Category Archives: Environment

General stuff on the environment, especially Christians and the environment

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.

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. 

On bishops, creation and the environment | Psephizo

I find I’m in almost 100% agreement with this blog!

I have questions about Rohr but his ideas go back to Sally McFague in 1993 and seem to permeate so much of Green Theology, which has become quite an industry. I’d also add that “green Christians” have become somewhat exclusivist and assume that all must follow their views and actions. eg support of divestment, Extinction rebellion etc. I think this is probably related to the odd theology.

I’ll reblog this to go against my quickie response of last week

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/10/08/is-creation-god-can-god-be-incarnate-in-creation/

Source: On bishops, creation and the environment | Psephizo

Is Creation God? Can God be incarnate in Creation?

DSCF0122

Is Creation God?

One of the great moves by the churches in the 30 years has been a concern for the environment. That was after decades of not being bothered.

One diocese in the forefront is Oxford Diocese and they are releasing as series of four videos on Creation and our care on the environment in which the Bishop of Reading gives four short addresses on different aspects.

The first dealt with a general view of creation which needs to underpin all care of the environment. Much was standard Christian teaching but somehow she brought in the idea of God as incarnate in Creation;

“If God is incarnate in the whole of creation, can there be any separation between sacred and profane?”  

We ought to welcome her concern for creation and environment, but may question her support of Extinction Rebellion and Christian Climate Action, but this raises more than a few eyebrows.

However there are severe questions about what she said.

How can one say that God is incarnate in creation?

From 2.30 she deals with Incarnation and says the Incarnation becomes vaster with the Big Bang 14 billion years ago.

and 2.50 God poured his godself into Creation

From 3.40 uses Colossians 1 and John ! to support this

and then in 4.30f that Evolution is God incarnate

The word “Incarnate” means is enfleshed  and is used of God becoming human in Jesus, just think of the Prologue of John’s gospel read as the culmination of every Christmas Carol Service and usually the main reading at Christmas services;

And the Word became flesh and lived among us John 1 vs 14

i.e God – the Word – became “flesh” – a human.

Hence Christian theology has always spoken of the Incarnation to sum up this central belief which is expressed in the apsotles and Nicene Creeds and by theologians down the centuries – except those in the 1970s who went for “The Myth of God Incarnate”!

You could say that this video is not quite Nicene orthodoxy!

To say that God is incarnate in Creation is first a bad use of the word “incarnate” as that means “enfleshed”. I presume what she meant is that God is in the whole creation, but that would make God “enmattered”.

edit 13/10/20 I should have checked – it’s straight out of Richard Rohr Creation as the body of God. and in The Universal Christ.

https://cac.org/creation-body-god-2016-11-09/

To say that God is in the whole of creation is NOT the theistic understanding of God and Creation but Pantheism, where God is in all of creation. It is fair to say that the Biblical texts on creation and theologians during the last 2000 years have stressed that God is apart from his Creation.

Here we speak of god being immanent and transcendent. If He was just the latter he’d be a deistic god, who leaves the world alone – or as one atheistic wag once put it £God made the world and retired hurt.” But God is involved and present and that is immanence.

This is expressed neatly by some quasi-mathematical equations by William Tmple in Nature Man and God (p435)  

World – God = Zero

God – World = God

Ideas from Process Theology of Panentheism are attempts to express this in another way, but not all theists are convinced.

Ultimately Christianity and Judaism and Islam as THEISTIC faiths see God is separate from Creation and not “incarnate” in any sense. Islam also questions whether God can be incarnate in Jesus, but that is another question.

Christian teaching must have a very high view of creation and the Bishop is trying to express that, but falters on the use of “incarnate”, which van only mean Pantheism and not Theism. Too often creation and its value has been ignored and sidelined, so that creation is only the stage where we “work out our salvation” or lack of it. Who cares what happens to it as it will only be burnt up at the end of time!!

As Christians we need to show awe and wonder with Creation, not worship as God being incarnate in Creation would require. We should worship the creator not the creation.

DSCF1153
024

It is also absolutely vital to care and nurture God’s creation, but to spell that out would need another score or so blogs!!

But here is a brief and simple (simplistic) summary

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/gods-creation-and-the-environment/

I also think the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins has something to teach us too.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/gods-grandeur-gerard-manley-hopkins/

And a chapter in a book published by the Geological society on creation in reference to geology

Genesis one for geologists

Finally Colossians chap1 vs13-22

13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. 21 And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him—

Oxford Diocese and the bishop have responded on the diocese website

A helpful clarification…

 

What’s happened?

A number of commentators on social media have said that the core message of this film by the Bishop of Reading is pantheistic or panentheistic. Pantheism is defined as a doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God.

What does that mean, and why does it matter?

Incarnate means “taking flesh”, “becoming human”. Christians believe this happens in a unique and unrepeatable way in Christ, lifting up humanity to a unique place within the creation. Applying the same analogy to the whole of creation can be seen as blurring the distinction between Christ and Creation; that God is in everything to the same degree. In turn, people believe that if God is in everything to the same degree, then this erodes the supremacy and uniqueness of Christ.

Is that what you meant to say?

Of course, this isn’t the intended message of the film, as Bishop Olivia responds:

In the first of the videos I made on how we might understand our care for the environment, I used the word ‘incarnation’ in a very broad sense which some have found unhelpful, so here is a clarification.

The event of the Incarnation of Christ, at a moment in time and in a place on Earth was unique, unrepeatable and salvic. Through this event, as Colossians 1 puts it, we see in Christ, not only the image of the invisible God, but the fulness of God, and the whole of the created world has access to ultimate reconciliation with God.

Reading John 1 and Colossians 1 gives us a profound sense that all things are formed through God and Christ the Logos. And since the beginning, God makes Godself known in creation for the purpose of reconciliation. More than this, as we read in Laudato Si’, God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things; his divine presence ensures the subsistence and growth of each being.

I can see that the words I used had a pantheistic ring to them, which I did not intend (God and creation are not the same thing). But I think that it is helpful, in considering our relationship to our world to think about the notion that the Divine pervades every part of the universe, while clearly being above, beyond and greater than the universe.

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork”
– Psalm 19

 Michael responds; the cause of the confusion is using the word “incarnate”. It would be better to say God is immanent and creation is his handiwork, not his incarnation.

I would suggest withdrawing the video and re-do it avoind “incarnate” to avoid confusion otherwise the charge of being pantheistic will stick.

To say evolution is god incarnate is an odd expression and has no biblical support. I say that as a geologist with a total acceptance of evolution

It’s good to encourage debate

It’s good that there has been some vigorous debate. Done well, it shows that we care. Let’s remember too that, as Christians, we also have an essential part to play in the shape of online society. How we model good disagreement and how we interact with one another is important. Let’s make social media kinder.

 
 
 

https://www.oxford.anglican.org/care-for-creation-film-a-clarification/?fbclid=IwAR275wOa7TyzfU13h2UeL3KMxL6napkoIxk2vpe1-rgO9OPUBjuZ32l1vWU

Good little Christians must support Extinction Rebellion; the new fundamentalism

Some Christians specialise in dismissing other Christians because they don’t believe this or that , or do this or that. Often it is explicit and that poor Christian is told she cannot be a christian because……………….ararat_or_bust

The more evangelical and fundamentalist specialise in this and most commonly it will come out in issues like Creation in 6 days flat, a rejection of evolution, the inerrancy of the bible, and being able to date one’s conversion.

My introduction to the world of shunning came when I went to study under Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri in Switzerland in between working as a geologist and training for the ministry. I’d always thought that only a few nutters believed in a 6-day creation, but I was wrong on the fewness! It was the latest rave of his son-in-law who encouraged me to read creationists books to develop my Christian understanding. After wading through The Genesis Flood for two hours , I could see what Morris had done. It was systematic distortion and misrepresentation. (since then I have not found any accurate material in Creationism.) When I said what I found I got it!!!!! 

“Don’t you believe the Baybull?”

“Evilution is evil.”

And similar comments. From then on my faith was suspect as at best I was a heretic and I wondered if I was going to be dragged down to Geneva to join Servetus. Schaeffer wasn’t happy but then went off somewhere, so when I gave a talk on creationism he wasn’t there. The talk had a very mixed reception, but it was typed up and put in the library. We went back in 1998 and checked the talks in the library. Mine was missing! All the rest were there.

I soon found out how many Christians who accepted geology and evolution were shunned by their churches and fellow Christians, which initially shocked me, but gradually I realised it was common on this and other issues.

One evening Schaeffer was rambling on about elderly Greek women going to shrines in the Holy Land. He said they had no faith in Christ. A few months before I was at those shrines and saw similar women with their devotions. I was not impressed. Who was Schaeffer or I to judge?

I still thought it was only the looney extreme of Evangelicals until I started ministering in parishes and found it there, encouraged by the vicars. I’ll never forget at a staff meeting the vicar told me that some of the brethren were not sure I was a Christian, as I did not go on about my conversion.  It did not defuse the situation when I said they should sort themselves out. This vicar had divided his congrgation into Christians and non-Christians. If someone didn’t come out the jargon or worship him, they were clearly not Christian. (He had a gift in falling out with his curates!)

And so we have proper and improper Christians and too many “Christian” think they should judge others. YUK

 As a result I’ve kept my distance from this kind of evangelicalism, apart from forays into Creationism, when I get called all sorts of things.

For many years I thought moderate evangelicals and the rest of the Christian community were above all this, but have been forced to revise my opinions in the last decade.

 I would never have anticipated it but as so many have gone a bundle on an extreme Social Justice, (informed by Cwitical Theory and Intersectionalism) , follow the latest spoutings of groups like Extinction Rebellion on Climate Change , the environment and everything else, things have changed in the last decade. It does seem that you cannot have a questioning view on these subjects. You are either with them or against them. 

I first discovered this in 2011as I started to consider fracking, which I initially opposed. My geological and mining background led me into a minefield as I soon realised that the facts and arguments put forward about fracking by the Friends of the earth, the diocese and other groups were manifestly false. I was soon shunned for saying so. But then a priest who in their former career worked alongs drillers and planned and supervised a drill-rig would know far less than a graduate in modern languages.

With the advent of Extinction Rebellion all the woke conerns have between thrown together in one great big muddle – sorry – I should say classical example of intersectionalism. Thus we get environment, climate change, racism, patriarchy, capitalism, all in one sentence. Their all embracing concern is summed up here;

Right from the beginning Rowan Williams , former Archbishop of Canterbury, has supported Extinction Rebellion. Before long Christian Climate Action started saying they were the Christian wing of extinction Rebellion. Many of the number , including clergy, seem to enjoy being arrested.  Further both ER and Christian Climate Action has gained the support of several bishops.

It is unreasonable not to say the green woke concerns are the de facto position of the Church of England and other mainline churches. This comes out in the General Synod motion to achieve Net Zero by 2030 and not 2045 as in the original motion of Bishop Holtham.  This aim in unachievable and even more so after Covid. Many churches are in bad state at present, especially over finances and aiming for Net Zero 2030 will bankrupt many parishes, as well as alientaing many members and fringers.

More and more it is increasingly hard to present an alternative view (grounded in science of course) as the activists are speaking “truth to power” and thus utterly convinced of THEIR truth. It means that “anyone else’s truth” can be ignored, sidelined or rejected.

As examples of silencing of other voices look for Christians who actually argue WITH EVIDENCE for Nuclear Energy, or that renewables cannot replace fossil fuels for several decades, or point out the problems of producing electricity by renewables and , asuming it were possible, how long it would take to extend the grid to cope with the increased electrical generation. Mantras of “keep it in the Ground” and “renewables” do not produce the power.

The problems oif Extinction Rebellion are manifold. It is prone to scaremong with Hallam’s 6 billion deaths due to Climate Change and this article states;

XR starts from the premise that climate change is likely to bring about “human extinction through climate change”. At the core of their ideology is an understanding of climate change as “an unprecedented global emergency”. This theme of “a life or death situation”, a “Sixth Mass Extinction”, and a catastrophic “climate and ecological emergency” is constantly repeated in their speeches, on marches, and in articles.

It also argues from a very strong form of the Precautionary Principle, which would mean that I should never go out on my bike (I cycle over 100 miles aweek on public roads) or go walking on moor and mountain. There is a risk for me, but a low one.

http://www.uncancelled.co.uk/tie-world/the-problem-with-extinction-rebellion/?fbclid=IwAR2aLR5UDLRTs29WqDt__ClKGcL0hrxkuDWJk9SI1uugZFeAHffcd3hgzE0

Despite this, too many in the churches have backed ER as they did at the end of August 2020, with Rowan Williams to the fore.

The banner is a misunderstanding of Romans 8, but that is another issue

In the Church times article (URL below) Williams said;

People of faith should be here because they are people of faith

That seems to have the fervour of fundamentalism, which caught me (and others) out with their arrogant claim to truth and spiritual arrogance.

Instead of “Do you believe the Baybull” it is ;

“are you a climate denier?”

And if one says Net Zero 2030 is wrong, then one is!!

Read the Church Times here. It is hardly unbiased reporting

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/4-september/news/uk/lord-williams-joins-extinction-rebellion-protests-in-london?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1599350669

He said “People of faith should be here because they are people of faith. That is, they believe they can make a difference of some kind and that that difference is worth making. At the moment we’re at a remarkable moment of opportunity. People are talking about building back better. We have to take the opportunity. It’s not just recovering what’s been lost but building again something that is genuinely more sustainable. Because in the last few months we have seen the possibility of some alternatives that might work and I think people of faith ought to be on board with making those alternatives work, taking that moment of opportunity.”

There is little room for those who disagree.

To say People of faith should be here because they are people of faith seems like my fundi friends and implicitly excludes from “people of faith” like me those who would not be protesting and agree with the agenda. Does that mean I am not a person of faith

It also ignores some of Paul’s teaching , when writing to Christians who wanted to no-platform him, as in 2 Corinthians chaps 10-12 , especially 2 Cor ch10 vs7 (This was the text of my last sermon of the church I mentioned at the beginning. It got home!)  or Galatians 1 vs13f. I won’t go as far as Paul did in Gal 5 vs 12.

We need to reply as robustly as Paul did , but this goes against the spirit of the age in the church today.

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

There is another way of caring for God’s creation 

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/gods-creation-and-the-environment/

It is uninteresting to contemplate mangled banks and verges … (with apologies to Darwin)

It is uninteresting to contemplate mangled banks and verges, clothed with few plants of fewer kinds, with no birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitted away, and with no worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that all those elaborately constructed forms, which were there before, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us, are but a shadow of what is there now after the mowers moved in.

Many will realise that is a parody of the fantastic poetic conclusion to Darwin’s  The Origin of species.

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, ……..

 

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That might baffle you why this photo is here and what it is.

It is the flower of one of 25 Southern Marsh Orchids mown down on a tiny grass verge in Lancashire. This flowered was beheaded or decapitated by someone unaware what it was, and perhaps it is reminiscent of the head of one of Henry VIII’s many victins on the executioner’s block.

Here is a fine specimen of a Southern Marsh Orchid a few hundred yards away and then the verge as it was early in June before the phantom mower came. The first is from an “amenity centre” which fortunately is not mown indiscriminately and one of a hundred along with a host of other flowers. The second is of the narrow verge of short grass where 25  orchids were flowering until 11th June 2020.

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That changed when it was mowed on the morning of 11th June. Wyre Council claim it was nothing to with them

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/06/13/decapitating-orchids-in-lancashire-environmental-vandalism/

The grass was so short. The first shows one surviving ording and the second a mangled one.

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Another example near Scorton of Red Campions and cow parsley just trashed.

 

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Mowing machines have been the scourge of lockdown this spring. I don’t mean those which you use (or shouldn’t have used) to mow your lawn, but the excess misuse of mowing machines on roadside verges this year. It’s not only Lancashire but every part of the country as mowers have gone in and removed the flora.

Consider the contrast both in beauty and wildlife of these two images taken from twitter

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Every day over the last few months I have noticed mangled banks and verges, where mowers have gone in to do their damage. I ought to explain that most days I go out for a 30 odd mile cycleride in the lanes of Lancashire. Rather than improve my speed, I prefer to see what is there and especially enjoy the wildlife, whether a hare, rabbits, stoats, various birds including the Purple Heron. I had a close shave when a buzzard nearly flew into me near Inskip. I also look at the flora and continually improve my skills of identification.

But as I saw the trashed flowers the words of the last paragraph of The Origin came to mind and then I decided to parady it in honour of the mowers.

It is uninteresting to contemplate mangled banks and verges, clothed with few plants of fewer kinds, with no birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitted away, and with no worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that all those elaborately constructed forms,  so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, which were there before,have all been produced by laws acting around us, are but a shadow of what was there before the mowers moved in. These new laws of environmental vandals, taken in the largest sense, being no Growth without Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost lost by lack of reproduction; invariability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of  the fossil-fueled mowing machines, and from extermination; a Ratio of Increase so low as to lead to an inevitable Death, and as a consequence to Unnatural Selection, entailing loss of Divergence of Character and the Extinction of all improved forms. Thus, from the war against nature, from moving, pesticide and herbicides, the most unexalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the loss of all fauna and flora, directly follows. There is no grandeur in this view of life, despite life having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved, are now being hurried to extinction by the wanton disregard of the Creator’s allegedly highest creation, the damned miscreator.

I have come across not only those decapitated orchids, but rare stands of Ragged Robin and Red and White Campions with their hybrids cut right down. I have only seen one example of those two floral gems. That is apart from  common wildflowers being mown down just before flowering. I blogged some details of the mowing here; https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/05/24/where-have-all-the-flowers-gone-stripped-from-verges-everyone/

The total area of road verges in Britain is immense as mile upon mile of 2 metre wide strips adds up to an awful lot, giving space for an immense diversity of flora and thus of insect, bird and mammal life. We cannot afford to lose it. It is comparble to domestic gardens which are increasingly hard-surfaced or put down to plastic grass.

Sadly , this mowing has taken place throughout the countries of the UK. Many have complained to their local councils.

I have complained to local councillors from Lancashire County Council and Wyre borough but have had no useful response.

In my twitter comments I also linked to the twitter accounts of Lancashire County Council and Wyre Borough Council, which elictied responses, which were unhelpful. LCC were quick to say verges were Wyre’s responsibility. But Wyre said that the verge with the orchids was not their remit. Even senior employees of either council gave me no answer. As a result I cannot say who was responsible and only deal with the results.

The results are very clear;

  • Mowers have no regard for flowers, whether common, or less so, in flower or in bud, and simply mow them down.
  • In many lanes a mown strip 2 to 3ft wide would be sufficient, but often anything up to 12 ft /4 metres from the road is mown, without regard to the flora.
  • often strips are mown right up to base of a hedge, if present, thus removing plants about to flower or in flower eg. ramsons, campions, ragged robin , various parsleys, Meadowsweet, vetchs etc.
  • A frequent appeal is for safety and visibility , but that would never require mowing back several metres from the road.

My observations also indicate that councils are not the only ones mowing, as it is often done by local farmers or residents, and, possibly other bodies.

I would suggest that every local council and councillors  need to be challenged on this by as many people as possible, until a better policy is implemented.

Despite by very much an amateur naturalist, it is clear to me that councils need good sound botanical advice to inform their mowing regime AND then enforce it.

I could go on, but will finish with quoting that final paragraph of Darwin’s Origin,  which is an excellent scientific picture of our natural world.

Have lived in Shrewsbury, Darwin must have ridden past many entangled banks as he travelled the area on his horse. Some of the best banks were on his various routes to Woodhouse, where his visited his first girl-friend Fanny Mostyn Owen, before he went to Cambridge.  The entangled banks near Downe House are equally gorgeous.

So I’ll give Darwin the last word, with a few of my photos.

The conclusion of The Origin of Species (1st ed)

 

 

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank,

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clothed with many plants of many kinds,

 

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with birds singing on the bushes,

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with various insects flitting about,

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and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

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A most useful guide on how verges should be mown

 

https://www.plantlife.org.uk/application/files/3315/7063/5411/Managing_grassland_road_verges_Singles.pdf

Decapitating orchids in Lancashire. Environmental vandalism

Being retired I go out most days for a cycleride near Garstang in Lancashire. Usually I cover 20 to 40 miles and average about10 mph. I don’t cycle for speed but to explore and make great use of OS maps.

Recently I have been looking more and more at verges with their variety of flowers and change of flora during the seasons. Often it is fantastic to see what is there. I also note mammals and birds,and had a close shave last year when a buzzard missed me by inches!

Sadly in the last few months I have a spate of phantom mowers who strip the verges of all greenery and don’t give a damn about flowers.

As a result of finding so many flowers decapitated and mangled I wrote a blog last month

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/05/24/where-have-all-the-flowers-gone-stripped-from-verges-everyone/

I often end up in Lane Ends Amenity area near Pilling, which is totally man-made and has two lakes. The material was used to make sea defences. At any time of the year there is something to see but the best is March to July as these photos show

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In March and April the central “meadow” is covered in cowslips and then other flowers take over, most notably Southern marsh Orchids and some hybrids. There are a large number of them, but some vandal dug up the biggest clump in May.

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There are also scabious, poppies, red and white campions. moon daisies, bacon-and-egg and other flowers

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I visited again on Thurs 11th June and enjoyed the various flowers. I then cycled out of the entrance where a week earlier I saw these lovely southern Marsh Orchids in short grass on the verge.

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i have to admit I felt a sense of foreboding  as I cycled out on to the road (entrance is by the clump of white moon daisies at the end of the road.) Sadly my foreboding was justified. Gone were the 25-30 orchids and only two were still standing.

This photo shows the area mowed – just a narrow strip of grass, no more than 9 inches high.

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Here is the damage.

The left photo shows one survivor and the right a mangled orchid.

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Here is a flower I put on top of a post – rather like an executioner’s block and another lying forlornly on the ground..

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More decapitated orchids

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These two photos are looking eastwards to the Lane End’s entrance. It was mowed on both sides, but on the left they stopped before the daisies. Even so there was no need to more.

The second shows the strip with orchids with another survivor.

 

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Another view looking east, with the large white clump of moon daisies in the distance.

It shows the contrast of the mown and unknown verge and the height of the original verge.

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While taking photos a dog-walker went past and she told me that the Environment Agency had come to mow it in the morning. I am not convinced that it was the EA, as if so some of their operatives will be in serious trouble. I hope.

I peddled off in a filthy mood and later looked at the flowers on the embankment beyond Fluke Hall.

On Friday I sent another email to my Wyre Councillor and hope for an explanation .

I put details on twitter so various councils and environmental groups could see yet another example of damage caused by mowing.

Mark Billington Corporate Director Environment tweeted to me on the matter twice on 12th June;

Michael – I understand your concerns but I do not believe that this work has been undertaken by Wyre Council.

It appears to be a highway verge@wyrecouncil do not control all grass cutting within the Wyre area.

At present I cannot find out who mowed it. Maybe an FOI to Wyre council may help?

This spring I have been appalled at the vandalistic mowing of verges in my part of Lancashire – Fylde and Wyre Council areas.

The decapitation of these orchids is only the worst example I have found on my travels.

Only on occassion did I see Wyre workmen mowing – with limited sensitivity.

Most of the time I cannot work out who did the mowing but it is often excessive cutting 6 feet or more of verges when 2 to 3 foot would be ample by any standards. The usual answer is for safety and visibility, but that would only apply to verges by road junctions.

Sadly this story is repeated throughout the country.

It does seem that those who mow have had no training on the value of wildflowers and other flora, not only in themselves but also to encourage bees , other insects, small mammals and birds, and don’t seem to get beyond “tidiness”.

I also reckon that local councils are shirking their responsibilities.