Category Archives: Church of England

Should the church ‘let the world set the agenda’ on ethics and doctrine? | Psephizo

How far should the church look to the standards of society to guide its own moral stance? Recently Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, did just that on marriage and sexuality saying that the church should let the world set the agenda. This is music to the ears of progressive Christians and discord to the so-called conservative. Here Bayes lays out his views  in his address to the MoSAIC group .  He says “want to see a gender-neutral marriage canon,” in Canon Law, which would make it difficult for any priest to oppose same-sex marriage. Perhaps those who do, would have to quit.

It is a dangerous thing to let the world set the agenda and the early church did not do that on matters of sex as Ian states. As the unknown author of The Letter to Diognetus memorably  wrote;

They share their food, but not their wives Diognetus 5 vs7

This has been a rallying cry for decades but ultimately dissolves any Christian claims into the contemporary zeitgeist. At least Barth and Bonhoffer did not do it in 1934 Germany.

Read his blog as it is one of his best  and I suppose anyone who agrees with Ian must be one of the many varieties of -phobe, if not all.

His pessimism at the end is well-founded

Source: Should the church ‘let the world set the agenda’ on ethics and doctrine? | Psephizo

We need to talk about race—and historical facts | Psephizo

There is so much talk about race with all the stuff from Black Lives Matter.

In 2019 a black pastor from London wrote “We need to talk about race” Many including the Archbishop recommended it, but this blog exposes glaring errors.

It is an excellent read and a warning that slovenly arguments on race will in fact increase racism. These apply to the history of the slave trade and colonialism in particular. Note little was made of the Royal Navy’s gunboat diplomacy against the slave trade after 1807 and how this killed the Transatlantic slave trade.

Knowing a little about the history I find the article is historically very good, though it goes against the trendy hymn sheet.

enough of me , so read it.

Source: We need to talk about race—and historical facts | Psephizo

Mere Ideology: The politicisation of C.S. Lewis

So often thinkers and activists of the past are co-opted for projects today which would make them turn in their graves.

C.S. Lewis | Biography, Books, Mere Christianity, Narnia, & Facts |  Britannica

Here Steve Hayes shows how the libertarian right of the USA are trying to co-opt C S Lewis for the weird right-wing semi-Trumpism.
In the USA many have tried to claim Lewis as a good conservative evangelical – when he was not – he was simply a sensible Anglican from a time when Anglicans were sensible!!

On a personal note I met Steve in Windhoek in 1969 while I was working for a mining company. At that time he was a radical Anglican priest who later got banned. He is now orthodox.

Study the post and consider how often we twist historical personages for our own ends

Notes from underground

I recently read a couple of articles that appear to me to be attempts to co-opt C.S. Lewis for the cause of American Libertarianism.

C. S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism, Part 1:

In comparison to contemporary ‘progressive’ Christians such as Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Ronald Sider, and Brian McLaren, who clamor for the foolish and disastrous notion of achieving ‘social justice’ through gigantic government powers, was Lewis just ignorant or naive about modern realities, or was he aiming at a deeper and more significant purpose? (See Robert Higgs’s book refuting the ‘progressive’ myth in American history, Crisis and Leviathan, and his book on the disastrous ‘progressive’ state since 1930, Depression, War, and Cold War; see also Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr.’s The Decline of American Liberalism and The Civilian and the Military, and Jonathan Bean’s Race and Liberty in America.) In this article, I only…

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Pilgrimage to Net Zero 2030; or Pilgrimage to bankruptcy 2030

Pilgrimage to Net Zero 2030, or bankruptcy?

NET ZERO 2030

The Climate Emergency Toolkit

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In February 2020 just before the pandemic hit General Synod voted to work for Net Zero in 2030, altering the original motion for 2045 by an amendment. There was controversy as it was rushed through. On such a serious matter a major change should not have been made without due consideration and not rushed through.

The original target of 2045 was going to be difficult but 2030 is frankly impossible, without bankrupting many parish churches. Quite simply the technology is not in place how ever many times you intone “renewables” or “clean energy”..

In January 2021 a large group of Christian environmental groups came together to produce a route map for a church “to respond to the climate emergency”. It is already gaining enthusiastic responses. As we will see it assumes that swapping to renewables and heat pumps will solve it. It also does not consider the doubts and questions some have, especially those with technical ability in these areas.

It appears that green Christians in the Church of England think it is a wonderful idea and we should all be working hard to make it happen. 

Here is the route map in the Climate Emergency Toolkit.

https://media.wix.com/ugd/d168f3_07498be7114c43749f8e995bbea63155.pdf 

In view of the general concern over the climate, this seems an excellent idea, especially to enable local churches to understand Climate Change and be guided how to respond

This looks very promising as it supported by almost all Christian environmental and overseas development groups. It sets out a plan or route map for churches to make their response to the climate emergency. Further, there is no doubt that Climate Change is very serious and must be tackled by all, whether by the government or community groups.

As I read the route map, or Climate Emergency Toolkit I became more and more concerned. It was clear the authors had little or no grasp of energy issues and what is involved in going Net Zero. They seem to have a blind and tantric faith in renewables and pit “clean” energy against “dirty” energy from fossil fuels. It seems the most important thing for churches to do is to divest. That is partly as it seems to be an echo chamber for Operation Noah, whose accuracy is not always spot-on. And then we are advised to support Extinction Rebellion and Christian Climate Action. I cannot help thinking that they uncritically accept anything these or Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace say.

There is no discussion of various understandings of the challenges of climate change as it opts for an extreme ER-type stance without presenting any case for it. The position of Nuclear Energy is simply ignored without even a mention. Fossil fuels are terrible but there is no realisation that on almost every scenario fossil fuels will continue to be used until mid-century.

Despite these strictures, the route map gives the impression of being considered and cautious, seeking to understand the problem of climate change. As they say it is better to not to jump in it but to ;

PREPARE first

DECLARE secondly

and then lastly work towards making an IMPACT, however local or limited

and so to the DECLARING. You are referred to a few sites to help, inform and guide you to set a target or a focus.

It is very much a done deal as a certain stance of energy in relation to the climate is assumed and thus one is almost coralled into agreement. It is a Route Map with no alternatives. It is taken for granted that the only energy which should be used is wind or solar, with no reasons given why oil is bad. nuclear is ignored. No discussion of energy is encouraged and then one is given two suggestions to carry out. It seems you are expected to agree with the view presented, when I, as a long-standing Christian environmentalist, most definitely do not. There is no question whether Climate Change is a serious issue which needs addressing, but there is no single route Map to do this. The route map here is centred on Renewables and Divestment, as if all will be fine and dandy after that. (There is no consideration of the downside of renewables – their intermittency and the vast amount of metals required from Copper to rare earths, almost doubling the present consumption. As a former mining geologist I expect major shortages within a few years. What we will see is copper being stripped from almost anywhere, as has happened to South African railways.)

This is apparent in the page entitled DECLARE, where two targets or foci are given.

ENERGY SWITCHING and DIVESTMENT

There is no discussion on the reasons for the necessity of either. These seem to be the only options and no mention is made of other Christian, or environmental, viewpoints. Energy switching is simply to change one’s electricity or gas supplier to a provider of renewable energy rather than those which use fossil fuels to generate electricity.

There is no mention of nuclear energy, biogas or the fact that fossil fuels will be used for several decades to come, as even Greenpeace admit. One is presented with a simple binary option of renewable i.e clean, energy or fossil i.e. dirty energy. There is no mention of nuclear or the horrendous environmental price of renewable wood for power stations.

The emphasis is purely on renewables as THE answer for all energy problems. There is no mention that they only work when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. I write this in the first week of February, when energy suppliers are struggling with a chance of black-outs. On a cold winters night you get your electricity because gas and coal are ramped up, producing up to 70% of the nation’s electricity, with nuclear (ugh) producing another 20%. This is a very incomplete argument and ignores the energy needed for heating — 70% of houses rely on gas, which is increasingly imported from abroad, with a loss of gas en route, or that used in transport or industry. There is an absurdity that much gas used in Britain is FRACKED gas imported from the USA, when fracking is outlawed in the UK at present. It is often not known that electricity only accounts for a third or so of energy usage.

By considering renewables to be “clean energy” unlike “dirty fossil fuels”, the serious environmental impact of renewables is ignored, as different sources of energies are simplitically classified as “goodies” and “baddies”. All are “baddies” on the effect on the environment. No mention is made of the materials used in construction and that metals and rare earths needed are in short supply. When one adds on Electric Vehicles this becomes almost impossible.

This article by leading geologists well-versed in minerals resources tells of the problems of obtaining sufficient metals to “go electric”.

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/press-office/press-releases/leading-scientists-set-out-resource-challenge-of-meeting-net-zer.html

Having worked in a copper mine and as an exploration geologist focussing on copper, just the figures to move to 100% EVs by 2050 leaves me aghast. Over the next 30 years the UK needs a further  2.4 million tons of Copper, i.e 80,000 tones per year. This increase the annual consumption of copper by 66% and most would have to come from new mines. This is just for the UK, but imagine what it would be for the whole world. The authors highlight the scale of the difficulty. Recycling is not an option due to the amounts required.

The alternative is deep-sea mining which to some is disastrous.

THIS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN THE ROAD MAP, and not just an appeal to go renewable and divest from fossil fuels. Like many green groups they do not face the reality of the problem.

The second focus is on divestment. Here one is referred only to the Bright Now Campaign, which goes far beyond what the Church of England is suggesting. Again there is no reference to other voices, but only to Operation Noah. Leaving aside the fact that objections can be made to their claims, including on technical details (both on bias and matters of fact), it does seem very one-sided.

What we see is a Route Map totally tied to a particular perspective. As well as being very one-sided it omits several other foci, which are both good and have a wider appeal

  1. Transport. Consider leaving the car, and go by bike or foot. This is omitted in most ideas of Net Zero 2030, but would make an immediate difference on CO2, but also has health benefits. E.g. Today I needed to go to the supermarket, on a 1.5 mile return journey. My panniers and rucsac were full! Mine is usually the only bike at the supermarket. The value of walking and cycling is borne out by recent article on bikes by Prof Brand of Oxford https://theconversation.com/cycling-is-ten-times-more-important-than-electric-cars-for-reaching-net-zero-cities-157163 He makes it clear how effective bikes are at reducing carbon. In fact, for short journeys of less than three miles a bike is often quicker. It is also less stressful.
  2. Carbon capture by planting. – yes tree planting! This can be in church and school grounds, also in gardens and possibly the local community. Clearly oaks are out for most places , but there is a plethora of small trees e.g. sorbus, prunus or malus which are great for wildlife, or even native or non-native shrubs. All my vicarage gardens since 1980 have several trees and many shrubs gobbling up a bit of CO2. Two rowans I planted in 2001 are now about 20ft high, but those in my present garden, planted since 2014, are still spindly.
  3. Many aspects of personal lifestyles eg insulation, use of water, choice of food (not runner beans from Kenya!), what’s put in one’s garden e.g. Coffee grounds, tea leaves, when changed reduce one’s carbon footprint. Just consider how coffee grounds are cleaned up in the local waterworks, consuming energy in the process. But put on the garden they improve the soil. This needs to be emphasised in the teaching life of the church.

Yet there is no mention of these things in Pilgrimage to Net Zero 2030. This could be used to gently encourage both church employees and church members. But you need a vicar on a bike!!

The emphases of “divest” and “clean” energy recommended in the route map do not depart from the Great Green Narrative of “keep it the ground”, “renewables” “clean energy as opposed to dirty energy”(actually there is no clean energy) “divest” and support Extinction Rebellion. It totally ignores those environmentalists who take a different line after careful consideration and who may well support nuclear energy or a temporary support of fossil fuels. It is as though they are bad as the “Climate Denier”. In no other discussion in the churches would this happen. After all, the Church of England would not appoint a commission to discuss the place of the eucharist and only allow members of the Church Society to sit on it!! It is as though Sir David Mackay and others never did any high-powered work on energy. This is a serious omission and reflects badly on all the sponsoring groups.

The route map is so focussed on fossil fuels that almost ignore all the other vital issues;

Food; What and whence

Peat and plants and what one does with one’s garden. (This also touches on biodiversity)

The recent publications on the way that careful planting can improve climate issues is not mentioned, whether in gardens, road verges, parks, farms and countryside.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24933260-100-pollinators-are-our-secret-weapon-in-the-fight-against-global-warming/

Here is something all can do.

IMPACT

This section considers what can be done to make an Impact. Consider these two pages;

Rather than consider all possibilities this gives a carefully chosen selection of resources. It seems to assume all will agree with Operation Noah on divestment. Divestment seems to be the only/major emphasis of this road map.

This is little more than an appeal for activism, with several examples from the box headed Tools

Groups seem to be chosen to force churches into one view. However Repair Cafes is a Dutch group and list no cafes in Britain! Many places are not Transition Towns.

Of the others Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are very well-known especially for their stunts and bias, and even misinformation, on green issues. Several times they have been forced to correct these, including by the Advertising Standards Agency as in January 2018. They always seem to be in the front of the queue for considered opinion, which is usually more opinion than considered. For decades they have opposed one of the cleanest energies – nuclear, not to mention GMOs and other things.

More recently both have emphasised a rejection of fossil fuels, but also reject GMOs and Nuclear Energy, and have either slowed down or thwarted the implementation of these. The former will reduce agricultural emission and the latter low carbon energy with less risk than other forms of energy. Though they are usually foremost of green groups, many environmentalists reject their wide-ranging opposition over many issues.

Ironically most of us are queueing up for the GMO- COVID-19 vaccines whether we support GMOs or not! In July 2020, the European Parliament actually had to suspend the EU’s anti-GMO rules in order to allow the unimpeded development of COVID vaccines. There is great irony here. The Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine overtly uses genetic modification, but no one has complained. That is a reminder of the wayward ideas of these two groups and others like Christian Aid and Green Christian who are hostile to GMO. It’s odd no one has opposed the vaccines on the grounds of them being Genetically Modified, (or PPE as it is made from oil.).

One may ask why these were picked out as groups to support.

Extinction Rebellion in its local groups is also singled out. This was formed in late 2018 and soon caused major disruptions with their protests, almost courting arrest.

They take the most extreme view of the dangers of climate change claiming billions will die. This has terrified some youngsters, who think they will die early, and is dismissed by climate change specialists as false and simply scaremongering. That is hardly truthful.

However it is supported by Rowan Williams and several bishops, which is surely a serious lapse of judgement.

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Christian Climate Action is true to its name and sees itself as the “Christian” wing of Extinction Rebellion. They seem to revel in being arrested. They were the group who climbed on commuter trains at Canning Town mid 2019 preventing working class employees getting to work. It turned very ugly and one protestor was pulled off the roof of a carriage and roughed up by by commuters. It was lucky no one was badly beaten up. It was a protest too far.

Protest in London 1/5/21

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May be an image of 6 people, people standing and road

This would convince me to avoid anything connected with this

What we are suggested/guided/told to do in this section on IMPACT is Activism as protest, whether as apparently virtuous actions, or martyrdom through arrests, rather than activism as changed lifestyle seeking to drastically reduce our impact on the environment, which inevitably impinges on our carbon footprint, and slowly persuading others.

I think the authors of this Road Map need to say whether they expect whole congregations to join in these protests, disrupt the lives of other people and face arrest and prosecution. Being sarcastic, do they envisage the Mothers Union processing with their banners at an Extinction Rebellion protest? 🙂

This road map seems to be a ploy to force churches to adopt an extreme stance. It may be significant that the actual authors are not named. I suggest that this a recipe for conflict within churches who start using this Toolkit.

As described before there seems to be no openness to other green viewpoints, which do not demand divestment nor so-called green energy nor projects which do not break the law. Local to me are the Wyre River Trust and Lancashire Wildlife Trust. The former do careful tree planting, creation of new Carbon-absorbing wetlands and river repair and the other have various projects including restoring Winmarleigh Moss, a damaged low-level peat bog. This has great implications in dealing with climate change, though peatbogs have little sex-appeal for most people. (Though this project is controversial with the farmers neighbouring the moss.)

This is a very misguided and biased approach and I can imagine many churchmembers refusing to take part, with resultant division in the local church.

I question its discernment, accuracy and wisdom and whether all what they suggest is actually moral. Though since the 1990s I’ve been convinced of the seriousness of Climate Change, (having been an environmentalist for many decades) I’d refuse to take part and would oppose it by word and action – and withdraw any financial contribution to a church taking part.

Effectively each of these groups are undoing whatever good work they have done. The Route Map is very limited in its grasp of the technical issues of providing and using energy, which does not come from fossil fuels. The authors fail to discuss the problems of their chosen route map and should have given a presentation of the difficulties of getting away from fossil fuels, rather than simplistically appealing to renewables as the answer. They have done the churches a great disservice by this neglect. luke 14vs 28

I ought to note that among the patrons of these groups at least one is an antivaxxer in relation to Covid-19, and dismisses its seriousness.

It is a concern that the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment raises no critical questions about Net Zero 2030.

https://www.corpus.cam.ac.uk/articles/corpus-alumnus-appointed-lead-bishop-environment

What are the main priorities of the Church of England’s Environment Programme? 

We have an ambitious target of reaching net zero by 2030. That means that every church community needs to be thinking what it can do to contribute, whether by changing energy supplier to renewables, or using offset schemes, or generating solar, ground/air source, or wind energy on site, or considering these issues when the time comes to replace, for example, a boiler. I’m keen that we play out part in enhancing biodiversity on our land, especially churchyards which can be great places for the living diversity of life, as well as being places for the dead. Let them be Resurrection places of new life!

I am afraid I am unconvinced by the bishops’ arguments. I am not sure of his use of Resurrection, but that would take more space to discuss! There is no mention of an individual’s  reduction of the earth’s resources, which can be effected by use of   – bike/foot for travel, insulation, economy of food, water and other materials (and not only plastic).

What about me in 2021

  1. I’ve got to find forever homes for 25 mountain ash trees grown from seed
  2. I shall continue to pester local councils not to destroy flowers on road verges
  3. I shall continue helping to spread sphagnum moss on upland peat bogs – already done 1 sq km
  4. Grow more mountain ash from seed
  5. Encourage others to be more green – even a teeny-weeny bit 🙂
  6. Do some green volunteering
  7. write more green blogs (which to some are not green).

Finally can you imagine Mothers Unions arranging coach trips to support Extinction Rebellion and Christian Climate Action in their protests?

But I will conclude on a very serious note. I have pointed out the biased and lopsided approach of this route map, which does not get beyond a simplistic call for renewables and then supports groups like Extinction Rebellion.

I would have thought these eleven groups would not have supported such a limited perspective.

How should the Church respond to race? | Psephizo

Source: How should the Church respond to race? | Psephizo

On 22 April 2021 the Church of England published its report on racism in the Church of England – “From Lament to Action”. https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/FromLamentToAction-report.pdf

This came about in the wake of the protests headed by Black Lives Matter in Britain in 2020.

The report is critical of the Church of England over racism and has evinced various responses, favourable and unfavourable.

An example of the former is one on the implications for theological education by Prof Mike Higton of Durham https://mikehigton.org.uk/theological-education-in-from-lament-to-action/

Dr Ian Paul aka Psephizo has given a response which draws on opinions of BAME christians, some of which are very critical. These raise questions whether the recommended actions are wise or advisable. Ian in his conclusions also raises doubts about the recommended policy, which I share.

For myself I do reckon that some of the past of the church has been poor, especially the lack of welcome for Caribbean Christians 60 to 70 years ago. That was the time when landlords would put up notices saying “No coloured welcome”. Things have improved. I would also suggest that there is an unexpressed racism in our pews, which comes out at times. That is from my observations and hearing.

I reckon this report leans too far towards Critical Race Theory and agree with the strictures of Calvin Robinson (an ordinand) and  Joseph Diwakar, who is on the Archbishops’ Council.

Now read the article https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/how-should-the-church-respond-to-race/

Evangelicals and Science; The Rise of Creationism 1961 -2007, Chapter 7

By 1961 the issue of anti-evolution had apparently receded and left in the wilds of Dayton, Tennessee

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but then came back with a vengeance with the publication of The Genesis Flood by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb.

And so we have all animals on the ark, including (baby) dinosaurs.

ararat_or_bust

Slowly and surely like a heavily laden WWII bomber it took off and created havoc among evangelicals, first in the USA and then around the world.

Ken Ham is now the leader with his Creation Museum which has cameos of humans living with dinosaurs!!

51gBlHMEfwL__SS500_edendinos

The core work is The Genesis Flood published in 1961, written by Morris, a hydraulic engineer and Whitcomb an Old Testament bible college teacher.

Image result for henry morrisImage result for j c whitcomb

Evangelicals were slow to review it but here is the best of the critical reviews

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/01/03/the-genesis-flood-a-revue-in-1969of-the-creationist-pot-boiler/

I attempt to give a history, an exposition and criticism of the content of YEC and then a bit on Intelligent Design. Here is a blog on the Church of England and Creationism.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/the-church-of-england-and-creationism/

However it is not the only evangelical understanding of science as chapter 8 will show. But now open this link for a brief account of Creationism from 1961

Chapter 7; The Rise of Creationism

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Atheists make a pig’s ear of the history of Geology – just like Creationists!!

The one certainty about Christmas Day is that Jesus was not born on that day. Others were, including some great scientists. The most well-known was Isaac Newton who got into calculus after an apple fell on his head. It was not a Pink Lady, nor was it a golden delicious.

Another was William Smith a great geologist who was born in 1769. He epitomises the symbiotic relationship of geology and industry, which the William Smith expert par excellence, Hugh Torrens, reckons is often overlooked by those who focus on the learned savants who never soiled their hands by working in industry, whether canals, coal mines or in drainage. Smith did all three and was guided by practical concerns rather than academic ones. As a result his interest in geology was practical and not theoretical.

Smith was born into humble origins and after a little schooling got employment with a surveyor, Edward Webb, in 1787. He progressed rapidly and a few years later moved to near Bath to assist in the construction of two canals running almost parallel to each other.  It was there that he recognised strata  AND their fossils appeared in the same order. Not for him were theories of the earth, the age of the earth and other geognostical speculations. All that mattered was to use his empirical information to further his work in enabling the transport of coal from the mines to Bath and beyond. His theoretical ideas were limited. For most of the 1790s he thought the earth was but a few thousand years old and that was the age of the strata! These strata were gently dipping to the east and he believed they were originally laid down at that angle a few thousand years ago. Despite the fact he independently worked out the principle of faunal succession of fossils along with the educated savants Cuvier and Brongniart over in Napoleonic France, he never saw his findings as giving the history of an ancient earth until the fin de siecle when the Rev Benjamin Richardson enlightened him and led him away from bishop Ussher.

After something went wrong Smith left the company in 1799 and spent many years getting work as a drainage engineer and in the course of his travels found enough evidence to publish his famous map in 1815, which is incredibly accurate.

William Smith's A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales with part of Scotland (1815)

That nearly broke him and broke he became later and spent time in a debtor’s prison. On his release he moved to Yorkshire and with his nephew John Phillips forged a new life and set Phillips up as a top-notch geologist. A few decades later Phillips became geology professor at Oxford despite having no degree. Not that you’d realise that from Phillips’ geological work.

In 1831 Smith was given belated recognition by the Geological society of London and he died in 1859.

There is, sadly, no decent biography of Smith, but Hugh Torrens has published extensively and republished Phillips’ hagiographic inverse nepotistical biography in 1844 in 2003, with two chapters of his own. It is probably the best source on Smith and his work.

The biography by Simon Winchester The map that changed the world (2001) is frankly woeful, as summed up in a review I wrote in 2001

Simon. B. A. Winchester. The Map that changed the world (The tale of William Smith and the birth of a science
London: Viking, 2001. 338pp. hb. £12.99. ISBN 0–670–88407–3
Over the last few years there have been several popular works on the history of science and Simon Winchester has produced a very readable life of William Smith, the “Father of English Geology”. The author is both a geologist and a journalist and brings both skills to his book. (His geological background is almost identical to mine as he was two years my senior at university and began work in a Ugandan mine.)
            William Smith is one of the many neglected scientists, whose significance is not widely known. His story is accurately and well told and makes a gripping read, how a canal engineer laid down the basis of geological correlation thus enabling the strata to be put into historical order. Smith was a canal engineer and developed his understanding of fossils in the strata in the coal seams and canals near Bath, before travelling the length of England. The book details his travails in publishing his map in 1815, his spell in a debtors’ prison and how his work was plagiarised by George Greenough. At the end of the 1820s Smith was befriended by clerical geologists such as Sedgwick and Buckland, who enabled him to be given the recognition he deserved. To know more simply read the book.
            However Winchester’s book suffers from two weaknesses. First, he makes too much of a hero of Smith and ignores his contemporaries thus giving the impression that Smith is the father of geology and not only the “Father of English Geology”. The crucial decades for the growth of geology was from 1780 to 1800, as advances were made simultaneously throughout Europe. Winchester gives a little recognition to Hutton and the much-maligned Werner (whose work is now being recognised and who also attempted a map of his homeland), but does not refer to de Saussure of Geneva and the Frenchmen, Soulavie, Cuvier and Brogniart. Consequently the subtitle The tale of William Smith and the birth of a science gives insufficient recognition to the other numerous midwives of geology.
            Secondly, Winchester has a totally inaccurate understanding of the British churches in relation to the rise of geology and simply repeats, with exaggerations, the old myths that there was a mighty war of Genesis and geology in the early 19th Century. He refers to the “church” negatively some thirty times and it gets tedious. His prejudice surfaces most blatantly on p29, ‘The hunch that God might not have done precisely as Bishop Ussher had suggested,…, was beginning to be tested by real thinkers, by rationalists, by radically inclined scientists who were bold enough to challenge both the dogma and the law, the clerics and the courts.’’ Or to put not to fine a point on it, only those who were not Christians in any way. Here Winchester is writing of the 1790s a mere one hundred years after the Revd John Ray and Edward Lhwyd were questioning the age of the earth. In fact throughout the previous century most thinkers Christian or deist thought the earth was older than Ussher’s estimate. What is the dogma and the law which forbade suggestions of an old earth? Granted some clerics did hold to Ussher’s age but the vast majority did not. Lastly, who was under any threat from the law for holding to millions of years? How does Winchester explain that it was clerics Richardson and Townsend who spread Smith’s ideas and Playfair Hutton’s? In his discussion of the clerical trio Buckland, Sedgwick and Conybeare he manages not to mention that they were ordained and any reader of the book could be forgiven if he did not realise that Sedgwick was a devout evangelical cleric! Winchester simply cannot accept that a clergyman could actually accept geological ages without challenging his faith, as is evidenced by his comments on Lewis, who helped Murchison unravel the Silurian in 1831. He wrote,’Many of the … fossilists were …called divines – a curious happenstance, considering the assault that any intelligent understanding of fossils would later have on divinity’s most firmly held notions, like the Creation and the Flood. The Reverend Thomas Lewis of Ross–on–Wye is characteristic of the type:’ (p115) This can only be described as complete and utter nonsense, if not bigotry. The author has absolutely no knowledge of the doctrine of Creation or the Flood and is ignorant of how the clerical geologists actually thought. His section dealing with Ussher (p16–21) is both flippant and inaccurate and even gets the first day of creation on Monday 23 October (day one) and the creation of animals on the Thursday 26 October(day six)! Actually Ussher wrote, ‘Sexto die, Octobris vigesimo octavo’ and it was Friday the day before the Sabbath! This kind of lampoon is fine for Peter Simple in the Daily Telegraph but not for a serious Guardian journalist. Winchester has simply not grown out of the outworn conflict thesis of science and religion, which by now should have been rejected by any who dabbles in the history of science and Christianity. However it is a persistent myth which is propagated through a popular misunderstanding. This myth encourages both unbelief and creationism.

This book is a veritable curate’s egg, on Smith as a geologist it is OK, but as soon as he puts matters into religious context rotten as only a rotten egg can be! This could have been an excellent book.

Many of the … fossilists were …called divines – a curious happenstance, considering the assault that any intelligent understanding of fossils would later have on divinity’s most firmly held notions, like the Creation and the Flood. The Reverend Thomas Lewis of Ross–on–Wye is characteristic of the type:’ (p115)

Sheer coprolite of the first order. Nearly all of these clergy thought the earth was ancient, including Tom Lewis who basically handed Murchison the Silurian System on a plate or rather a rock exposure

Poor Winchester had a bee in his bonnet about how the church persecuted these terrible geologists. It makes a good read but is simply untrue. The trouble is that people read AND BELIEVE Winchester’s book, as did the blogger from the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation ) for Smith’s birthday this year.

https://ffrf.org/news/day/dayitems/item/14358-william-smith?fbclid=IwAR0ml8UlQuVDlmpbqKShWbQWawukS5xg98S8YAfWzcMKF13wP4n0TxF2oYI

William Smith

William Smith

On this date in 1769, William Smith, known as the “Father of English Geology,” was born in Oxfordshire. Smith, who trained as an apprentice surveyor, single-handedly produced the world’s first geological map in 1815 of England, Wales and part of Scotland, spending 15 years on the project.

Smith, “whose agnosticism was well known,” according to biographer Simon Winchester (The Map That Changed the WorldWilliam Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology, 2001), produced a “map that heralded the beginnings of a whole new science … a map that laid the foundations of a field of study that culminated in the work of Charles Darwin. It is a map whose making signified the start of an era, not yet over, that has been marked ever since by the excitement and astonishment of scientific discoveries that allowed man at last to stagger out from the fogs of religious dogma, and to come to understand something certain about his own origins and those of the planet.”

Winchester also noted: “For the first time the earth had a provable history, a written record that paid no heed or obeisance to religious teaching and dogma, that declared its independence from the kind of faith that is no more than the blind acceptance of absurdity.”

Smith went bankrupt in 1819, spending several weeks in a debtor’s prison, then worked as an itinerant surveyor for many years. Not until 1831 did the Geological Society of London conferred on him the first Wollaston Medal in recognition of his achievement. His fossil collection is housed in the Natural History Museum, formerly part of the British Museum, in London. He died in 1839 at age 70.

“In 1793 William Smith, a canal digger, made a startling discovery that was to turn the fledgling science of the history of the Earth — and a central plank of established Christian religion — on its head.”

—Publisher’s blurb, “The Map that Changed the World” (Harper, 2001)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

**********************************

Though we have never met, Winchester and I have a very similar pedigree. He was two years ahead of me studying geology and thus learnt at the feet of the same teachers – who were a fantastic group. After Oxford he took a job as a geologist at Kilembe mines in Uganda, but only stayed a few months. Two years later I also took a job there on graduation and lasted a bit longer as I was transferred to South Africa. In both places I acquired similar nicknames, which I am not allowed to even mention today, though I am as proud of them as my african tribal name. I am not sure that my behaviour would have got a gold star from exponents of Critical Race Theory, but I am sure Martin Luther King and Alan Paton would have approved.

Let’s consider the howlers in this blog

“In 1793 William Smith, a canal digger, made a startling discovery that was to turn the fledgling science of the history of the Earth — and a central plank of established Christian religion — on its head.”

ararat_or_bust

I must ask “what Central plank”?  Clearly it means that in 1800 the churches, and especially the Church of England, reckoned the earth was less that 6000 years old and made Ussher’s 4004BC an item of faith. That is simply untrue as first 4004BC was never an item of faith and secondly by 1780 most educated clergy and bishops followed the geological savants and accepted a vast age of the earth. Some were actually practising geologists eg Michell of Cambridge and the trio of clergy from Bath, Warner, Richardson and Townsend, who worked with Smith from 1798 or so.

Smith, “whose agnosticism was well known,” 

It is very difficult to work out Smith’s religious beliefs, due to so little written evidence and there is no evidence for this statement. Neither Torrens nor I have got very far on it. One thing is absolutely clear from Torrens’ work is that when Smith worked out his principles in about 1793-6 he thought that the earth was but a few thousand years old and it took a trio of vicars to dissuade him!!! In 1814 Smith arranged for his nephew, Phillips to stay with Rev Benjamin Richardson and be educated, Phillips was always a good churchman.

map that heralded the beginnings of a whole new science … a map that laid the foundations of a field of study

This is twaddle. The new science went back to Steno in the 1660s

For the first time the earth had a provable history

This was a mayor issue in the 1790s when geological savants knew the earth was ancient but couldn’t give a history. Smith in 1793 thought the earth was young and that the strata he saw were laid down in a particular order at the time of creation. As torrens said it was a “Timeless Order” and only later courtesy of the 3 revs, but a  history into and thus producing something akin to Cuvier and Brongniart on the Paris Basin

the excitement and astonishment of scientific discoveries that allowed man at last to stagger out from the fogs of religious dogma

jesusfacepalm

Facepalm! It was well-known long before the earth was ancient and a young earth was not part of religious dogma. Silly man.

“For the first time the earth had a provable history, a written record that paid no heed or obeisance to religious teaching and dogma, that declared its independence from the kind of faith that is no more than the blind acceptance of absurdity.”

BmZJVIpCEAEmHN_

Another faceplam. SBAW simply ignores the whole development of geology from the time of Steno, both in Britain and the Continent. My favourite howler from Winchester, not cited here,  is on p29;

The hunch that God might not have done precisely as Bishop Ussher had suggested,…, was beginning to be tested by real thinkers, by rationalists, by radically inclined scientists who were bold enough to challenge both the dogma and the law, the clerics and the courts.’’

There are so many historical errors here. Savants started to question 4004BC or rather an earth a few thousand years old with Ray

300px-John_Ray_from_NPG

and Lhwyd in the 1680s – both were “real thinkers” and Ray was a clergyman, unlike some products of the Oxford Geology Dept. It’s remarkable how many of the “radically inclined scientists” were Christians and even clergy. A young earth was not the dogma of the church, as few of the churches ever defined it and definitely not the Church of England (or Scotland) and there was no court case against geologists suggesting deep time.

‘The hunch that God might not have done precisely as Bishop Ussher had suggested,…, was beginning to be tested by real thinkers, by rationalists, by radically inclined scientists who were bold enough to challenge both the dogma and the law, the clerics Jacobus_ussherand the courts.’’

Poor SBAW, very few after 1656 actually agreed with Ussher and by 1780 most educated people , including most clergy, thought the earth was a wee bit older. Americans, please note, I am english!! There were simply no court cases, or even threats of one.

I am afraid this quote has had me chuckling for two decades on the cluelessness of some educated at top universities, but sadly many think that Winchester is right on what he writes about.

Usually I pull up Creationists for their inaccurate history but now do the same to a respected journalist, OBE and American citizen.

Fourth Law

That this blog is found on the atheistic Freedom from Religion Foundation website shows that secularists can make as big a pig’s ear of the history of science and science’s relation with Christianity as any Creationist. I’d have thought that Jerry Coyne, Dawkins, Steve Pinker and Dennett would not approve of such a shoddy article.

Useful References;

My book Evangelicals and Science;   chapter 5 deals with period and these geological Christians!  https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/evangelicals-and-science-part-5-of-12/

Hugh Torrens; Timeless Order; William Smith and the search for raw materials. In Lewis and Knell, The Age of the earth from 4004BC to AD2002. Geol Soc of london special Publication no 190.

Memoirs of William Smith, John Phillips,  ed Hugh Torrens 2003

Martin Rudwick Earth’s Deep History Chicago Univ Press 2014

And

2876

Evangelicals and Science – post-Darwinian evangelicals – part 6 of 12

Well, moving on in time.

DSCF2350

Darwin’s statue in Shrewsbury, blessed by Bishop of Shrewsbury in 1896

Here we have Evangelicals and science after Darwin published The Origin of species.

Man but a worm1869_Wilberforce_A504_001

Soapy Sam on the right

I’m sure many will expect a whole of crypto-creationists but there were none – except in the wastes of the Mid-West.

The concerns are less evolution than biblical criticism, human antiquity and loss of faith.

At the time no one thought Ellen White was significant, but she gave birth to Young Earth Creationism.

ichneumon

This little critter is a serious theological problem!!

Now read the chapter!!

GNWD018C05_p113-138

h

hh

Evangelicals and Science – part 5 of 12

Evangelicals and science in the Age of Revolution 1789-1850

This was a hectic sixty years, Napoleonic Wars, great advances in technology and science all over Europe. Selection is impossible, but here I have chosen “evangelical” issues partly based on a backward glance.

anninguntitled

That means a considerable focus on geology, as many British geologists were evangelicals, as were those who opposed geology.

This period saw the formation of the geological column; Cambrian, Silurian, Devonian etc, and a universal conviction of Deep Time

column+temp

Artwork by Ray Troll

Now read Chapter 4 of my book

GNWD018C04_p83-112

Can the Church get to Net Zero 2030? Or is it holy greenwash?

It may be greenwash, but it is not copper-bottomed!!

Over the last few years the Church of England has got very concerned about Climate Change and thus in the February 2020 General Synod the Bishop of Salisbury put forward a motion that the CofE should aim for Net Zero by 2045. The accompanying papers were well-argued and realistic, and showed the ways in which the Church of England could make much headway in approaching Net Zero in 25 years..

When it came to the debate, which was poorly attended, some from Bristol Diocese put forward an amendment to bring that forward for Net Zero 2030. That was passed despite the low numbers and now the CoE is committed to be Net Zero by 2030.

As you read that ask yourself if you are a Goodie or a Baddie. The Goodie  wants Zero in 2025 or 2030 as a compromise, and divestment ASAP, and  the baddies are the rest!! The baddies are all as bad as each other and those, like me, who are concerned about climate change and know things need to done but do not accept a 2030 date for Net Zero, are as bad as those who will burn the last lump of coal! To some all of us are “Climate Deniers”.

I’m one of the baddies, and proud of it, Because I wish to see life, animal, vegetable, fungal and bacterial, on this planet improving and not wrecked either by those who don’t care or those whose feelings have taken over from their reason..

Joking apart, I will start by saying that there is no question that Climate Change is a serious issue and have argued that since last century, having been convinced by no less a person than Sir John Houghton after personal chats. Climate Change needs to be dealt with now, or rather 30 years ago, and not 20 years hence. However it will not be solved by impractical solutions or intoning ecogodwords like “renewables”, “carbon-free”, zero emissions”. Grand solutions will not work, nor will green virtue signalling. The solution will come from carefully worked-out technical changes AND lots of little changes from the public at large like planting a tree (in the right place) or reducing consumption of anything from food, to energy or materials in apparently trivial ways, including turning the tap off when brushing your teeth. There are those who are insistent on reducing plastic, but drive everywhere and pour their coffee grounds down the sink. It takes energy (i.e fossil fuel) to clean the water of coffee grounds – something which could be avoided by putting them on a flower bed or veg plot. That would also improve the soil.

Within the church those pushing environmental issues tend to be greenies with limited technical skills rather than techies. This may be seen by diocesan environmental officers with no science background putting forward arguments which are often flawed or inaccurate. It is cringeworthy when the Environmental officer comes out with basic scientific error indicating they have not studied science beyond GCSE. e.g. claiming. Fracking fluid contains contaminants like citric acids & acetic acids”!! My answer is “Fish and Chips”!! With a reliance on the outpourings from Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, and more recently Extinction Rebellion, this results in a disconnect with the actual realities of energy, mineral extraction and food production, not to mention climate change and biodiversity. Thus those who favour nuclear energy, a continued use of petroleum until something better is found, GMOs, non-organic farming, glyphosate will find their views , and even considerable expertise, are not required and so are effectively non-platformed or even cancelled. They are often dismissed as climate deniers. The church has thrown away a lot of expertise, as with an expert on Carbon Capture.. As a result the environment groups simply do not have geologists, those from the oil industry, Energy etc. Hence any informed perspective is lost.

Only one narrative

It seems to me that when issues of the environment are discussed only ONE narrative is followed or allowed and the rest are sidelined. Undoubtedly there are those who simply do not care about the environment i.e God’s creation, but those who do care cover a much wider opinion that members of the Christian Climate coalition. I began to realise this over fracking, when the only permitted narrative allowed was to be strongly anti-fracking and to dismiss those who saw fracking as being a bridge and reducing emissions immediately as climate deniers and as bad as the “drill, baby, drill” redneck from Texas, who gives not a stuff about anything except his truck and MAGA hat. This was so with both secular and church groups. Perhaps we can call this the Grand Green Narrative GGN, which insists you do not diverge from its tenets!! Its corollary is that if you diverge from the GGN you are not green.

A recent Church Times article of 6th November 2020 was on the Net Zero 2030 proposal as being achievable, as it was coming up in general Synod.

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/6-november/news/uk/synod-emissions-target-realistic-says-its-mover?utm_term=Autofeed

However it is more assertion than demonstration, but here we may be dealing with belief rather than actual substance. Having persuaded Synod in February to switch from Net Zero in 2045 to 2030, proponents have to show that it is possible.

But what we have in the article is somewhat muddled and shows a lack of understanding of energy issues and also how such changes can be effected. I don’t know whether that is due to the reporter or those consulted.

I touch on a few points. We are told that;

Purely electric heating has, on average, a lower net-carbon footprint than gas or oil,

I blinked at that statement. It may be true if you use only electricity from renewables, but most electricity is not from renewables. 20% is from nuclear and about 50% is from gas with a small percentage from coal. It depends on the source of electricity, but then we can only have green electricity in our mains as the grid makes no distinction, and we don’t know where our power actually came from!.

Despite the government’s new green schemes for 2030 it will be very difficult to produce “green” electricity on the scale needed. At present electricity is about one quarter of energy used. ( there are times, e.g. on a cold windless night, when no renewable electricity is being generated. Think if a freezing January evening when every appliance is switched on. When this happens gas power stations are ramped up and coal switched on.)  The rest is from fossil fuels for transport, heating  and industry. The recent government suggestion of windfarms sounds good, but will only generate electricity when there is wind.

switching to 100-per-cent renewable energy on a “green tariff”, perhaps through the parish buying scheme;

This is a blind faith in renewables as if renewables are good clean energy and fossil fuels are bad and dirty energy. In fact, both are “bad” and and neither are clean. All energy systems have an environmental cost. For fossil fuels it is in the extracting and burning of them, and for renewables, both in the fossil fuels needed for construction and the demand for copper, cobalt, lithium and other rare metals, which need to be mined from mineral-poor rock needing vast amounts of ore to be mined for a little metal. If it is a porphyry  deposit the ore is probably 0.25% copper, thus needing to mine 400 tons of ore for one ton of copper. There is a serious problem on the metals needed  – and often these are obtained from dodgy overseas mines outside the major mining companies, with little concern for safety or pollution. This is why prospectors are looking at old copper mines in Camborne and Parys Mountain on  Anglesey. Both have an environmental cost, which would be less so than a dodgy venture in the middle of Africa. Both could be the size of a copper mine I once worked in, where among other things I got CO poisoning. Not recommended!

Further, renewables need also to be built with vast quantities of Concrete and resin-based materials ( which produce a lot of emissions in construction) for wind, and areas of land for solar farms. The environmental cost of building windfarms on peat terrain is immense, especially as peatbog is excellent for carbon capture. Here is a windfarm built on peat in Ireland.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1327581502763380736

That should make you blink. With peat as an excellent carbon sink, they should never be used for wind farms or even the occasional turbine – or even tree planting. That  nullifies any reduction in emissions on the combustion of fossil fuels.

But this does not fit in with the usual designation of clean and dirty energy. In fact all energy is dirty. Please repeat 1000 times.

On major issue often overlooked or glossed over is that the electrical grid needs to be vastly expanded. Heating and transport by electricity means that the grid must double, or even triple in size. This is not crucial for the church, but is for the whole of society.

On could add the area needed for solar farms

It is very easy to raise objections to fossil fuels, but we also need to quiz the claims of renewable suppliers. Frequently they have claimed to provide 100% renewable electricity and gas.  At times they have been censured for making false claims, as was Ecotricity by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2017 for falsely claiming their gas was 100% renewable. It was not and they were not producing much gas, if any!! The ASA insisted future averts were corrected. Further it is impossible for wind and solar to provide 100% renewable electricity  in absence of storage e.g. on a cold windless night. Thus wind accounts for between 0% and 40% of electricity generated at any particular time, which is not reliable. On that cold, windless night gas is ramped up and maybe coal is switched on. Without plenty of gas power stations power-cuts would be the norm. A little realism and attention to detail is needed. I just checked twitter and found for this week  (written on 26/11/20).

National Grid ESO 
@ng_eso
We’re forecasting tight margins on the #electricity system over the next few days owing to a number of factors, primarily varying renewable generation levels and colder temperatures over periods of the day with higher demand [1/3]

I hope there are no power cuts and gas and coal plug the gap!! Yup, coal is burniong merrily as I type.

Here is a recent tweet focusing on electric vehicles. The figures seem to be in the right order.

EVS Tweet “There are 33 million cars in UK each averaging ~10miles/day or 3KWh/day. So to charge them all will need 100GWh/day of electricity demand. That equates to two extra Hinkley C’s ! Forget Wind power – unless you want to add sails to all the cars!”

That tweet only focuses on the actual electricity needed and I deal with the increased use of metals below. A Times report (27/11/20) says EVs use up 50% more emissions than petrol/diesel cars and take 50,000 miles to break even on emissions.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/electric-cars-have-to-do-50-000-miles-before-they-are-greener-than-fossil-fuel-vehicles-8hb5m0dm7

In contrast to the simple appeal of renewables all energy predictions, including those from Greenpeace, conclude fossil fuels will be used until at least 2050.

The devotion to the green means you cannot use the greener, or the least ungreen – which is nuclear and gas.

The perfect is the enemy of the best available.

The suggestion of lots of little improvements is excellent and is what people should have been doing for 40 years, if they haven’t been doing so. Thus moving over to LED lights should simply have been done, even only as replacements over the last 40 years, moving from Tungsten filament incandescent, to low energy to LED. In our household we followed that trajectory from 1986 starting with the massive low energy bulbs and then moved with the times. A good personal task is to consider how you can make little energy or material savings from all aspects of your living. e.g using a bike where possible.

The same is the case with insulation and all forms of energy efficiency. Some of us remember cold houses in the 1950s with expensive and inefficient heating with temperatures of 55 deg F  – sorry 13deg C !

The change in mode of travel to achieve net Zero is challenging.. To change to electric may reduce emissions to zero at point of use, but one must consider the metals needed for batteries and motors, as I mentioned above. I admit to being wary of the Governments policy to ban diesel and petrol cars from 2030, on grounds of practicality and the need to vastly increase electricity generation, but also the availability of the metals needed.

There is also the problem of essential metals as greatly increased quantities of copper, Nickel and Cobalt will be needed, and also Lithium. For the hoped-for 32% of EVs by 2030 an additional 27,000 tons of Copper will be needed annually just in the UK. (To consider what that means, that is nearly one and a half million tons of Copper Ore at 2% copper. When working for an exploration company in South Africa and re-evaluating an old mine  my initial findings showed that it could be 2 million tons at 2% which would be a small viable mine. Drilling soon showed there was half a million so it was dropped. My point is simple, Britain would need a new Copper mine of that size ( 2 million tons at 2% every year. That is simply unlikely.)  The extra 27,000 tons of copper needed is an 18% increase from the last decade years when 150,000 tons were consumed annually of which 130,000 was reclaimed from scrap. This additional Copper will have to be from refining. To give an indication, if Parys mountain in Anglesey was viable as a mine it could produce 80, 000 tons of refined Copper i.e 3 years of increased demand.

parysmlountain

Parys mountain Copper Mine

The result will be to open up mines of much poorer ore with the attendant increase of mine waste and pollution.

This is expressed far better by scientists from the British Museum of Natural History

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/press-office/press-releases/leading-scientists-set-out-resource-challenge-of-meeting-net-zer.html

or on a world perspective

https://www.mining.com/much-copper-nickel-cobalt-electric-vehicle-world-needs/?fbclid=IwAR0AliU-1JxFPUlmOCDBfjlBdFeastmvSedCz7yuEszwrnpVB4ooGijz97g

I’d suggest both the Church of England and the Government get up to speed on their understanding of mineral resources and stop hoping for renewables!

Now to change tack on travel.

On travel it is remarkable how few clergy actually use a bike. Except in far-flung rural parishes it is often the quickest and easiest mode of transport. It has the great advantage of being able to stop and talk to people in busy streets. In fact, a bike is an excellent pastoral aid! Travelling five miles to visit in a hospital I found cycling was quicker than a car  – and less frustrating. Yet the article makes no mention of bikes and says  It also includes all work-related travel by clergy, staff, and volunteers. It is simply not happening.

It seems no one expects to get to Net Zero by 2030 as the article says. A further phase of work from 2030 includes all emissions from large building projects; emissions from the farming and management of church lands, and all emissions from products bought, such as paper and printing; downstream emissions from waste disposal; emissions from building contractors; and carbon generated from use of emails and the internet in work-related contexts. All these are said to be “within our influence to a significant degree”.

Ah, I see! Net Zero by 2030 is not Net Zero by 2030. One would have thought these would have been included in the 2030 targets. I suggest there is a clear realisation that Net Zero 2030 is impossible to achieve!

One would have thought the items on this long list should be tackled well before 2030.

However much was omitted;

Water usage

Tree-planting

Various small ways of reducing energy usage in church, school and home

  the myriad little things

And, of course, the education of congregations

The article then gives the example of a church in Birmingham. The church at Baddesley Clinton, which has no gas or running water, is now carbon-neutral after the installation of under-pew heating, which heats a bubble of air round the pew rather than the whole church space.

I don’t whether to laugh or cry at this scientific nonsense. Is there a plastic bubble to enclose those being warmed?  From the most basic physics all should know that hot air rises and thus most of the heat will fleetingly warm those in the pew before roasting the top of the church. It does not say what the source of electricity for the underfloor heating is, but it would use more electricity than other methods of heating.

The CT article then says  “It has halved its energy consumption by switching to a renewable-energy supplier. That is impossible and risible, you will use the same amount of electricity for the same usage whoever your supplier!

Shoddy arguments like these help no one and create misunderstanding of energy issues. However this type of confusion takes root and is very difficult to counter. One is usually met with a variety of ecogodwords.

Eco-diocese, eco-church

Several dioceses are register as eco-dioceses and with eco-churches.

In 2016 eco-church was relaunched through Arocha, with bronze, silver and gold awards. Much was simply sensible green advice on what churches could do, but it tended to be doctrinaire coming from a particular standpoint. Back to the Great Green Narrative

It simply assumed that churches ought to go renewable and recommended Ecotricity. This follows the common line on renewable (good) and non-renewable/fossil (bad) and not considering the actual problems of obtaining energy, or the total emissions produced.

The additional materials point one to resources and groups to follow. It refers to the flagship green group Friends of the Earth. Yet it ignores they way they were pulled up by the Advertising Standards Authority in early 2017 for their grossly inaccurate leaflet on fracking. In it they claimed that additives to fracking fluid were carcenogenic. When challenged on BBC the best they could come up with was – SAND! One needs to note their campaigns, especially in the EU to ban GMOs, and their anti-nuclear stance. Bees have been in their sights for year, but now claim that the greatest cause of decline is intensive farming, rather than what they previously claimed – neonicotinoids.

The record of Friends of the Earth is not good. Nor is that of Greenpeace

GMO EU action

Another group highlighted was Frack Free Fylde, which for several years disrupted peoples’ lives, blocked roads, held up funerals and pushed misinformation. And also recommended is Keep it in the ground with the aim of stopping extraction of fossil fuels.

If Ecochurch is to be ecochurch, it should not simply put forward one extreme environmental line, however popular that may be. It excludes a large number of environmentally concerned people. It is classic GGN Grand Green Narrative.

There is so much else to recommend what parishes can do to be truly eco-church. It is a pity eco-church focussed on only those groups taking a particular view on energy and not referring to government bodies or others. Perhaps it is as well it was produced before Extinction Rebellion and Christian ‘sClimate Action.

COP15-System-Change-not-Climate-Change

The problem of Net Zero 2030

I think it is a great pity that Bishop Holtham simply does not say Net Zero 2030 is totally unrealistic.

To conclude it was based on an amendment which was both ideological and idealistic and rather lop-sided in their beliefs and arguments.

Their’s is a tunnel vision on divestment  and Net Zero ASAP

It is Binary thinking, whereby fossil fuels are totally bad and renewables the opposite

It is unrealistic on transition

energytransistion

Further they have excluded the middle ground, which needs to be recognised and also their support gained. I wonder how many will opt out because of that.

They eschew the more technical and slower approaches, which take the state of technology into account. These will be far more effective in both the medium and long term, but won’t have the activist glamour.

Nothing will be gained by rushing things and we should follow the example of beavers and slowly beaver away.

FINIS

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 The Church Times Article in full

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/6-november/news/uk/synod-emissions-target-realistic-says-its-mover?utm_term=Autofeed

THE whole Church should be committed to reducing its carbon footprint, and, if it works systematically and together, it can succeed, Canon Martin Gainsborough, a General Synod member, has said.

Canon Gainsborough moved the amendment in the General Synod in February which resulted in its adoption of the target of net zero emissions by 2030 (Synod and Comment, 21 February).

Canon Gainsborough was commenting on the publication today of Synod papers on the scope and definition of what net zero would look like, to be debated by the Synod this month. “What an achievement and what a legacy that would be!” he said. “I have been hugely impressed by the way in which the Environment Working Group has been working since the momentous vote in February.”

“The definition of what is included for our net-zero carbon target seems the right one. It is also widely supported, as the consultation process relating to it shows.”

Chaplain to the Bishop of Bristol, Canon Gainsborough was formerly the professor in development politics at the University of Bristol and the Social Justice and Environmental Adviser in Bristol diocese.

Data has been submitted from 4500 churches — about one third of parishes — to the Energy Footprint Tool (EFT). Twenty-two diocesan synods have carried or are planning to debate a net-zero motion, and 23 have either registered or planned to register as an eco diocese. Birmingham, Bristol, CoventryGuildfordLeedsLiverpoolSt Edmundsbury & IpswichSalisbury, and Winchester have achieved Bronze status.

The Church’s current carbon footprint is described as “very significant”. A baseline study in 2012 found that it created between 600,000 and one million tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent: the standard measure of greenhouse-gas emissions. That figure was purely for energy, and did not include transport, water, waste, and purchases.

Heating accounted for more than 80 per cent of church energy use. Purely electric heating has, on average, a lower net-carbon footprint than gas or oil, and the Synod papers make practical recommendations for reducing both energy use and carbon transmission. The lowest tier of these are “actions that nearly all churches can benefit from, even low-occupancy churches only used on a Sunday. They are relatively easy, with relatively fast pay back. They are a good place for churches to start.”

These include attention to maintenance and draught-proofing; switching to 100-per-cent renewable energy on a “green tariff”, perhaps through the parish buying scheme; replacing light bulbs and floodlights with LEDs; writing an energy-efficient procurement policy; making a commitment to renewable electric and A+++ rated appliances; and offsetting small remaining amounts of energy with a contribution to community projects in the developing world.

At the other end of the scale are the main “Only if” projects, such as the installation of ground-source heat-pumps, likely to be done only as part of a reordering.

Included in the 2030 target are churches, cathedrals, church halls, and ancillary buildings; Royal Peculiars; theological education institutions; clergy housing; voluntary aided schools and diocesan academy trusts; and church bodies’ offices and diocesan properties. It also includes all work-related travel by clergy, staff, and volunteers.

A further phase of work from 2030 includes all emissions from large building projects; emissions from the farming and management of church lands, and all emissions from products bought, such as paper and printing; downstream emissions from waste disposal; emissions from building contractors; and carbon generated from use of emails and the internet in work-related contexts. All these are said to be “within our influence to a significant degree”.

Those acknowledged to be out of the scope of the target, “but still within our mission to influence”, include greenhouse-gas emissions for which worshippers and visitors are responsible, and schools that are fully controlled by local authorities.

The PCC and congregations of two rural churches, St Michael’s, Baddesley Clinton, a small building south of Birmingham, and St Michael and All Angels, Withington, in the Cotswolds, are highlighted for their recent work. The church at Baddesley Clinton, which has no gas or running water, is now carbon-neutral after the installation of under-pew heating, which heats a bubble of air round the pew rather than the whole church space.

It has halved its energy consumption by switching to a renewable-energy supplier; has replaced all light bulbs with LEDs; and offsets to climate stewards the travel associated with people coming to church. The Rector, the Revd Patrick Gerard, who is also the diocese of Birmingham’s environmental adviser, describes his PCC as “not an eco-warrior PCC at all, but very practical”. The LEDs had been “an easy win”, and the congregation were now warm. The old wall heaters had been retained, “but we now have the confidence not to use them.”

OTHER STORIES

Climate battle must start right now, says bishop

THE Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on environmental issues, is writing to all bishops and diocesan secretaries this week, in response to the target set at the General Synod last week to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero by 2030

The church in Withington, in Gloucester diocese, was believed to be the first to become carbon-neutral, in 2010, when a biomass boiler, solar panels, and LEDs were installed (News, 1 October 2010). Although the biomass boiler worked, it was simply a boiler replacement, and did not change the the number of radiators. Loading it with wooden pellets became an onerous task for a small core of people.

Pew heaters have been installed, and have made a fundamental difference to comfort levels, besides maintaining zero-carbon credentials, it has been reported. Residual electricity is bought from renewable sources.

The project leader, Matt Fulford, said on Tuesday, “Different people will view the project in different ways. You’ve got those viewing it as a very positive environmental project; others take a treasurer’s view that sees it as as a very positive financial project; and a third view it as a success because of the comfort element. It is now a very usable building which is enjoyable to be in; so it’s a missional view in being able to serve its core purpose better. It’s lovely when all three of these come together.”

Also the General Synod “jobs to be done”

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/GS%20Misc%201262%20EWG%20update.pdf

Net Zero2030

1. The energy use of our buildings;
 Gas, oil, or other fuel use
 Electricity purchased (no matter the source it is purchased from – renewable
electricity purchased is accounted for later)
 For the following buildings;
• Churches, including church halls and ancillary buildings.
• Cathedrals (and …..l  the precinct)
• Schools where the DBE has a significant degree of influence (generally
Voluntary Aided & Diocesan Academy Trusts) including halls/other buildings
• Clergy housing,
• Church bodies’ offices

• Other diocesan property, including common parts of tenanted properties
• Theological Education Institutions
 Including the “well to tank” and “transmission and distribution” factors involved
in getting energy to the building.
 Note: Electricity used to charge EV vehicles will be included within the above.
2. All work-related travel

3. From this, and on the understanding that real reductions in energy use have been
made, the following can be removed:
 Excess energy generated on site (e.g. from solar PV) and exported to the grid
 100% renewable electricity purchased either from the Green Energy Basket
or agreed companies, reviewed annually, having regard to the criteria used
by the Big Church Switch
 Green gas [certification approach still t.b.d.]
 Other reliable offsetting schemes,

After2030

4. All the emissions from major building projects (
5. Emissions generated from the farming / management of Church land (including
church yards, unless fully controlled by local councils, and glebe land) less emissions
sequestered through the farming / management of Church land (such as tree
planting, soil improvement, and other nature-based solutions) *
6. All the emissions (including upstream process & transport) from the procurement of
any items we buy (e.g. pews for churches, paper & printing for offices, new cars for
bishops, catering for events)
7. Upstream and downstream emissions from water and drainage
8. Downstream emissions from waste disposal
9. Emissions from building contractors, plumbers, electricians and the like
10. Carbon generated from use of emails and the internet in work-based contexts
11. Diocesan investments, if they are a material amount
12. Air-conditioning gasses
In standard Greenhouse Gas definitions, these are those parts of our “Scope 3“ emissions
which are within our influence to a significant degree.
* To be specifically reviewed in 2022, with the potential to bring them into scope of the
2030 target, only after consultation, and if feasible methodologies have been developed
 NOT INCLUDED IN TARGET

13. Travel of staff and clergy to and from their usual place of work or ministry
14. The travel of the public to and from church, school, and church events.
15. Clergy family’s & residents’ GHG emissions (consumer goods, travel, holidays). The
energy used to heat and light the housing, if over the average reasonable use above.
16. Personal GHG emissions from the lives of worshippers attending church, other
church users (such as people attending a choir or playgroup), and overseas visitors
17. Schools over which we have very limited influence (generally Voluntary Controlled
Schools which are fully controlled by Local Authorities)
In standard Greenhouse Gas definitions, see below, these are either out of our scope or
are scope 3 but largely outside our influence.

Click to access GS%20Misc%201262%20EWG%20update.pdf

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