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Key to climate change? Sacrifice

Nov. 17, 2010

Speaker says climate change can be combated by love for others that Christ demands

Daniel Cernero | Photo Editor
Dr. Michael Northcott, professor of ethics at the University of Edinburgh, speaks to students and faculty about climate change from a theological perspective Tuesday in Miller Chapel.

By Jade Mardirosian
Staff Writer

Dr. Michael Northcott, professor of ethics at the University of Edinburgh, spoke on the topic of environmental ethics and its effect in the debate on climate change Tuesday night.

The religion and environmental departments hosted Northcott as part of the department of religion's public lecture series.

Northcott began by addressing the obstacles associated with climate change.

"For the North American philosopher, the largest obstacle to international cooperation in this matter is the problem of allocation -- how to divide among the nations the cost or chores of climate change mitigation and adaptation," Northcott said.

He said the moral storm of climate change is greatly affecting those who are the least responsible, those that live in developing worlds. Those people are facing the consequences of the enormous fossil fuel emissions of the rest of the urbanized world.

Northcott said the problem with our world today is people respond to conflicts with evil. He said this is more evident in the international sphere of climate change. Northcott said attempts to find a solution should conclude in the spiritual frame.

"If we respond in love and address climate change by changing our lifestyles and taking on some sacrifices, it will make us better people," Northcott said. "This will take us closer to the ethics of simplicity and the sacrifice for the sake of love for others that Christ demands. We can in this way regain control of this global problem of climate change."

Dr. Susan Bratton, chair of the Baylor environmental sciences department introduced Northcott and described him as one of the leading speakers in the current global debate on climate change.

"Dr. Michael Northcott has made major contributions in the field of environmental ethics," Bratton said.

"He has set the pace for other scholars in dealing with climate change from a theological perspective and is one of the few theologians involved with this dialogue that actually understands the science."

Students and faculty members from many departments attended the lecture, which took place in the Miller Chapel.

The Woodlands freshman Priscilla Mendez attended Northcott's lecture as part of an extra credit assignment for her environmental issues class. She said the lecture related very closely to her class discussions and she found many of Northcott's points to be thought- provoking.

"He talked about how in the end, if we gave a little bit more of a sacrifice in our daily lives, that's going to help make things more sustainable, and I thought that was a pretty cool point."