The Revd Rachel Mash is the co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s Environmental Network. Water poverty is defined as living on less than 20 litres per day.
Glyphosate was back in the news last week. As expected, a second European agency found that that the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen.
On the face of it, this latest determination is contrary to that of a UN agency’s classification in March 2015, that glyphosate was “probably” a human carcinogen.
Both determinations looked at the hazard that glyphosate poses to human health and came to different conclusions.
Of the two agencies, the UN one studied only independent research. It also explored the impact of other chemicals added to glyphosate.
These differences mean that the UN research carries more weight for me when I consider using chemical pesticides.
Instead of looking at hazard, the European Food Safety Authority looked at the risk that glyphosate poses, and also found no basis for classifying the chemical as a carcinogen.
Hazard and risk? Are they not the same thing?
No, not really. Hazard is about the possibility of a substance being a carcinogen. Risk is about how likely it is that you will get cancer from being exposed to the hazard.
If you don’t expose yourself to a hazardous substance, whether nuclear waste or glyphosate, then the risk of contracting cancer is negligible.
So if you have to use this hazardous chemical, then taking precautions will reduce the risk of it undermining your, or your children’s, health.
The risk is zero when you grow your own food without using glyphosate.
When it comes to the risks of eating GMOs, there are no precautions we can take despite the risks being real.
Scientists are concerned that we do not know how differently our genes will work, when we eat GMO foods.
Again, these risks posed by GMO foods are minimised when we grow our own food.
The third reason to grow your own food, is around the need for us to take action on climate change.
Harvesting fresh produce from our own garden achieves two climate actions. One is a reduction in green house gases emitted to the atmosphere. The other is to increase the carbon stored in our soils compared to industrialised agriculture.
Glyphosate, GMOs and climate change, are all hazards. All are issues of our time, consequences of a capitalist economic system focused more on corporate profits than on the health and wellbeing of people.
As hazards, there is now little that we can do individually, to undo their presence in our society.
But the risk these hazard pose can be minimised when you grow your own food.
A beginners Grow Your Own Food course runs at Pukekohe’s St Andrews Church hall on Wednesday evenings, starting April 5th and running for six weeks. Interested? Please leave your name and contact number at 09 238 7228.
Or download our brochure: Growing Your Own Food Course.page1
As dramatic as these two videos are, they are not entertainment, to be oohed and aahed over. They are warnings of rapid changes in the earth’s equilibrium.
The first video is from Canada: “There is twice as much carbon in the permafrost than there is in the atmosphere. So if all the carbon in permafrost turned in to CO2, it would triple the CO2 in the atmosphere”
The second video is from Siberia. If the sober words of the Canadian researchers do not worry you, then perhaps this dramatic footage will.
What to do? Here’s an idea:
We were lucky. Only 120 mm of rain in 24 hours. Other parts of our region suffered over 200 mm in the same time period.
Was that deluge a consequence of climate change? The science on that event has not been done yet so know for sure, we do not.
The US have been experiencing a “freakishly” warm February that the World Weather Attribution team is very clear about: “The warm spell is just the latest piece in a growing body of evidence that climate change is playing a role in almost all extreme heat events.”
I am reminded of that old story about God saving us:
A terrible storm was forecast so local officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate immediately.
A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a divine miracle to save me.”
The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”
As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No thanks, God will save me.”
The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into his living room and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”
The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up to his rooftop.
A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer came down the ladder and pleaded with the man, “Grab my hand and I will pull you up!” But the man still refused, folding his arms tightly to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”
Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man away and he drowned.
Arriving in Heaven, the man stood before God and asked, “I put all of my faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?”
And God said, “Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were you looking for?”
The five Anglican Primates of Oceania issued the following statement following their meeting at Tweed Heads in Australia last week:
We offer our profound thanks and praise to Almighty God whose faithfulness, throughout generations, has brought us to this place of fellowship and trust.
We are four Provinces covering many nations, more than 1000 languages, with rich and diverse cultures. We are surrounded by the oceans that define our lives and we are united through the interweaving of history and long friendships. In all our diversity and across our many differences we continue to find our unity in Christ, who binds us together despite our failure and sinfulness.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing. John 15.5 (NIV)
We gather at a time when the rhetoric of nationalism, ridicule, fear-mongering, and hatred is so prevalent. In such a climate where “me first” or “we first” dominates, we affirm: “we together.”
We will be judged by our failure to support our weakest part. We celebrate that what the world views as weak is in fact strength, what the world views as folly, is indeed wisdom. We rejoice at the fruits of the Spirit we see in each other, and we give thanks for the faithfulness of our forebears who sowed the seeds of the Gospel in our lands.
We had a rich and deep talanoa (robust conversation over time) covering many topics of mutual concern and common mission:
We agreed that as whole nations of ocean people lose their island homes, climate justice advocacy and action must become the most urgent priority for Oceanic Anglicans.
We committed ourselves to extending our partnership in theological education and leadership development and to encouraging relationships between our Anglican schools and development and welfare agencies.
We addressed the challenges of seasonal workers and labour mobility across our Provinces and how we could respond both pastorally and politically.
We discussed the work being undertaken across our Provinces to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable and particularly those in our care.
We considered the way our growing relationships with the Anglican Provinces across Asia could be deepened and looked forward to the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in October 2017.
We found common ground in our strong commitment to working for the continuing unity of the Communion.
We heard harrowing stories of human rights violations in West Papua, which were poignantly focussed for us by Archbishop Clyde Igara, who said: “I am West Papua. I am Papuan” – such is the arbitrariness of national boundaries and the historical circumstances that have defined them.
We committed to welcoming each other regularly into our Provinces and to formally meeting again as the Oceania Anglican Fono (gathering) to be held in Suva, Fiji Islands in March 2018.
Archbishop Philip Freier (the Anglican Church of Australia)
Archbishop Clyde Igara (the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea)
Archbishop Winston Halapua (the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia)
Archbishop Philip Richardson (the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia)
Archbishop George Takeli (Anglican Church of Melanesia)