The Mediterranean and Climate Change
Here’s the latest blog from our Director of Studies, Dr Rebecca Watson, who attended an enlightening symposium at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, on ‘The Mediterranean and Climate Change: Fate of the Planet in the Future of “Our Sea’.
“I had a wonderful time, hearing from and speaking to a wide range of interesting people from all manner of specialisms. The day began with a talk about an architectural project in Malta, the designing of a carbon-neutral brewery, which used traditional methods and materials and the use of vents in the roof to create an updraft and to enable warm air to be expelled from the building overnight. The first panel included an exploration of the importance of the health of the Venice’s lagoon (including keeping out cruise ships) for the protection of its historic buildings, a talk about the challenges of saving coastal world heritage sites, and a very clear explanation of the climate of the Mediterranean, including both the historical pattern of currents and temperature variations and how this might change in a warming climate. In the second panel, participants shared their views on the very serious geopolitical implications of climate change, including questions of migration, conflict, energy and water security and the prospects for co-operation and collective action. I was part of the third panel, which included a whistle-stop survey of climate change in Europe since the Late Bronze Age, reflections on the role of the media, and discussion also of the value of literary responses to the crisis.
“In my own contribution, I talked about the importance of values and belief in shaping a response to the climate crisis. I then pointed to areas where the Bible can help: through the value placed on creation (e.g. Gen. 1) and concern for the poor (as emphasised particularly in the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si’), but also through its recognition of humans as having their existence bound up within the natural world, and indeed its awareness of our fragility and limitations (e.g., Job 28, 38-41). The theology of chaos and the strong thread of hope which runs through both Testaments can also help us cope with disaster and a changing reality. I finished up by talking about different interpretations of Noah’s flood in the light of climate change, ranging from denial (based on a rather narrow interpretation of God‘s promise never again to flood the earth) to the importance of action (modelled after Noah building the Ark), judgment and guilt (the flood as due to human sin) or even the thought that maybe elites are in a metaphorical Ark, escaping the worst consequences of their actions whilst the poorest and most vulnerable drown.”