The last heretic Lloyd Geering, now 103, has a message of support for the fight for the climate

By Kate Green | Posted: Tuesday December 7, 2021

A life-long thinker and famed feather-ruffler, Sir Lloyd Geering, at the age of 103, is turning his thoughts to what he agrees is “the defining issue of a generation”. Just, not his generation.

The facts on climate change are clear, Geering says; denying it at this stage would be foolish. “Those who reject it have got their heads in the sand.”

He rose to fame when he was controversially charged with heresy in 1967, accused of doctrinal error and disturbing the peace of the church at the Presbyterian Assembly.

Geering is a recent inductee to a group instigated by Kāpiti Coast District Councillor Sophie Handford and scientist Jim Salinger, called the Intergeneration Climate Ambassadors, which was launched around September last year.

Members ranged from the ages of 12 to Geering’s 103.

Despite his many decades as a free-thinker, he hadn’t spent much time thinking about the climate. Now, “we’ve been forced to think about it,” he said. “Whether we can address it or not is another problem.”

He wasn’t at all confident about that, remembering childhoods where knee-deep snow was a sure bet each winter. Things were changing, and his message was one of urgency.

“Fundamentalist Christianity would regard things to be in the hands of a God who controls,” he said. “That idea of God has just vanished really.

“We now know that we are in the hands of natural forces in the world, and because of what humans have done to the earth, they have produced a situation where the temperature’s going up all the time - and it will reach a limit which we can’t survive.”

But a decrease in the church’s hold on society meant their ability to use their influence for good was waning as well. “We know we’re at the mercy of the forces of nature, rather than anything that is divinely created or controlled by a god.”

If not the church, then who? Geering told Stuff a decade ago: “I used to lean towards Labour, but became disillusioned with the Labour Party at the time of Rogernomics, and I've been a Green ever since. The Green issues are the great religious issues of the day.”

That alignment hasn’t changed, a Green voter to this day. His message to politicians was to do all they could to reduce the causes.

“I think they have a responsibility to deal with all the factors leading to climate change. I'm not sure to what extent they can achieve anything, but they should certainly try.”

Was there a solution? “I think Orthodox Christians would like to think that prayer would do it,” he joked.

In all seriousness, Geering didn’t have an answer. He didn’t sugarcoat things, either. There was a good chance humanity was doomed. “Hopefully not. Certainly not in my time.”

Thank you to Stuff for the use of this article.