From Canon John Nurser
Sir, - I am surprised that the Christian Church is not (to my
knowledge) making any significant response to the consensus among
scientists that global warming and over-population have now
developed an almost unstoppable momentum.
Yes, synods can and do submit
memoranda to international conferences. But what difference do
these make, when there are elections to be won? Does anyone
seriously suppose that there is the political will in the United
States (or Britain or China) to invest now in the infrastructure
that would make life after road transport bearable?
I believe that a shared community
experience of religious faith - far more than education - is one of
the only fulcrums against which a lever can be imagined that might
still be effective in changing human behaviour. After all, change
is the Christian métier. And Christians are a world-wide community.
We set up a language of global human rights after the Second World
War to provide communities and individuals (without distinction)
with space and time to live and to become. It was intolerable that
packing a town's Jewish population into trains for Auschwitz should
be legal, that there was nothing to be done.
And yet . . . is not our complicity in
"dreaming innocence" about climate change - our conviction that
there is nothing effective we can do (and, meanwhile, let's enjoy
ourselves) - very much of a piece with the mind-set of "decent"
German churchpeople two generations ago? Trains already rumble out
of far-off villages with populations whose farmlands are finally
burnt out. Fairly regularly, as summer ends, we see on television
great hunks of ice flaking off Arctic glaciers into the sea.
London in August was Olympics time. As
circuses go, it was a great success. In the same month in the Royal
Court Theatre, a distinguished professor of computational science,
Stephen Emmott, gave a nightly lecture-performance to a packed
audience on global population - four billion in 1980, and a likely
ten billion to come by century's end.
His conclusion (and he is not a
maverick scientist) was that life on planet Earth is racing to
extinction. In other words, we belong to a generation that will
witness the unfolding of an apocalypse that (in all likelihood) it
is already too late for any human action to stop. We accept that
our grandchildren will be on these trains. And we accept that there
will then be no Bach to be played (or, for that matter, no gospel
to be preached).
I repeat: is it not odd that every
Christian congregation is not raging with anxiety every week at
what we are allowing ourselves to do to God's world?
68 Friars Street
Sudbury CO10 2AG