The first event in a series of public lectures by Christian ecological ethicist Byron Smith will be held on Saturday 27 June from 19:30–21:30 at St Georges Anglican Church Paddington.
Byron has presented dozens of seminars, workshops and sermons on climate ethics over the last couple of years. Most of those of necessity had to remain somewhat introductory. This series will enable an argument to be developed at greater depth without needing to establish the basics every time, such as accepting mainstream climate science and the scriptural and theological bases for Christians caring about what we are doing to God’s world.
This first lecture will explore recent ethical and psychological research into why climate change presents a novel constellation of ethically-relevant features that make it very difficult for us to sustain a coherent response. Despite having had a more-or-less clear picture of the threat for three decades or more, global responses remain consistent with a trajectory of rapid warming that may well exceed the ability of many natural and human systems to adapt. Why have we failed so badly? There are many economic, political, geopolitical and legal reasons, but in addition to these, the contours of climate change seem in some ways almost perfectly designed to make sustained ethical engagement difficult. We shall pay particular attention to Stephen Gardiner’s 2011 book “A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change”.
Byron: “As many of you know, I am in the process of writing up my PhD thesis on emotional responses to climate change. These lectures will serve as occasions to present chapters from my work. For all those who have expressed an interest in one day reading my thesis, this is a way of hearing the argument in bite-sized pieces and in a format allowing dialogue.”
“This will not be a presentation with slides aimed at a general audience (as I usually do). It will be me reading/presenting a chapter draft, aimed primarily at an academic audience (though I think most of this chapter will be quite accessible to educated non-specialists).”
“I will be assuming the accuracy of mainstream climate science and the ethical/political challenge of climate injustices, as well as a orthodox Christian theological framework within which asking questions of justice (including ecological justice) find a home. I am of course interested in these questions too, but if anyone is hoping to come and give their own lecture on why climate science is all a hoax, please save it for another context.”
Byron is a husband, and father of two small children. He keeps worms, bees and a compost pile, with a small garden to justify them.
In his spare time, Byron is Assistant Minister at St George’s Anglican Church Paddington, a climate consultant for Common Grace, a co-moderator of the Australian Christian Environmental Group, a fellow of the Centre for Public Christianity, a member of Eco-mission NSW, a regular panellist on Ecofaith radio (Wed 9pm 2bbb.net.au), author of various scholarly articles and book chapters, blogs at nothing-new-under-the-sun.blogspot.com, has joined in creative peaceful actions against new coal projects, and frequently speaks and writes to Christians about following Jesus in the context of climate change and ecological degradation. He occasionally posts on Facebook (mainly pictures of kittens and uplifting motivational quotes).