WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Book review: Papers from a climate change conference

Climate Change: the agenda for mission today
Papers and Reports of the Columban International Climate Change Conference held in Manila, Philippines September 2007. Ed Patrick McMullan, published by the Missionary Society of Saint Columban.
Reviewer Marcellin Wilson rsm

An organisation such as the Columban Fathers who have been missionaries to some significant countries has credibility when its members speak of society’s needs.
Therefore I was not surprised to find that the Columbans had published this informative collection of papers and reports from their International Conference in Manila 2007.

When you want to know about a situation in society, it is wise to listen to those who have had years of experience at the coalface of the villages, plantations, barrios, favela and city slums.
Surely those who have participated in the lives of the peoples of South America, Korea, Philippines, China, Pakistan, Taiwan, Fiji, Brazil and Peru, even to the extent, in some cases, of being imprisoned for challenging oppressive authorities, need to be listened to. They have something pertinent to say about the impact of climate change on these growing nations of the world.

It is worth noting that the Columban International Conference predates the Copenhagen International Conference by five years and also the Caritas International Conference on Climate Justice ‘Seeking a Global ethic’. There is a keen sense of urgency in these papers and reports.

These writings reflect more than the scientific theory about the impact of climate change; they apply the critique of the gospel of Christ to the events of our day. They ask us to recognise that climate change has a moral dimension and that the application of a strong social justice theology would reveal that we must respond to the direct attack being made on our universe by ignorance and greed.

To quote John Din in his paper ‘Climate Change and the option for the Poor’, ‘It is humanity’s systematic use of fossil fuels under modern development systems that is causing earth to heat up.

‘So a Catholic response must be equally systematic as it seeks to understand, expose modern economic systems that push energy intensive lifestyle choices and act to address human causes of climate change’ p263.
He then proceeds to draw on the well known social analysis tool of see, judge and act. He ends by providing three reference books published in Australia by Flannery, Diesendorf and Howard.

Each of these books has been published within the last four years and deserves our attention for a more comprehensive understanding of climate change in our region.

For those who understand the prophetic dimension of the present call to ‘comfort the earth’ there will be much to consider in this publication where the vision of the missionary collides with the reality of the world’s challenge to begin to address the causes of climate change.
The website is missionagenda.com and the price quoted there is $20 including postage.