Category Archives: Climate Change

Why catholics stand against fracking in Lancashire

Thirty years ago the churches were beginning to wake up to the fact that we as Christians should not only be concerned about traditional understandings of salvation but also our relationship, care and stewardship of the natural world aka the Creation. And so now care for Creation is high on the agenda for most churches. For many it has been a new discovery.

it has taken many forms and so today many Christians with a concern for the environment oppose fracking, but almost every occasion they are less than accurate in their objections.  An example is a recent article by Bob Turner for the the Lancaster faith and justice group, and Independent Catholic News gets his facts very wrong  and spins things to the point of inaccuracy. Local Anglicans from the Diocese of Blackburn are equally inaccurate

These type of views opposing fracking are almost the orthodoxy for green christians of all denominations and are echoed by the Environment Group of the Anglican Diocese of Blackburn. It is frustrating to find a high level of inaccuracy and poor argument as this does not reflect well on one’s Christian calling.


I make no apology for my criticisms and suggest that before well-meaning Christians make a public comment they ensure that they have their facts right and are not blown about by every wind of doctrine from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. It would also help if “practitioners” [those working in the industry and there are numbers of well-qualified Christians working in various parts of the petroleum industry] were listened too and brought into the discussions by the church. However, I do not see that happening as the usual “green” arguments against fracking would be challenged, if not destroyed.

Here is the article;


to be found on

and F&J bulletin Sept 18

I have lifted it and reproduce it below with my comments as extended quotations



Bob Turner

Following the announcement – on the last day of Parliament before summer – that Fracking at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire has been given the final go-ahead by the Government, I would like to outline a few points to Claire Perry our Energy and Clean Growth Minister.

Fracking is one of the dirtiest methods of extracting fossil fuels.


Fracking for gas is very clean compared to coal mining whether deep or open-cast. Having worked in an underground copper mine, I was appalled by the dirtiness of going down a coal mine. My snot was black for days 🙂 I visited an open cast which was better but very dusty and messy. (it has now been restored and the area is looking good.) What surprised me at Preston New Road on three visits is how clean it is – no dust, no smells, very little noise etc

Part of the myth against fracking is that it is DIRTY and is part of the mantra. If fracked gas is so dirty, why don’t those who oppose stop using all petroleum – which is nearly 100% fracked.

Its production of gas would not be compatible with the targets to cut fossil fuel use required to tackle climate change.

Here there is a difference of conclusions, but many environmental friendly people e.g. Lord Deben reckon that fracked gas is compatible climate change targets. There is good reason for this, as methane is CH4, and coal is mostly (impure) Carbon, so that combustion of coal produces far more CO2 for the same amount of heat , which is then converted to energy.  (I am aware of Howarth’s claims that gas is worse than coal, but prefer to follow all the other 95+% of researchers.) That is the stated position of Cuadrilla and many working in petroleum. Oh yes, I know some petroleum workers don’t care about it but many do.

The health hazards and pollution of water resources are well documented

Many of the US health surveys have been challenged and one paper at least was retracted for totally inaccurate results


This paper on asthma in Pennsylvania includes maps which show that people in fracking areas have less asthma than elsewhere.  – a poor argument

Within the UK there have been the flawed Medact reprots on fracking which CANNOT demonstrate any ill effects of fracking  – and admit it.

There have been cases of water pollution  in the USA caused by bad management of water on the surface. The only pollution of an aquifer was at Pavilon WY where fracking was carried out a few hundred feet below an aquifer and combined with poor drilling practice this caused pollution.

In the UK fracking can only occur at great depth below an aquifer and there are further restrictions. Note – the aquifer at PNR is unsuitable for domestic use, yet protestors want to protect it. Further, fracking will take place about 2 kilometers below the aquifer, meaning that as cracks for fracking extend only 300 metres, they will miss the aquifer by over a kilometre.

There is a risk at surface due to spillage hence the tight regulations on water containment etc. During the wet winter some were concerned by leakage of surface water on the PNR pad – but this was rainwater and was contained by bunding. I did visit the site when it was wettest.

These two comments are ill-informed scaremongering and ignore the controls on fracking.

and the fear of earthquakes is an unknown quantity not to be ignored.

Undoubtedly people have a fear of earthquakes as too many on hearing the word “earthquake” think of massive Mag 7+ quakes rather than a tremor which will probably not be felt. Fracking does produce “seismic events” most of which are too small to be felt. Even the two big ones at Preese hall were very minor , hardly felt and caused no damage.

This is a classic scare tactic as many do not realise how minute  even a Mag 3  quakes is. Hence my blog on quakes having been through the largest recorded Himalayan quake

The “Not for Shale” campaign of Greenpeace was very misleading on earthquakes


It will lead to damaging development in the countryside

The Elswick gas well from 300 yards!! This is what will be seen of a completed well!! It is behind the bushes halfway between the pylon and the larger pole


and hit house prices.

There are no grounds for this dogmatic statement and indications at PNR is that there has been no effect.

It is estimated it would require 6000 wells to replace 50% of the UK’s gas imports over a 15 year period.

Exactly how many, no one knows , but even allowing 40 wells per pad, this would mean 150 multi-well pads and they would be in various parts of the country rather than only in Lancashire


The pipelines and the millions of extra lorry movements up and down country roads, would bring excessive pollution and serious disruption to large parts of the country.

Apart from the occasional hold-up due to a delivery, the traffic has run smoothly at PNR – EXCEPT when protestors have caused problems neccisitating road closures to the inconvenience of many.

I ask What excessive pollution?

Further the pipelines for gas are already in place in Lancashire, but few notice them

The impact of one single well has been significant in North Yorkshire, where impacts from noise, traffic and noxious smells are reported .

This was a leak from an existing well, (nothing to do with fracking) and the smells were due to mercaptans which were added so any escaping gas could be smelt!! At PNR the noise can hardly be heard from the road, traffic impact has been low, except that caused by protestors often resulting in road closures, there no smells even on the pad.

It has been said that some local businesses have closed and the community is divided.

“It has been said” is simply speculative. However local businesses have suffered through the protestors. Rather than make unfounded assertions evidence should be provided.

Which businesses have closed?

As for dividing communities protestors and NGOs have done that well!

The combined impact of over 6,000 wells would be wide-ranging and severe…. a far cry from the wonderful opportunities that are laid out in Cuadrilla’s glossy brochure.

It is difficult to say what the numbers would be , but they would be spread over UK and not just Lancashire. Further they would not all be in use at one time and restoration would be carried on disused wells.

Some years back I drove through part of Pennsylvania where there was a lot of fracking. I had to look hard for the wells.


There were 8 wells 150 yds from where I was standing – directly bwehind the bush!

Cuadrilla, now granted the licence to frack at Preston New Road in September, is one of a group of fracking companies of which INEOS is the major player.

INEOS the hate firm but has no relevance to Lancashire. INEOS is a leading chemical firm, which at Runcorn produces the chlorine we need for our water supplies to be safe to drink.

INEOS produces Ethane from the fracked gas….. a long and dirty process.

Really , what is the evidence? The process is as clean as other industrial processes and thus I presume the author would like to see all products made from ethane be banned, whether medicines or other goods we use.

Ethane is the base material for plastics used in packaging…. the same plastics which we are allegedly trying to reduce !…. However INEOS is building bigger factories to produce more and more .

This is the latest theme in the wake of the plastic straw concerns. [I loath plastic straws along with excess plastic.] It is claimed, without evidence, that INEOS only want fracked gas to make more plastic (to make more pollution.) This is wrong as most will be used for fuel e.g. to heat 80% of UK houses.

This is simplistic on plastics as much plastic use has a long life e.g. in cars, multi-use plastic containers, my compost bin, water-butts, parts of mobile phones, computers, kitchen utensils etc etc

Further at Runcorn Ineos use gas to make caustic soda and chlorine. Chlorine is used to make our water safe.



The owner has just been revealed as the richest man in the UK with his wealth more than tripling in the last 12 months and he recently received a knighthood in the queen’s birthday honours list.

So what, – Lord Sugar, sir Richard Branson etc  – even Dame V Westwood 😦



Carroll Muffett, president of the US Centre for International Environmental Law, states that “Around 99% of the feedstock for plastics is fossil fuels ……..there is a deep and pervasive relationship between oil and gas companies and plastics.”

That is well-known, but why make it malign.



Earlier this month Ms Perry’s department published The 2018 International Climate Finance (ICF) results. These show the beneficial impact UK investments can have in tackling climate change and in protecting vulnerable people. The ICF has supported 47 million people to cope with the effects of climate change and has provided 17 million people with improved access to clean energy.

There is no clean energy. Every form of energy is DIRTY including all renewables.

The photo is of the foundations of a wind turbine. Imagine that on a moor with a peat bog.


There is a contradiction here. We have done wonders elsewhere in the world but we appear to be taking a backward step with our responsibilities on home soil.

Liz Hutchins, Friends of the Earth’s Director of Campaigns

This leaflet from FoE had to be withdrawn after complaints to the ASA in Jan 2017 for unsubstantiated claims. Craig Bennett could not answer the complaints with a TV interviewer. Why should we listen to FoE when they have consistently misrepresented fracking?


said it had taken seven years for the Fracking industry to reach the point it had, during which time Renewable Energy sources had gone from supplying one tenth of the UK’s electricity to a third.

As electricity is a fraction of energy usage , that is still less than 10 %. The chart below shows how little energy was renewable up to 2014. Even if you scale it up 5 times it is still minimal. Looking at the chart reminds me I need to go to Specsavers

energyuseUK - wheressolar


We have urgent problems to tackle, as highlighted by Pope Francis in his Encyclical, Laudato Si.


The pope said nothing about fracking. Repeat 100x

Much of what he says is spot on and is a call for environmental responsibility

Fossil fuels must stay in the ground

Who says so?

What would we do for energy, medicines, and many plastic items without them?

A good exercise is to spend a day not using anything dependent on fossil fuels. For a start we could not use tap water as that is made safe by chlorine from Ineos’ Runcorn plant. Bicycles are out too

That is a misrepresentation of the the UCL paper which claimed reasonably the 80% of coal needs to be left in the ground, 50% of gas and 33% of oil. That gives a very different picture.

Too often activists make this false claim, but #keepitinthe ground  is more important than truthfulness. It does not help over-stating things when the original warning was clear enough



and we need to stop our binge on single use plastic as soon as possible

Wonderful virtue signalling! The process of getting rid of single use plastic has been going on for years, starting with charging for plastic bags. It seems to be happening without eco-activists!!

The over- and wrong use of plastics is only one of the issues we face today.


…. or the future is very bleak for our grandchildren and their children.

sometimes I think Green Christians have taken over from the men in sandwich boards proclaiming “The end of the world is nigh”

This article is like an incredibly bad and confused sermon from a weak theology student!!! as one person commented

“Just read the article. It is an unstructured rant.”


Why was it published in Faith and Justice Newsletter and Independent Catholic News? Surely it is counter=productive/

To deal with the seriousness of all environmental issues we need a much more informed and rational level of discourse – and take heed of St Augustine


and realise  that many  will only respond to a nudge to help them change one thing rather than an apocalyptic rant. When they find the flaws they’ll reject the lot.

This kind of apocalyptic scaremongering is both childish and counter-productive

Sadly it is the common ground of far too many Christian environmentalists at present. This applies to all denominations whether Roman Catholics, Anglicans or non-conformists. Anglicans in Lancashire are similarly ill-informed and apocalyptic

To end with some humour


In the newly released parish resource film Global Healing Bishop John Arnold is asking us to take practical action in many different ways including nagging our politicians.

See: [12min 40sec]




Divest your church this Season of Creation: 1 September to 4 October 2018 – Bright Now

The month of September has been designated the Season of creation which is a magnificent idea as so often God as Creator and his Creation has been sidelined, almost to the point that the Gospel is just about Post-mortem salvation, with only a narrow concern on personal ethics. Or the more “liberal” who have a social concern but are indifferent to the environment and thus Creation.

In my church we are having Sept 2 to Oct 14 as our Season of Creation as it is bounded by Harvest Services and a Pet Service. That gives great opportunity to consider a variety of themes on God as creator, human responsibility to Creation, whether plants , animals, minerals,water and the need to ensure that there is enough for all.

There is much to consider apart from the Big bad wolf of fossil fuels, which at times become THE only issue.

As part of the Season of Creation Operation Noah  has launched a campaign to encourage parishes and local churches to divest from fossil fuels.


This follows the partial divestment by the General Synod of the Church of England in July 2018. Operation Noah did not thinkt hey went far enough

This is the blog of the new campaign

As our scorching summer gradually begins to fade into autumn, the Bright Now campaign is inviting local churches to support the movement for fossil free Churches. Could you join us in this next stage of the campaign? ………………

Source: Divest your church this Season of Creation: 1 September to 4 October 2018 – Bright Now

Their aim is to encourage all to divest totally from fossil fuels as soon as possible. In their reports Bright Now of 2013 and Fossil free Churches: Accelerating the transition to a brighter, cleaner future on June 2018 they give very clear and forceful arguments which divestment should be done immediately, with a large number of references.

If these two reports are the only things you read, then you will conclude that for the sake of the planet and humanity, immediate divestment is the only ethical action. Here they are in line with groups like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, McKibben’s and many fossil fuel campaigns.

However I consider the whole Operation Noah  and Bright Now campaigns and reports to be very inadequate and misleading, and thus fatally flawed.

Major Issues simply disregarded

First there are aspects about fossil fuels and energy which they simply ignore.

  1. Fossil fuels are more than fuel
  2. Renewables will not be able to replace fossil fuels for decades
  3. Fossil fuels vary in dirtiness

Now to consider each in turn.

  1. Fossil fuels are more than fuel

Fossil fuels are used for far more than providing energy as this picture shows.

Fossil fuels are used for Medicines, Cosmetics, Plastics, synthetic rubber, cleaning products, and asphalt. They could have included artificial fertilisers without which many in our world would starve and the making of essential chemicals like chlorine which means that our water is safe to drink.


This gives some of the things made just from petroleum. Try to eliminate all these from your daily life!!

In fact about a third of each barrel of oil produced is , on average, not used for fuel. As for gas, some is used  to make plastics, fertilisers and other things.

Yes, I know, many plastic things are awful, especially the excessive use of single use plastic and it is great that these are campaigned against.

For those who do not have perfect health (or even eye-sight) we depend on plastic for so many things medical.

Perhaps  readers could get up one morning and vow to use nothing dependent or made from oil, gas or coal.  First, you will have no heat, Secondly no water, thirdly no electricity, fourthly, no clothes from artificial fibres, fifthly you can’t take your medicines, sixthly you can put your glasses on etc etc.

Renewables will not be able to replace fossil fuels for decades

It would be fantastic to get rid of all fossil fuels by the end of the year. That will not happen and cannot happen for several reasons.

Renewables are dependent on energy storage to tide one over when wind and solar produce no or little power. Batteries or other storage systems are simply not in place and hardly on the horizon.

Even if they were in place ramping up would take decades and not years.

Often we are told that renewables produced 30% of our power this year. This is true, but often no power is produced as on a cold windless winter’s night. Further electricity is only a third or so of our energy usage – industry, heat, trans[port and when that is taken into consideration renewables produce less than 10% of Britains’s energy.

This shows how energy is sourced on a world perspective


This earlier chart for 2015 shows how small the renewable contribution is. Note the question


This shows the change in the mix for UK energy this decade. The largest changes have been the decline of coal and rise of gas.


And a reminder that energy transitions take decades, not years.energytransistion

I rest my case that divestment from fossil fuels is anything but premature and also folly  resulting in worldwide suffering. In fact I consider it a poor form of virtue signalling and is better for those divesting than our fellow humans who struggle with insufficient energy as well as everything else. I include those  in fuel poverty in our towns and cities.

Fossil fuels vary in dirtiness

There is no doubt that fossil fuels are dirty. Some of us remember the London pea-soupers. I think the last was early 1963 and the soup came within a hundred yards of our house in Surrey. I won’t forget the petrochemical smog around Chamonix when we were walking by a glacier, or the pall of coal smoke hovering over Llanrhaidr-ym-Mochnant while climbing the Berwyns in winter. Far worse is an open fire heating a hovel, but that is preferable to hypothermia.

Of all fossil fuels coal is by far the worst and emits more CO2 but also particulates, ash and radioactive particles. We know of diesel. The cleanest is gas and all scientific studies conclude that gas is by far and away the cleanest fossil fuel, except for one researcher – Robert Howarth. (However, the 2013 Bright Now report accepts Howarth’s outlying ideas due to relying on questionable secondary sources. But they did acknowledge that the switch to gas has reduced emissions.)

From this, it is a pity that Operation Noah did not prioritise getting rid of coal.


Having considered their serious omissions I will now consider some

Bad arguments

Discussed in my blog

The ON reports very much follow a leave it in the ground stance and say

5. The vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement targets. The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone would take the world beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

This is in two parts. The first is a sweeping statement on the Paris Agreement and fails to make any distinction between the 3 fossil fuels. The fact that emissions of CHG from coal are vastly greater than oil, which is turn is greater than gas is simply ignored as is the proportion of each fuel which should be left in the ground. Also ignored is the wide-spread rejection of coal. This seems to be a rewrite of the Paris agreement and rather alters the meaning. Further no one has put it that baldly. The original source on keeping fossil fuels in the ground comes from a paper in Nature from University College London researchers. They distinguished between the three fossil fuels
A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources.

This puts things in a very different light both on the timeframe and which fuels are to be left in the ground. In other words, coal needs to be left there but oil and gas will be used to 2050 – and will have to be simply to keep the lights on. There is clear to anyone who understand than energy transitions take DECADE not YEARS.

This attitude is often accompanied with the mantra keepitintheground which is great for chanting but does not solves problems of energy or emissions.

As serious is the lop-sided bias of Operation Noah reports, as I discuss in my blog referred to above. The authors seem to ignore anything apart from the most strident keepitintheground position, preferring the one-sided approaches of  the most strident greens and ignoring the more moderate (and in my view more constructive ones) of Lord Deben, Sir David Mackay, Dieter Helm and various others. It is wrong not to mention and consider them as it prevents the average churchmember and minister from considering a variety of viewpoints which are all concerned with doing the best for the planet and to fulfill the Paris agreement.

At best this is a case of shoddy argument, but is very misleading and prevents an honest discussion as other well-evidenced arguments are simply not presented.

Some may consider it to be duplicitous and slightly less than honest.

What has happened is that the churches’ witness for the environment , and particularly fossil fuels, has been hijacked by a group who are prepared to give a highly biased and often inaccurate argument for divestment. I also note that some members of Operation Noah are prepared to break the law to make their point.

It is very difficult for someone, even if they have some technical skills, to counter such strident arguments which are buttressed by claims to be ethical.

It is a pity that there are insufficient people in the churches, who have the technical expertise to present a more reasonable argument rather than virtue signalling.


I rest my case and there is much more i could have said………….



Much of Britain is covered with peat bog. Many don’t regard as valuable and much has been drained and wrecked in the last century.

But peat bogs lock up carbon, clean water and provide havens for wildlife.

You can even get stugged in them

Photos mostly from the Forest of Bowland showing both damage to peat bogs and also the beauty of them

Please look at the article linked after the photos. It says it all


DSCF0376DSCF0363DSCF0373003DSCF3617024DSCF9119 (1)

After my photos please read this semi-technical blog

via FAQs

Evangelicals and Climate Change 1990 to 2011

How far do evangelicals whether in the USA, Britain or elsewhere regard Climate Change? It is not an easy question to answer.

a21Increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations from 1958–2013

At the end of this I give a link to a chapter I wrote way back in 2011. Ironically I completed it as there were minor tremors 10 miles from my house probably caused by fracking. Those tremors meant my essay was out of date before it was published!

Looking over this chapter, I still agree with most of it, but it suffers too much from a historical, backward look and not discerning the events going on at the time. I started to write it just after the 2009 Copenhagen conference on Climate Change and in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At that time I was unaware of the fracking revolution in the USA and that there was exploration for fracking right on my doorstep. Despite my cycling the country lanes on the Fylde, in the absence of protestors fracking exploration was almost invisible! Since 2011 Climate Change is far more to the fore and of great interest to Christian greens and the whole church.

It would be fair to say, that for Christians Climate Change is the dominant environmental concern and at times one wonders if anything else matters except Climate Change and fracking. Sadly the discussion is now often based more on emotion than science.

I made several omissions in my essay including not referring to  Canadian Katharine Hayhoe. (whom I thought was American as she lives in Texas!!) If I had been more USA aware in 2011 I would have mentioned this book    A Climate for Change    by Hayhoe and Farley published in 2009.


from the preface;

Bike to work. Hug a tree. Eat granola. Live off the grid. Wear hemp. Bathe in a stream. And worship the earth.

Go ahead. Label us – just because we think global warming is a serious problem that you should know about.

But here’s who we really are.

We’re Christians. We don’t worship the earth. We worship the Creator of the universe. We believe that God spoke the world into existence and sustains it by His power. We believe that Jesus Christ is the way to eternal life, that the Bible is God?s Word, and that nothing compares to the importance of the gospel message.

Now, for what we don’t believe. We don’t believe the universe came into existence through random chance. We don’t believe that life came from nothing or that humans evolved from apes.

We believe in common sense. We believe in the sensible progression from older to newer technologies. Yes, we live in a house with air conditioning. We drive cars. We don’t have solar panels on our roof (too expensive), and we’re not vegetarians (meat is just too tasty).

Don’t worry – we’re not going to try to convince you that Earth is four billion years old or that it’s young, but with the appearance of age. Even we, the authors, disagree on that one.

Climate change is about thermometers and temperatures. It’s about what’s been happening on our planet since the Industrial Revolution. It’s Chemistry 101. Now, can we talk about global warming?

(from the Preface of A Climate for Change)

I was taken aback about the denial that humans are evolved and that one author seems to be a Young Earther


My distinction of Greens and Browns is probably too simple. I am tempted now to subdivide Greens into Bright Green, Dark Green, Dim Green and possibly some other shades. In the UK among all Christians I would say the latter two are in ascendant !!!


This was my  Conclusion

It is not possible to draw a neat and simple conclusion on Evangelical attitudes
to climate change. McKeown’s division into Browns and Greens is
good, but is too simple. McKeown highlights the divide between the different
Evangelical factions, but matters are more complex than his aptly
polarized scenario shows. There are the infl uential activists on either side,
personifi ed by John Houghton for the theory of climate change and Calvin
Beisner against it. These individuals have been highly active for the last
15 years, and at times it seems that there can be no resolution and that
Evangelicals are simply divided.
However, certain things are clear. The more moderate Evangelicals are
convinced of climate change and work positively with the wider church
and – if they have scientifi c skills – in the scientifi c community. Those
opposed are very vocal and dismissive of the ‘ junk science’ and have made
much of alleged ‘fraud’ by Chris Jones of the CRU. Despite the vindictiveness
of these allegations, the conservatives or Browns have become more
environmentally aware in the last decade, as groups such as the ISA have
slowly shifted their position. The strongest examples of shifts in opinion
are to be seen in those such as Richard Cizik, who rejected decades of environmental
indifference almost overnight.
As I write on a cold and damp July evening (and revised it after the coldest
December for decades), it is diffi cult to foresee the future and whether the
political clout of the more conservative Evangelicals will inhibit efforts to
address climate change. For most Evangelicals, climate change is a matter
of indifference and they will probably refl ect what they have been taught
with varying levels of conviction. As Creation care is more widely espoused
by Evangelicals, whether in the conservative or moderate form, environmental
concerns are becoming of greater concern. According to a recent
article in Christianity Today 21 , environmental issues have hit the United
States hard this year (2010). The editorial, entitled ‘Let the sea resound’,
begins: ‘The question is no longer, “Do you believe in global warming?” but,
“What do you believe about the Gulf oil spill?” The BP spill has brought
creation care closer to home. Whether global warming is a dire threat or
not, human- made or not, we are all now more aware of our relationship to
other parts of God’s creation’. No one around the Gulf of Mexico has been
able to avoid the effects of the spill, and it has become a primary concern
of President Obama. The environmental record of America has never been
good, but this spillage exceeds any previous catastrophe. Americans have
been forced to see that the environment is fragile in a way they have never
before perceived it. As the Christianity Today article says, ‘There seems to be
little doubt that the Gulf oil spill is the United States’ environmental 9/11’.
Tree huggers are objects of ridicule, but many have become ‘sea huggers’.
Perhaps American Evangelicals may become ‘climate huggers’. 22 If that
happens, the present bias against climate change in the United States will
change, as American Evangelicals have considerable political infl uence,
especially in the Republican Party. Most American Evangelicals support
9781441169297_Ch07_Fpp_txt_prf.indd 129 9/6/2011 2:30:34 PM
Religion 130 in Environmental and Climate Change
the Republicans and as long as they follow the creationist line of climate
change, Republican politicians will do the same.
Over the next few decades, both the absolute numbers and proportion of
Evangelicals and Neo- Pentecostals are set to rise, making them of greater
signifi cance, both socially and politically, in many parts of the world. I
must emphasize that this will not only be in the United States, where they
are so infl uential now, but in countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America
(especially Brazil). Thus, their views on climate change and what should be
done about it are of great signifi cance for our planet.

To read what went before please click below



Calvin Beisner, Republican evangelicals and the environment

Thirty years ago, few Christians either side of the pond took any interest in the environment, and those who did were regarded as cranks, Things moved after 1990 when many in the churches went green. Until about 2010 Evangelicals were split between what may be termed Greens and Browns. The Greens followed the consensus of secular greens and were represented both in the USA and the UK. The Browns were those evangelicals who did no and foremost among them is Dr Calvin Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance. Beisner is also policy advisor to the Heartland Institute, which is diametrically opposed to the Sierra Club!! Beisner has no scientific training which we need to note , and also has an extreme fundamentalist theology.


I give first a historical account which comes part from my book Evangelicals and Science 2008 and part a chapter in Religion and Environmental Change ed Gerten and Bergmann 2012. After 2010 things changed and the focus was on climate change and fossil fuels for several reasons. First this was focussed by Copenhagen 2009 and then the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico and lastly fracking which became a litmus test for the darker greens.
I then cite Beisner’s recent explanation of his stance and conclude with his reflections and regret at the resignation of Pruitt.
I have not provided much interpretation and assume that my readers have at least half a brain, but suffice it to say that I think Beisner is very very wrong and reflected where the conservative Evangelicals are wrong over the environment, and has dangerous views for the future of our planet.
[Those who know I reject divestment and support fracking (and GMOs) might be bemused by my position on the environmental spectrum. Perhaps environmental questions do not require such a binary approach which follows the fallacy of rejecting the Excluded Middle, whereby no mediating or middle position is allowed. On the environment a Christian must follow either Bill McKibbin or Beisner. There is no other alternative. Hence to dark Greens I am as bad as Beisner!!

The Browns
Whereas most Christians and many Evangelicals have developed environmental awareness over the last 40 years, numbers of Evangelicals have not. Many of these are associated with the religious right in the United States and have a great suspicion of anything liberal or ‘leftie’. Since 1990, Evangelicals who are opposed to the approach of Evangelical environmentalists have been gaining strength and have formed coalitions to express their understanding of environmental stewardship, culminating in the Cornwall Declaration produced in 2000.
An essential aspect of opposition to mainline environmentalism came from free- market economics, which was linked to the upholding of conservative theological principles, both Catholic and Evangelical, with the founding of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in 1990 by Father Robert Sirico. The goal of the institute was to ‘promote a society that embraces civil liberties and free- market economics’. The Acton Institute and Calvin Beisner opposed the Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation . In 2000, the Acton Institute established the Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship, whose founders included leading Evangelicals such as James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and James Kennedy (Coral Ridge Ministries) as well as conservative Roman Catholics and Jews. Their Cornwall Declaration was produced in 2000 and posted to 35,000 churches. This declaration ran counter to the Evangelical Declaration , but it was not overtly ‘anti- environmental’. First, the declaration is anthropocentric and emphatic that humanity has dominion over the earth, and it offers the criticism that ‘some unfounded or undue concerns include fears of destructive manmade global warming, overpopulation, and rampant species loss’. Then, in the section on beliefs, the fifth statement reads, ‘By disobeying God’s Law, humankind brought on itself moral and physical corruption as well as divine condemnation in the form of a curse on the earth. Since the fall into sin people have often ignored their Creator, harmed their neighbours, and defi led the good creation’. This, as we see, claims that the Fall of Adam had an effect on the whole of creation in that it was a curse and not just a fall . (The notion of a curse often includes the idea that the earth is only a few thousand years old, as no animal could have died before the Fall.)


David Kenneth Larsen wrote that ‘“the Cornwall Declaration represented the first acknowledgment of the need for environmental care” by politically conservative leaders’ .7 That in itself may be very significant for the future. In 2005 ICES was relaunched as the ISA.
To understand the Browns and the ISA, it is best to focus on their leading theoretician, Calvin Beisner, who is an associate professor of social ethics at Knox Theological Seminary in Florida and has written three books on environmental stewardship: Prospects for Growth: A Biblical View of Population, Resources, and the Future (1990); Man, Economy, and Perspective (1994) and Where Garden Meets Wilderness: Evangelical Entry Into the Environmental Debate (1997). Beisner is not a scientist and studied under the economist Julian Simon, who did not recognize the limited nature of natural resources and whose book Resourceful Earth (1984) advocated the ‘cornucopia hypothesis’ of unlimited economic growth. This is a key point.  8 Hence Beisner takes far more of a free- market approach to the environment rather than a scientific one, whether on climate, pollution or material resources. Beisner supports his understanding of environmental stewardship with his interpretation of early Genesis.


He argues that there are two different mandates in Genesis 1 and 2 and that the ‘curse’ of Genesis drastically changed the natural world. Richard Wright argued in 1995 that ‘the presumed biblical support for this position [for the emerging Christian anti- environmentalism] is currently found primarily in Beisner’s work’ (Wright, 1995). Beisner rejected the commonly held idea that the meaning of subdue and rule in Gen. 1.28 and to till and keep in Genesis 2 are essentially the same. He argues from the Hebrew, as he did in Where Garden Meets Wilderness, that there are two contrasting cultural mandates: Gen. 2.15 is gentle, and Gen. 1.28 is harsh. One is appropriate for the garden, the other to the earth outside the garden – the wilderness. Thus the wilderness must be ‘subdued’ to become a ‘garden’, a view that includes the necessity of taming wild animals. As Beisner expressed it: The incremental transformation of wilderness into garden, bringing the whole earth under human dominion, taming the wild beasts, and building order out of chaos . . . while tender cultivation is suited to a garden, forceful subduing is suited to all of the earth that has not yet been transformed into the garden. In short, subduing and ruling the earth should metamorphose gradually into tilling and keeping the garden as the earth is progressively transformed into the garden. Many reject this biblical interpretation, but it has serious implications in that it transforms Gen. 1.28 into a command to tame the wilderness, and – as McKeown put it – ‘so the logical outcome of his reading of Genesis (though he mostly avoids it) is that it is a dereliction of duty to leave any wild area untransformed or any wild creature untamed’ (McKeown, 2006). This interpretation is completely contrary to any understanding of protecting wildernesses and the ideal of national parks, for example. Beisner also claims that ‘there is a difference between the Fall and the Curse. The Fall is man’s sin, and the Curse is God’s response to man’s sin. The Curse is on the earth’. He points out that ‘most evangelical books on the environment never mention the Curse’ but only the Fall and that ‘the only degradation that the Declaration mentions occurring to the earth is all through human action’, neglecting God’s direct action against the earth by curse and flood. Beisner judged that this silence was motivated by the Greens’ desire to identify environmental problems as human- caused, but the report of the 1992 WEF meeting (cf. above) indicates that the reason was their uncertainty about whether the earth’s physical aspects were actually changed by the curse. In other words, were earthquakes, storms, predation, death and disease actually introduced after the Fall to be the curse?
This is a basic premise of creationism. 9 In his contribution to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in April 2007, Beisner wrote: ‘According to both the Bible and sound science, the great pools of oil and veins of coal formed from sudden, simultaneous deposits of vast numbers of plants and animals in a great geological cataclysm – what Christians recognize as the Flood of Noah’s time’ (Beisner, 2007 ).10 Most would not agree that this is sound science, as he rejects all geological time and claims that carbon fuels were formed in the few months of the Flood. It is not possible to give a detailed discussion of Beisner’s and the ISA’s reasons for their positions on environmental issues, but it is difficult not to conclude that they are based on three contentious conclusions: (1) there are unlimited resources on the earth, (2) that the events and time scales reported in early Genesis are a historic reality (3) the Fall also entailed a curse on creation by God. From the presentation to the US Senate on religious views of global warming (June 2007) discussed below, it is clear that Beisner has convinced a large proportion of religious conservatives, including many Southern Baptists, of the wisdom of his views. However, his whole approach has been savaged by two environmentally informed Evangelical scientists, Richard Wright and the environmental geologist Jeff Greenberg of Wheaton College in Chicago. In spite of their critiques, many Evangelicals and conservative Catholics have supported the Cornwall Declaration and, under the guise of good stewardship of the environment, reject many of the aims of most environmentalists, particularly those that are seen as ‘ junk science’. This has caused a rift among American Evangelicals, and crosses the pond.

Next is an e-mail written by Beisner for the regular Cornwall Alliance e-mail 19/6/18

What Made Me Pour My Life into the Cornwall Alliance?

People often ask what made me interested enough in environmental stewardship that teaching about it has become my career. After all, I started out mainly doing personal evangelism and the theological, historical, philosophical, and scientific apologetics that served evangelism. Why the switch—if it was a switch?

Well, first, it wasn’t a switch but an expansion of concern with the realization that evangelism introduces people not solely to justification—being made right with God—but also to a whole Kingdom-of-God way of living.

Second, that expansion came in 1981. Part of what drove it was when a pastor friend with whom I had breakfast each Saturday morning for prayer and discussion of various books on the Christian life, urged me to read Ronald Sider’s book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. “It’ll change your life,” he said over and over as I resisted it because I had no interest in economics. At last I gave in and read it.

It did indeed change my life, but not quite the way my pastor friend expected. I knew nothing about economics, but I knew logic and Biblical interpretation, and I was convinced Sider had botched those badly. If he had botched his economics, too, those who embraced his ideas—a sort of “soft socialism” (from which he backed away somewhat in later editions)—could do a great deal of harm with the best of intentions.

But who was I to criticize, never having studied economics? So I bought a big stack of books on economics and studied them carefully. That study confirmed my suspicion. And that made me want to counter the influence of that book, which led to my doing my master’s degree in economic ethics, my chairing the economics committee of the Coalition on Revival, and my writing two books for Crossway’s “Turning Point Christian Worldview” series—Prosperity and Poverty: The Compassionate Use of Resources in a World of Scarcity (1988), and Prospects for Growth: A Biblical View of Population, Resources, and the Future (1990).’

Those books led to many invitations to speak for conferences and then to teach at Covenant College and later at Knox Theological Seminary. One of those conferences led to my drafting what became the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship, which later became Cornwall Alliance’s founding document.

So, in short, what motivated me to pour my life into this work was a Biblical concern to protect the poor from policies that would slow or stop their rise out of poverty—a poverty with devastating consequences that I had witnessed firsthand in my early childhood in India.

As a geologist I simply cannot accept his view of unlimited mineral resourses and doubt whether his concerns over poverty are in the right place. incidentally we were both brought up in India!
And now his email on 6th July 2018 on Pruitt’s resignation

Cornwall Alliance Statement on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Resignation

On July 5, President Donald Trump announced the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.
The Cornwall Alliance was pleased to support Mr. Pruitt’s nomination in 2017, and we have valued his service to the American people since then.
He has brought to the EPA, which in past years frequently overstretched the statutory limits of its authority, a strong commitment to our Constitutional order. Mr. Pruitt has honored the separation of powers and worked vigorously to roll back needless, costly EPA regulations imposed on the American people by the Obama Administration.
Hand-in-hand with President Trump, Mr. Pruitt led the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, rolled back the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule, has taken steps to end the use of “secret science” in EPA regulatory formation, and acted to expand the EPA’s consultation of scientists other than those whose receipt of agency funding creates a conflict of interest.
We fully expect that Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, formerly Deputy Administrator, will follow in Mr. Pruitt’s footsteps, reforming the EPA according to President Trump’s agenda to improve the American economy while continuing to protect its environment. We wish him well in those endeavors, we wish Mr. Pruitt well in the next chapter of his distinguished career of public service, and we encourage President Trump to name a permanent new Administrator who will be as dedicated as was Mr. Pruitt to the agenda the America people affirmed when they elected him President.

God Bless You,

E. Calvin Beisner
Founder and National Spokesman

I don’t quite agree with Beisner but doubt whether his successor will be better.
To conclude I think Beisner’s views on the environment are fundamentally wrong on so many levels, but I do chuckle that as a Creationist he believes all the fossil fules were laid down when Noah went on a sailing trip with his 6 million insects and a few dinosaurs.



More seriously, his views on Genesis probably result in his woeful environmental views.


The Saddleworth fire and the importance of restoring our peatland habitats in tackling climate change – Martin Harper\’s blog – Our work – The RSPB Community

The RSPB and the vital need to restore peat bogs

First my photos of peat damage and restoration in the Forest of Bowland



Source: The Saddleworth fire and the importance of restoring our peatland habitats in tackling climate change – Martin Harper\’s blog – Our work – The RSPB Community

The Church of England and Divestment; July 2018

Divestment and the Church of England
In July 8th 2018 the General synod of the Church of England are meeting to discuss divestment from fossils fuels. They had one bite of the cherry in 2015. Reading the GS (General Synod) papers things seem to be moving to total divestment and not just from coal and tar sands.
Needless to say green groups are at full throttle on this with “position papers” being published. Most active is Operation Noah who have published both a paper and petition. I will consider these rather than the other multitude of voices for divestment


Here is the petition
The introduction is;

1. We ask the National Investing Bodies of the Church of England to make an explicit commitment to disinvest from companies involved in the extraction of oil, coal and gas, as soon as possible.
2. We urge the National Investing Bodies to increase their investment in clean alternatives to fossil fuels.
3. We call on the Church of England to take a leading and influential role in the national debate on the ethics of investment in fossil fuels.

This goes much further than any motion at General Synod and seems to want total divestment. Further it takes up the false dichotomy of clean (renewables) vs dirty (fossil) fuels, and thus ignore the devastation caused by mining for all the minerals needed for renewables, showing that they are also dirty! THERE NO CLEAN ENERGY.
The third point on Ethics seems to be virtue signalling as it defines a priori that fossil fuels are unethical.
After that are six reasons why it is important to divest. Rather than deal with each I shall consider reason no 5.

5. The vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement targets. The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone would take the world beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

This is in two parts. The first is a sweeping statement on the Paris Agreement and fails to make any distinction between the 3 fossil fuels. The fact that emissions of CHG from coal are vastly greater than oil, which is turn is greater than gas is simply ignored as is the proportion of each fuel which should be left in the ground. This seems to be a rewrite of the Paris agreement and rather alters the meaning. Further no one has put it that baldly. The original source on keeping fossil fules in the ground comes from a paper in nature for UCL researchers. They distinguished between the three fossil fuels
A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources.

This puts things in a very different light both on the timeframe and which fuels are to be left in the ground. In other words, coal needs to be left there but oil and gas will be used to 2050 – and will have to be simply to keep the lights on. There is clear to anyone who understand than energy transitions take DECADE not YEARS.
The second sentence which is very authorative comes from a polemical report and from ON’s position paper

. A report from Oil Change International,12 written with Christian Aid and others, shows that the potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming. Even the reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone (without coal) would take the world beyond 1.5°C.
This is hardly unbiased, and conclusions from an advocacy group should not be seen as definitive.
(Most of the photos in the paper are of the worst of coal extraction/devastation rather than oil or gas production. This is a dubious way of appealing to emotions ) Compared to open-cast coal or the slag heaps of deep coal, oil or gas wells look like an English country garden.
I checked out the website and note that it is a group which is opposed to any fossil fuels. Accuracy is not its forte as I found with the section on fracking As well as making unsubstantiated claims many of the links could not be opened. This prevents any fact checking
It is insufficient simply to cite those of a similar perspective as if they are universally held
To discuss the remaining points would take time as I would need to “fact check” each claim as I have done for my previous points.
In fact both the ON petition and paper fall down when you actually “fact check” and it is difficult not to see it as truth shaving as well.

More on Operation Noah. In 2013 (revised 2015) they produced a report Bright Now arguing for divestment. On the surface this seems a good report with good theology, sane economics and sound science. It is not. The report is highly biased and ignores any voice which does not call for immediate divestment and an immediate move to renewables aka clean energy. In other words references only reflect their bias. The section The scientific case for disinvestment is remarkable for its high standard of technical and scientific error. This is not surprising as they looked to unreliable sources, and ignore reliable ones like the British Geological Survey and others. Operation Noah have been effective within all churches in Britain but their bias and inaccuracy should cause concern.
This week (mid-June 2018) Operation Noah have produced another document, presumably in readiness for the General Synod. It is excellently produced, well-written with a wealth of references. The report is Fossil free Churches: Accelerating the transition to a brighter, cleaner future and has some excellent testimonials. So what is it like?
Before looking at the content, consider the references. I remember a university teacher saying the first thing he looked at in an essay are the references as that indicates the essential strengths and weaknesses of the essay. If a student uses bad references the essay will be bad too! It is salutary to do that on Fossil Free Churches. Over half are by advocacy groups, which often have a less than through approach to accuracy – truth shaving -, like Friends of the Earth,(who were pulled up the Advertising Standards Authority in 2017), Ceres, 350org among others. In fact, the references are slewed to support divestment rather than even considering other viewpoints, which regard natural gas as a fuel which is far better than coal, and thus good at the present time to reduce emissions. Thus references 46 and 47 are from the IEA (International Energy Authority) but they fail to cite a paper which goes contrary to what they advocate; . Some reference should be made to the work of Lord Deben in the DECC, or even positive references to the need of natural gas in IPCC reports. Surely readers should be able to make their own mind and not simply fed a one-sided view. It is almost a case of no-platforming.
This one-sidedness comes out in both the Advisory group and “experts” consulted;

ADVISORY GROUP: Nicky Bull, Darrell Hannah, Ruth Jarman, Alex Mabbs Those who have contributed to this report and whose input is acknowledged below do not necessarily endorse the content of this report. We would also like to thank the following experts for their advice, input, ideas and suggestions as we developed the ideas in this report (though all errors and omissions remain the responsibility of the author): Stephen Edwards (Operation Noah), Martin Poulsom (Operation Noah), Reggie Norton (Operation Noah), Tom Harrison (Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts), Sian Ferguson (Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts), Luke Sussams (Carbon Tracker), Katharine Mansell (European Climate Foundation), Jeanne Martin (ShareAction), Greg Muttitt (Oil Change International), Simon Bullock (Friends of the Earth), Ric Lander (Friends of the Earth Scotland), Keval Bharadia (Christian Aid), Monique Nardi (Mission 2020), Rachel Mash (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), John Weaver (John Ray Initiative), David Pickering (United Reformed Church Synod of Scotland), Joel Moreland, Hugh Lee, Kevin McCullough.

There is simply no diversity of thought here and are almost entirely divestment and anti-fossil fuel advocates. This prevents any balance or serious grappling with issues and essentially presents divestment as a fait accompli, which in the paper is buttressed by theological virtue signalling. At least one expert vandalised the DECC building in 2015. Further there is no engagement with those who may be called practitioners in energy. As this is a Christian document, I know numbers of Christians who work in the fossil fuel and nuclear industry or who have other necessary expertise, which was needed here. Among Christians in the UK, this study has ignored Lord Deben, late Prof Younger, Dr Nick Riley. This is ignoring many fine secular experts.
Sadly many who read this paper, will not be aware of alternatives to immediate divestment. Over the last decade green Christians have sung from only one sheet, cutting out other voices. Here they show the characteristics of fundamentalists. Too often in the Christian press alternative voices are either ignored or suppressed.

The paper starts with an Executive summary stating “the vast majority of fossil fuels need to be left in the ground.”
If we are to meet the Paris Agreement targets, the vast majority of fossil fuels will need to remain in the ground. This means that fossil fuel companies run the risk of being left with ‘stranded assets’ – worthless fuel reserves that regulations will prevent from being burned or that can only be consumed at unimaginable cost to us all. Fossil fuel companies’ predictions of future business
I dealt with earlier in the blog, but this is unfounded dogmatism. As I wrote before it is, 80% coal, 50% gas and 33% oil . That is very different.
All this needs a proper discussion using a wide range of sources giving full details of the issues and any controversial aspects. It is thus too emotive and biased to be a useful guide.
Along with there is no discussion of relative dirtiness of the various fossil fuels or the dirtiness of so-called clean energy. It is too slick to contrast “clean” and “dirty” energy and ignore the DIRT of renewables, e.g. mining for rare earths, wrecking of peat bogs for wind turbines, difficulty of recycling obsolete turbines and solar panels
The appeal to stranded assets sounds convincing and would be if fossil fuels have only a few years left but all projections including WWF reckon fossil fuels will still being used in 2050
There is an appeal to rapid developments, but until they are developed they cannot be used! Ultimately there is a blind faith in renewables, more hope than reality. Thus renewables cannot replace fossil fuels in the foreseeable future

But renewables still marginal and will be in the timeframe suggested by ON for a transition
This graph from BP highlights the problem. Renewables are only providing some 3% of the world’s total energy. Note this is TOTAL energy and not just electricity generation where the percentage is higher. This on 14th June 2018 wind power was producing 33% of the UK electricity having only produced a few per cent for several weeks. By the evening it had fallen back and thus I was able to out for a cycle ride without being blown off. And then at the end of June 2018 solar actually outperformed gas for a short time during the day, but once the heat wave is over solar will be reduced in significance


The graph below shows the annual mix for electricity production in the UK. Note that dirty coal is almost phased out, nuclear (hated by many greens) runs at 20%, wind and solar now at 20% and gas ruling the roost at 40%. This does not consider the intermittent nature of renewables which produce nothing on a frosty, windless night. This graph shows just electricity but that is only part of energy useage in the UK as for heating, industry and transport. That is almost entirely fossil fuels (including electric cars.)


The theology in the paper seems reasonable BUT must be grounded in the science, which it is not.
The ON material falls down when “fact-checked” and this is due to an in-built bias, which should not be practiced by Christians. The authors simply select what reports they wish to use and ignore swathes of good material As a result we can see them as examples of inadequate fact-checking with truth shaving.

What is needed both by the Christian Church and all people is not truth shaving whether from “climate deniers” or ardent greens but truth sharing and a ruthless pursuit of truth, even when that is uncomfortable.
I can expect to be accused of being a Climate Denier having written this!! To me there is no question that Anthropogenic Climate Change has been happening for well over a century, and if nothing is done then the consequences will be dire. However the apocalyptic nightmares peddled by greens like Greenpeace, Friends of the earth, and McKibbin, Naomi Klein and others do no good and may well discourage people from taking any action. It does not help when such apocalyptic visions are accompanied by truth-shaving and, at time, sheer inaccuracy.
The solutions to the whole climate issue will not be a simple divestment but a diverse approach not only concerning fossil fuels, and fuel conservation but farming practices, re-afforestation, restoration of peat lands and wetlands.
As Oscar Wilde said, “to every complex question there is a simpe answer – and that is wrong.” !!!!
My final point is to say that in 1982/3 I tried to get concern for the environment put on the agenda of the Liverpool Diocesan Board of Social Responsibility as I was a member. My appeal fell on deaf ears and was not even recorded in the minutes.