What Insights Might a Public Theology Contribute to the Debate on Climate Change?

Printed in Uniting Church Studies 20, no. 1 (2014):61–81. Not published online; copyright rests with the author.

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The essay accepts that climate change is an urgent reality. It begins with a brief overview of recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other bodies that show the seriousness of climate change and its potential impact. To encourage action on climate change, it is wise to understand the reasons for public and private denial of climate change and the failure to act. Public theology should be as well equipped as possible to offer its insights; suggestions are made. The essay then reviews the potential for positive contributions and insights on climate change from public theology. Public theology offers moral and ethical perspectives, especially in the dimensions of justice, equity, freedom and peace. It offers theological understanding, not only to advocate action but also to contribute meaning and explanation. Some of that meaning comes from an exploration of cosmic worldviews. Public theology also works in the affective dimension and it calls the church to repentance through action.