Managing sustainability

In the August Tasmanian Anglican I wrote regarding the issue of Managing sustainability:

My culinary preferences no longer sustain my health. Getting older has its downside: ‘No’, to hot curries, bungee jumping and fresh bread thick with butter and draped with cheese and salami. ‘Yes’, to an ever increasing array of tablets, responsibilities and rules. But I must stop the list lest I get too cranky!

I am assured that life can be healthier and more sustainable if I change my habits. Now there’s a challenge!

Consumption, not just of food, is part of being alive. Consumption needs managing, stewardship. Stewards, caretakers if you like, we are. God the Creator delegated this responsibility to humankind.

Like me and my personal health, we have not always been as disciplined as we ought to have been. Just look at the land, sea and sky – rubbish everywhere. We have used the sea as a sink, the land as a litter bin and the sky as a chimney to take away our rubbish.

How are we to demonstrate good stewardship in the challenge of climate change?

Management of social, economic and environmental factors, the so-called ‘triple bottom line’, requires skill and sacrifice in a shared commitment.

Environmental research indicates strongly our need to lessen climate change by reducing our carbon emissions. We await the renewal of all things in Christ (Romans 8:20,21) and we acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over all things (Colossians 1:17-20).

Economic stewardship means that the additional costs associated with the proper management of carbon and other waste products will result in higher prices of goods and services from industries that produce large amounts of carbon waste. This is how the pricing mechanism works. It is therefore imperative that those people most affected by the environmental policies are assisted.

The Gospel calls us to care for those who suffer – and there will be suffering through such a radical restructuring of our consumption patterns and society if we are to actually lessen carbon emissions.

Social cohesion requires communication not shouting; transparency not half-truths; vulnerability not defensiveness; and the capacity to affirm the common good no matter who says it first. A healthy church committed to transforming life in the Spirit of Christ has a vital role to play in building a healthy society.

Maintaining stability between these factors as we undertake these changes is a huge stewardship task. Let us not underestimate its demands on all Australians, indeed on all the peoples of this planet.

God in Christ has dramatically and sacrificially committed himself to our world. Will we do that? A healthy church transforming life responds with a resounding, ‘YES!’

May God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, bless, guide and guard our way.

NOTE: For further analysis see Climate Change: Problem or Opportunity? Understanding Climate Change in the Context of the Gospel. This is the text of part of an address given to the Synod of The Anglican Church in Tasmania on 2 June, 2007.

Read the August edition online here, Tasmanian Anglican August 2011.

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