
across Australia will increase 1-2 degrees by 2030
and 3-4 degrees by 2070
Air Temperature
Dr Janette Lindesay
School of Resources, Environment & Society
Global air temperature: annual average
Temperature trends in global context
Air temperature over 1,000 years
Air temperature & CO2 over 400,000 years
What suggests that it’s us?
Years Before Present
CO2 concentration
For 420,000 years the CO2
concentration in the atmosphere
remained within tight bounds
Australia’s future climate?
Modelled ranges of average annual warming
(°C) for ca 2030 and 2070, relative to 1990
Delayed responses in the system …
Australian air temperature: annual average
Sea Levels
Dr Brendan Mackey, Reader
School of Resources, Environment
and Society/Faculty of Science
Email: [email protected]
Rapid Climate Change Impacts on Sea Level
Human-forced rapid climate change is real and is happening. The
planet is and will continue to get warmer and global climate systems
will change rapidly over the coming years, decades and centuries.
There is scientific uncertainty about whether the planet will overall
get wetter or drier, which regions will get wetter or drier, and when
these changes will occur.
There is less scientific uncertainty about changes in sea level:
Thermal expansion of water
Ice melt
Lag affect
New research is emerging every week…
The first image shows the minimum sea ice concentration for the year 1979,
and the second image shows the minimum sea ice concentration in 2003.
Images: NASA
Source: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/10/24/1066631611744.html
South America’s Glaciers
Now melting glaciers are of concern for millions of
people in South America.
 If the Andean glaciers continue to melt at the current
pace, it will have a severe impact on fresh water
 The expected water shortages are also threatening food
supplies across Colombia, Peru, Chile, Venezuela,
Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia.
 The findings are contained in a report called Up in
smoke, compiled by a coalition of 20 non-government
 Catherine Pearce is an international climate campaigner
with Friends of the Earth. ABC radio national 30th August
Greenland Ice Sheet: Increase in Area Melted in Summer, from
1992 to 2002. (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, 2004)
Orange area = melt-zone
Why will sea levels increase?
Thermal expansion of ocean water due to:
An increase in average global temperature, and the transferring of thermal
energy from the atmosphere to the oceans thereby warming the ocean
waters. As water warms, its volume expands.
Changes in how energy is distributed between atmosphere and oceans and
between oceans.
Ice cap and glacier melt
Melting ice will only cause a sea level rise when the ice melts from land.
Thus,the arctic ice cap melting will not cause an increase in sea levels.
But, Greenland melting will:
Projected changes in global mean sea levels
See: http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/~tk/climate_dynamics/fig4.gif
What does this mean for people?
Low lying coastal countries vulnerable
Low-lying coastal countries are threatened by rising sea level. A one meter
rise in sea level would:
Inundate half of Bangladesh's rice land. Bangladeshis would be forced to
migrate by the millions.
Other rice growing lowlands which would be flooded include those of
Viet Nam, China, India and Thailand. Millions of climate refugees could be
created by sea level rise in the Philippines and Indonesia.
In Egypt, a 1m sea level rise will affect 6 million people with 12-15% of
agricultural land lost,
Around 72 million in China are estimated to be affected by a 1m rise.
We have an appropriate international policy instrument: United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
“The ultimate objective of this convention and any related legal
instruments …is to achieve…stabilization of greenhouse gas
concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would
prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the
climate system. Such a level should be achieved with a
timeframe sufficient to…ensure that food production is not
threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a
sustainable manner.”
“The developed country parties commit themselves specifically… [to]
adopt national policies and take corresponding measures on
the mitigation of climate change, by limiting its anthropogenic
emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting and enhancing its
greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs. These policies and measures
will demonstrate that developed countries are taking the lead
in modifying longer term-term trends in anthropogenic emissions
with the objective of the Convention…”
The Parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of
present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of
equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated
responsibilities and respective capabilities. Accordingly, the developed
country parties should take the lead role in combating climate change
and the adverse effects thereof.”
“The parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate,
prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its
adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible
damage. Lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a
reason for postponing such measures…”
A challenge for all Australians
Ultimately we have no choice. The longer we wait to respond, the
more the world’s vulnerable will suffer, and the more costly will be
the solutions.
Australia’s governments need to develop and promote policies and
programmes that will dramatically reduce our emissions of
greenhouse gases.
The Australian government and people should adopt a
“good neighbour” approach and begin now to help our
friends in the Oceania region who are suffering and will
continue to suffer from sea level rises and other
consequences of rapid global climate change.
The Weather
Tony McMichael
National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health
The Australian National University
Email: [email protected]
Increasing power of tropical cyclones over past 30 years
in Nth Atlantic – relationship to sea-surface temperature
Power Dissipation Index, PDI
= f (wind speed3)
Change in
power (PDI),
and Temp oC
0.8 oC rise
September sea-surface
temperature, SST
Emanuel K. Nature 2005; 436: 686-8
Kerry Emanuel has recently reported a striking inter-annual
correlation between the destructive power of storms and sea-surface
temperatures, after calculating the total potential destructive power
over the life of storms each year since about 1950. The annual total
energy dissipated by tropical cyclones over the past 30 years in the
North Atlantic has approximately doubled, and this has primarily
reflected an increase in the intensity, not frequency, of cyclones.
This accords with basic atmospheric physics: heat is energy, and as
the sea surface warms, so the developing cyclones acquire more
Cyclone Larry (Category 5) largest cyclone in recorded history in
North Queensland March 2006
Cyclone Monica (Category 5) a “perfect cyclone” larger and worse
than cyclone Larry , North Queensland and Northern Territory April
Health impacts in
floods (deaths and injuries)
diarrhoeal disease
dengue fever
Tony McMichael
National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health
The Australian National University
Email: [email protected]
Modelled ranges of annual
rainfall change
Drier 2030 Wetter
-60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60
Rainfall Change (%)
Drier 2070 Wetter
Projected 20-40%
decline by midcentury
CSIRO Atmospheric Research, 2002
-60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60
Rainfall Change (%)
Estimates of the flood risk in 2020, relative to baseline,
for the “mid” emission scenarios
Scenario: A1B (mid), CSIROMK2
Legend: Rel
5 - 18
Scenario: A1B (mid) CSIROMK2
Risk reduced below current level
Risk increased by 510-fold above current
Heatwave: Maximum
Temperature, August 10, 2003
& Spain
Climate Change and Infectious Disease
 Many
infectious diseases are climatesensitive – especially vector-borne diseases
 Some recent changes in ID patterns may
reflect influence of climate change:
Tick-borne encephalitis (Sweden)
Cholera in Bangladesh
Malaria in east African highlands
Time-trends in food-borne (infectious) disease
Climate Change and the
Global Burden of Disease
WHO World Health Report 2002 estimated
that, in 2000, global climate change was
already responsible, in developing countries,
2.4% of diarrhoeal disease
 Up to 6-7% of malaria and dengue in specified
groups of high-risk countries
 Substantial declines in regional food yields
(and, therefore, levels of malnutrition)
The Health of the Planet
The Gaia hypothesis,
scientifically referred to as earth
system science, is a class of
scientific models of the geobiosphere in which life as a whole
fosters and maintains suitable
conditions for itself by helping to
create an environment on Earth
suitable for its continuity.
 The Gaia hypothesis,
scientifically referred to as earth
system science, is a class of
scientific models of the geobiosphere in which life as a whole
fosters and maintains suitable
conditions for itself by helping to
create an environment on Earth
suitable for its continuity
 New book The Revenge of Gaia
· 137 species are estimated to go extinct each day
· 50,000 species are estimated to go extinct each year
· 78 species were on the original U.S. endangered species list
· 1,201 species were on the U.S. endangered species list as of
October 1999
· 43 percent of endangered and threatened animals in the U.S.
depend on wetlands
· 40 percent of all modern medicines are either modelled on or
synthesized from natural compounds derived from various species
· 95 percent of known plant species have yet to be screened for
their medicinal values
· 30 million species of plants and animals -- more than half of all life
forms on our planet -- live in rainforests
Climate change is not just one more environmental
problem and incidental health hazard.
CC will disrupt various natural systems that affect
human health: regional food production, constraints on
infectious agents, patterns of heat stress, exposure to
extreme weather events (cyclones, floods, fires, etc.).
Primary reason for concern is that, increasingly, CC
will endanger healthy life and, for many, survival.
Awareness of risks to health should galvanise our
commitment to seeking sustainability.
Five Issues in Climate
Change for Christians
Presentation by Dr. David G. Hallman,
Climate Change Programme Coordinator, World Council of Churches
Web-site: www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/jpc/ecology.html
are to respond to God’s love by caring for that which is loved by God.
Working for the common good
God loves Creation.
Theological &
Climate Change –
science, impacts
and policy
Joint science academies statement: Global response to climate changeIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Impacts on the
most vulnerable
Pacific Small Island StatesDeveloping country impacts
Faith Communities
– responses and
to climate change as a spiritual issue
Education within faith communities
Faith-based relief and development agencies
Collaboration in ecumenical advocacy initiatives
Australian Catholic Bishops 2005
It raises serious moral and spiritual questions,
not just for Catholics but for all Australian
citizens and leaders, and calls for change in our
way of life.6
 Several times we have addressed environmental
issues and recently called for ecological
conversion.8 We now urge Catholics as an
essential part of their faith commitment to
respond with sound judgements and resolute
action to the reality of climate change.
We are intimately interconnected with the whole lifesystem of the planet and the complex interaction
between living creatures and the atmosphere, the land
and the water systems.
We need to keep in mind the Precautionary Principle:
Where there are threats of serious or irreversible
damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be
used as a reason for postponing remedial measures.
Its application in science, law and politics is a
minimal requirement if wisdom and prudence are our
We now face an unavoidable rapid change in
global climate and all the consequences that
will bring. If we act now the changes can be
slowed and ultimately halted and harm can
still be minimised.
Restraint, penance and self-imposed
limitations are part of authentic human living
and are in the tradition of choosing sacrifice
for the greater good.
Consumers send powerful signals to the market by
their greenhouse-friendly choice of goods and
services. We dream of a fuller view of humanity,
greater than a mere owning of more material goods.
As one of the world’s biggest emitters, per capita, of
greenhouse gases, Australians have a particular
duty to recognise the fact that they are directly
implicated in the causes of atmospheric pollution
which is harming the many innocent peoples of the
Pacific region. Ironically, the ecological footprint of
the victims is considerably lighter than our own.
That’s all,
Norman Lindsay’s “Albert, the Magic Pudding”: never
depleted; endless slices available – i.e., the way that too
many of us still view the world.
Made by Faith Community Participants during
the Montreal Climate Conference
December 4, 2005
We hear the call of the Earth.
We believe that caring for life on Earth is a spiritual commitment.
People and other species have the right to life unthreatened by
human greed and destructiveness.
Pollution, particularly from the energy-intensive wealthy
industrialised countries, is warming the atmosphere. A warmer
atmosphere is leading to major climate changes. The poor and
vulnerable in the world and future generations will suffer the most.
We commit ourselves to help reduce the threat of climate change
through actions in our own lives, pressure on governments and
industries and standing in solidarity with those most affected by
climate change.
We pray for spiritual support in responding to the call of the Earth.