Face truth about fossil fuels, Bishop Toohey says

Responding to a major UN report on climate change, Bishops' Commission for Justice and Service chair Bishop Chris Toohey says that it is time to face the "uncomfortable truth" about reforming the production and use of energy.

A combination of the best spiritual direction and theological reflection is required to change our attitudes towards the environment, says Wilcannia Bishop Chris Toohey, according to a Catholic Weekly report.

"We are the caretakers of the land and the caretakers of our spiritual tradition", he told the Weekly, adding that we need to "keep a balance that is scientifically and religiously well grounded".

"We need to listen to the very best science that we can and reflect on the very best spiritual direction and theological reflection that we have got," he said.

"Put those things together and we will have a clearer idea of how we need to behave and what actions we need to take."

Bishop Toohey was responding to a report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warns that a turbulent future of violent storms, devastating drought, higher temperatures and rising sea levels linked to greenhouse gas emissions is inevitable.

The report, considered to be the most authoritative evaluation of climate change yet produced, details six scenarios under which temperatures are predicted to rise by at least 1.1 degrees and possibly as much as 6.4 degrees by 2100.

Bishop Toohey, Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes, said we need to accept this "uncomfortable truth" and think about the way we produce and consume energy.

"We are in situation that requires remedial attention," he said.

"We aren't quite sure exactly how we are going to do it.

"We have to reform the way we produce and consume energy without costing jobs and wrecking the economy.

"It's not an easy call.

"But unless we do we will wreck the economy anyway. It's a situation that demands attention."

He added: "We like life to be predictable and simple. But this something that we have never faced before and we aren't entirely sure how to handle it. And yet we know we have to do something and can't continue to consume fossil fuels the way we are without the consequences being felt."

The report said human-caused warming and rises in sea levels "would continue for centuries" because the process has already started, "even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilised".

Reform our energy use or else, bishop warns

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8 Feb 2007