Plato advised: Leave it to the experts and Aristotle: Trust it to the wisdom of the people themselves.
The Progressive Christian Network WA conducted a very successful ‘Sustainability Now’ workshop at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church on 8 June. The inaugural event was dedicated to the First Peoples of Australia and the late Dr Bernard Bowen, a lifelong member of the Uniting Church, whose scientific legacy will benefit generations to come.
Over 70 people engaged with a range of eminent speakers.
Fr Rod Bower, activist and Rector of Gosford Anglican Church, set the religious theme with the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden as a sign that humankind was not to consume all that nature provides, to value the Sabbath for a sense of belonging to a wider community and the feeding of the five thousand; a story of creating abundance in the face of scarcity.
Prof Jorg Imberger, Civil Engineer, reflected on how unconstrained economic and population growth is threatening the paradise of Western Australia; evidenced by the impacts of excessive deforestation on pollution, warming and declining rainfall. He gave an alternative vision where the richness of all the elements of sustainability become WA’s marketable commodities.
Caterina Aniere introduced us to Millennium Kids, an environmental youth organisation that empowers young people with a multicultural ‘skills for life’ approach to becoming leaders and change-agents in their communities which she co-founded.
After a Q and A session and morning tea, lawyer Robyn Glindemann spoke on the importance of laws for the sound environmental practices needed for ecologically sustainable development, that would benefit both Australians, but also the international community and environment.
Hon Julian Grill, former member of the Parliament of WA, outlined the key to environmental achievements from his time in Government; from electrification of the Perth-Fremantle railway, establishing substantial marine reserves and a sustainable fishing industry as a result of excellent scientific input from academia and civil servants. Concluding that effective Government requires proactive leaders of integrity and enthusiasm.
Following a further Q and A and lunch break, Prof Peter Newman, environmental scientist, author and educator, compared the collapse of ancient Babylon from environmental degradation with a modern city, offering the possibilities of reduced CO2 emissions from the expanding use by citizens of renewable energy from roof top solar and lithium energy storage, powering more efficient homes and private and public transportation.
Dr Mark Andrich, founder and CEO of Sustainable Platform, introduced his service enabling investors to drive change towards a sustainable future through selection of environmentally friendly superannuation investments.
Concluding the workshop, Dr Dean Revell, Science Consultant, disclosed how carbon credits from the Government’s emission reduction fund could enable much of Australia’s vast land area to be used to extract global CO2 from the air by Carbon Farming and grazing techniques which increase the storage of carbon in vegetation and soil.
There were free and open discussions throughout the day which all found informative, thought provoking and motivating within an attractive religious setting confirming that sustainability was the challenge for which religion was born.
Richard Smith is the Chairperson of the Progressive Christian Network WA