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2017 National Science Week Theme – FUTURE EARTH


10.00-11.45am 16 August


The Q/A Panel

  • Professor Peter Rayner, the School of Earth Sciences
  • Professor Brendan Gleeson, the School of Urban Studies
  • Professor Lesley Head from the School of Geography,
  • Associate Professor Grant Blashki, the Nossal Institute of Global Health,
  • Anita Talberg, PhD student Australian-German Climate and Energy College,

all from The University of Melbourne, and,

  • Bishop Mark Edwards, an auxiliary bishop from the Catholic Diocese of Melbourne who has a doctorate in the philosophy of time.

The Panel is again chaired by Mr Tim Thwaites, science writer and broadcaster.

The Q/A will be streamed live.  Schools will be invited to stand and identify themselves.

Students attending should bring questions or preferably send them in advance to sames@unimelb.edu.au

The Future Earth organisation has eight values guiding the way to Future Earth

  • Deliver water, energy, and food for all
  • Decarbonise socio-economic systems to stabilise the climate
  • Safeguard the terrestrial, freshwater and marine natural assets underpinning human well-being
  • Build healthy, resilient and productive cities
  • Promote sustainable rural futures
  • Improve human health
  • Encourage sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Increase social resilience to future threats.

The Cathedral’s contribution to the discussion

One way to organise these eight values

  •  Deliver water, energy, and food for all
  • Build healthy, resilient and productive cities for the 70% of world population  and promote sustainable rural futures for 30% of world population and for both increase social resilience to future threats.
  • This requires avoiding the climate change catastrophe of > 1.50 increase in global temperature and so means:
  • decarbonise socio-economic systems to stabilise the climate;
  • safeguard the terrestrial, freshwater and marine natural assets underpinning human well-being and otherwise improve human health;
  • encourage sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Connecting to your life #1

  •  Do these values and goals connect to your desired future? Does some other future, attract you and if so, what?
  • Given what your family, friends, school, society and culture offer you: what is worth taking with you into the future? Is there anything you would want to leave behind?
  • In seeking to make the future you are also making what you will become. What do you want to become?
  • Besides the eight values are there any other important values for the future of the earth?

Connecting to your life #2

What do you think of the following claims?

  • Everyone is called to love kindness, do justice and walk humbly with God (Micah 6.8). This points towards what it means to be truly human.
  • But it is easy to prefer ‘idols’ as alternatives to God.
  • Worship = ‘worth’ship = everything that shouts out where you find value or worth; i.e., where, and with whom, and on what, you spend your time, energy and money.
  • According to the Bible we become like what we worship and the worship of idols eventually damages our humanity (Psalm 115).
  • In our society, we use the gift of our God-given capacities and God-given earth to make a better life in many, many ways. This is what God wants for us (Genesis1.26-28).
  • But this has turned into a preference for an ever-increasing material success (GDP, living standards) with the earth merely as a resource and without God.
  • This preference benefits some but not others – growing inequality within and between nations. This is not what God wants.  Genesis 1.28, says the earth is given for the benefit all
  • This preference has also had the effect of threatening the wellbeing of the earth, our common home (Pope Francis), and provoking a defiant reaction from the earth as a system that is out of our control (Clive Hamilton).
  • This preference is the worship of an idol and is already damaging our humanity and the earth.          We have ‘lost the plot’ in key ways.
  • The ‘true plot’, for each person and for all people, for the earth and for the whole created universe, comes from God, who has created this life-producing universe and who will bring it to completion in abundant life that does not perish.
  • This God has spoken to human beings in many ways but at last has spoken to us by his Son (Hebrews 1.1-2), who entered the world in Jesus of Nazareth (John 1.1-14). Jesus is the heart of God’s ‘true plot’ for all things. (Ephesians 1.8b-10;3.7-12).  Jesus opens the way into the ‘true plot’ (Mark 1.14-15) and by his death and resurrection this is kept open for all things (Colossians 1.19-20).
  • Jesus calls us all to follow him as the first preference in our lives, now freed from idols to serve God and each other, and so be able to heal the earth we have wounded.
  • All this becomes a sign of the still greater good that is coming.

 Resources for Reflection


  • The Cathedral highlights five other resources for thinking about Future Earth:

Laudato Si, http://catholicearthcare.org.au/ecological-encyclical/the-encyclical-in-schools/ ;


.  Archbishop Justin Welby, Dethroning Mammon, Making Money Serve Grace, (Bloomsbury 2016).

.  Jonathan Cornford, Coming Back to Earth, Essays on the Church, Climate Change, Cities, Agriculture

   and Eating, (Morning Star, Northcote, 2016).

.  Go to: https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/GN1VBvtWXkqot3?domain=opendemocracy.net for,

Kate Raworth, ‘Seven ways to think like a 21st century economist’, from Oxfam.

.  Clive Hamilton, Defiant Earth, The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene, (Allen & Unwin, 2017).