Bishop: ‘It’s the secularists that have a problem’ with Christians – premier

 

 

Some good comments by the Bishop  of Leeds.

Ahy should we keep our traps shut? No one else does!

Some Christians feel so ‘picked on’ that they are fearful to speak about their faith in public anymore, the Bishop of Leeds has said.

Source: Bishop: ‘It’s the secularists that have a problem’ with Christians – premier

 

Bishop: ‘It’s the secularists that have a problem’ with Christians

Thu 01 Dec 2016

By Antony Bushfield

Some Christians feel so “picked on” that they are fearful to speak about their faith in public anymore, the Bishop of Leeds has said.

Rt Rev Nick Baines warned that some secularists “have a problem” with religion being talked about and it was making many believers too scared to talk about Christ.

Some Christians feel “picked on” by “intolerant” liberalism in the UK, he warned.

His comments come just a day after Prime Minister Theresa May said it is important people can talk freely about their faith following claims some Christians dare not speak about Christmas.

PA

 

Bishop Nick told the Press Association: “Clearly there are some Christians who are concerned about whether they are free to talk about their faith in a respectful and appropriate way in the workplace.

“Equally, there are plenty of people who are not Christians who think that Christians shouldn’t, or think there is an issue around it. I call it religious illiteracy.

“There are people who have been disciplined or threatened with discipline for talking about their faith even though they have been asked about it. Someone makes a complaint and says they have been inappropriate. This is absurd.”

He added: “There is, amongst some Christians – this isn’t universal – a sense of being a little picked on or beleaguered.

“I think if you claim to be open-minded and liberal, why are you so frightened of religious expression?”

Diocese of Leeds/PA Wire

 

The bishop said that relations between different religious communities are good and he suggested it was some secularists that were creating issues.

This can end up in some people trying to strip the religion out of Christmas, he said.

“The joke with all of this is that most people of other faiths have absolutely no problem with anyone talking about their faith. It’s the secularists that have a problem,” he said.

“It is a Christian festival. Are they going to tell Muslims they have got to strip Islam out of Eid? It’s just ludicrous.”

And he warned that Britain has become a liberal society where some people believe you are only acceptable if you accept liberalism.

“And liberalism can become very intolerant of anything that doesn’t fit its own parameters,” he added.


 

Fracking: ‘Gang plank to climate chaos’ or ‘necessary part of decarbonisation’?

An interesting argument on fracking between Stephen Tindale formerly of Greenpeace and Peter Strachan who claims to be an energy expert and often blocks those who question him on twitter.

020

 

With Alex Russell    from the same university he wrote this hyped-up article http://energypost.eu/delusion -cheap-safe-shale-gas-extraction/

 

A supporter and opponent of onshore fracking went head to head at Westminster yesterday in a debate on shale gas.

Source: Fracking: ‘Gang plank to climate chaos’ or ‘necessary part of decarbonisation’?

 

peter-strachan-and-simon-tindallA supporter and opponent of onshore fracking went head to head at Westminster yesterday in a debate on shale gas.

Professor Peter Strachan (pictured left), of Robert Gordon University, and Stephen Tindale, co-founder of Climate Answers, were giving evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on unconventional gas and oil.

Professor Strachan, Strategy & Policy Group Lead at Aberdeen Business School, argued that fracking would be banned in Scotland because it failed key tests on energy security, economics, environment and public health, climate change. “We should say no to this dirty fuel”, he said.

Stephen Tindale, who told the meeting he was now a consultant to INEOS Shale, argued: “Shale is a necessary part of decarbonisation”. The former adviser to the industry- funded Shale Gas Task Force (2014-2015) and Executive Director of Greenpeace (2000-2006) added that he was confident fracking would be “well regulated enough” in the UK.

This is what the two men said – in their own words – on key fracking issues:

Does fracking have a social licence?

Peter Strachan

There is no social licence for shale gas north or south of the border. It lacks public support in the UK. The government’s public opinion tracker published in October 2016 found that only 17% of people support fracking. In comparison, 79% of people support renewable energy.

Stephen Tindale

I agree. There isn’t a social licence at the moment. But that can change. One of the reasons I thought it was appropriate for me to try to speak out was because I think too many of the green movement are ignoring the human rights argument but also ignoring the potential role of gas in reducing emissions and the issue of whether shale gas is used in electricity generation is not as bad as coal.

Does importing gas support slave labour?

Stephen Tindale

The Greenpeace 2030 Energy Scenarios  report says 25% of heating should be electric. That is good. That is the right direction to go. That leaves 75% to come from what? The answer is gas. The question then is where does the gas come from?

At the moment, we get a lot of gas from Qatar [25%]. In my view, we should not be getting gas from Qatar, not primarily for climate reasons. More important is the human rights case.

The International Trades Union Congress has done an excellent report on Qatar, which says that however good the direct employer tries to be it is effectively a slave labour economy. To me, supporting a slave labour economy by trading is wrong. So I think the human rights case on importing gas from Qatar needs to be answered.

Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, all these potential places that we could import from, they have very problematic human rights records.

Peter Strachan

I do agree that the UK should take a firm approach to human rights, wherever that should be the case. The UK, however, has fairly strong diplomatic, military and economic ties with Qatar. The trading relationship with that country is worth £5bn a year. Through diplomatic and other means we should be putting pressure on Qatar to clean up its act.

What about our obligation to the citizens of the United Kingdom, to protect them from the threat of climate change?

How much gas do we need?

Peter Strachan

I do slightly object to the point that Stephen and other campaigners take when they start with the question where do we currently get our gas from. I think that’s a mistake.

The specific question we should be asking is how much gas do we actually need in the future? We need to work backwards from that and think about what other low carbon options are available, such as energy efficiency, conservation measures and such like.

If you ask the question ‘how much gas do we actually need?’ you can develop a scenario where we can produce enough gas offshore along with low carbon options onshore.

Stephen Tindale

Shale gas is a fossil fuel yes, but not all fossil fuels are as bad as each other.

Gas is much more about heating than it is about electricity generation. It will remain the main heating fuel for many decades.

It is going to take decades to replace all the domestic heating with electricity and some of the renewables – biomass and biofuels – have very dodgy climate credentials so not everything from renewables is good. That’s why we need other forms of low carbon heating to get enough low carbon electricity to replace not only fossil fuels generation but also oil for transport and gas for domestic heating. So we need a lot more low carbon electricity.

Electricity can’t be used for all heating. Electricity cannot provide heat that is hot enough to carry out industrial processes. So we need other forms of heat, some of which can be from nuclear and some of it should be gas with CCS [carbon capture and storage].

Threat to climate change or necessary bridge?

Peter Strachan

The Committee on Climate Change concluded [in a report for the Scottish Government] emissions from fracking in Scotland would be inconsistent with climate change emissions targets in Scotland.

Research by Nick Corwen and Robin Russell James submitted to the Committee on Climate Change identified another problem attached to fracked gas. Their concern is fugitive methane emissions. These emissions, over the life cycle, make fracked gas two times worse than coal.

Exploiting more fossil fuels is stop climate warming is, in my view, a ludicrous argument. Fracking is a gang plank to climate chaos. The precautionary approach should be adopted.

The climate change issues are significant. By 2030-2035 we will be looking at oil and gas in a completely different way. We might see the end of companies such as Shell, BP. A whole different ethical and moral perspective will dominate. For me it is 100% renewable energy future and until we get to that point we can source enough gas offshore and from Norway to meet any needs that we may have.

Stephen Tindale

Shale is a necessary part of decarbonisation.

Renewables and energy efficiency are the ideal scenario but it is going to take a very long time, even if your objective is to be 100% reliant on renewable energy. It is going to take many decades.

The only country that I am aware of that has a target of 100% renewables for all energy uses is Denmark. Denmark’s target is 2050. They are already a long way ahead of most others, they get about 40% of their energy from renewables.

In my view, 100% renewable is not the correct target because only bioenergy and geothermal produces heat directly.

Carbon capture and storage

Stephen Tindale

The CCS situation is the fault of the UK government* but I very much hope that the Scottish Government will be supportive of calls for Greg Clark [the Business Secretary] to reintroduce the CCS approach because we do need it.

I kind of agree that without CCS gas has no long-term future, certainly in the power sector. CCS in the heating sector is more complex.

I hope the Scottish Government will see fit to support onshore fracking for shale gas

The Committee on Climate Change has indicated that their expectation is that for CCS for gas it is going to be less expensive than CCS for coal. The country that has experience of CCS for gas is Norway and they have been doing it since 1994. They have not been using it in power generation but they have been using it at an offshore gas facility because the gas was not right for generating electricity. They have been making carbon dioxide out of it and they have been successfully storing that since 1994.

In the UK, in my view, the government should focus the CCS effort not on coal but on gas.

Peter Strachan

In my view fracking threatens the climate.  Fracking without CCS is a show-stopper. We shouldn’t even be thinking about it.

Economics

Peter Strachan

Fracking economics just don’t add up. It is a boom and bust industry in the United States. It is also a debt-ridden industry.

The Scottish Government report commissioned from KPMG concluded: ‘If oil and gas prices were to remain at historically low levels it would be unlikely that unconventional oil and gas resources in Scotland could be developed economically’.

If you take the low range estimates [from the KPMG report] of what fracking would be worth to the economy, I was astonished at how little the contribution was. Estimated total spend to 2062: £1.5bn; estimated total value added to the Scottish economy: £0.1bn; jobs created: 470; tax receipts: £0.5bn.

In my view this is negligible.

Stephen Tindale

Will shale gas be economic? I don’t know. Nobody knows because the geology of the UK is very different from the US so it needs to be tested. Is that a waste of money? It might be. The question then is whose money is it? Is it public money? No.

There should not be any direct subsidy or grants to the shale industry. Should there be tax breaks? Yes, possibly, because at the moment there is no revenue from tax so if you reduce the tax rate it might get something. That could be usefully used in Scotland to support local councils.

On economics: we don’t know, we shouldn’t give public money to it but we should be prepared to allow them to proceed if they have their own money.

Impact on other industries

Peter Strachan

Fracking is a direct threat to the renewables sector. Already, as a result of government policy we have seen thousands of people in the renewable sector lose their jobs. In addition, fracking is a threat to the offshore and gas industry. Shale gas will derail our transition to a low carbon economy.

Going on international experience, there is every likelihood that fracking would have an adverse impact on other industries, whether the threat is real or perceived.

Tourism, agricultural, food and drink are heavily dependent on having a beautiful natural environment and water. For UK Plc, fracking will undoubtedly damage these sectors. In Australia, for every 10 new jobs created by shale oil and gas agriculture loses 18 jobs.

The KPMG report [for the Scottish Government] concluded ‘Development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland will also rely on the ability to obtain appropriate funding (debt and/or equity) to support exploration and extraction’.

I don’t think that the banking sector will be impressed by this debt laden industry in the UK.

The recent financial crisis witnessed in the US fracking industry will undoubtedly impact on the $100bn that will be required over a 20-year period to make a UK fracking industry in any way meaningful. That money would be better spent on lower carbon sources. I would recommend that money should be spend on the renewable sector.

Fracking is creating energy insecurity in the offshore oil and gas industry and in the renewables sector.

Steohen Tindale

Energy insecurity in the renewables sector is not being caused by shale. It is being caused by the Government’s flip flops.

Their attitude to onshore wind is inconsistent with their attitude to shale. They’re saying if a local council says no to an onshore wind farm that’s it, no question of calling it in. But on shale if a local council says no they call it in. That inconsistency is not an acceptable basis, in my view, for energy policy. They should both be treated the same. So, shale and onshore wind should be subject to call in because they’re both in the national interest.

Energy security and low carbon economy

Peter Strachan

I don’t think that shale fracking is a solution to the multi-faceted energy challenges that we face in the United Kingdom. Fracking will not help address the 2020 energy crisis we are facing. The shale gas revolution cannot happen quickly enough to address this.

Talking about gas as a bridging fuel is derailing our transition to a lower carbon economy.

Shale gas is the enemy it is not going to help that process.

The SNP 2015 manifesto stated ‘We will not allow fracking or underground coal gasification in Scotland unless it can be proved beyond any doubt that it will not harm the environment, community or public health’.

In my view, the Scottish government can reach only one conclusion and that is to ban fracking in Scotland. Both Westminster and Holyrood must ultimately end their continued fixation with fossil fuels. A better solution is to harness the power of the wind, sun and also the sea of the United Kingdom.

Stephen Tindale

When Amber Rudd [former Energy Secretary] said ‘We are going to shut down coal generation’ she said only if there is energy security, by which she meant only if there is alternatives available installed. So, if there isn’t capacity installed coal will stay open. That is pretty much the worst outcome from a climate perspective.

I completely agree we need to do much more on wind. We need to do much more marine and tidal power.

Environment and public health

Peter Strachan

Fracking fails in a spectacular way on the test of environment and public health. A definitive review of the literature that has been published on shale gas extraction [Towards an Understanding of the Environmental Health Impacts of Unconventional Natural Gas Development] has results that are quite revealing. 84% of the literature on health revealed public health hazards, elevated risks or health impacts. 69% of the literature indicated positive associations or actual evidence of water contamination. 87% found elevated air pollutants and atmospheric concentration of pollutants.

People should be frightened of chemicals when it comes to fracking. Evidence from the Yale School of Public Health on chemicals used in the fracking process in the United States found significant contamination of water, land and air.

Insufficient weight in the UK and Scotland has been given to the health and environmental issues associated with fracking. … Much of the peer-reviewed evidence is being overlooked.

An argument often given by the pro-fracking fraternity is that we can regulate the risk away.

We’re told that you can regulate away all risk but the problem with regulations is they are not preventative.

If you look at the offshore oil and gas industry. During the past few months for example we have had two major spills offshore. … Just think of the devastation such an oil leak could have onshore.

Stephen Tindale

I agree it is a developing science and I agree it needs to be very strictly regulated and very strictly monitored.

The experience from the US under W [George W Bush] was basically amateur cowboys and so some terrible things happened. Yes, Obama has tightened up the regulations, quite considerably, and I think in the UK they [the oil and gas industry] have a good regulatory record. So I think there are grounds for confidence that it would be better regulated in the UK – that’s not hard – and that it would be well regulated enough to minimise threats to public health. Not down to zero but everything has some risk.

I am confident that the risks from fracking are low enough to be worth taking.

However, it must be very heavily monitored. … If when there are some well operational, if the evidence shows that the impact is much greater than anticipated then people like me should be prepared to say ‘ok, the evidence suggests that we have to stop.’

As well as evidence-based policy-making – we don’t see much of it but we hear a lot of talk about it –  there needs to be evidence-based campaigning and at the moment campaigning is not sufficiently in this area evidence-based.

Other comments

Evidence-based campaigning

Point raised by Kathryn McWhirter, anti-fracking campaigner, to Stephen Tindale

I think you misjudge your opposition. I think campaigning is very scientific and evidence based. You really don’t know what you’re up against. Have you not seen research by University College London shows that shale gas can’t be seen as a bridging fuel? The consensus on fugitive methane in the US is that it makes it worse than coal. Anything over 3% makes gas worse than coal.

Stephen Tindale’s reply

Fugitive emissions are the major climate threat from fracking and the Committee on Climate Change had recommendations, particularly on what you need to do to cap wells when they are closed down.

Debt and doubt

Ken Cronin, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, to Peter Strachan

On your comment on the industry being debt-laden, I think you could make an argument about renewables or new nuclear. You could, if you wanted, create that argument for many industries. I have campaigned against polarising the debate. I come very much from the view point that we need more energy.

‘Beyond any doubt’ that is very, very strong language and I was wondering if you could find another industry or industrial activity that you could pin point that you could say risks and hazards are beyond any doubt.”

Peter Strachan’s reply

The First Minister of Scotland made the statement. I think the person you wold need to ask that question to would be the First Minister directly.

You can look at the pros and the cons of many different industries. On every occasion, I would argue for a 100% renewable energy future. We are already seeing the development for example in Norway where they have said by 2025 they will have electric only cars.

The evidence is clear, Shale gas is a dirty fuel. There are significant harmful effects to the environment, communities and public health if you look at the peer-reviewed literature.

Offshore fracking

Graham Dean, Reach Exploration, to Peter Strachan

In the last five years, I think about 15 wells have been fracked in the Scottish sector of the North Sea. Is it right to frack in the North Sea?

Peter Strachan’s reply

The whole environment onshore and offshore are completely different. The public health and environment issues offshore are completely different to onshore. I don’t think under any circumstances should we be looking to do this onshore.

Onshore, the shale industry in the US is effectively a boom-bust debt ridden industry. The North Sea industry has been in existence for 50 years. The North Sea will be in production for another 30-50 years.

* In November 2015 the then Chancellor, George Osborne, cancelled a £1bn pilot CCS project

Updated to correct Stephen Tindale’s name

Is “The Imminent Demise of Evolution” still imminent?

Well we all know evolution is rubbish and the earth is only 6000 years old. As Paul points out here the expert American Troy Britain confirms this.

If anyone can refute Troy please do so.

I first heard of the imminent demise of evolution in 1971 while at L’abri studying under the founder of the Religious Right Francis Schaeffer. I can provide all the evidence for this on demand.

 

Reblogged on WordPress.com

Source: Is “The Imminent Demise of Evolution” still imminent?

Which is better; Grass-to-Gas or Fracking? Is someone taking grass?

At the end of the 19th century fuel for transport was causing two serious problems in Britain.

First, the emissions from vehicles was unacceptable as the streets were piling up with horse shit faster than allotment holders could remove it.

Secondly, an ever increasing amount was needed to grow the fuel needed for the engines of the vehicles, otherwise known as fodder.

For longer journeys another carbon-based fuel was used -coal – but that caused problems too.

Then a cleaner fuel was found – petroleum!

Yet today the so-called green electricity provider Ecotricity reckons grass would provide the gas needed to provide all we need! Really to heat homes for 80% of houses and fuel vehicles?  I am sure someone has worked out the area needed on the back of an envelopes and taken into consideration the winter months when grass hardly grows.

Perhaps Dale Vance is taking Grass or something else to suggest this

 

Even those whose livelihood is developing biogass regard this idea as unsustainable, but, of course the Guardian disagrees.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/18/could-gas-from-grass-rival-fracking-to-heat-uk-homes

But some biogas plants cause local problems

http://www.pore.org.uk/

Here is a good assessment from Lancashire for Shale , a groupwho consider all forms of energy and not just one!

Ecotricity has been granted planning permission for an anaerobic digestion plant in Hampshire. We take a look at its plans for 5,000 of these “Green Gas Mills” around the country.

Ecotricity’s ‘green gas mill’ at Sparsholt College in Hampshire

 

It’s an attractive proposition: taking an endless and abundant supply of grass and turning it into gas to heat homes across Britain. Ecotricity says …

Source: Grass-to-Gas or Fracking? – Lancashire For Shale

Here it is.

Ecotricity has been granted planning permission for an anaerobic digestion plant in Hampshire. We take a look at its plans for 5,000 of these “Green Gas Mills” around the country.

 

It’s an attractive proposition: taking an endless and abundant supply of grass and turning it into gas to heat homes across Britain.

Ecotricity says gas from grass has the potential to provide the needs of 97% of Britain’s homes by 2035.

It’s founder, Dale Vince says: “We now have a more than viable alternative to fracking, which people have been fighting tooth and nail up and down the country to prevent. It’s not too late, because fracking hasn’t started yet.”

Is he right? Could grass-to-gas eliminate the need for fracking and, if so, how feasible would it be in practical terms?

On balance, it doesn’t look like it.

Even if it proves technically valid – and it seems that’s doubtful – Ecotricity’s plans would likely meet just as much local opposition as fracking because of visual and traffic impacts.

The site for which Ecotricity has obtained planning permission is 12 acres in area, or 4.8 hectares. That’s over twice the size of a shale gas pad.

But once constructed, a shale gas well site will be much less visually intrusive than an anaerobic digestion facility with its permanent and industrial-looking tanks, reception hall and silos.

Additionally, a producing shale gas pad will not require a constant stream of lorries to deliver feedstock and take smelly byproduct digestate away to spread on fields, unlike an anaerobic digestion plant.

According to Ecotricity’s planning application, the main road by which heavy goods vehicles will enter and leave the site will see an average of 27 vehicle movements per day from June to September on the northern section and 21 per day on the southern approach.

So that’s a total of 48 vehicles a day for four months or over 3,800 in total – and higher than the average traffic movements that would stem from bringing a shale gas site into being.

But in the case of the Ecotricity site, those traffic impacts would be evident for every year of operation whereas a producing shale gas site will be responsible for very few traffic movements.

It’s taken Cuadrilla over 2 years to obtain planning permission for a single site in Lancashire that would be less visually obtrusive and responsible for significantly fewer lifetime HGV journeys, and so it’s hard to imagine it being much easier for Ecotricity.

It submitted its original application in January 2016, which was turned down in April. It tried again in July and obtained planning permission in October – taking 10 months in total.

To build 5,000 of them between now and 2035 would require Ecotricity to construct over 2 plants a year, every year, which given the time it takes just to navigate the planning and permitting processes involved seems implausible.

Then consider the cost – £10 million each if the Hampshire site is anything to go by – bringing the total to an eye-watering £50 billion which, according to Dale Vince, would only be possible with public subsidy, which is why Ecotricity is lobbying the government to let it cash in on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). It’s quite unlike the £33 billion EY say it would cost to build a mature shale gas industry and which would be funded entirely through private investment with no subsidy.

Putting all other arguments aside, you’re then left with the question of why do it in the first place.

If there was an urgent need to find a better way of dealing with unwanted grass, then turning it into energy like we do with food waste and farm slurries would be a great idea, because it would essentially kill two birds with one stone.

But there’s no such problem with grass.

So what other benefit would there be to industrialising the countryside with 5,000 of these cumbersome looking facilities?

It wouldn’t do anything to decarbonise home heating because the gas it produces is still methane, and still contains carbon that would be released to the environment from the exhaust of central heating boilers up and down the country. So there wouldn’t be any net benefit for the climate, in fact, it would arguably be worse because of all those extra truck and tractor movements needed to harvest and transport grass and then take away the biosolid residues.

A smarter move would be for Ecotricity to team up with the fracking industry and co-locate shale and biogas sites in the same locations, sharing the risk of planning and permitting and cutting down on the costs of the infrastructure needed to get the gas to market (such as grid connections) and making grass-to-gas more commercially viable with fewer sites – moreso if the biogas plants could also accept food and farm waste from rural communities.

It looks like grass-to-gas could be a companion to shale, but it couldn’t be a competitor.

Evangelicals, Trump and theology

some reflections of the evangelical support for Trump in the USA. Good to bring out differences

 

‘I am done with the label “evangelical”. It’s not the theological position I have a problem with, it is just the term. When 80% of white evangelicals vote for Trump…’ This was not a comment from Tony Campolo, but a conversation on Sunday morning at coffee after our early morning service with someone

Source: Evangelicals, Trump and theology

How Social Justice Ideology gave us Donald Trump

This is a repost of a repost, which is a useful reflection of Trump’s election as president.

 

Not all will like it, but his concerns over the social justice movement, including that within churches is highly apt.

 

I am reposting here an article by Alastair Roberts, who is a regularly reader and commentator on this blog. I don’t agree with everything Alastair says, but his views are always informing, stimulating and challenging not least because they are very well researched. If you want to understand what is

Source: How Social Justice Ideology gave us Donald Trump

The bubble of traditional environmentalism has burst; long live pragmatic environmentalism

A useful warning on the lack of realism of “conventional”environmentalists who sing from hymnbooks provided by Greenpeace, Friends of the earth sierra club etc, whom have put all their eggs in the climate change basket and look torenewables and nothing else.

It is also a warning to Green Christians who intone the crap from Friends of the Earth

The unpublished notebooks of J. M. Korhonen

In case any more confirmation was needed, 11/9 (or 9.11. for us Euros) was the final nail to the coffin of traditional environmentalism – at least when it comes to stopping the existential threat of climate change.

For decades now, established environmental movements like Greenpeace, WWF, and Sierra Club have taken the prevention of dangerous climate change as one of the, if not THE, key objectives for the environmental movement. They are not mistaken to do so; out of all our current predicaments, only asteroid impacts and full-blown nuclear war are even on the same scale of existential threat for our civilization. Besides human civilization, climate change threatens to wreak havoc on the global ecosystem, and could make the sixth mass extinction one of the worst ones yet.

But for decades, the traditional environmental movement has also been extremely strict about the means it approves for averting this coming calamity. Most…

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