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A carbon-induced lament

By Peter Catt - posted Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Dear Life/God/Mother Earth.
It's not fair.
I don't like it.
Why does the world have to operate this way?
I like my car and world travel is a blessing for many;
For the only time in eons we have been able to feed billions.
World commerce has given us many benefits.
People of all races and religions are getting to know each other
because we can travel around so easily.
I like tagines.
And yet we are told all this good stuff is ruining the planet.
I don't want to destroy the earth
but I also don't what to lose the life I now enjoy.
It seems so unfair that the two just won't go together.
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And why, O life/Earth/God,
did you put all that wonderful coal, oil and gas in the ground if we weren't meant to use it?
It seems rather cruel to me.
It just not fair.
So I'd like to ignore the climate scientists,
And hope that they are wrong.
Can't you find a way to make the CO2 just go away?
And come back another day.
Not.

The failure of the Doha round of climate talks points to a world gripped by paralysis; the form of paralysis that can grip us when we are in the midst of a mourning process.

In my view it would be really helpful to the process of addressing climate change if we were to acknowledge that we are, in fact, in the midst of a corporate act of mourning. Such an acknowledgement would allow us to develop appropriate grief responses. For it seems to me that too much of the analysis and commentary on climate change is being delivered in moralising tones. 'Oughts' and 'Shoulds' rarely help those in grief.

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We are in the midst of a corporate grieving process and will not be able to move forward until we begin to acknowledge and work through that process.

As we know, grief and loss can be tricky experiences to negotiate. They are stressful. And psychologists suggest that often times the stress makes adults behave like adolescents: self-absorbed, selfish and emotional. Hence the nature of the so called 'Climate Change Debate'.

The reality of Climate Change is not hidden from most of us and yet we can also see that addressing it might see us lose parts of life that are very important to us. The carbon-fed economy has given us huge benefits and has largely created the life we enjoy today. And enjoy it we do. We are uncertain as to whether an alternative might exist. So we are playing all sorts of games in our heads to avoid coming to terms with the reality that is thrusting its ugly face into ours. Our response is no different to the way loved ones standing at the death bed speak of what they and the one who is dying might do together at Christmas. We desperately want life as we know it to go on.

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About the Author

Peter Catt is the President of A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia). He is also Dean of St John's Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane.


From 1997 to 2007 Peter was the Dean of Grafton. He helped establish and run the International Philosophy, Science and Theology Festival, which was held at Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton. He holds a PhD in evolutionary microbiology from the University of NSW and a BD from the Melbourne College of Divinity.

Peter's interests include Christian Formation, liturgical innovation, the interaction between science and religion, and Narrative Theology. He is a member of a number of environmental and Human Rights organisations and serves on Anglican Social Justice Committees at both Diocesan and National level.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Peter Catt

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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