Our recent summer of record-breaking extreme weather conditions in Australia has sharply focused our attention on climate change and the challenges a warming planet present us with. While debates on the connections between human activity and climate change continue with gusto, the ethical and spiritual dimensions of climate change are, in comparison, rarely considered by society.
On March 4, the School of Arts and Sciences (NSW/ACT) hosted a research seminar featuring Argentinean Atmospheric Scientist and Carmelite Friar Eduardo Agosta Scarel O.Carm. from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina, Buenos Aires, as the invited speaker.
Fr Scarrel was recently part of the Carmelite delegation to the UN's 2012 Rio +20 Earth Summit. He is an expert in climate change and sustainable development with current research focused on regional climate impacts on agriculture, climate modelling for predicting tornadoes in South America, and the relationship between galactic cosmic rays and climate variability. He also reflects on the relationship between science and faith, and between spirituality and ecology.
Fr Scarel's presentation, entitled' Beyond the limits of Sustainable Development', addressed the latest scientific evidence of global-scale climate change and how 21st century consumption patterns may be directly linked to escalating carbon dioxide emissions and, therefore, the warming of our planet.
The seminar presented the rare opportunity to hear from a speaker who is both theologian and research scientist; part of Fr Scarrel's message to the group of students, academics and visitors attending the seminar was a personal reflection on climate change and sustainability from the perspective of a Carmelite Friar.
"The presentation asked the audience to reflect on the significant ethical and spiritual dimensions of global climate change. This is a timely request when we consider how the problem of global climate change is usually compartmentalised as being either a scientific or political problem alone," said Lecturer in Geography, Dr Duncan Cook.