Anglican environmental leader closes out NPR series

Last month, NPR rounded out its series on the “past, present and future of global warming,” a comprehensive look at climate change co-produced with National Geographic that ran more than 200 stories. The last installment featured an onsite interview with Martin Palmer, an Anglican priest and founder of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation. On the grounds of his carbon-neutral church (it has no heat), he shows the reporter, Christopher Joyce, an ancient yew tree and an old Roman trail while framing his thoughts. Palmer feels that faith–rather than science or politics–is the best place to make an appeal for environmental stewardship.

From the accompanying print write-up, which is not an exact transcript of the radio piece (there’s more in the audio):

After church, Palmer laces up his muddy boots and walks an old Roman path to his home. When Romans lived here, and the climate was warmer, they grew grapes along this path. Experts say the climate will become warm like that again. But Palmer says experts usually don’t know how to get people to do anything about it.

“The predominant model [of] the environmental movement … is sin and guilt, topped by a good dollop of end-of-the-world language,” he says with some disdain.

The better model, he says, is for people to celebrate nature and their place in it. That’s a message that resonates with the United Nations, which is collaborating with the Alliance to organize world faiths around the issue of climate change. U.N. officials say they need people who can speak about climate change straight from, and to, the heart.

Palmer says that’s a job he can do — with help from monks, priests, ministers and clerics of all faiths.

“My understanding of my God — and I work with many, many different religious traditions — is that my God is not there to solve the problems,” Palmer says. “My God is there to say, ‘You are co-creators with me, now… work out what that means.'”

“It is not about, if we pray hard enough to God, he will end climate change. Yes, we should pray to God. We should also get off our backsides, get out there, and do something about it,” he says.

The story is here, and you can click through to the audio there as well.

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