November 7, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 39  

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God loves trees

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

If God was president of the world, he would make the environment good and stuff - big time.

"Life as we know it will not continue if we continue to have the greenhouse emissions," said Elaine Storkey, a professor in the faculty of theology at Oxford University in England. As part of the Veritas speakers lineup, Storkey was at Western on Wednesday to talk about how environmental degradation is destroying our planet and how many religions - specifically Christianity - are friendly to the global ecosystem.

If nothing is done to halt the release of toxic greenhouse gasses, the world's average temperature will be one to 3.5íC higher at the end of the century, causing water levels to rise anywhere from nine to 88 centimetres, Storkey said, adding these findings came from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an authoritative body of scientists.

"A rise in 50 centimetres will submerge half the coastal wet areas in America," she said, adding cliffs will begin to erode and upstream regions would be flooded.

Human consumption also accounts for a major part of damage to the environment, Storkey said. "People are using 20 per cent more natural resources than we can regenerate.," she said. "[But] consumption is a way of life for many Canadians."

Her advice to the average student? "Don't consume any more than what you need to," Storkey said. "Stop the waste, that's number 1. Then think about your necessary consumption patterns.

"Fundamentally it all boils down to a lack of respect - and total disregard for the future," she stated. "[And] Christians have a theology of respect for the planet."

Storkey said Christians' relationship with God compels them to embrace the environment and treat it with compassion. "A theology of compassion is what we need in the rich, affluent West," she said, adding people have to be less self-interested and to "love your neighbour as you love yourself."

"My problem is that it's too idealistic," said fifth-year biology student, Kevin Carter. "They don't take into consideration the whole picture."



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