Category Archives: Environment

General stuff on the environment, especially Christians and the environment

Which matters most: sin or climate change? | Psephizo

Now COP26 has ended and various are either licking their wounds at the result – that is from either extreme, it is good to consider what a Christian perspective should be.

This blog by Ian Paul is good and useful and attempts to de-polarise the issue.

Over the last year the environment and climate change has become divisive in all churches. Rather than put in my own penny-worth I will let the different voice of Ian speak.

Source: Which matters most: sin or climate change? | Psephizo

E F Schumacher and the nuclear debacle

How can a leading coal economist become such a guru for green issues and alternative and small-scale technologies?

E.F. Schumacher's founding philosophy and how it still guides us today -  Practical Action

That is the legacy of E F Schumacher (16 August 1911 – 4 September 1977). Migrating from Germany from 1950 to 1970 he was Chief Economic Adviser to the National Coal Board, Yet this leader of old, polluting technologies became the prophet for the opposite and his legacy is his opposition to nuclear energy and various green groups named in his memory. Whether acknowledged or not he has had a great influence in Green Britain! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._F._Schumacher

I came across his work in the 70s as I read Resurgence  and The Ecologist, as his name often came up. I admit to lapping up his ideas. To my surprise I found that he lived in my home town of Caterham in a lovely house opposite our school playing fields. For four years I cycled past his house every day on the way to school and then for another four years after that saw it from our geography, history and science blocks. Two of his sons were several years ahead of me in school and mother taught one of his daughters maths. Yet I knew nothing about him when at school when he was advising the National Coal Board.

After 1970 he seemed to change his economics to small scale projects and upped his opposition to nuclear energy. On the former he was influenced by visits as an advisor  to Burma. I shall return to nuclear energy. That was music to my ears and most environmentalists of the day. He published his ideas in the book Small is Beautiful in 1974, which I got in paperback form some years later.

Book review: Small Is Beautiful: A study of Economics as if People Mattered  - EF Schumacher (1973) - Blue and Green Tomorrow

The subtitle of Small is Beautiful is a study of Economics as if People Mattered. I won’t go into that , but it is behind much of the small-scale arguments of the last 40 years, including Intermediate Technology. It is a classic of the 70s and significant in the whole green movement. But I will focus only on his views on nuclear energy.

Chapter 8 would shock many today, where he expresses his regret that so many coal mines were closed down in the 60s, despite have enough reserves. Thatcher continued in the 80s and Scargill criticised her for it. Scargill could see how the coal industry was being closed down, despite there being plenty of coal. All this was before the serious air pollution from coal was fully acknowledged and before an understanding of climate change.

The other reason to shift away from coal: Air pollution that kills  thousands every year

Chapter 9 of Small is Beautiful is entitled Nuclear Energy – Salvation or Damnation?. EFS goes for the latter, where perhaps purgatory might be better!! The lecture was given as the Des Moeux Memorial Lecture “Clean Air and future Energy” in 1967. When discussing the lecture for his book in 1973, he points out the change in perception on nuclear energy. In 1967 most were in favour but the tide had turned by 1973, and though he does not say it because of the activities of the Sierra Club, the new Greenpeace and others. EFS was just one who added his pennyworth in this lecture. My own memory is that nuclear energy was seen as good thing from the fifties and by the 70s all environmentalists were opposed to it for its horrific potential dangers.

He claimed ” Of all the changes introduced by man into the household of nature, large -scale fission is undoubtedly the most dangerous and profound.” He then says that the building of power stations, whether based on coal, oil or nuclear (note that as yet gas was not used), are decided on economic grounds rather than the ‘social consequences’ which may result from the curtailment of the coal industry, which was in full swing in the 60s. The social consequences were unemployment and destruction of communities, which occurred in all old mining villages and towns. I witnessed them in Wigan and Chirk in the 70s and 80s. What was over-looked he claimed was the ‘incredible, incomparable and unique hazard for human life’ of nuclear energy. To buttress his arguments he used the example of nuclear weapons and their extreme destructiveness. He then describes the radiation and points out there is no safe way of storing “used” material as it will radioactive for ever.. Arguments still used today.

On p116 he notes the problem of air and water pollution (with coal burning being implicit), but says there is a ‘dimensional difference’ and ‘radioactive pollution is an evil of incomparably greater’ dimension’ than anything mankind has known before.’ and rhetorically ‘What is the point of insisting on clean air, if the air is laden with radioactive particles?’

This claim was very plausible in the early 70s and carried many with them, including Tony Benn. It convinced most environmentalists, including myself.

According to EFS the change came in February  1972 with the government report Pollution; Nuisance or Nemesis? The report expected nuclear to produce 50% of electricity by 2000. They highlighted the chief concern – which was the storage of radioactive waste  which was forever.

EFS concluded “No degree of prosperity could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make safe.” That has been the cry of environmentalists ever since.

EFS’s arguments against nuclear energy have been held by groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth ever since, who were very successful in their propaganda. I can’t criticise them as I totally swallowed the lot and was anti-nuclear. However they swung opinions against nuclear, which now produces only 20% of electricity in Britain.

More humorously Friends of the Earth had a yellow tea shirt with the words The only safe fast breeder is a rabbit. We bought one, partly at that time I was a curate in a Lancashire church and the vicar, my boss, was always telling us we should have children ASAP! He was not a nice, cuddly vicar!! Many parishioners were aware of this, so my wife turned up to parish events in the T-shirt! I left a few months later and then worked under the nicest vicar ever. We had our first child in that parish, and he and his wife were godparents. He was my unofficial mentor for 25 years. The Church of England can be quite Jekyll and Hyde.

One of EFS’s main themes was the danger of nuclear energy and how it was far worse than anything other form of energy. He was aware of pollution but did not consider the horrific air pollution from burning coal as totally disastrous. He could have noted the Clean Air Acts of the 50s after the great smog in London and the frequent pea-souper fogs. I think the last pea-souper was in 1963 which almost reached our house in Caterham and probably equally close to EFS’s house half a mile away and a lower altitude. The accumulated death-rate from coal over the years is immense and still is so in many parts of the world. So how does nuclear compare?

Accident rate from nuclear power.

As soon as one mentions nuclear weapons as EFS did in his lecture, pictures are conjured up that an accident in a nuclear power station would be like Hiroshima, first in its blast and next its radiation. So;

nuclear, no thanks!

Any accident creates great media interest, specially when creative writing takes precedent to fact. The three most well known are Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011. The resultant deaths were none at Three Mile Island, possibly one at Fukushima. Chernobyl was serious with 28 killed on site, 34 others and   up to 4000 from cancer. The whole area of the disaster zone was evacuated. here is a list of all accidents from Wiki. Fukushima was no Hiroshima as one person was possibly killed and the death and injury was caused by the tsunami and not a nuclear accident. Many of the reports on Fukushima have been very creative!!

Fukushima nuclear plant water to be released into the ocean via undersea  tunnel

Here is wiki’s list of accidents;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents_and_incidents

Chernobyl terrified many but compared to coal it was less lethal, as fatalities from coal are simply individuals who die one by one from air pollution  but the table from this New Scientist article puts it into perspective.  If you include deaths of miners then that ran at 1000 pa from 1873 to 1953 in Britain, which includes the Gresford disaster of 1934 which killed 266. This was just one of several.

This New Scientist article considers the relative death rates of various forms of energy per TWh. Brown Coal includes lignite which is used in Germany to replace nuclear and nuclear power stations were shut down after Fukishima.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20928053-600-fossil-fuels-are-far-deadlier-than-nuclear-power/

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Compared to coal nuclear is a very safe energy – and one of the safest. I find it difficult to understand why EFS gave the lecture as it shows an extreme Unconscious Bias – or was it Conscious?  However he set the tone for the next half century (or supported it) and his perspective and that of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth has become accepted wisdom for a half century of environmentalists – though some like me repented.

In November 2021 there were strong voices for nuclear energy at COP26, but others counteracted as did the activist scientist Michael Mann, commenting on twitter.

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Friends of the Earth has been consistently anti-nuclear since 1971 , as has Greenpeace.

https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/policy-positions/nuclear-energy-our-position

Both are also opposed to GMOs and Fracking, presenting their arguments with Conscious bias. In turn they influence most green groups in Britain and elsewhere, resulting in calls for divestment (keep it in the ground) rejection of nuclear energy and a total conviction that renewables can provide all energy needs in the immediate future. They cannot..

At COP26 there was a grudging acceptance by many that nuclear needed but Greenpeace retained its opposition of 50 years.

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At COP26 some environmentalists slightly, and grudgingly, softened their opposition to nuclear energy as did Andy Lester of A Rocha in an interview  with the evangelical TWR (Trans World Radio)  https://youtu.be/aUzbpWGuGuU

It is a shame that a Christian environmental group should take such a negative attitude, though Lester regards nuclear as acceptable only in the short term to be rid of fossil fuels. Christian environmentalists often sing from the Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth hymnbook and do not wish to listen to other viewpoints. Hence the carious churches’ studies on energy, climate change etc  do not allow any breadth of opinion , beyond “keep it in the ground”!! He did not like being challenged either!

However some Climate campaigners like Mark Lynas and James Hansen have accepted that nuclear is needed to tackle climate change.  At least some environmentalists recognise that if we are serious about tackling climate change, we need nuclear power as part of the solution.

Nuclear Energy is like tree planting. The best time was decades ago, and the next best time is today.

I was disappointed  when I found that EFS, whom I almost revered in the 70s has left a flawed legacy, which has led both to the energy crisis of this year and the growing issue of climate change. Throughout the continent of Europe , as well as Britain, green NGOs have stymied the development of nuclear energy – and throttled it in Germany, and due to hatred of gas, it has meant an increased use of coal.

Not good.

P.S. Why did twitter restrict this?

Probably a complain from the anti-nuclear mafia

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Creationists diss Climate Change. Snowballs from “Is Genesis history?”

Well, Creationists from “Is Genesis History?” are giving reasons why we should not worry about climate change.

Here it is in a short blog showing their arguments to be dubious and duplicitous and thus misleading their flock. It also shows how bad science or pseudoscience can lead to bad ethical decisions – here on climate mitigation.

Before you read this, here is an account of Evangelicals and climate Change taking the story up tp 2010, so is now rather out-dated https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/evangelicals-and-climate-change-1990-to-2011/

So here is there blog from the glaciers of Washington State;

https://isgenesishistory.com/reason-no-one-worry-about-climate-change/?fbclid=IwAR0SnsFm3YqgFE6BsxBIuk0bIYQjLXedm8JDlRc8fyR6aKGZo6lJYUmQER4

Part is all about a winter’s visit to the glaciers of Washington state and Vardiman and Purifoy use that backdrop to play down climate change. Read the whole article, which is like a cosy chat with some dubious ideas thrown in.

I reproduce their dubious ideas and then show why they are flawed both in their explicit comments and what is implicit.

Del, Larry, and the other guys in our crew had donned their snow shoes and were slowly making their way to the passage we had dug out. I was amazed to see them climb up, put one foot on the snow…and not sink in! Del, who is from Colorado, chuckled at my comments about snowshoes: he had spent years using them and knew how necessary they were in deep snow.

It was an incredibly beautiful day. The snow flurried a bit in morning, then the clouds cleared away and the sun came out. The ice on the glacier literally shone with a blue light. It was amazing.

I love the mountains of Washington but have only climbed Mt St Helens in October 2009. Many are covered in glaciers and what is most evident is that these glaciers are receding.  No mention is made of  retreating glaciers. This has been considerable in the last century and in itself indicates a warming temperature, whether the warming is natural of not. This is a useful article and shows some of the changes in Washington State where there visiting.

I enjoyed seeing the new glacier on Mt St Helens in 2009

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Here is an article on Washington glaciers

https://glaciers.us/glaciers.research.pdx.edu/Glaciers-Washington.html

During the Ice Ages much more of the Rockies were glaciated right down to New Mexico. The evidence for glaciation is clear above Taos around Wheeler Peak.

227To put a spanner in the works this photo looking north from Wheeler Peak NM is either of a rock glacier, or a short-lived glacier from the Little Ice Age, i.e. about the 18th century.  I’d like to go back and check it out.

Surely not mention glacial retreat is rather selective and shows at least an unconscious bias? Or conscious?

Virtually all glaciers have receded in the northern hemisphere since about 1815 with the end of the Little Ice Age. I have seen many examples in the Alpes

As we settled in to listen to Larry and Del, I was absolutely fascinated. Larry explained the cause of the Ice Age and how it related to the unusual atmospheric conditions in the world immediately after the global flood.

This begs so many questions. Larry admits to an Ice Age, but then fails to say the the Ice Ages started 2 million years ago and there have been a whole succession of Ice Ages and warmer periods . This has been gradually worked out and in Britain the main period is the Late Devensian reaching a maximum 18,000 years ago.  This carved out most of the glacial features in British mountains. Later, there was a smaller glaciation  – the loch Lomond Stadial, which was a short cold spell and resulted in much less glaciation, often leaving smaller moraines where the previous glaciation had been active.

Larry is showing a conscious bias by not mentioning the wider context.

When the Ice Age(s) were discovered it was almost assumed there was only one Ice Age and not a succession. Agassiz and Charpentier were there first to discover the Ice Age in the 1830s in Switzerland. When Buckland visited Switzerland in 1838 Agassiz convinced him of the Ice Age and then on a visit and tour of Northern England and Scotland Agassiz, Lyell

Louis Agassiz: Overview of Louis Agassiz180px-charles_lyell

and Buckland demonstrated that Britain too had an Ice Age. They found their first proof in  a drumlin between Lancaster and my house in Garstang. They also challenged Darwin’s blunder at Glen Roy.

The following October Buckland and Sopwith went to Snowdonia in appalling weather and identified the main glacial features there. (picture of Buckland here often wrongly claimed to be of Mary Anning!)

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In june 1842 Darwin checked out Buckland’s work and concurred! He found various glacial troughs which could not have been formed by piddly little streams!!

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a re-enactment (almost) as it was sketched by de la Beche in 1831

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Darwin made much of these boulders found in Cwm Idwal

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To read more see https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/darwins-boulders/

To most geologists this was the final draining of the Flood, but in some illegible notes Buckland argued that the Flood was a result of all the ice melting.

However there have been several sets of Ice Ages during geological time with five significant ice ages throughout the Earth’s history: the Huronian (2.4-2.1 billion years ago), Cryogenian (850-635 million years ago), Andean-Saharan (460-430 mya), Karoo (360-260 mya) and Quaternary (2.6 mya-present). Approximately a dozen major glaciations have occurred over the past 1 million years, the largest of which peaked 650,000 years ago and lasted for 50,000 years. The most recent glaciation period, often known simply as the “Ice Age,” reached peak conditions some 18,000 years ago before giving way to the interglacial Holocene epoch 11,700 years ago.

The Cryogenian is often known as Snowball  Earth as it seems the whole planet was covered in ice. I was lucky enough to work on the Numees glaciation of Cryogenian age in South Africa , at a time when its glacial basis was questioned. What convinced me were dropstones falling into varved sediments. I have also seen Ordovician glaciation in rocks of the Howgill Fells of Northern England.

So much for a summary of standard glacial geology, so back to the specious nonsense from these expert geologists of “Is Genesis History?”

i am simply gobsmacked by his suggestion of “the unusual atmospheric conditions in the world immediately after the global flood.” There is simply no evidence. Further the last great diluvial geologist, William Buckland, argued that the Flood was the result of melting ice from the Ice Age. He was not far off.

I’d love to know what these supposed atmospheric conditions actually are!! It may sound convincing to those who are aware there was an Ice Age but little more! It is simply duplicitous bullshit.

This led to an explanation of current concerns about climate change, and how they are the result of a deep confusion about earth history.

WHAT!!!! This just dismisses earth history in a throw away comment.  It is simply absurd to say there is “deep confusion about earth history” when earth history is so well known and understood and has been for over two centuries. The deep time of earth history goes back further than the Periodic Table and even Dalton’s atomic theory and predates Phlogiston! Geology was on the right track before chemistry!!

This is a duplicitous way of getting ill-informed readers to believe that earth history is unfounded and thus “Is Genesis History?” s claim of a 10,000 year old earth is correct.

By casting Climate Change as a result of confusion over earth history, doubts are implied about climate Change and the unreliable arguments and claims about it.

Duplicitous is not the right description of this. The wording is vague but is intended to lead readers into thinking that Climate Change is not happening and thus is of no concern.

There is no doubt that Climate Change is happening and that much/most of caused by humans and is have a bad effect of the whole planet and the conditions many people live under.

He then moved to the question of ice cores and explained how they actually point to a major catastrophe in the past.

Really? I’d love to see the evidence for that. This is another unsubstantiated throwaway comment, which the less-informed will take as indicating a Flood in the past.

This is a must-see video if you want to dispel the concerns and hysteria that have overwhelmed so many people today concerning climate change.

This is cleverly and deceitfully put as if concerns about Climate Change are to be equated with the hysteria which some come out with. We need to see firstly the reality of issues of Climate Change  and thus of dangers  as well as hysteria, which is whipped up by some, including school truants wanting you to panic.

Only a fool would deny the seriousness of Climate Change and the need for carefully thought-ought action and mitigation

The concerns are real. The amount of CO2 has doubled in my lifetime and it is clear that world temperature is rising.

Without going into details CO2 and CH4 emissions must be reduced. Not all agree on how that should be done. Often the emphasis is on governmental level action, with insufficient on the sum of actions of individuals.    ???

Too often Climate Change is considered above all other environmental issues, and then only in relation to fossil fuels. The more extreme wish only renewables (which are insufficient) a rapid  disengagement with fossils and an refusal to use nuclear power. As we see in the energy crisis of late 2021 this will result in fuel poverty and associated deaths as winter draws in.

There also needs to be consideration of more “natural” solutions; tree-planting (but only the right trees in the right places!), restoration of wetlands (peat bogs), inter-tidal zones  as well as shallow seas. There will need to be changes in agriculture and not necessarily those put forward by activists like Vandana Shiva!!

Here is a useful article from an Oxford/Oriel professor

https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-10-11-natural-world-critical-climate-professor-yadvinder-malhi

What I wrote previously are the real concerns of Climate Change which need addressing.

There is also the hysteria.

This comes out with protesting youngsters holding up placards “You will die of old age, we will die of climate change.”

That is due to extreme green groups whipping up hysteria and over-egging the problems so that all seems apocalyptic. It is seen when founders of Extinction Rebellion untruthfully say billions will die of climate change.

It comes out with school kids write of their fears of the future and creating eco-anxiety. Certain truants from school add to this hysteria, along with some scintists, who let their activism guide what they say.

This is not helped by activists slating others and being quick to dismiss the unhysterical as climate deniers. There are some climate deniers but many of the so-called deniers don’t buy into the hysteria.

Here the right buttons of the Creationist audience are pressed and with carefully crafted dismissal, Creationists are liable to reject the essential truth of Climate Change and the need for action by implying it is simply hysteria.

If you’d like to learn more about creationist ideas concerning the Ice Age, I recommend two books by Mike Oard, another scientist who worked closely with Larry Vardiman: The Frozen Record (on ice cores) and Frozen in Time (on the Ice Age).

https://creation.com/michael-j-oard

Oard’s arguments for an Ice Age lasting only a few hundred years are simply poor and also depend on the rejection of geological Time and the previous four glaciations going back two billion years. I wonder how he ties the Cryogenian into a Genesis timescale. Maybe it was after Cain murdered Abel!!!

For more information on climate change, consult The Cornwall Alliance. (Sign up for their emails – they are fantastic!)

Actually they are fantastical and have no grounding in reality.

Dr. Vardiman’s full interview is included in Beyond Is Genesis History? Vol 1 Rocks & Fossils. The topics he talks about are extremely important to understanding what happened after Flood.

Conclusion
This blog from “Is Genesis history?” is written to persuade readers that Climate Change is not happening and uses dubious arguments to get that across.
I hope my comments make it clear why they are so very, very, very wrong and , in fact, rather duplicitous. It says little for the skills of the “scientists” behind “Is Genesis history?”
Jer 17 vs9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
Climate Change is real, it is here and needs mitigation.
(we may disagree on how to mitigate it!!)

Growing Rowan Trees for Planet and People

Many years ago I spent much time rock-climbing in Snowdonia, especially around Ogwen. It was vital to find good belays and on numerous occasions I used a rowan tree. I wonder whether they would have held me if I fell. Since then the rowan, or mountain ash, has been my favourite tree. here’s one on Arenig Fawr.

There are fairly common in the uplands of England and Wales and some are struggling in a hostile place. In the autumn they are known for their scarlet berries which are devoured by birds. here is a fine example;

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You can find rowans almost anywhere, as in this remote valley in the Forest of Bowland

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They are hardy trees and here is my favourite, also in the Forest of Bowland, of a tree possibly struck by lightning still valiantly braving the elements. Note the lovely creamy-white blossom.

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Hardy though they are, they struggle to survive on higher ground as do these planted rowans on Wild Boar Fell. They grow very little each year.

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Rowans are relatively small trees and usually grow to 25 or 30 feet making them ideal for smaller gardens and amenity areas, which cannot take a mighty oak. Over the last 40 years I have planted them in various gardens and they are now a good size. Those I planted in 2001 are now about 20 ft and covered with blossom then berries.

Here is one in my present garden.

Rowans are beautiful trees but what are their virtues?

Their beauty enhances wherever they grow , in the wild, in a garden or in public spaces. Too many of our towns and estates are being denuded of trees and here is a smallish one which is suitable in most gardens. Not so long ago most estates would have front gardens with shrubs and small trees, but the craze for plastic grass, gravel and hard surfaces has often destroyed that. I wonder how much wildlife is lost through that.

As well as that, they attract insects to their blossom and birds to eat the berries, and probably other insects eating leaves or making their home on a branch. Being native they attract other creatures as well.

At a time when there is so much encouragement to grow trees, rowans are ideal and will absorb a little carbon but not as much as an oak. Not every garden or open space is suitable for an oak! most can take a rowan (or a malus or cherry.)

I started doing this in the Autumn of 2017 and during 2021 I gave away a dozen of so and now some are in my street and others as far away as Cambridge and Shrewsbury.

I don’t claim to be a wonderful gardener but this is what I did.

I began in Year 1 – autumn 2017 and collected berries

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which I planted in a Seed tray with compost ( no peat) about few centimetres apart. They were left outside for the winter and I kept them neither too dry or too wet

Year 2 (2018)

By May most had germinated and so I pricked them out and put them into little pots

and up again if need me

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Year 3 (2019)

The next year i had to keep potting up as needs be and some were growing faster than others. (At times this was due to my negligence.)

Year4 2020

By now some had got to over two feet but with lockdown I simply grew them one and trying to avoid the dangers of too wet and too dry.

Year 5 2021

By now after three and a half years the larger ones ready. Note the variation in size. This photo excludes the larger ones which i’d given away.

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and I gave a dozen to various people.

Here’s one a few doors down from me. Since planting in May it has grown well over a foot in height and is thriving. I doubt that it will have flowers for two more years. It is as big a tree you may dare to plant there. It is great to be able to watch one of my trees grow.

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I hope people will try this and I seuggest reading up about growing trees form seed as I am no expert. The main problem I have had has been losing plants through neglect , wither letting them get too wet or bone dry.

Some may ask “What’s the point? Why not just buy saplings?” If you want immediate results then that is the best course.

Growing from seed is very satisfying as you then totally own the trees. It is fun to do, apart from some disappointments. You are also taking part in actual growing rather than funding it. You learn a lot.

In a small way you are contributing to biodiversity and increasing the number of trees.

There is nothing like seeing a tree you have grown from seed.

One can do this with other plants as I am with Purple Loosestrife. I will have to find forever homes for them next spring.

And finally, some groups want volunteers to nurture plants thus for example “growers” are needed for Silverdale AONB in Lancashire.

If you have enjoyed reading this, why not try it? It is fairly simple provided you can think three years hence!

Is Rebugging the Planet possible? by Vicki Hird

The decline of insects should be a concern to everyone, whether bees or earwigs or anything else.

So often people hate them irrationally and buy “pesticides” to get rid of them. As most – almost all – are not pests these concoctions should not be called pesticides but something else.

It could be a council of despair but everyone can do their bit to help “bugs” – growing carefully chosen plants in one’s outside space, whether few square feet or several acres, limiting use of “pesticides” to actual pests, and then sparingly, and having a bit of a scruffy garden.

Read mark learn all this as a spider eats its prey

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a new nature blog

A guest blog today from Vicki Hird, whose new book Rebugging the Planet: The Remarkable Things that Insects (and Other Invertebrates) Do – And Why We Need to Love Them More has just been published.

My new book, Rebugging the Planet presents a proposition that we need to, and can, reverse the declines in invertebrates because they matter in so many critical ways.By ‘Rebugging’ I mean understanding and accepting and enhancing the role that bugs play. And it is not only about insects (or the true bugs – entomologists be kind) but the rest of the critical populations of worms, zooplankton, snails, rotifers, spiders and so on that make our planet liveable in. The book explores what they do for us, what we can learn from them and from rebugging and why we need to. The huge threats they face from pollution, climate change, habitat loss and new threats of…

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The practicalities of not cutting road verges

A good blog on ways of protecting flowers on road verges rather than thinking them pretty or untidy.

These two photos taken two days apart near Claughton, Garstang, Lancs show the damage of excess mowing

The Intermingled Pot

With the success of Plantlife’s rural road-verge campaign for more sympathetic vegetation management (100,000+ signed to the petition) https://plantlife.love-wildflowers.org.uk/roadvergecampaign and their excellent guidelines https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/our-work/publications/road-verge-management-guide  you might be wondering why it doesn’t just happen, after all it seems such an obvious thing to do and there are no down-sides, right?

Wrong, unfortunately, there are still large numbers of people complaining about the weeds/the grass not being cut and it looking a ‘mess’ particularly in urban areas and that makes a difference; scroll below the article to see comments  https://news.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/2019/06/17/our-roadside-verges-a-fine-balance-to-strike/

A good summary of the problems that councils have is here, https://connectingfornature.wordpress.com/2020/05/27/nomowmay-a-discourse-on-the-complexities-of-local-authority-grassland-management/  and in summary it is essentially no money, no time, the wrong equipment, and what do we do with the long grass when we do cut it?

In Middlesbrough the council was proposing to save money this year (£60k?) simply by changing the interval time between cuts in urban…

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Is Fracking Good or Bad? Even if it is from the USA!

For the moment there is no fracking in Britain, but, and it is a very big

but

most of the gas used in Britain today , whether for electricity generation, or cooking, or heating, is FRACKED gas imported from the USA. As it is imported here by ship, some gas is lost en route, thus contributing to greenhouse emissions.

The absurdity of electricity generation in Britain is that most is produced from imported fracked gas and when renewables go on strike (no wind or sun) the shortfall is made up by turning up the gas generators and switching on the COAL.

After most of last decade dominated by fracking, misinformation from green groups (my favourite are the pollutants in the fracking fluid – acetic acids and citric acids! If you don’t what hilarious about that, then you know nothing about fracking or fish and chips), and several minor tremors, which may have caused a couple of hairline cracks in plasterwork. However “quakes” from fracking are far, far smaller than those from hydrothermal energy.

The tremors are a concern and various geologists are studying them carefully, as in a recently published paper by geologists from Bristol and Oxford.

Rather than woffle on, here is a blog by a Christian fracking engineer from New Mexico considering the good and the bad  – and the negative hype.foeadvert

Is Fracking Good or Bad? Why Is it an emotionally charged issue for Americans? Fracking of oil and gas wells is a conundrum.

Source: Is Fracking Good or Bad?

The Soapflake Scale of Clean and Dirty Energy

The Soapflake scale of energy for cleanliness.

snowflakescale

In the usual binary and mutually exclusive discussions over energy, certain forms of energy are lauded as “clean” and others denigrated as “dirty”. The former are GOOD and the latter are BAD, and no one should challenge that. Fossil fuels are always dirty , hence dirty fracking is bad and renewables are always good,- even turbines planted on peat bogs, wrecking the bog system and emitting loads of Carbon into the atmosphere.

However this binary division overlooks many things. It never mentions all the carbon-spewing resulting from the concrete used in the bases for wind turbines, or in the construction of the blades. EVs are “clean” as they have no emissions at the point of use, but what about their construction? 

So looking at each in turn, not that this is an impressionistic view and not accurate in absolute detail.

10. Peat, lignite

One of the wonders in Germany has been the closing down of lethal nuclear power stations (so far no fatalities) and their replacement with lignite-fuelled power stations. Lignite, or brown coal, is a messy fuel and makes coal seem very clean. The cost has been high carbon emissions and the strip-mining for lignite and even the razing of whole villages. Complete folly. 

image-3

Lignite must win the prize for sheer dirtiness, whether for emissions or good old-fashioned pollution.

Peat and peat bogs are wonderful things. They trap more carbon than trees or meadows, yet they have been ripped up for fuel and horticulture. Fortunately many are being restored at present, but there is a long way to go. (make you sure you only buy peat-free compost and make your own.) Above all they do not make good sites for wind turbines.

9.  Coal

Ole King Cole is the baddy and just saying the word raises the heart rate of some. When it was first widely used in 1800 it was a saviour as it meant woodlands could be preserved and deforestation halted. Despite its pollution, it increased longevity, living standards and health for many. No wonder the geologist William Buckland saw coal as a blessing from God.  The cost was increasing air pollution, acid rain, ill health and CO2 – the last only realised in recent decades.

Coal, or rather coke, is still needed for steel-making. Hence the new mine in Cumbria, which isi better for emissions than importing steel.

No one will mourn its demise – provided there are alternative forms of energy.

8.Wood

Until the mid 19th century the main two forms of energy were wood and muscle, the latter provided by humans , horses and oxen. It would be good to bring back the first of the three for local travel, but at times it seems whips for wimps will be needed.

A major problem of the use of wood for fuel is deforestation, which hit a maximum in Britain in 1800 and is still increasing elsewhere. In Kigezi (SW Uganda) forests are shrinking at 2%  each year due to demand for fuel. A few miles away oil and gas production has started, which should be used locally to save the planet – at least in Kigezi.

Wood is only renewable when used in small quantities, but the use of wood pellets, often imported, in power stations like Drax, is far, far worse than coal. also, it can cause serious air pollution when burnt under non-ideal situations. For those in many parts of the world who cork with wood, the air pollution is terrible.

7.Diesel

Dirty diesel was the preferred green fuel of two decades ago, but has been found wanting, with far too many particles emitted. Yet there has been little switch ing to gas – oh yes, the greens stopped that!

6. Oil , Imported Natural Gas, Hydro

Oil has been the fuel for transport for the last century and more. It’s downsides and convenience don’t need stating.

Why have I put Imported Natural Gas here? Quite simply when gas (fracked, of course) is imported some gas is lost in transport, thus increasing emissions and making it dirtier. Local fracked gas would reduce that impact.

Hydro seems to be the perfect renewable, but there is a cost. First it can causes earthquakes rather than tremors. Secondly it causes problems to the river systems to the detriment of wildlife.

5. Local Natural Gas,  Solar, Wind, Geothermal

This four-fold equivalence will give some a heart attack. After all, gas is dirty and the others clean.

Solar and wind are only clean in the final production of energy. The construction is very dirty. Vast quantities of cement are used in the foundation of turbines and many rare metals for solar panels. Both are unreliable and produce nothing on a cold windless night, when power demand is at its highest. 

solarpanalturbinebldg

Geothermal has many advantages but like fracking has associated earth tremors, which are overlooked by greens.

Natural Gas, – methane – is the cleanest of fossil fuels as it has the lowest amount of carbon. There are vast resources but it needs to be fracked, which is a no-no to some. Yet converting power stations from coal to gas has reduced emissions. It is now a hate-fuel by the Tory government, who need to realise that Roman oratory is no substitute for hard science. 

4. Biogas, Nuclear

A few years ago Ecotricity claimed to provide biogas in the mains. The ASA told them to correct their ads. Biogas can be a a green fuel is the biomass used would otherwise just rot. But there is a limit on how much gas could be produced. Some reckon no more than 10% of our needs. Using specially grown biomass takes away the green credentials.

010

Nuclear has long been a green bogeyman and has been effectively stifled for decades due to perceived risk. In fact it is safer than most forms of energy. The trouble is now there is much catchup needed whereas more nuclear plants should have been opened throughout the world. Again own goals by greens.

3. Hunter gatherer e.g bushmen

Nothing is as inspiring as the old Bushman style of living in the Kalahari, but it is dependent on a very low population density.

2. Hunter gatherer eg Patagonia

Some of the most evocative descriptions in Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle are of the the residents of Tierra del Fuego living in semi-nudity and frugality in a cold wet climate. I am wary of following their example.

fossilfree

  1.  Adam and Eve before they went scrumping

Maybe the only time of Net Zero was in the Garden of Eden, before the nudists went scrumping.

0. Dead

I sometimes wonder if this is the ultimate aim of some greenies, who seem to want the human race to go extinct. They even have a rebellion for it. 

 So ends my rather impressionistic analysis of clean and dirty fuels. I reject the Manichean dichotomy of clean and dirty. All are dirty to some degree. Carbon emissions are not the only test. Materials used in construction need to be considered and that immediately dishes the dirt on wind, solar and EVs.

Copper and other metals shortages

Just consider the problems of shifting to EVs. EVs require so much more in the way of rarer metals than fossil-fuel vehicles but most only consider the emissions at the point of use.

If by 2030 32% of vehicles are EVs that has an imme4nse demand on metals needed, with the attendant emissions of extraction. To get to 32% for building vehicles and extending the electric grid and additional 40,000 tons of Copper will be needed annually and that is over and above the 120,000tons used at present. Recycling will not make a big impact so it will have to be mined.

40,000tons of copper is a lot of metal, which would require a great increase of mining. If 2% copper ore is used that is 2.000,000 tons of ore, and if  0.25%  (more typical of a porphyry deposit) that is 16,000,000 tones ore. That is every year. Thus Britain would need access to a large mine overseas. Just imagine if it were 100% EV.

If you multiply this throughout every country throughout the world that would require copper production to go up by about 50%. It is difficult not see copper shortages.

No wonder some are looking to sea-bed mining.

 I’ve only mention copper, but there is also Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and an alphabet soup of rarer metals

So ends my rather impressionistic analysis of clean and dirty fuels. I reject the Manichean dichotomy of clean and dirty. All are dirty to some degree. Carbon emissions are not the only test. Materials used in construction need to be considered and that immediately dishes the dirt on wind, solar and EVs.

Just consider the problems of shifting to EVs. EVs require so much more in the way of rarer metals than fossil-fuel vehicles but most only consider the emissions at the point of use.

If by 2030 32% of vehicles are EVs that has an imme4nse demand on metals needed, with the attendant emissions of extraction. To get to 32% for building vehicles and extending the electric grid and additional 40,000 tons of Copper will be needed annually and that is over and above the 120,000tons used at present. Recycling will not make a big impact so it will have to be mined.

40,000tons of copper is a lot of metal, which would require a great increase of mining. If 2% copper ore is used that is 2.000,000 tons of ore, and if  0.25%  (more typical of a porphyry deposit) that is 16,000,000 tones ore. That is every year. Thus Britain would need access to a large mine overseas. Just imagine if it were 100% EV. (To be personal. When working for a mining company I assessed some old mine workings and the target for a viable mine was 2 million tons at 2% Copper. After drilling it was clear there was only 500,000tons of ore, so that was that. Most exploration geologists thought themselves lucky if one of the prospects produced a mine in the course of their career.)

If you multiply this throughout every country throughout the world that would require copper production to go up by about 50%. It is difficult not see copper shortages.

No wonder some are looking to sea-bed mining.

 I’ve only mention copper, but there is also Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and an alphabet soup of rarer metals

These two links indicate some of the problems;

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

This is only looking at problems associated with EVs but it needs to be applied to all renewable forms of energy as these require vast quantities of materials from concrete to metals. Add to that issues over tailings dams, limited water supplies, and political instability, the hurdles are all but insurmountable, if they are.

I am more than aware that this blog is no more than impressionistic and gives only the general order of the problems facing any attempt at going Net Zero by 2030 or even 2050. The first thing to do is to reject wishful thinking and a naive belief that there is clean and dirty energy. Every form of energy is filthy rather than just dirty.

The next is to assess what metals and minerals are needed to effect any policy and whether hopes for totally electric will be limited by the earth’s resources.

Perhaps the first thing need to “save the planet” is to realistically assess all the problems of even approaching Net Zero and to reject green virtue signalling and impossible hopes. 

What next?

Issues too big for individual and need to be considered from all angles including metals!

Also we don’t want navel gazing climate grief but first to look at oneself to see how our individual impacts can be reduced. 

 Looking at this book is better than climate grief

 

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.

Acute Metal Shortage

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

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

 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

dff

All things bright and beautiful; caring for all things

All things bright and beautiful

Why Belief in Creation is important

Sundew – drosera

 We sing “All things bright and beautiful”, but how do we keep all things bright and beautiful? For too long the church has almost ignored creation but we can’t any longer. Genesis speaks of creation in six days. Some get bogged down over this and think we must reject science. The earth is billions of years old and life has evolved. Our Christian faith does not tell us about science, but how we should value and use the natural world, and worship its creator.

But how?

1.Worship God as Creator.

We start with God as creator and find his Glory in nature. In autumn we see it in vivid colours. We need to see the Creator both in the smallest things, like dew on a spider’s web, and in the awesome like mountains. We can do it daily.

There is always something to find, if you look. Just today I went for a walk with the leaves turning and found some fungi.  

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

And everything else!

2 Use creation, – the earth’s resources, wisely.

To live, we need food, materials whether grown or extracted, and, unless we wish to return to poverty, we use a lot. Our energy comes at environmental cost. The metals we use are dug out of the ground, smelted and cause pollution (I used to work in a mine.). Farming uses much land reducing wilderness. Without these we would starve or die young.  

However human activity does cause environmental damage as with this opencast coal mine  

 

I could discuss this at length, but we need ways of enabling all people to live comfortably, control pollution and find ways of restoring the countryside. Today we can see the effects with loss of wildlife, increased flooding (in the river Wyre it may well be due to peat damage and tree loss), pollution and climate change.
The solution is local and global, governmental and personal. Personal actions are vital whether turning lights off, growing plants to attract wildlife etc.

3. Think of others.

We live comfortably with greenspaces and wildlife. Many cities lack green spaces and have air pollution. Many parts of the world have dirty water, limited food and energy and are grossly polluted. Their pollution is our concern as well. Do we care? Why should we?

We start with the first commandment “You shall love the Lord your God…” That means if we love God we’ll love creation.

The Second is like, ”You shall love your neighbour as yourself” so we’ll want others to have their share of creation and not wreck it. Thus environmental concerns also stem from the second commandment.

Taking the two commandments together, we must love and care for creation
 

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

This is a very simple Christian case for environmentalism and will not please sophisticats, but it’s starting point.

Finally to look after our planet, we need to understand the science.