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Paul Collins and the Vatican

  • 07 April 2011

At the end of last week Australians learned that adding a price to carbon might cost households almost $900 per year. This week, Kevin Rudd revealed that there was dissension in Cabinet when, as Prime Minister, he decided to ditch a carbon trading scheme.

These were the latest rounds in the ongoing debate surrounding climate change, one of the big issues of our time. This debate usually focuses on two areas: whether global warming is a reality and is indeed caused by human activity; and what should be done to deal with it.

Another important aspect of this problem, much less discussed, is the way in which our ideas and beliefs shape the way we treat the environment; whether our basic underlying philosophies and belief systems have added to the environmental crisis, and whether they need to change to deal with it.

Paul Collins, who's featured in this interview for Eureka Street TV, is an Australian pioneer in this area. Since the early 1990s he's been writing and speaking about eco-theology, in particular Christian theology; how it has contributed to environmental problems, and how changing, adapting and developing it might lead to solutions.

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Collins is a longterm contributor to Eureka Street, and this interview is part of a special series to mark the 20th anniversary of the journal. In the interview he discusses eco-theology, as well as his views on the Catholic Church and its governance, another of his pet subjects.

Collins is a former priest who belonged to a religious order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. As a priest he worked in parish ministry and adult education before entering the world of public broadcasting. He worked for many years as a presenter on ABC TV and Radio, and for three years he was specialist editor in charge of all religion programs on ABC Radio.

He has a master's in theology from Harvard and a PhD in history from the Australian National University. Since leaving the ABC in 1996, he's worked as a freelance writer, speaker and broadcaster on the environment, social and ethical issues, history, the media and communication.

A major inspiration for Collins in his work on the environment is American theologian,