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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pontifical workshop in May, 2014: "Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature"

.As Catholics and the world wait for news on the Successor of Peter, the Church looks to the future in other ways, too. For Catholic ecologists, that means May, 2014 when the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences will hold a major joint workshop on sustainability.

The event, Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature, will be held on May 2nd through the 6th. Event coordinators are V. Ramanathan, Partha S. Dasgupta, Roland Minnerath.

Here's the opening of the event summary:
Are Humanity's dealings with Nature sustainable? What is the status of the Human Person in a world where science predominates? How should we perceive Nature and what is a good relationship between Humanity and Nature? Should one expect the global economic growth that has been experienced over the past six decades to continue for the foreseeable future? Should we be confident that knowledge and skills will increase in such ways as to lessen Humanity's reliance on Nature despite our increasing economic activity and growing numbers? Is the growing gap between the world's rich and world's poor in their reliance on natural resources a consequence of those growths? 
Contemporary discussions on the questions are now several decades old. If they have remained alive and are frequently shrill, it is because two opposing empirical perspectives shape them. On the one hand, if we look at specific examples of what one may call natural capital, there is convincing evidence that at the rates at which we currently exploit them, they are very likely to change character dramatically with little advance notice. The melting of glaciers and sea-ice are recent symptoms. On the other hand, if we study trends in food consumption, life expectancy, and recorded incomes in regions that are currently rich and in those that are on the way to becoming rich, resource scarcities wouldn't appear to have bitten so far.
The event’s goal is later stated:
Our idea is not to catalogue environmental problems. We propose instead to view Humanity's interchanges with Nature through a triplet of fundamental, but inter related Human needs – Food, Health, and Energy – and ask our respective Academies to work together to invite experts from the natural and the social sciences to speak of the various pathways that both serve those needs and reveal constraints on Nature's ability to meet them.
Once again, Church leaders at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and their sister Academy of Social Sciences are demonstrating what New Evangelization looks like—engaging culture where it struggles most. Of course, all of us can and should do likewise within our national, diocesan, and local churches.

Stay tuned to these pages for more on this joint workshop as details emerge.

But for now, may God bless the organizers of this most excellent foray into the great questions of our day—questions of life, sustainability, and human dignity.

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