Riazat Butt writes for the Guardian,
People are so paralyzed by fear and selfishness they cannot save the planet, the archbishop of Canterbury said on Sunday during a church service in Copenhagen.
Rowan Williams was preaching in the Danish capital as crucial UN climate change talks entered their second and final week.
He said that fear paralyzed individuals, corporations and governments from making the choices needed to affect real and lasting change.
“We are afraid because we don’t know how we can survive without the comforts of our existing lifestyle. We are afraid that new policies will be unpopular with a national electorate. We are afraid that younger and more vigorous economies will take advantage of us – or we are afraid that older, historically dominant economies will use the excuse of ecological responsibility to deny us our proper and just development.”
Yesterday church bells in Denmark and other countries rang 350 times to represent the figure many scientists believe is a safe level of carbon dioxide in the air: 350 parts per million.
Joining Williams at Copenhagen’s Lutheran cathedral was Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and religious leaders from Tuvalu, Zambia, Mexico and Greenland. Williams, who led the ecumenical service, said a paralyzing sense of fear and selfishness would deny future generations a “stable, productive and balanced world to live in” and instead give them a world of “utterly chaotic and disruptive change, of devastation and desertification, of biological impoverishment and degradation.”
There was even a sense that people were not frightened enough by this apocalyptic vision and cautioned against this approach, saying it would “drive out one sickness with another.”
“It can make us feel that the problem is too great and we may as well pull up the bedclothes and wait for disaster. It can tempt us to blaming one another or waiting for someone else to make the first move,” he added.
But humans were not “doomed to carry on in a downward spiral of the greedy, addictive, loveless behavior” that had brought mankind to this crisis and he urged people to scrutinize their lifestyles and policies and how these demonstrated care for creation. He called on people to consider what a sustainable and healthy relationship with the world would look like