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'Respecting the Earth'

Respecting the Earth Panel  More than 40 people from different denominations participated in a Churches Green Action conference at Plymouth 's College of St. Mark & St. John on 8 th July 2006 . This was one in a series of events to encourage Christians to become more aware and active on ecological and environmental issues, and was arranged by the Exeter Diocesan Council for Church and Society in conjunction with the Conservation Foundation.

Professor Sir Ghillean Prance (former Director of Kew Gardens and now Science Director of the Eden Project) spoke of the devastating effects human exploitation is bringing about across the world: extinction of species, destruction of habitat, increasing desertification and pollution. Over the past 50 years , humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.

Tim Gorringe, Professor of Theology, made the same points, drawing special attention to the Climate Change brought about by industrialisation on a massive global scale. It is not only that we are leaving a poisonous legacy for our children's children, but we are also passing on less productive land for a growing human population. This inevitably leads to injustice and conflict.

Rising sea levels, extreme weather conditions and loss of water locked in glaciers or ice-caps could combine with other factors to produce a change in the Gulf Stream and an inability of Britain (and elsewhere) to support abundant life in the future. All this certainly runs against our central tradition of respecting and working more sustainably with God's Earth.

White Rabbit theatre group performed an excellent production of 'The Edible Planet' - using drama to draw attention to the need to change our lifestyles and policies. We can no longer consume and pay no attention to the consequences - locally or globally. We must think and act for the longer term.

Jackie Young spoke of the initiatives which Plymouth City Council is taking to protect the environment - from street litter to carbon neutrality. In particular she encouraged people to come to the world-famous Earth from the Air photographic exhibition which will be on display in the city centre from 25 th August to 25 th October.

However, there are actions which churches and Christians could and should take to better respecting God's Earth and to leaving a positive legacy for others:


•  reducing our energy demand and investing in renewable resources (e.g. church buildings)

•  travelling less by car and air (transport is a key producer of greenhouse gases)

•  enhancing wildlife and habitats (churchyards, gardens, parks)

•  insulating our homes and switching to efficient appliances

•  using less water and recycling more

•  buying produce from local and fair-traded sources

•  becoming involved in an Eco-Congregation or EcoTeam project

•  recall that God invites us to choose life not death!

A short concluding act of worship included a reading from Job 38, reminding us of the limits to human pretentiousness!

It is hoped that a 'Plymouth Churches Green Action' group will result from the day to arrange further conferences, networking and campaigning.

Contacts :

Martyn Goss (Tel: 01392-294924 / e.mail: )

Mary Conway (Tel: 01752-260856 / e.mail:

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