Why St John’s Cathedral is supporting the Safe Harbour Art Exhibition

Dean Peter Catt

We asked the Dean of St John’s Cathedral the very reverend Peter Catt to tell us about involvement of St John’s Cathedral in this exhibition which draws attention to the need for protecting Moreton Bay and its wildlife.

Here’s what he told us.

We recently observed Australia’s Earth Overshoot day.

Overshoot day is the day in the year when a full year of the Earth’s regenerative output is consumed by humanity. The human family as a whole consumes a year’s worth of the Earth’s production by late July. That means that from August until New Year, humanity lives by using up the Earth’s ‘capital’. Year by year we are therefore depleting the Earth.

Australians consume the Earth’s resources at a much higher rate than most of humanity. We reach our Overshoot Day on March 23. Australians are consuming the planet four times faster than it can regenerate.

Our incapacity to live within The earth’s means suggests that we need to examine our approach to the planet. If you like we need to revisit our understanding of our relationship to the planet.

We have tended to see the Earth, and ‘nature’, as things from which we are separate. Nature is all the other creatures and the places where they live. We are not part of nature. We insulate ourselves from it and think that we live apart from it. Climate control in our homes, workplaces and shopping centres has accentuated this sense of separation, as has the bubble of the car, through which we experience much of the planet. The feeling of being separate often gives us a sense of mastery over the planet and its creatures. they are ours to use as we please.

This sense of separation and mastery has resulted in us applying simple solutions to the challenges we face as we seek to live on this planet.

One such simple solution, that Overshoot Day reveals as unsustainable, has been applied for centuries. This solution has seen us clear or flood land as if such practices are without consequences. This practice has been driven yet erroneous assumptions: the supply of land is limitless, and if it isn’t being used for a human-centred purpose it is going to waste.

We are beginning to see that this approach to land is not so much a problem solver as a problem exacerbator. The clearing of the Amazonian rainforest has reached the point where that once huge system will soon cease to be a climate moderator and a carbon storehouse for the planet. Land clearing in Australia is a source of carbon pollution and is threatening some of our most loved species. The Great Barrier Reef is bleaching yet again. Ramsar wetlands are disappearing.

Recent and ongoing events give us a foretaste of what life will be like unless we arrest the degradation of the planet and deal with Climate Change.

2 April 2022

One thought on “Why St John’s Cathedral is supporting the Safe Harbour Art Exhibition

  • 14/04/2022 at 11:20 pm

    Such immensely wise words from Dean Peter Catt
    Consistently, politicians have disregarded strong leaders of the climate change movement, the bleeding hearts of the young, the anguish of grandparents and the distress of conservationists – this is unforgivable. Our natural systems are in collapse; a great deal of damage we cannot reverse, but we can and must, protect Queensland’s Ramsar Sites.


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