Homo Sapiens have lived on Earth for around 10,000 generations***, yet since the industrial revolution (1760-1830), just ten to twelve generations ago, we have been the cause of much lasting damage to the earth.
We have degraded the world’s soils to the point that all it could be gone within three generations.We watched species loss occurring at an ever-accelerating rate – from 100 times the natural rate, to between 1,000 and 10,000 times in my lifetime.We have sat on our hands for two generations, and done nothing to mitigate the drivers of global warming that is now changing our climate.
For over forty years we have known that avoiding disastrous climate change requires breaking fossil fuel’s hold on our economy and our way of life.And we have done so little.
Cherishing our Earth has become something we give too little attention to.
This came up at the Auckland Diocese annual synod earlier this month. Amongst the presentation was one by journalist Rod Oram, a member of the Anglican Climate Action Network.
His topic was our christian roles in this time of climate change.
One of Rod’s slides was a quote from American environmental lawyer and advocate Gus Speth.
In this season of creation, we acknowledge the issues that humankind’s activities on this earth have caused. It is time we took action.On these and other related issues.
How relevant is the quote and how right is the sentiment?What do you think?
*** assuming a 20-year cycle from birth to procreation
The article begs the question of whether corporate lobby groups and multinational corporations used the Pope’s influence, without his approval, to push their own agenda around industrialised agriculture.
To me, the case is well made. What do you think?
The Pope and the Pesticides
“On March 28 2017, participants in the 10th Forum for the Future of Agriculture were greeted with a big surprise at the beginning of the conference: a “special” video address from Pope Francis! Although the lobbying event is an annual Brussels mainstay for the big agribusiness lobby, organised by Syngenta and the EU lobby group of large landowners (ELO) every year.”
. . .
“The day following the FFA, the video title on the FFA’s website and on Youtube was changed from “FFA 2017 Address From His Holiness The Pope” to “His Holiness Pope Francis on agriculture and environmental issues”. FFA organisers told CEO that this was because the former title could have been interpreted as being “potentially misleading”, and La Machi told CEO that they had asked for the title of the video to be changed. Indeed, it did mislead the participants.”
Christmas. For most a season to share good times with friends and family, to relax and regenerate in the outdoors, and to give and receive gifts.
For many, it is a time to celebrate our faith and to recover from the many activities that celebrate the time of year – the work functions, school prize-givings, and the commercial pressures to spend, spend, spend.
For some, it is a hedonistic time of over-indulgence in food and alcohol, and the consumption of stuff that we want but do not need.
For a few, but still too many, Christmas has a downside.
A time of stress, resulting in a surge of domestic violence and disorder. Or of grief, consequent on the annual spike in the number of road and water deaths.
The increasing number of families queuing outside the Auckland City Mission for Christmas food parcels is a sad reflection of an unequal society. [Don’t be too sad – donate to the City Mission’s work at aucklandcitymission.org.nz or by phoning them on 09 303 9200.]
These are the human faces of Christmas. But Christmas is not only about the human race, as the song released in 1984 by rock band Queen, ”Thank God It’s Christmas”, reminds us.
This song brings God, and the birth of Christ, back in to the focus.
In an increasingly secular society, many question or ignore that focus and so an important message gets lost in the frenzy of shopping and partying. The consequence of our over-consumption and hedonistic disregard for the environment, is impoverishment.
Christians believe the environment was entrusted to human beings by God, who commanded us to cherish the earth. So care for God’s creation we must. Others lived here before us they argue, so we in turn must maintain it for posterity. Whatever your view of God is, christian or secular, this is an imperative to guide us. It is a definition of environmental sustainability.
How many will take the time to ponder the year past, the year ahead and to reflect on the climate actions needed to address the greatest threat to our existence on earth?
Actually, I meant to say, threat to our existence. The earth will out-survive us.
The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-186f , the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. Credits: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech
And contrary to the fanciful ideas of science fiction, nor the ambitions of Elon Musk to make human life multi-planetary, there is no way that we humans are going to escape this earth before the proverbial hits the fan.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis made an impassioned plea to all christians. He called for us to show mercy to our common home, to cherish the world in which we live, and to have compassion for the poor.
In my context, the pontiff is appealing for us to be sustainable (mercy), mitigate the causes of climate change (cherish) and for social justice (compassion). Please do your part to make it so. And have a cheery Christmas whilst you do it.
Church leaders, lay people, activists, scientists and politicians gathered in Mangere on Saturday, 20 August for a Church Climate Workshop to explore what churches can do to address climate change. The workshop was an ecumenical event co-hosted by the Methodist Public Issues network, Sinoti Samoa and the Anglican Diocesan Climate Change Action Group.
Over 120 people were in attendance with Methodists, Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians and Quakers coming from across the country to discuss what their congregations could do.
Keynote speakers were scientist Professor James Renwick, former climate negotiator Dr Adrian Macey, Mangere MP Su’a William Sio and Pacific Climate Warriors spokesperson Koreti Tiumalu.
Matheson Russell, convenor of the Diocesan Climate Change Action Group highlighted what already has been done in some churches including divesting from fossil fuel companies, statements by the Anglican bishops, and local initiatives to make church buildings energy efficient.
But the emphasis of the workshop was on the need for more action, urgently required to limit the worst effects of climate change, especially for our Pacific neighbours.
Koreti Tiumalu, leader of the Pacific Climate Warriors inspired everyone with the prayerful, culturally based and courageous actions of her group. She detailed their venturing to sea in vaka near Newcastle, Australia to protest against coal mining expansion, and a prayer vigil at the Vatican during the COP21 proceedings, where the group of Pacific youth were able to give a fine mat woven in Tonga to Pope Francis.
University of Victoria Wellington environmental scientist James Renwick showed graphs that detailed the dramatic increase in global temperatures over the last 150 years. 2015 temperatures were the highest on record, and 2016 looks set to be even hotter. He says the time for action is now, rather than waiting a decade or more to implement real change. “If we continue at this rate, we could be facing an ice free Arctic in a few decades.”
President elect of the Methodist Church Revd. Prince Devanandan proposed that clergy start preaching on climate change, and emphasized the major need to re-orient the education programmes of the church – theological education, and parish level adult and children’s education.
He also interviewed Cardinal John Dew as a special discussion for the workshop, reflecting on the papal encyclical on climate change ‘Laudato Si’. They explored questions of dominion and stewardship, and the links between poverty and the environment. Cardinal Dew emphasized the gift of ‘Laudato Si’ for all churches, indeed for all peoples.
Cardinal Dew suggested it is time for advocacy from churches. While working in our own organizations and institutions, we can bring an ethical approach to press for action from business leaders and government.
The workshop gave opportunities for attendees to find out and partner with the practical work and advocacy of climate organizations Generation Zero, 350 Aotearoa, Christian World Service, Coal Action Network, and A Rocha, as well as our own Diocesan Climate Change Action Group.
Churches were also encouraged to sign up for the ‘Pray for the Pacific’ campaign, where participating churches will hold a special service either on September 4th or 11th to pray for the Pacific and start a conversation about rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and changing weather patterns.
Ms Tiumalu said: “We cannot build a Pacific Climate Movement without engaging our faith communities. Faith is pivotal to our people, and like the ocean, it connects us. In the face of the climate crisis, we need prayer to carry our people and faith to build resilience.”
Pope Francis made an impassioned plea to all christians last week. He called for us to show mercy to our common home, to cherish the world in which we live, and to have compassion for the poor.
In my context, the pontiff is appealing for us to be sustainable (mercy), mitigate the causes of climate change (cherish) and for social justice (compassionate).
In his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (on 1st September each year) the Pope declared as sins, actions that “… destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation”, “… degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands” and “… contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life…”
The strength of leadership shown in this blunt words is to be commended.
What can we do individually to follow this lead and change our course from a system that “has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature”, to a system that is more respectful of creation?
An course changes within a modern lifestyle will be around reducing waste, planting trees, separating rubbish and minimising energy use.
We can also do something else the pontiff called for – to press our governments to act on the commitments made in Paris in December of 2015 and to advocate for even more ambitious climate mitigation goals.
The Anglican Diocese of Auckland’s Cherished Earth initiative is exactly aligned with promoting these changes. The parish level actions around energy, food, waste and water sustainability can each be easily implemented in our own home.
Pope Francis has gone a step further by advocating for care for creation to be added to the seven spiritual works of mercy outlined in the Gospel. This would be a significant and controversial change but one that fronts up to the seriousness of the crisis we now face.
To learn more about the Anglican Diocese of Auckland’s sustainability work, contact John Allen through the contact form below.
Cherished Earth is a climate justice initiative of the Anglican Diocese of Auckland. This is about connecting faith with caring for creation and is the practical outworking of a commitment by the Anglican Bishops of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, to take action on climate change.
The initiative has its origins in 2007 when a group of lay Anglican members formed the Diocesan Climate Change Action Group. The goal is to help the Diocese’s churches and members move towards a more sustainable and carbon-neutral lifestyle.
Since 2007, the Action Group have conducted workshops around the Diocese and achieved the major goal of divesting the Church’s investments from fossil fuel industries.
In 2012, a part-time Sustainability Field Worker was appointed to implement a sustainability programme among the churches of the Diocese. Yvonne Thompson provided a service that, through on-site building assessments and energy audits, assisted a number of parishes to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and so reduce costs as well as carbon emissions.
The appointment of a new Sustainability Field Worker (see the adjacent box) in 2016 sees this work continuing alongside some new sustainability and carbon emission mitigation initiatives.
The first of these initiatives is around sustainability in our food supply. A programme establishing communal gardens or food forests in participating parishes will commence in early spring. This will be complimented by waste minimisation actions (various composting methods) that any household can do.
A climate change mitigation initiative being developed is an on-line carbon footprint calculator designed to assist parishioners assess their personal contribution to global warming and compare that against national benchmarks.
Many more initiatives are in the gestation stage, along with an innovative means of funding them, that all go to give a practical expression of our faith in the context of caring for creation.
Please check out our progress and let us know your thoughts at our blog site www.cherished-earth.org.nz or contact me direct using the contact form below.
“the effects of climate change…will fall disproportionally on the poor and vulnerable in the world” [ Bishop of London, the Rt Rev’d and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, chair of the Church of England “Shrinking the Footprint” programme ]
In this TEAR Fund (UK) video climate campaign leaders speak out on behalf of those affected by climate change.
“Christians speak of hope that can meet the despair of a world that is rapidly running out of options and…the language of repentance, as turning and taking a different course. With this approach it can engage communities and encourage them toward a different path.”
Nicola Hoggard Creegan – Senior Lecturer Laidlaw School of Theology, Mission and Ministry.
See the Climate Vulnerability Monitor for an interactive map showing which countries are causing climate change and which countries may be most affected around the world by the year 2030.
“We are seeking to make our 70-year-old house a net zero energy one, that is, it generates as much energy as it uses. And we’re determined to do this in a cost effective way.
To that end we installed solar water heating in 2008, which reduced our electricity consumption by one-third. The savings paid off the investment in five years.
In 2013 we installed double-glazing, LED lighting in our main living areas, and a new roof that is thermally highly efficient. We also installed 5.5 kW of photovoltaic panels on the roof at a cost $22,000.
The PVs generated 3 MW h of electricity in their first seven months, most of which was during the winter. With summer coming up, we will generate more. So over the course of the first 12 months we think we will generate more energy than we use. Moreover we’ve switched from gas to electric heating, thereby reducing our carbon footprint further.”
You can read more about what Rod is doing to reduce his transportation carbon footprint in the Climate Change section.
The Cherished Earth Papa-tū-ā-nuku – he taonga, he tapu climate justice initiative is funded by the Anglican Diocese of Auckland. This work began under the sustainability initiative of the Diocese in 2012.
The Diocese of Auckland gratefully acknowledges the support and grant from The Tindall Foundation towards the sustainability initiative from 2013 through to 2015.
The Diocese works in collaboration with The Auckland Council Eco Design Advisor service on the sustainability assessment of clergy homes. The New Zealand Green Building Council Homestar online assessment tool is being used by the Sustainability Field Worker to measure each home’s performance against recognised sustainability standards.