Category Archives: Church of England

My reasons for supporting fracking as the best but not perfect energy source

I wrote this for the newsletter for retired Anglican Clergy as I was requested to do so. It was written two years ago. I attempted to be conciliatory but the next newsletter had a rant of a response from some retired canon, who decided that I was a climate change denier and generally not concerned by the environment. He was clearly blessed with great pastoral gifts – NOT! A nice chappie!

It is two years out of date but the arguments are the same!!

To Frack or not to Frack; that is the question.

On April Fool’s Day 2011 I sent off proofs for a chapter on Evangelicals and Climate Change, where I was critical of American Climate Change deniers. I never noticed the earthquake caused by fracking at Preese Hall ten miles away. After that I began to hear about fracking and was negative initially, but did nothing until a party political leaflet came through the door (not UKIP!). I liked what I read;-improved cycling facilities, recycling, environmental improvements, etc, but the last paragraph made me stamp my feet causing a Magnitude 0.75 quake! The Preese Hall quake was big and dangerous! As a geologist I knew a Mag 2.3 was trivial. When I worked in a Ugandan Copper mine, quakes 1000 times more powerful were common. The most memorable was at an Ascension Day service causing the organist to miss a note! This election leaflet goaded me into action, or rather delayed action as I had limited time until I retired in 2013. And so I began to investigate.
The usual arguments cited are;
• flaming taps due to methane in water,
• toxic chemicals in fracking fluid
• quakes, i.e. minor seismicity.
• poor geology,
• aquifer and water pollution,
• rampant capitalism
• industrialisation of the countryside

and

  • damaging to climate change . (This is used to trump all and to ignore any other challenges on the above points!!

Cuadrilla

The horrors of fracking in Lancashire from Talkfracking
The University of Google directed me to anti-fracking sites, but I wanted something more reliable. As a geologist, I started with the British Geological Survey, and then the United States Geological Survey. Fracking cropped up on the Affiliation of Christian Geologists and so I contacted friends there, along with more friends in the USGS. It soon became apparent that the earthquake concern was very rare, and low risk, and where larger quakes occurred (Mag3 – 5), these were not due to fracking but wastewater injection. These had occurred since the early 80s, i.e. two decades before (the present style of) fracking started and mainly involved waste water from traditional oil production. That is still the case today. (One friend, who in 1991 wrote the earliest papers on these, took me up a couple of 14,000ft mountains in Colorado and I took him up Ingleborough!) Fairly soon, I realised that problems were caused by bad practice rather than the fracking process itself.
After that I left my geological comfort zone and looked at the other issues. I had a choice of three major sources;
• The plethora of publications by anti-frackers, and ‘eco’ organisations.
• technical material from bodies like the BGS, EA, PHE, HSE, scientific bodies and independent academics
• publications from gas operators.
I focussed on the second group. It took time to grasp the technicalities of fracking. I quickly realised that there was little scientific credibility to the antifrack publications. I used the antifrack material to guide what I should look for and ignored material from firms like Cuadrilla. Delving into all this was frustrating and annoying as I became more and more appalled at the inaccuracies of those opposing fracking, including those in the churches.
The straw which broke the camel’s back was my attending a meeting of Frack Off near Garstang in August 2013. I realised then that this meeting promoted ideologically motivated duplicity and scaremongering. More of that later.
I found dealing with anti-fracking rather like dealing with Creationism, which I have dealt with since 1971 after a visit to Schaeffer’s L’Abri in Switzerland – when I thought I was about to join Servetus in Geneva. At the risk of offending Creationists, their arguments are always fallacious, if not dishonest. Creationist claims on the inaccuracy of radiometric age-dating and other scientific questions were poor science. After many years of checking them out, I have never found any which are valid. It is the same with arguments against fracking, which either universalise from examples of bad practice as with pollution of water supplies in Wyoming, exaggerate, or misquote the evidence..
As a result I was forced to re-assess my long-held views on the environment, not that for a moment I even considered rejecting Care of Creation or environmentalism. For 50 years this has itself in appreciation of the natural world, wildlife gardening, economy of energy use and insulation etc. Not to mention my bike as my preferred means of transport, or driving economically. (I try to get 50mpg out of a Corolla which should only do 44!) I had convinced myself of the Peak Oil argument in 1971, not knowing King Hubbert presented it two decades earlier. Peak Oil came to the fore after 2000 when it seemed that fossil fuels would soon run out. I presumed society would be forced to adopt renewables. Shale gas and oil has changed that and almost certainly fossil fuels will NOT run out before 2100. Rather than adjusting to an imposed fossil-free world in a few decades, the limitless (almost) supply forces choices in relation to the environment. Not being a Global Warming Denier, that means a wise use of fossil fuels. Here for many reasons, gas (increasingly fracked) along with every other source of energy except coal is the best option for both the planet and people and here I concur with the IPCC and what actually came out of Paris in 2015!
I began my journey in 2011 rather sceptical of fracking. It was a steep learning curve forcing me to think more about energy and the environment. I came to the conclusion that fracking was the best, or least bad, option and very necessary for Britain. That put me in agreement with the “best environment minister ever” John Gummer aka Lord Deben, but meant that I went against most green Christians. As I considered the whole fracking debate issue to be important, I began to put my head above the parapet. That was impossible to avoid after Cuadrilla applied for two exploration wells 10 miles from my home in February 2014. Now that changed everything. For two years it has dominated many aspects of life in Lancashire.
In February 2014 I went to Cuadrilla’s open meeting at Elswick and was greeted by anti-frackers at the door. Many had arrived in gas-guzzlers! Inside were various stands and many staff from Cuadrilla and Arup. I did not say I had been an exploration geologist but simply asked questions. They gave very reasonable answers and did not try to blind me with science. I went away confident that they were careful operators. A few weeks later I went to a meeting at Inskip of RAFF (Residents against Fracking Fylde). It was very different as the speakers simply peddled the anti-fracking line. During question time I raised questions about a speaker’s geological understanding pointing out it was contrary to BGS reports. I was surprised that she was supported by a Friends of the Earth worker, as I had always had a high regard for FoE. I became aware of hostility to those who did not support the anti-fracking line. About that time lots of anti-fracking signs appeared in the various villages.
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One of many signs near the Preston New road site near Blackpool

 

 

this is fracking

The nightmare opponents of fracking have, but forget that this is not fracking with long laterals but close vertical drills.

 

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Welcome toRoseacre! After this appeared houses were difficult to sell
I took copies of the RAFF leaflet Shale Gas; the Facts, which I found to be grossly inaccurate. I was put in touch with Ken, who shortly had complained to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) about a leaflet distributed by Frack Free Somerset. Before the ASA made a judgment FFS withdrew the leaflet! Ken and I put in a complaint to the ASA against RAFF https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/complaint-to-asa-against-raff-residents-action-on-fracking-fylde-for-gross-errors/ . RAFF tried to answer our complaints but shortly before a judgment was due they withdrew the leaflet. We did the same for Frack Free Ryedale who in Feb 2016 withdrew their leaflet. We await the result over a complaint about Friends of the Earth’s leaflet appealing for donations to fund their work in Lancashire. Some may have seen some of the press coverage of FoE in February stemming from Cuadrilla’s complaints to the Charity Commission https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/how-fiendish-is-friends-of-the-earth/ . At present I am trying to work out what FoE have done in Lancs over the last few years in preparation for a paper to be given at a geological conference. It is clear they worked on local villages and fuelled the local opposition. They also provided training in public speaking in preparation for the June hearings. However those speaking simply repeated the pseudoscientific party line of the antis. My own involvement convinced me that much of the opposition in Lancashire had been fired up by groups like FoE and Greenpeace.

 

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The substance of the Friends of the Earth leaflet
I also became concerned at the violence, intimidation, and law-breaking from some anti-frack supporters, some of which I observed.
Last autumn, we went on holiday to the USA and as we went to Philadelphia we spent a day going around a fracking area. We were put in touch with the CEO of a local company, who took us on a tour of various wells in hilly woodland. It was more attractive than most forestry commission areas. From the valley the only visual impact was a gas pipeline.

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Trout Run, nr Williamsport, PA. gas pad at top of hill. Forest cleared for gasline

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The “flat hill” is a gaspad with 6 wells. Houseowner happy to have it there

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Well being drilled 2 mls from previous photo
We were sent on a tour on empty roads. I visited one pad and spoke to a couple whose house was only yards from another pad, and they were quite happy with it all.

I spoke to people in the motel, restaurant and shops. One or two had some reservations but most valued the fracking. This was in Bradford county a supposedly grim area for fracking.
My intention from the beginning was to consider “all sides”, and that meant talking to green groups, industry and “official” bodies and academic institutions. One major problem was that many green groups, whether in the flesh, or online, simply wanted no questioning or dealings with anyone who questioned them. I was more fortunate with the other two categories. Academics in the UK and USA sent me technical papers on request, which were often behind a pay-wall. I have had personal dealings with several and have been on geological fieldtrips with others, as I know the Forest of Bowland well. (some of my blogs on the geology of the Bowland Shales have been used by university geologists!) I have got to know staff from Cuadrilla, and they have also allowed me on-site. I have made useful contacts with many connected with the shale gas industry

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Three Oxford geology profs and D. Phil student looking at Bowland Shales
As can be seen, fracking is both a technical and a social issue and the two are often inter-twined. Often polarisation gets deep and fractious.

So far the CoE has made no official statement on fracking, but many individuals have. Nearly all follow the anti-fracking line and their ‘science’ is poorly evidenced and argued. Most appear to have no technical or scientific knowledge. Doctorates in literature do not qualify one to speak on drilling wells or geology!
This Church Times article https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2013/6-september/comment/opinion/wanted-a-green-theology-that-probes-fracking is simply emotional, and this discussion paper from the Blackburn Diocese is very inaccurate and biased. The Url http://www.ctlancashire.org.uk/issues/ (go to fracking) gives the paper and my response.

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Cartoon to go with Church Times article. Since removed.
My conclusions of my study are;
• Fracking is as safe as any other industry. The regulations are robust. There is environmental risk (as there is with farming!), but has been greatly exaggerated. There may be accidents and minor environmental spills etc, but the key pollution pathways responsible for many of the US problems have been examined by the Royal Academy of Engineering. This has lead to a raft of regulations.
• Local gas will be better for meeting Climate Change targets, provided there is a concerted effort on renewables, energy efficiency, etc etc. The key climate issue is to eliminate of coal, which may kill 1600 people a year in the UK. LNG imports are worse for the climate than locally fracked gas.
• So often environmentalists polemically present the option of fracking OR renewables rather than both.
• If fracking takes off it benefit employment, especially in Lancs and Yorks.
• It will improve energy security and help the UK’s balance of payments, as North Sea oil did for decades.
However fracking alone is insufficient. Other aspects need tackling, e.g. planting of trees, farming methods, peat restoration, energy conservation, etc.
One of the weaknesses of many Greens today is to see everything through a lens of Climate Change, and to see fracking as the biggest evil of all. In fact, Green campaigners and architects of the Climate Change Act, the late Stephen Tindale, and Baroness Briony Worthington see shale gas as the way forward, in progressing to a low carbon future. The myopic anti-frack approach has resulted in polarised arguments which help no one.
This fractious polarisation is often fuelled by certain green groups, who cannot, or will not see the big picture. They constantly chant the mantra #keepitintheground. Sadly, a secondary result of my study of fracking is that many Christian Greens make the same mistake.
Over the last five years the clamour against fracking has not been edifying and the church has made no useful contribution. Many commentators have ignored the mass of scientific evidence from so many professional groups, such as the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society, Public Health England, the HSE, the Environment Agency, the British Geological Survey, CIWEM, the European Union, the US Environmental Protection Agency and dozens more. Much of this is on the internet. A good place to start is http://www.refine.org.uk/
They comment on ‘toxic’ chemicals that are not permitted under UK and EU law. They also ignore the hundreds of research papers that confirm the safety of the process. These commentators prefer health studies that are dismissed by health experts, and histrionic reports of pollution incidents that are nothing to do with fracking.
To me it is a matter of great concern whether for the environment, the well-being of people (and planet), and the credibility of the churches. Thus I am one of the many who support a well-regulated fracking for the sake of the environment.
Not all think I am right!

 

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Dippy, diplodocus, goes to war with religion

Last week we went to the Dippy, the diplodocus, exhibition in Dorchester. It was fascinating to see the vast model of this dinosaur, which was attracting kids of all ages.  Later Dippy will travel round the country to the joy of many. It was an excellent exhibion but some of the “informative displays” were rather misguided and inaccurate as they relied on the whole idea of science and religion being at loggerheads with each other. It seems that those from the British Museum of Natural History are simply not up to speed. But first a description and then our visit

First, here is a description cribbed from Wikipedia

Dippy is a plaster cast replica of the fossilised bones of the type specimen of Diplodocus carnegii. The 105-foot (32 m)-long cast was displayed from 1979 to 2017 in the Hintze Hall, the central entrance hall of the Natural History Museum, in London.D

The genus Diplodocus was first described in 1878 by Othniel Charles Marsh. The fossilised skeleton from which Dippy was cast was discovered in Wyoming in 1898, and acquired by the Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie for his newly-founded Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. The bones were soon recognised as a new species, and named Diplodocus carnegii.

King Edward VII, then a keen trustee of the British Museum, saw a sketch of the bones at Carnegie’s Scottish home, Skibo Castle, in 1902, and Carnegie agreed to donate a cast to the Natural History Museum as a gift. Carnegie paid £2,000 for the casting in plaster of paris, copying the original fossil bones held by the Carnegie Museum (not mounted until 1907, as a new museum building was still being constructed to house it).

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The work involved in removing Dippy and replacing it with the whale skeleton was documented in a BBC Television special, Horizon: Dippy and the Whale, narrated by David Attenborough, which was first broadcast on BBC Two on 13 July 2017, the day before the whale skeleton was unveiled for public display.[1]

Dippy started a tour of British museums in February 2018, mounted on a new more mobile armature.[2][3] Over the following three years, Dippy will be exhibited at locations around the UK: Dorset County Museum (10 February – 7 May 2018),[4] Ulster Museum (17 September 2018 – 6 January 2019),[5] Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Great North Museum, the National Assembly for Wales, Number One Riverside in Rochdale, and Norwich Cathedral.[6]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dippy_(London)

And a timetable of Dippy’s wanderings around the country

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/take-part/dippy-on-tour.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwk9HWBRApEiwA6mKWabcHGuYHKt6duiJHogtgDRhENfsvL03iyU0lOdb1d9ZOuejY9a61EBoC5qoQAvD_BwE

Dippy is staying in the Dorset Museum in Dorchester and is sharing her stay with the “cold, cretaceous” novelist Thomas Hardy, who was writing his dark, but profound novels at the time Dippy was unearthed. And so the five of us went round and the two year old was enthralled. So was I!!

This photos show some of her vastness.

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She made us look like midgets.

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I hope she never got arthritis in her neck.

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Big fat legs

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Around the walls were more general geological displays and here is the map of the Weymouth Anticline  made by Mike House in about 1950 when he was studying under W J Arkell, who was prof of geology at Oxford in the 50s. House led my first university geological field trip to Swanage, but left soon after to take the chair at Hull. The only thing I remember of his farewell lecture was his description of some dino footprints on what was soft mud. The adult plonked her feet haphazardly, but baby dino planted her feet without crossing the cracks just as a human child would do.

 

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Here is a local fossil ichthyosaur at the museum. One of the early workers was the Rev William Conybeare and an Anglican vicar and important early geologist in the early 1820s. As a geologist he was superb and had evangelical sympathies. Despite what is said in other display boards at the Dorset Museum, Conybeare was typical of his day and had no problem with vast geological time and spoke of “quadrillions of years”. He did have problems with the young earthers of his day!!

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nice gnashers from a local

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I simply cannot understand what this incoherent muddle means. I think both Conybeare and especially William Buckland (see below) would say just the same !!

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How on earth can this be allowed in a serious museum? It is just muddled twaddle.

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If, like me, you cannot read it, here it is magnified.

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After my face-palming , here is my criticism.

  1. Take the sentence “During the 19th …… Bible.” First, it fails to note that Darwin published in 1859, and the dorset dinos were discovered 40 yrs before, so evolution was not on the table in 1820. In 1820 most scientists and educated Christians accepted the findings of geological deep time, with a few noisy objectors. Even by 1800 most educated people, Christian or not accepted deep time , as Martin Rudwick has shown in his recent books e.g. Earth’s Deep History or my modest contributions ; in the Evangelical Quarterly https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/genesis-chapter-one-and-geological-time-from-ussher-to-darwin/  which is a historical survey  and  a chapter in the Geol soc publication Geology and Religion on how Adam Sedgwick, a close friend and colleague of Conybeare and Buckland, dealt wit 6 day creationists of his day https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/how-to-deal-with-victorian-creationists-and-win/ (Today you are not supposed to speak about or to creationists like that!!)
  2. Dr William Buckland was a great geologist but a nutter!! Hw was the first to identify a Jurassic Mammal and instrumental in getting Ice Ages accepted in Britain. For much of his geological career he reckoned the Noah’s Flood was the last geological event, with vast geological epochs before it. At that time it made sense and in some unpublished writings (now at Oxford) regarded the flood as caused by melting ice from the Ice Age. Read my article in the Proceedings of the Geologists Association on his excellent work (and Darwin’s)  on the Ice Age in Wales . There is a reference to it and access at the end of this blog.  https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/darwins-boulders/
  3. Willaim Smith produced the first geological map of any country in 1815 – England and Wales, but in the 1790s held to a 6 day creation. However he was disabused of that by two local vicars; Richardson and Townsend!
  4. Lastly, the commentary by Henry and Scott. This was a later collation of commentaries by Henry  (1670s) and Scott (1800) neither of whom took any notice of geology!

And finally something on the greatest woman fossil collector Mary Anning

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It was great meeting Dippy , but a disappointment at some of the shoddy historical material.

Sadly, it has to be said that today a higher proportion of Christians believe that the earth was created in 6 days than when either Conybeare and Anning were unearthing ichthyosaurs in the 1820 or at the end of the century when Dippy saw the light again.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/evolution-and-religion-in-britain-from-1859-to-2013/

 

Why did Jesus die? Cosmic child abuse or the love of God?

We are coming up to Holy Week and Christians spend Holy Week thinking again of the events from Palm sunday to Easter Day.

No automatic alt text available.

 

The hardest to grasp is Good Friday

Why did Jesus die?

I am quite often asked “Why did Jesus die?” One churchmember tackled me after church and I offer this as a very brief reply
It is not easy to answer and a short answer can be very trite. Yet Jesus’s death and the symbol of the cross has a very strong emotive power. (To some that weakens as humans are supposed to be rational not emotional. That is not true as we all have emotions, whether or not we wear them on our sleeves. We show our emotions over different things.) This can be seen in the symbol of the Red Cross and many World War graves.
We could answer the question medically, but that does not explain why Jesus’s death has meaning for so many.

In a sense there is a simple answer, summed up in the hymn “There is a green hill far away”;

He died that we might be forgiven
He died to make us good

In its simplicity this brings out two main things, first there is something wrong with humans as we are not good and need forgiving and Jesus enables that. This is summed up in the devalued word “sin”, which has lost its currency. However we need to consider human nature and sin. Francis Spufford in his excellent book Unapologetic sums this up as “the Human Propensity to **** things UP”. Earthy though that is, it is better than popular ideas which trivialise human badness as a “moment of madness” or similar euphemisms, or old ideas of breaking rules. There is something about all of us in that we have a knack of getting things wrong, even when we try to do them right. Unless we are self-righteous prigs we are aware that there is a sense of FAIL about us. Simply trying harder doesn’t seem to work.

So what about Jesus? Few would disagree that he was a good man and a great moral teacher, but the four gospels spend more words on his actual death and the main symbol of Christianity is the cross – one of the most ghastly means of execution ever devised. In a sense the Four Gospels do not tell us why Jesus died, but the accounts are incredibly moving and may reduce us to silence. Many composers have put them to music, and none are better than Bach with his St Matthew Passion and St John Passion.

At times explanations can be crude as with the view that God punished Jesus instead of us. This comes out with some popular preaching, but it makes God seem unreasonable. Far better is to see Jesus submitting to injustice on our behalf and showing that the way of suffering for and serving others is the way of hope..

Thus Paul in Philippians chap 2 vs 5-11.

1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Another one by Paul is to see Jesus as the reconciler and thus in 2 Corinthians 5 vs 16-21.

15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

These are two excellent passages to read.

Above all we see in the death of Jesus his sacrificial love for us and that we are to share that love. At best we only partially understand why Jesus died for us.

Fracking debate in Yorkshire, March 2018

  Fracking debate in Yorkshire

Fracking creates a stir in both Yorkshire and Lancashire. On March 8th there is to be a debate in Yorkshire between the local MP Kevin Holinrake and the expert engineer Mike Hill from Lancashire. For a debate you need an impartial chair who is not aligned to either postiion. That chairman is Bishop James Jones, who like me has long been concerned about the environment.

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/460519
DEBATE EVENT “This house believes that UK regulations make fracking safe”
2 tickets per applicant

“This house believes that UK regulations make fracking safe”
Proposed by Kevin Hollinrake MP
Opposed by Michael Hill C.Eng. MIET
Chaired by Bishop James Jones KBE
THURSDAY 8TH MARCH 7.00PM – 9.00PM
LADY LUMLEYS SCHOOL, SWAINSEA LANE, PICKERING, YO18 8NG
DOORS OPEN AT 6.45PM FOR A 7.00PM START
Please note that tickets are restricted to 2 per applicant
Organised by Kirkbymoorside Town Council

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I first heard Bishop Jones speak on the environment in about 2003, where he was introducing his book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jesus-Earth-James-Jones/dp/0281056234/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519654370&sr=1-10&keywords=james+jones
It was good to see evangelicals in Lancashire being challenged on the environment, but I felt he was trying to draw too much out of the gospels.
I have considered environment for decades having read Carson’s Silent Spring in the 60s and when working for a mining company in Africa I could see many problems. In the 70s I found that churches were just not interested and in the early 80s the Board of social Responsibility in Jones’ future diocese of Liverpool ignored my request to put the environment on the agenda!
This is a brief and simple summary of my views on the environment
https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/gods-creation-and-the-environment/

It was only after the mid-80s that the churches belatedly became concerned about the environment and after 2010 most threw in their lot with anti-frackers and divestment, almost taking the lead of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. By 2014 fracking became the litmus-test on whether you were environmentally sound. I failed dismally, but that is another story.
Today within the Church of England almost all Green voices oppose fracking and support divestment and alternatives with approaches like those  Mark Lynas, late Sir David Mackay, Lord Deben and even groups like DECC, BGS are either side-lined or rebuffed. With the exception of the Fletcher/Holtham report, I have been unable to find church discussions on fracking which do not oppose it. They are also usually deficient in accuracy. This is the case within my diocese of Blackburn
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Local news in Yorkshire report the coming debate as here;
https://www.minsterfm.com/news/local/2512787/fracking—facts-and-fiction-debate/

Kirkbymoorside town council is to host a major debate on fracking in Pickering on March 8.
Chartered engineer Mike Hill will go head to head with Thirsk and Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake at Lady Lumley’s School, Pickering at from 7 – 9pm
Mr Hollinrake, whose Thirsk and Malton constituency includes the fracking site at Kirby Misperton, will argue that UK regulation can make hydraulic fracturing safe.
Mr Hill, who has worked in the industry for 20 years, will make the case against this view.
The debate will be chaired by retired bishop, the Right Reverend James Jones KBE, formerly Bishop of Liverpool and as Chair of the Hillsborough Inquiry. Bishop Jones is presently an adviser to Amber Rudd, The Home Secretary.
Kirkbymoorside Town Council has opposed fracking activities locally since December 14.
Fracking has been expected in Ryedale since November 2017, when Third Energy said it was ready to start work at its KM8 well in Kirby Misperton.
Mike Hill, UK Expert Member|TWG Hydrocarbon BREF|JRC/EU Commission said:
“This debate is very important not just for Yorkshire but for the U.K. The Govt. position on fracking is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what unconventional fossil fuel (UFF) exploration means.
The severe risks to the public health, the environment and local economy have not been mitigated anywhere near adequately enough.
The wider implications for climate change are also being “confused” by the government. Fracking is not a bridge to a low carbon future and never was.
It is a bridge to nowhere, a dead end, and is in reality a far “dirtier” fuel to develop, in terms of green house gas emissions, than coal.
Add to that the propaganda being spread that we can somehow reduce our dependence on Russian gas and the entire case of fracking is totally destroyed.”
Kevin Hollinrake, MP, said:
“I welcome the opportunity to have an open debate about shale gas exploration in the constituency and to answer questions.
I believe that shale gas exploration is in our national interest and there are strong economic reasons for supporting it.
However, I do so only as long as we make sure development does not pollute the environment, reduces our carbon footprint and the impact to our landscape and communities are properly managed.”
Kirkbymoorside Town Mayor, Angus Ashworth said:
“I hope that this event will provide an opportunity for residents of Kirkbymoorside and the locality, to hear both points of view on the subject of fracking regulations.
I have every confidence that the evening will be informative to all parties and on behalf of
Kirkbymoorside Town Council
I would like to thank the speakers and chairman for agreeing to participate in this debate.”
Later this month, a Government appointed planning inspector will begin to examine the North Yorkshire joint minerals and waste plan, which will set policy on fracking for the next 20 years.
The day set aside for oil and gas submissions is a week after the Kirkbymoorside debate, on Tuesday 13 March.
The shale gas company, INEOS, is also expected to begin seismic testing for shale gas in its licence areas in North Yorkshire in 2018.

Bishop Jones has been recognised for his work on Hilsborough and has now retired to Yorkshire. He was interviewed for the Yorkshire Post in December 2017, where he also gave his very negative views on fracking
https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/my-yorkshire-the-right-reverend-james-jones-kbe-1-8928850
Here Bishop Jones makes clear his opposition to fracking

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If you had to change one thing about Yorkshire what would it be? I would stop fracking in Yorkshire. I am seriously worried that the regulation is not coordinated or robust enough. I worry about the impact it will have on our water. The risks are too high. If the water ends up contaminated it could have a disastrous impact on our health, our agriculture, tourism and the whole economy of Yorkshire.

This needs a little consideration
JJ said; If you had to change one thing about Yorkshire what would it be? I would stop fracking in Yorkshire. I am seriously worried that the regulation is not coordinated or robust enough.
I say; At government departments etc eg PHE, HSE, EA DECC say that the regulation is robust. So why is the Bishop concerned. This concern sounds like an echo from Mike Hill, one of the debaters, who claims the regulations are thoroughly lacking and has convinced many local groups and churches about this.

JJ says; I worry about the impact it will have on our water. The risks are too high.
I say; What grounds? This is the standard anti-fracking argument whichdoes not hold water.
JJ says; If the water ends up contaminated it could have a disastrous impact on our health, our agriculture, tourism and the whole economy of Yorkshire.
I say; The usual scare story put forward by Green NGOs like Friends of the earth, who under Andy Atkins (see below) mounted a campaign in Lancashire. Again no claim could be demonstrated.
I feel here that Bishop Jones has fallen for the usual anti-fracking scare stories, as have too many in the churches.
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Now back to Mr Hill.
Mr Hill has long claimed that regulations for fracking are very poor. He also wrongly claims that only ONE of the TEN recommendations in the RS/RAE report of 2012 have implemented, though many have challenged him. http://www.ukoog.org.uk/regulation
His views are widely accepted in the churches and it is clear he influenced the 2015 report on fracking from Blackburn diocese. This comes from his own website and members of the diocesan committee.
http://www.ctlancashire.org.uk/data/uploads/documents/issues/fracking/the-challenges-of-fracking-discussion-document-january-2015-final.pdf
The group claimed to take expert advice but the only “expert” mentioned in Mr Hill. The paper was very inaccurate with a gross bias along with bad theology.
My blog on it is here in which I took advice on many aspects which were beyond my skills .
https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/lancashire-churches-get-fracked/
In 2017 Mike Hill wrote a paper criticising the Church of England briefing paper on shale gas, which is the nearest to the official view of the church;
Shale Gas and Fracking A Briefing Paper from the Mission and Public Affairs Council and the Environment Working Group of the Church of England December 2016
https://cms.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-11/shale-gas-and-fracking.pdf
Here is Hill’s   review

Hill makes a lot of charges againon Shale Gas and Fracking is to be found on his website Shale Gas Office.
https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/b0aabf_5902a55b06fd4338a56db38dd8687240.pdf

his

was used by the Blackburn environment Group to show why the Flectcher/Holtham paper was misguided; Among other things nearly all the references Hill uses are his own UNPUBLISHED papers.
https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/anglican-environmentalists-misguidedly-challenge-church-report-on-fracking/
I do wonder whether the Bishop’s concern for regulation comes from Mr Hill
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So much for Mr Hill,  back to Bishop Jones and to consider his previous connections with fracking.. Many will know of Friends of the Earth campaign in Lancashire against Cuadrilla. FoE were involved since 2011 and encouraged by their CEO Andy Atkins. Atkins visited anti-fracking groups in Lancashire on several occasions and gave some environmental awards. It culminated with the ruling of the Advertising Standards Authority against their leaflet seeking funds of their work
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-38499811
Andy Atkins was CEO of Friends of the Earth from c2010 to 2015 and encouraged the anti-fracking campaign in Lancashire, yet Jones praises him
“Andy (pictured) has been described as ‘one of the leading environmentalists’ by former Bishop of Liverpool Rt Rev James Jones, who chaired the independent panel on the Hillsborough disaster. ‘He’ll lead not only A Rocha UK – but also the whole Church – to a new level of action towards the earthing of heaven,’ said the bishop.”
http://arocha.org.uk/top-campaigner-to-lead-a-rocha-uk/
Divestment.

Jones along with 3 other retired bishops and numbers of clergy wrote this letter to the Guardian to divest from Exxon-mobil. There is not space here but some of the arguments are contentious and one-sided.
http://brightnow.org.uk/news/bishops-clergy-call-cofe-divest-exxon/

To conclude it is difficult to see Bishop Jones as an impartial chair for this debate as he is clearly anti-fracking and biased against petroleum.
All in all for a long time he has supported a negative view of fracking , repeats their myths and seems to back FoE

To it, does not bode well for a debate like this.

How to deal with (Victorian) Creationists and win!

For the last fifty years Young Earth Creationism has been thriving and growing , first in the USA and then throughout the world. It has been opposed by many scientists and the wiser of Christians. At times some Christians have been too reticent.

And so the likes of Henry Morris and Ken Ham have called too many shots over recent years.

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I wonder if Christians today shouldn’t have been as forthright as Sedgwick and Buckland.

During the early 19th century a handful in Britain argued against the geologists with their vastly extended timescales. There has been no full-scale treatment of them , though the Answers in Genesis resident “Historian of Geology” did a Ph D on the “scriptural geologists” and published a eulogy – sorry book – on them The Great Turning Point. He seems to think they were wonderful scientists!

I have only managed to find forty to fifty who went into print and they all tried to rubbish the geologists and insist the earth was young.  Many were Anglican clergy, most notably the Dean of York , William Cockburn , whose activities you can read in my link at he end. As the early 19th century was the time of the Reverend Geologists like Rev. William Buckland from Oxford and

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Rev. Adam Sedgwick from Cambridge,

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who took it upon themselves to take on these scriptural geologists.

Both Buckland and Sedgwick were brilliant geologists, who made great geological contributions. Buckland was the first to describe a Jurassic mammal and introduced notions of the Ice Age to Britain. Sedgwick made a massive , if not leading contribution to the works out of the Cambrian, Ordovician Silurian and Devonian periods. Sedgwick also taught Darwin geology and took him on a Welsh field trip in 1831.

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https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/darwins-boulders/

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I have researched Buckland on the Ice Age and Sedgwick in Wales and never fail to be amazed their geological skill. This resulted in much walking over the Welsh mountains in all weather conditions. My most energetic day was a trek over the Carneddau covering 18 miles and over 6,000ft of climbing.

Sedgwick wrote A discourse on the studies of the university in 1833 in the middle of his Welsh explorations. An Anglican cleric Henry Cole took Sedgwick to task, but Sedgwick rightfully shredded him. Then in 1844 he got the same treatment from Dean Cockburn of York Minster. I think Cockburn gets the prize for being the stupidest dean ever, though there are some competitors! I won’t say whom.

Here’s the memorial plaque to Sedgwick in Dent Church

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And now read the paper to see how silly Cole and Cockburn were!!

 

From:K O ¨ LBL-EBERT, M. (ed.) Geology and Religion: A History of Harmony and Hostility. The Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 310, 155–170. DOI: 10.1144/SP310.18 0305-8719/09/$15.00 # The Geological Society of London 2009.

Follow this link

sedgwick

God’s Creation and the Environment

Why Belief in Creation is important

Not many decades ago the doctrine of creation was almost ignored within the churches , but today things have changed and creation is to the fore.
The first chapter of Genesis speaks of creation in six days. Some get bogged down and think that is what Christians actually believe.

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But 1600 years ago St Augustine had got it right!

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Then in the Nicene Creed we say, “We believe in one God, …,maker of heaven and earth”. After four hundred years of modern science we need to accept the vast age of the earth and evolution.

Anything else is “alternative fact”.

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Our Christian faith does not tell us what our science should be, but rather how we should see the natural world, how to use it and recognise its originator.
So how should we treat the natural world? There has often been careless exploitation, resulting in gross pollution. At the other extreme some want hug every tree and view nature so mystically that they can scarcely use it. (But they do!)
Let’s put it under three heads;

1.Worship God as Creator.

We must always see that God is creator and that his Glory is seen in nature. Now we see it in frosts and bursting snowdrops. We need to develop this so we see the Creator both in the smallest things, like dew on a spider’s web, and in the awesome like mountains in snow. It is something we can do daily.

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These photos show some of the beauty of the British countryside and the ones below are from my garden and a churchyard

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There is always something to find, if you look

O all ye green things of the earth, bless ye the Lord

2 Use creation, i.e. the earth’s resources, wisely.

To live, we need food, materials whether grown or extracted, and, unless we wish to return to poverty, we use a lot. Our energy is from fossil fuels and will be for decades despite some claims. The metals we use are dug out of the ground, smelted and cause pollution. Farming takes over tracts of land thus reducing wilderness. Without these we would either starve or die young. This is something some Greens do not want to grasp.

However human activity does cause environmental dame as with this opencast coal mine and drainage of peat in the Pennines for grouse shooting which allows 10ft of peat to blow away and be a factor in floods. This old trig pillar was on a level with the peat 100 yrs ago but erosion meant it was 10 ft in the air. It was knocked over for safety

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I could discuss this at length, but we need to find a way of enabling all people to live comfortably, control pollution and environmental damage and , above all, find ways of restoring areas damaged by mining, industry or land usage. Today we can see the effects with loss of wildlife and biodiversity, increased flooding (in the river Wyre basin where I live, it may well be due to peat damage and tree loss rather than climate change), pollution from all sources and climate change.
The solution is global, governmental and personal. Personal actions are vital whether turning lights off, growing plants to attract wildlife and many other things.

3. Think of others.

We may live in a comfortable environment with greenspaces, wildlife and creature comforts, but many in our world do not. Parts of our cities lack green spaces and suffer from air pollution. Many parts of the world have dirty water, limited food and energy and are grossly polluted. The pollution of the Ganges is our concern as well. Do we care? and why should we care?

Part of this we see in the mandate of Genesis 1 vs 28, but this does not take environmental issues into consideration as that was not an issue in 1000BC. It is often interpreted so we should EXPLOIT, rather than CARE, for the earth. It is only in the last 30 years that churches have shown concern for the environment. Before that a minority of individuals did.

We need to start from the Creator and his Creation, and think of the first great commandment “You shall love the Lord your God…” Simplistically that means if we love God we will love what he has made, i.e. the whole of his creation.

And the Second is like”You shall love your neighbour as yourself” and that means we will want others to have their share of creation and not wreck it. Thus environmental concerns also stem from the second commandment.

Taking the two commandments together, we are obliged to love and care for the creation
To sum up, if we love God our Creator and love our neighbour we will also love God’s creation.

The third great commandment should be
“Thou shalt love God’s creation, because…….

 

I have deliberately left out dealing with particular green issues as my focus is on a Christian understanding of the creation and thus the environment. As soon as we get to specifics there is controversy. Part of that can be selective or biased information, a practice carried out both by environmentalists and others, epitomised by the tobacco lobby.

This is a very simple Christian case for environmentalism and will not please sophisticats, but I suggest it is better for most as a starting point.

Finally, no environmental understanding can be had without taking all scientific issues into consideration and so St Augustine’s strictures from 400AD still apply to us as we want to clean up and nurture our planet.