Anglican Leader Warns of Ecological 'Doomsday'

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that the world faces an ecological "doomsday" if the issues of climate change and the environment are ignored.

Speaking at a lecture in York Minster on Wednesday, Dr. Rowan Williams said wealthy countries had a responsibility to deal with environmental issues for the sake of the poorest in the world and for future generations.

"Ecological questions are increasingly being defined as issues of justice ... both to those who now have no part in decision-making at the global level yet bear the heaviest burdens as a consequence of the irresponsibility of wealthier nations, and to those who will succeed us on this planet – justice to our children and grandchildren," said Williams, who speaks frequently about environmental issues.

"The ecological crisis challenges us to be reasonable ... If you live in Bangladesh or Tuvalu, skepticism about global warming is precisely the opposite of reasonable: 'negotiating' this environment means recognizing the fact of rising sea levels ... for us to be reasonable and free and responsible is for us to live in awareness of our limits and dependence."

The Archbishop said that change was possible only if there was a "radical change of heart," in which human beings limit the damage they do to the environment but still leave a "secure space" for nature to continue unharmed by human interference.

He added that the world faced a number of "doomsday" scenarios where "the ultimate tragedy is that a material world capable of being a manifestation in human hands of divine love is left to itself, as humanity is gradually choked, drowned or starved by its own stupidity."

Moreover, people should not expect God to solve everything without playing their own part in solving environmental issues, he added.

"I think that to suggest that God might intervene to protect us from the corporate folly of our practices is as unchristian and unbiblical as to suggest that he protects us from the results of our individual folly or sin," he said.

"God's faithfulness stands, assuring us that even in the most appalling disaster love will not let us go - but it will not be a safety net that guarantees a happy ending in this world."

Williams is among several Anglican bishops supporting a "Carbon Fast" this lent season. He has urged believers to reduce carbon emissions with energy saving actions.