On Saturday 20th at St Mark's Anglican Church in Spotswood, Ethos Environment ran a day on biodiversity in honour of it being the year of biodiversity. There was a rather small but enthusiastic turn out for some good presentations.
Jess Morthorpe, a Christian environmentalist who started the Five Leaf Eco-Awards gave an excellent summary of biodiversity, it's value and the things that threaten it (pollution, global warming, land clearing and habitat fragmentation, etc). It was fairly non-technical but comprehensive. Her blog is here.
I gave a talk addressing why we would want to waste energy developing a theology of biodiversity when it should be obvious we just need to get on with it. Apart from the fact that many Christians work under a dualistic framework or under the fear of paganism, there are apologetic and evangelistic opportunities when we actively engage. As the late Rob Frost noted (UK evangelist) 'When Christians take the earth seriously, people take the gospel seriously'.
Based on Genesis 1 and Psalm 104 I tried to develop a transcendent ethic of biodiversity based on a theocentric perspective. A paper may appear in Zadok Perspectives and Papers.
Amar Breckenridge gave an excellent introduction to the economic issues. He highlighted the difficulty of including the costs of biodiversity since they are a public good rather than a private good that can be included in the market. For those who don't know much economics it was a nice general introduction. Amar also highlighted the various places where the Christian faith can have input into what is essentially an utilitarian ethical framework.
Marion Mortimer is a school teacher who recently went on an Earthwatch trip to the Daintree in north Queensland, and gave an inspired and enthusiastic talk on the work they do and the risks biodiversity faces as the planet warms.
Finally, Johnathan Cornford of Manna Gum spoke about issues of development in the developing world, and the complex relationship between development, quality of life and biodiversity. He spoke at length about the Mekong Delta where dams have raised GDP via electricity export but certain groups have experienced poverty and biodiversity has decreased as a result. This links human and creation's needs.
The audio will be available for these talks at some point. We are interested in how we might best run similar events either face to face or using Web technologies in future, so be in touch!