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Monday, May 31, 2010

World Environment Day Resources

World Environment Day is celebrated every year on 5 June.

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day is "Many species, one planet, one future", to link with 2010 being the International Year of Biodiversity.

To download this year's free resources including fact sheets on biodiversity, endangered species and illegal logging, activities for congregations, worship resources, sermon starters and a theological reflection on the theme go to the UnitingJustice Australia website at or contact:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jessica visits Canberra City Uniting Church Fete

On Saturday the 8th of May 2010, I visited the fete being held at Canberra City Uniting Church. A wide selection of yummy foods, second hand books, clothing, jewellery and household items were available to purchase. It was a wonderful event, and recycling goods like this is very environmentally friendly. When asked how they could improve I had to admit that they were already doing the environment a big favour, and the only change they might like to make would be not using disposable plates and cutlery for the food. We also collected some of the items we thought might be useful to the new university students next semester and we have put these aside to be made available to them.

One of the other really fun activities they had was the opportunity to have your photo taken wearing different international costumes. I thought I would post them here for your amusement. Isn't the sari beautiful? Also, I was excited to get to try on a burqa.

Making the shift: from consumerism to sustainability

The inconclusive outcome of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen highlighted one of the dilemmas of sustainable development – humans will often fail to change their behaviour in the face of scientific evidence about its damaging impacts.

Download Article (990 KB) from

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Christian Ecology Link Prayer for Today

Father, help us to understand that we and all your creation depend for our existence on you and on one another. Teach us how to be good stewards of all that you have given us to tend, and help us to banish from our thinking and actions all greed, selfishness and short-term views.

Interesting Article on the Tragedy of the Commons

To see the article visit

This article by Garrett Hardin was one of my assigned readings for Corporate Sustainability this week. I found it quite interesting as it has some very interesting takes on aspects of this issue. I will not attempt to summarize as I believe it is worth reading the whole article.

One point I would make is that from a theological point of view, if we believe that our conscience, self-discipline and ability to sacrifice for the good of others are gifts from the Holy Spirit, not something genetic, then it should not be possible for natural selection to eradicate conscience among Christians. Nevertheless, this is an interesting concern...

Have a read and let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Behaviour Change for Sustainability: A Matter Of Trust

From the politician promising to act on climate change, through to the door-knocker trying to convince us to sign up to green energy, a certain level of trust needs to be present in order for people to take action on sustainability issues. The very nature of the environmental problems we face means that we are forced to put our faith in the judgment of others in order to see a way forward. By and large, we can’t actually see the CO2 increasing or the Arctic ice shrinking. We have to believe what we are told.

Trust can be defined as the “willingness to be vulnerable” when the trustor is dependent on the trustee for some resources or actions. A quick look at the various situations encountered in the area of environmental sustainability shows us that, under this definition, trust is relevant. At a national level, are we prepared to commit to measures to curb carbon emissions, placing our trust in other countries to do the same? At a local level, are we prepared to pay extra for that cleaning product which says it is kind to the earth?

Lack of trust has indeed been found to be a significant barrier to people acting on climate change and other environmental issues. A 2009 paper by the American Psychological Association found that “ample evidence suggests that many people distrust risk messages that come from scientists or government officials”.

It is clear that efforts to communicate environmental issues, and more importantly to engage people in action, will be more successful if we establish trust. So what are the key elements of trust? A review of the topic by Mayer concludes that 3 elements need to be in place in order for trust to be established

· Ability – a belief that the person in question can deliver on expectations

· Benevolence – a belief that they have our best interests at heart

· Integrity – a belief that they adhere to a set of principles which we find acceptable

It is easy to see how trust can be both won and lost. For instance, if somebody trying to convince us to adopt green behaviours is not walking the talk themselves, then we are likely to question their integrity – leading to a reduction in trust. The outcry over the energy use of Al Gore’s private residence was a good example of this. Likewise, the recent questions raised over the integrity of some of the climate change data produced by East Anglia University has led to a reduction in trust in the scientific community. Most of those who have experienced this reduction in trust would not have any knowledge of the specifics of the research in question, but the perceived violation of scientific integrity is, in itself, enough to undermine trust.

This analysis of trust raises an interesting question about the persistence of skepticism about climate change. It is well documented that over 90% of the worlds climate scientists believe strongly in man-made climate change, however much distrust still exists within the general community. Usually, scientists are seen as a trustworthy profession. Many psychology experiments have shown that donning a white lab coat does wonders for establishing trust and credibility.

The answer may lie in another element of trust – perceived risk. Part of trusting involves making ourselves vulnerable. Mayer proposes that only when our level of trust surpasses our level of perceived risk will we engage in a trusting behaviour. If we are to give ourselves over completely to the most dire predictions of climate scientists, nothing short of a radical transformation of our lifestyle is required. For many, this is the ultimate risk, and therefore the threshold for trust is set extremely high. Any whiff of a chink in the armour of those we are being asked to trust is likely to be seized upon as a reason not to take risk of changing our way of life.

As sustainability promoters, there are steps we can take to ensure that we are seen as credible and trustworthy. Here are some tips for establishing trust:

· Be credible – have facts, evidence and solid arguments prepared. People trust expertise. While passion and idealism are important too, they are not enough on their own.

· Show you care – meeting people at their level and working with them, rather than telling them what to do and being condescending, will help to establish a relationship and show them that you have their interests in mind.

· Walk the talk – people need to see that you are putting your words into action, and are being transparent. Nothing undermines trust like hypocrisy."

This article was sourced from Wake-Up Call, the newsletter of the Awake organisation.
Awake provides psychology-based services to support the development of sustainable behaviour in individuals, groups and organisations. Visit for more info

Christian Ecology Link Prayer for Today

A climate change summit in March 2009 concluded: “Atmospheric CO 2 concentrations are already at levels predicted to lead to global warming of between 2 0 and 2.4 0 C. Current global temperatures are 0.8 0 above pre-industrial levels and, because of the time lag between greenhouse gas emissions and their full effect, we are committed to a further rise of 0.6 0 plus a further rise of 0.5 0 when particulate pollutants in the atmosphere become dispersed.” These figures show that it is not enough just to reduce emissions. We must also extract greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and store them permanently. How?

Important Lessons from the Bible

Why Jesus came:
"that the world might be saved through him"
John 3:17

Who Jesus is going to use to save the world:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."
Romans 8:19

Our role on earth:
"The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it."
Genesis 2:15

The Five Pillars of A Christian Theology of Sustainability

1. God is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation.

2. Covenantal Stewardship (we have a covenant with God as stewards of the earth).

3. The creation-fall-redemption paradigm (God made a good world; human failure broke the relationships between god, man and creation; Christ provides hope for all creation).

4.Bodily resurrection(we will rise with bodies, not as spirits)

5.New Creation (a new Heaven and new Earth refers to a renewal and an earthing of heaven, not starting over).

Adapted from When Enough is Enough: A Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability, Edited by R.J. Berry, Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 2007, Nottingham p43+