Environmental crisis forging strange bedfellows

March 14, 2005

New partnerships bridging the boundaries between religion and science must be forged if the world is to avoid ecological collapse because of pollution and human interference, says a University of Toronto professor.

"More and more people are realizing that the situation is now so grave that we have to reach out to communities other than just the scientists and environmentalists," says Stephen Scharper, a professor of environmental studies at U of T's Innis College and anthropology at U of T at Mississauga. "For example, renowned environmentalist David Suzuki is now reaching out primarily to religious communities and the business world as his new target audiences."

In fact, Scharper continues, Republican Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House in Washington has admitted publicly that one of his biggest blunders was not understanding the opposition to his administration's planned rollback of environmental safeguards by the rank and file religious members of his own party.

"Today, many of these same religious yet ecology-minded Republicans are involved in a campaign against gas-guzzling SUVs, asking Americans, 'What Would Jesus Drive?' in an attempt to get consumers into more ecologically sensitive cars," says Scharper, maintaining that this shows that, "both scientists and theologians are bridging the boundaries of science and religion when it comes to the environmental crisis."

Scharper will deliver a lecture of his views at the Walter Gordon Massey Symposium at the Isabel Bader Theatre, Victoria College, U of T, on March 16. The entire text of his research, which was financed in part by a grant from the Connaught Foundation, will be published later in the year by Massey College at U of T.
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CONTACT: Stephen Scharper, 416-978-7433 or 905-569-4912, stephen.scharper@utoronto.ca, Sonnet L' Abbé, U of T Public Affairs, 416-978-0260, sonnet.labbe@utoronto.ca or Michah Rynor, U of T Public Affairs, 416-978-2104, michah.rynor@utoronto.ca.

University of Toronto

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