Byron Smith

Ecological ethicist - Sydney, Australia
Sydney, Australia
Byron Smith

For the last eight years I have limited my flying, with just one flight in that period and none in the last six years.

I am convinced that the necessary changes are primarily political, economic, and cultural, but there are complex links between these social structures and personal behaviour and beliefs, so avoiding flying is both a personal discipline and a conversation starter (or sometimes, part of a useful conversation ender when a hostile audience member wants to accuse me of hypocrisy because I haven’t talked about personal lifestyle changes). I don’t mention it often, but when it comes up naturally, it has a powerful impact, underlining the scale of societal changes necessary.

Due to my commitment, I have missed funerals and weddings of friends and family. I have missed conferences and turned down speaking opportunities (I try to connect those inviting me to someone in their city who can do a similar presentation). It has brought me into tension with people I love. But I believe it has also been part of giving my words greater impact because my life is one step closer to matching what I say it ought to be.

I have a PhD in theological ethics with a focus on emotional responses to climate change and their interactions with Christian identity. I now work for a local church part time and spend the rest of my time seeking to help Christians in my part of the world join the dots between climate justice and discipleship.

PhD, Edinburgh University
“Waking up to a warming world: prospects for Christian ethical deliberation amidst climate fears”