Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Preston Manning: Christians Have Responsibility to Environment

Manning makes pitch for theological environmentalism

Speaking at a recent conference at Calgary's Rocky Mountain College, Preston Manning sent a message to Albertan Christians:

He wants them to get involved in the environmental debate.

Manning seems to think that the environmental debate -- up to and including the purported "climate crisis" -- could benefit from having a distinct Christian voice join the debate.

"We've got a window of time now to reflect on how we should be responsibly developing our resources," Manning mused. "And we as Christians can bring a distinctive approach to acting as mediators which is rooted in our faith."

But Manning reminds Christians that they don't have the option of attempting to remain neutral in the debate.

"Jesus communicates constantly between God and man. As a mediator, He sacrifices His own interests to bring the parties together. He's not an aloof third party weighing the arguments of both sides," he continued.

Manning's model -- one could think of it as a form of theological enivronmentalism -- involves two principles: "creation care" and responsible energy development.

Manning's notion of "creation care" is a fairly simple one: Christians, who believe that the Earth is God's creation, have a responsibility to ensure that the Earth is well taken care of.

This comes a long way from Ann Coulter's "Earth is yours. Here, take it. Rape it. It's yours."

The other principle of Manning's theological environmentalism embodies considerably more detail. Developing energy responsibly must go far beyond the development of existing resources. It must also mandate the improvement of energy efficiency, as well as the development of alternative -- renewable -- energy sources.

Intriguingly, Manning seems to have endorsed a policy similar to Stephane Dion's Green shift carbon tax.

"Don't call it a tax, call it a price and don't tell people that it's revenue-neutral," Manning warned. "Be honest. Tell people it's going to cost you, but then convince them that putting a value on clean air and clean water is worth it."

In other words, Manning, like many economists, favours putting a price on carbon emissions, although he seems to draw the line short of rearranging Canada's tax structure around such a notion, and would remind any politicians willing to champion such an initiative to be prepared to take the inevitable political risk of being honest about it -- something Stephane Dion and the Liberal party declined to do.

Manning has also drawn attention to a significant generation gap in those who understand the importance of mediating between the environment and the economy.

"In boardrooms and cabinet rooms, those under 35 already have the environment and the economy integrated," Manning concluded. "The older generation has a lot of difficulty grasping that reality. We have to encourage and support our children as they start to lead the way."

Which makes a certain amount of sense. Considering the argument that each generation only holds the Earth in trust for the next generation, it only makes sense for people younger and younger to lead this debate.

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