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The Challenge of Food Sustainability: Preserving Biodiversity, Forests, Cropland, Water

Sponsored by The Diocese of Virginia, Committee on Stewardship of Creation
Church of Our Saviour, Charlottesville, Virginia
September 21, 2013: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m


The 2013 Interfaith Conference of the Committee on Stewardship of Creation explored, as a follow-on to its 2012 Conference, the challenges posed by agricultural sustainability and food insecurity for preservation of forests, protection of cropland, water resources, seas and oceans, and preservation of biodiversity. The Conference particularly explored how these issues of sustainability would affect Virginia and how those issues are connected to the broader moral and ecological concerns for global sustainability and environmental justice. 

Central to the challenge of sustainability is climate change and our ability to mitigate its effects. Atmospheric concentrations of Carbon, now nearly 400 ppm, are 30 percent greater than the upper bound of variability measured in Carbon concentrations during the glacial and inter-glacial periods predating the Industrial Revolution. In the view of Paul Crutzen and others, the Earth entered a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene, with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in England. Since then, the scale and character of human activity have transformed the global environment. As another climate scientist has recently observed, in the Anthropocene humanity has changed not only how the Earth looks, but how it works.

Emissions of Carbon and other greenhouse gases are continuing to increase. Absent some change, the growing affluence of people in emerging nations, their growing numbers, their shifting dietary preferences and consumption toward patterns now found in the developed world will overwhelm capacities of the Earth for resilience already under stress. Creation as we know it and the conditions of life as we have known it will not continue. There is no moral or geological precedent for the challenge we now face.

Attendees gained resources and inspiration for how their spiritual development and consumption choices can serve as models and can help shift Earth’s course toward a sustainable environment in which humanity and all creation can flourish.


Program Schedule

Session Overviews

About our Speakers


Photos from the Conference