Waking up to a warming world: prospects for Christian ethical deliberation amidst climate fears
Smith, Byron Glen
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The recent rapid warming of the planet, driven overwhelmingly by human emissions and activities, represents a novel and dire threat to both human and natural systems. It also constitutes an unprecedented global injustice, with those facing the first and, in many cases, the worst impacts being least responsible for causing the problem: the global poor, other species and future generations. Awakening to such a threat also presents a challenge for ethical deliberation, through provoking deep emotional responses that disturb settled identities. In view of all this, the task of ethical deliberation is urgently required. Yet it is itself vulnerable to being derailed by a variety of coping mechanisms that operate to keep the true scale of the problem below the level of our full attention and prevent the necessary frank assessment of what may be required of us. These largely unconscious protective strategies also open the door to those very emotions being exploited by the cultural, economic and political forces primarily responsible for the crisis in the first place. Hence, superficial and inadequate responses proliferate while many feel paralysed into inaction. In the face of this threat to thought, this project seeks to articulate an identity and stance based on Christian theological resources that opens up new space for ethical deliberation in the face of climate fears. Instead of being paralysed by such fears, this thesis argues that fear can instead illuminate and motivate when it is resituated in the service of love through solidarity with the suffering Christ, the poor and with the whole community of creation.