Category Archives: Mining

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

Alone in a desert and no church to go to!

Alone in a desert and no church to go to!

The last time churches were closed down in England was in 1208, when the Pope made an interdict because King John was a naughty boy. Yet today churches are closed throughout Britain and many other countries including Italy and the USA. This time it was not a naughty king or an authoritarian pope but a tiny virus.

What should Christians do when they can’t go to church for worship?

There have been various responses and some clergy have live-streamed services with only themselves present, either in church or at home. Often these have gone down well and are fulfilling a need. Hats off to all who have done this.

But are we too church worship-centred?

As the events crowded in on the news I recollected that half a century ago, I simply could not worship weekly with other Christians in a church, simply because there were no churches where I was and there were also no other Christians I could join with either.

For a period of 14 and a half months I spent a full twelve months living isolated in the middle of desert, miles from anywhere, 20 miles from the nearest human habitation.  Because of my isolation, public worship was only possible on rare occasions and thus most of the time my worship could only be private. Yet I would say that despite little fellowship in churches with other Christians my faith grew and thrived.

I had two options. Either I worshipped on my own, or I didn’t worship.

How did I end up in that situation?

After graduating in geology I accepted a post as a geologist at Kilembe mines in the Ruwenzori mountains of Uganda, and worked both in the bush as an exploration geologist and underground.  Without being asked, after ten months I was told I was being transferred to South Africa, but I didn’t know whereabouts in that Apartheid-ridden land.

My time in Uganda was enjoyable, though the racism on the mine got me down. I spent six months in all in the bush as an exploration geologist.

Kilembe opened the 1950s and closed in the 70s courtesy of Idi Amin, despite consdierable Copper reserves.

https://www.monitor.co.ug/SpecialReports/haunting-legacy-Kilembe-mines/688342-4587546-itu8vez/index.html

That involved geological mapping , soil sampling and looking for minerals. I lived in a tent in a little clearing in a forest. On one occasion I had to go to a more remote area by foot and ended up in a tiny tent listening to lions roaring as I went to sleep.

I soon got involved in the local church, All Saints, Kilembe in the Ruwenzori diocese. I went to both English and Lutoro services and ended up as churchwarden shortly before leaving the country. I also went to Balokele (Revivalist) prayer meetings, where about six languages were used in prayer. When in the bush 150 miles away I went to the local Anglican Church conducted in Lutoro. As I was the only white I was treated like royalty, which was embarrassing. My whole experience of being part of the Church of Uganda was very uplifting.

As well as public worship and prayer meetings, I followed a daily pattern of bible reading and prayer – the classic evangelical Quiet Time, which was strengthening in a different way. The public and private worship were like two legs enabling me to move forward.

But I had to leave Uganda.

As the VC10 descended to land at Jan Smuts Airport in Jo’burg, I still was not over-pleased. A fortnight before I was told –not asked – that I was being transferred to South Africa, and I was dreading Apartheid. I had turned down a mining job in South Africa because of Apartheid and made sure I was in independent Africa and thus took a post at Kilembe Mine in Uganda. I had loved Uganda and enjoyed my church, All Saints, Kilembe and a lot of African friends, which was not really approved of on the mine by white colleagues. I was met at Jan Smuts airport by the company’s office manager, a podgy 30 year old, who took me to get a coffee. He was fairly affable and asked;

“How did you get on with the ******** (Afrikaans word of Arabic origin)?”

Feigning ignorance, I replied, “What do you mean?”

He said, “*******(nasty word often used in To Kill a Mocking Bird)”

I retorted in a most tactful way, “Oh. They were great to get on with.” I pulled some photos out of my briefcase and showed him one of me holding the hand of an African girl of my age, guiding her over a plank bridge. I am sure she’d approved!  He was not amused, and believe it or not, we never got on! He was the worst racist I met in South Africa despite getting to know a lot of Afrikaners.

The chief geologist, a Dutchman, was friendly and told me to explore that weekend using a Peugeot 404 truck and so I went to the Voortrekker Monument. On the Monday I went to the office expecting to be sent to Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. He showed me an aerial photograph and pointed to some smudges. “I want you to see whether that ancient mine at Numees could be viable. They got copper out in the 1840s” I was stunned as it was empty mountainous desert – the Richtersveld -, part of Namqualand in Northern Cape Province. It was absolutely empty. I was told to camp there at the mine and to find a source of water. We got our water from the Orange River 15 miles away. It was also 15 miles from the nearest habitation – a diamond mine – and only 90 from the shops. Two weeks later another geologist and I set off staying in Kimberley en route and set up camp. Ian arrived from Windhoek and then we drove 150 miles on dirt roads to find labour in Steinkopf.

Image

a typical Richtersveld scene

It was like being dumped on Mars as the area was so harsh. But I was to survey two ancient mine prospects and then map the whole area of a thousand or so square miles. There was a problem. It was a Cape Coloured Reserve run by CAD (Coloured Affairs Dept – for the Bantu it was BAD – Bantu Affairs Dept) and we had permission ONLY to go to those two prospects – yet I produced a map of hundreds of square miles by daily breaking Apartheid laws. I got stopped by the police once on a mountain track up Helskloof (Hell’s Valley). I couldn’t just squeeze past as there was no room and you always stopped to speak to other drivers – usually once or twice a month. They soon realised I was a rooineck so had to speak English. They were utterly lost so I told them how to get back to civilisation. My coloured assistant thought it funny as we carried on our killing ourselves laughing. I should have been arrested.

Richtersveld National Park Map , Rischtersveld map
a modern map, showing the National Park.  When I was there it was a Cape Coloured Reserve. The only tarmac was for 10 mls east of Pt Nolloth. I was halfway between Kuboes and Lekkersing, which are 40 miles apart. There was no habitation in those 40 miles

It was a geologist’s paradise helped by the fact that the only geologists who’d ever been there were Rogers in 1914 and de Villiers and Sohnge in the 1940s. I nearly disposed of Sohnge when he and others came to visit the area and while describing the rocks as we drove along, I drove off the road and down a bank. My guide was De Villiers and Sohnge’s Geological memoir published in 1944. Almost immediately I reckoned that they’d got some of the geology wrong as they thought the thick Stinkfontein formation was about 2300 million years old. I lopped a billion and half off after a day in the field that, but then had to find convincing reasons, which I did. At the same time a German geologist from the University of Cape Town was coming up and we arranged to meet to the west of Hilda Peak i.e. within a few square miles. He said “Look for a white Land Rover.” It was there in a vast sea of sand. We more or less agreed on the geology of the area, and our separate conclusions have stood the test of time reasonably well.

My first stint was from mid September to early December and thus early summer. It was hot, and not the best weather to do surveying as by 11 o’clock the surveying poles simply shimmered in the heat. The following year I spent from mid February to the end of November living in a caravan in three different places – all illegal.

NO CHURCH TO WORSHIP IN

Now let’s leave the fantastic geology and consider my church life. Actually there wasn’t any. I once visited the local Cape Coloured minister from the Dutch Reformed Church at Kuboes (said with a click). He was friendly, but scared to talk to me. Gone were the days when Ugandan priests spent five minutes with their complex handshakes and gave me a tribal name. I realised the political situation prevented any fellowship. I knew there was an Anglican church in Springbok 180 miles hence, so that was out. So, on my first trip I only went to church one Sunday when we went to Cape Town. Apart from that I never darkened the door of a church. As a result I went to church in Jo’burg in mid September, Cape Town in October and then Windhoek in December. There I went to the cathedral for a few weeks, and joined in with Rev Steve Heyes and Dave de Beer, who later got banned, and then was back to Jo’burg for Christmas, where I had a few contacts given to me by a missionary doctor from Uganda. For six weeks I could go to church with people I knew.

Come mid-February I was back on the road for a 1200 mile plus drive back to the Richtersveld. I had to pick up a caravan in a place called Karasburg before crossing the Orange River. For the rest of the year I had three camps scattered around the Richtersveld. Apart from the church at Kuboes, which Apartheid prevented me from attending, I did not know of any “white” churches within a hundred and eighty miles. (Afrikaans-speaking churches were out of the question as all Englishmen were Communists! One of my nicknames was Comrade Mike!)

THE ALTERNATIVE – OR WAS IT VITAL ANYWAY?

So what was my solution for my worship and spiritual food? In a sense, I was lucky that I’d become a Christian through OICCU (Oxford Inter-collegiate Christian Union) in my last term just before graduating in geology. (Thank God – literally- that was before Creationists and ultra-calvinists took over OICCU as they did soon after I left.) CUs had one, and only one, guide for personal prayer and worship – the QUIET TIME. This was not amenable to sacramentalists as the emphasis was on systematic bible reading and informal private prayer not using any set forms, and preferably at a set time in the morning. When I got to the Richtersveld I was half way through Search the Scriptures, a 3 year guide for reading the whole bible. Thus almost every morning I read my chunk of scripture and then prayed. It was very simply and some would say monotonous, though the Bible isn’t!

There I was in the middle of the desert and very much on my own. Part of the time I had a white colleague who was more than disinterested. For eight months I was on my own with three Cape Coloured assistants. Those who have not lived with Apartheid don’t know the reality of that racial chasm, as beyond behaving morally and non-discriminatingly, it was not possible to have social, rather than formal relations which were inevitably tinged with Baaskap. That sounds extremely lonely, but I only once felt alone when I had no sleep for three nights when a desert wind buffeted my caravan preventing sleep. My radio packed up so for six months I had no radio. I spent most weekends staying with a geologist on a diamond mine on the Orange River, some forty miles away. His wife was Dutch and during the war had thrown potatoes at German soldiers and then ran! Each week I went shopping at the local big town, Port Nolloth (pop 800) and had to ring the head office in Jo’burg and then waited two hours for the call to come through.

My Godsend came as result on going on a trek over the Drakensburg mountains in the New Year. One leader was HR at Kimberly Diamond Mine. I met up with him when I drove from Jo’burg in February. He said he’d put me in touch with the Methodist Minister of Orangemund on the north side of the Orange estuary – a De Beers diamond mine and highly secure due to the diamonds. Shortly after I got a letter inviting me to a service, which was held monthly in a private house in Alexander Baai Diamond mine on the south side of the river. On the appointed day I went after being cleared by security at the entrance – the police knew all about me. It was unnerving that police and security knew who I was, but it turned out that Van Riebeck was in charge of security. I went to the house and said “Is that Mr du Toit, I am Michael Roberts and the minister told me to come here.” Van Riebeck and Daphne du Toit, a couple in their 60s, gave me a warm welcome and I joined the service with less than a dozen people. After the service we went up the river for a braai (BBQ). Most were Afrikaners, including a Mr Burke, which worried me, but I couldn’t find warmer people. Most were 55 plus – I was 23 at the time – except for a young couple with a toddler. This was the local meteorologist and his family – Willy Taal. We never kept in touch, but twenty years ago I discovered he was a priest in Blackburn’s twin diocese of the Free State. There cannot be many churches of any denomination which have produced such a high proportion of clergy – two out of twelve. The du Toits were a fine Afrikaner family and almost adopted me! Whenever I passed through Alexander Baai I called in. He was in charge of Security, so those at the gate were told to let me in. I never nicked any diamonds. Diamond mines have very strict security and are surrounded by high barbed wire fences.  Over the river in Oranjemund, owned by de Beers, the security was far more stringent and no one was allowed into an area of about 30 by 100 miles without security clearance. This was the Speergebeit, which clearly could not be policed as it was such remote desert. It was impossible to get permission to enter. However on one occasion with a French, Dutch and German geologist, four of us went deeply into the Speergebiet to study the fantastic geology, and compare it with the Richtersveld. The du Toits and I kept in touch for years until both died in the 80s. Once I called into the house and there were two visitors. Van Riebeck said they were government officials and they were clearly Afrikaners. He then told them that I was Communist Englishman and needed watching! They looked very uneasy but Van Riebeck was having fun. I might as well have been the Revd Michael Scott.

Apart from my personal contacts, I probably only went to eight services in the du Toits’ house. It was traditional Methodist fare, with non-methodist attempts at singing. I suppose many would say it was plain boring and stuck in the Ark, but here were a tiny group who came together to worship once a month. Yet, all the key aspects of worship were there; Bible, prayer, worship, singing and communion. It clearly sustained the regulars and it helped me no end both spiritually and socially. Perhaps the church’s faithfulness is also seen in Willy and I being ordained. I can hear objections, “It’s only a handful meeting in a house and not even weekly.” That is factually true but totally untrue.

You could say that the worship was nutritious but not exciting. Army or expedition rations! There was no band, clapping, incense or anything else. Just a plain boringly trad Methodist service. However it had the basic ingredients; Bible reading and sermon, Prayer both confession and intercession, Hymns sung after a fashion. We sometimes had communion, but always went up river for fellowship over a braai (BBQ). But before anyone says “how boring”, please read Acts 2 42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” That is what we were doing.

As it was no bells or whistles it was rather like my lunch box when go off for a long day in the mountains. My food is basic! A sandwich with cheese or beef, tomato, raw carrot, apple, multigrain biscuits and, depending on the season, sweet coffee or sweetened squash in the summer. That clearly works as the last time I had a problem over food and drink was in 1961, when at fourteen I cycled over 80 miles in temperatures in the upper 80s and nearly flaked out.

During the year I made several visits to Cape Town attending various churches including the cathedral, a brethren assembly and an interdenominational church. They were fleeting visits but helpful to me, and gave me spiritual shots.

Getting to an Anglican Church was fraught. There may have been a chaplaincy at Oranjemund on the north side of the Orange River, but the security was greater than Fort Knox. The nearest parish was Springbok, which would entail a drive of 180 miles each way, mostly on dirt roads. I once went to a communion in a house in Port Nolloth – there were four including the priest.

Thus I could rarely get to church more than once a month. Today that would count as occasional worship. Somehow I had to obtain spiritual nourishment for the intervening four weeks. So for virtually every day of the month my nourishment was my early morning QT!! Quite simply, Bible reading followed by prayer. I can almost hear many reading this inwardly groaning and muttering “How boring.” “What about the sacraments?” “What about fellowship with others?”

There was no alternative. Except not praying.

By the time I arrived in the Richtersveld I was reading much of the Bible for a second time and I was finishing off Search the Scriptures. At least on a second reading things which baffled me before came clearer – but maybe I am more baffled now. I am sure some would say that all this smacked of fundamentalism, but I kept hitting the rocks on Genesis and was appalled when I read the odd writer, who took Genesis literally. It was also fascinating reading the Exodus and the Patriarchal wonderings in a desert. The Richtersveld is very like the area around Sinai. I’ve never been one to try to get a special daily message from bible reading, as I took it in a more cumulative way.

When it came to prayer, I followed a mix of the two standard formulae, which are still valid today. ACTS is still recommended in Alpha.

ACTS and TCP

ADORATION

CONFESSION

THANKSGIVING

SUPPLICATION

And

THANKSGIVING

CONFESSION

PETITION

However the basics of all worship, private or public, are there

I won’t go into details on my petitions but will conclude with one which came up in my last few months there as it was a daily concern and scary.

Earlier I wrote that sharing in public worship and spending time in private prayers was like walking on two legs. In the desert I could not walk on two legs as one leg was missing. Hence I had to spiritually hop. So I spent most of my time hopping and only occasionally walking on two spiritual legs when I could get to a church for worship.

I feel that the closure of churches over Corvid-19 is like removing one leg. Thus many will have to continue by spiritual hopping in the absence of church worship.

But here lies a serious problem. People will only be able to spiritually hop if they were walking on two legs before. Despite teaching and exhortation on personal prayer and bible reading I wonder how many church members actually do pray in a semi-structured way at home beyond “God bless mummy, God bless daddy and God bless the pussy cat”. I would suggest personal bible reading is at a premium – indicated by how few know their way round a bible. This comes out so often in talking to church members. It is not new as our college principal, John Cockerton, said he caused considerable embarrassment to a congregation when preaching, as he asked, “how many have read the whole Bible?” In other words hardly any of a loyal congregation.

Yes, many clergy are streaming on-line at present, and there will be many great innovations here. But in the long-term there needs to be more emphasis on private worship and bible study, in order to sustain Christian in normal times when they can worship and in abnormal times when they cannot worship in public. I am not willing to give a formula for this time of prayer. This applies whether digital worship becomes widespread or not. I cannot help feeling that digital worship could turn out to be a bit of prosthetic leg, but I may be wrong. In my Distance Teaching in theology I note many cite an electronic version of the Bibel as if they looked it up specially for the essay. There is nothing to beat a battered Bible. The danger is some Christians will find themselves legless, if they don’t develop a private as well as a corporate spirituality.

CREATION BATHING

My daily work as a field geologist gave another element, which has always been strong with me, and that is being in Creation, in both a practical and mystical way. I would see this more as a prehensile tail, rather than a third leg! (Karl Barth may half like this, but not some eco-Christians today.) Prior to becoming a Christian I was enraptured with the outdoors and mountains – and still am. This started in my family life. My earliest memory is seeing Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling. Part came from reading one of my father’s books The Spirit of the Hills by the Himalayan mountaineer Frank Smythe, who died in the Himalaya about the time we went to India. It’s odd that at his death he was only a few hundred miles from us in a vast land. Some climbing friends taunted me for being a mountain mystic and others considered me a poofter for taking photos of flowers. Why shouldn’t you take a photo of an orchid when you are fifty feet off the ground on a vertical cliff? It was a bit tricky. You have two feet placed as securely as possible, hold on with one hand and then with other hand, open the camera case, focus and take the photo. And then carry on up the vertical face. Simples.

The Richtersveld is an incredibly awe-inspiring and beautiful landscape. It is not unlike the area around Mt Sinai, with craggy bare mountains and dramatic forms. Much of my day in the field was flip-flopping between awe and wonder and sorting out the scientific details of the geology. As much of the area was ancient sandstone, among other things I had to work out from what direction the rivers which deposited came from. And if there were pebbles or larger stones I had to work out where they came from. I also became highly competent at recognising copper minerals and spotting them in cliffs.

Five reasons to visit the ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park ...

Rosyntjiebos mountain. I camped below it and climbed it to map the geology

With the emphasis today on forest bathing I was both creation and desert bathing most days. I still do as much creation bathing as I can. Though there was no flowing water in the valleys I often went up one dry valley looking at perfect outcrops not covered in vegetation and then at the top crossed over to the next valley to return to my Land Rover before it got too hot in the early afternoon. I often ran out of water before I got back to the Land Rover and always hope for a spring. I usually found one, but had to test the water before drinking to ensure it was not too full of myriad salts. To counter salt loss I drank a tumbler full of salty water when I returned to camp.

Apart from the geology and the starkness of the mountains, I often found the Atlantic mist rolling in from the west dropping the temperature to a freezing cold 15 to 20 degrees. The flora was fascinating in the dry season with various succulent plants, which varied from half-dead tiny things to the majestic kokerboom .

Richtersveld route detail | TomTom

Most years they were desiccated and dormant but when there was heavy rain, that is two inches in the spring, they sprang to life. Even more so were the flowers, including the Namaqualand daisy, which transformed the desert in September. I was lucky to be there in a wet year. It is brilliantly captured by Isaiah;

Isaiah 35 vs 1-2 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.

It was incredible the way a dusty flat plain would be transformed into a blaze of colour in a matter of days and then return back to its arid state after a few weeks.

One incident sticks out with me. For a week I had been totally confused over the geology of a large area and just couldn’t get my head round it. Then one day thirst demanded a short rest and while having a drink I looked over at the valley slope opposite and its geological structure suddenly became screamingly obvious to me. The whole area was riven with faults. I remember muttering to myself, “So that’s how You did it!” Now is that a naïve Christian approach or was I right? I go for the latter and see science as unravelling and understanding God’s works. Maybe I ought to express it in a more sophisticated way?

Image

Creation bathing – or the old fashioned enjoying nature – was not new to me, as it was part of my childhood as my parents walked and enjoyed wildlife. We sometimes went to parts of the North Downs where orchids were common and my mother’s favourite flowers were the Pasque and Vipers Bugloss. To me it was just normal and almost a daily routine, like an apple a day. At fourteen I took up cycling but preferred to explore than to compete and soon after on a scout camp climbed Snowdon for the first of fifty or so times. At seventeen I was in Snowdonia learning to climb and then had to get home to Surrey. So I hopped on my bike near Capel Curig and peddled away, first climbing the Snowdon Horseshoe and daily getting nearer home. The most awe-inspiring part of that trip was cycling up a narrow valley full of disused mines above Aberystwyth in a thunderstorm. It was almost pitch black at the height of the storm. A few months earlier that year at Easter I was staying at my uncle’s vicarage at Lake Vrynwy. Needless to say I had my bike and did some superb mountain routes. (I was a mountain biker before mountain bikes.) The most significant was cycling over Bwlch Maen Gwynedd in the Berwyns, where I cycled and dragged my bike up to nearly 2500ft. The top of the pass or bwlch was WOW. The whole panorama of Snowdonia was in front of me and to add awe to wow a thunderstorm was passing from south to north over the mountains. That convinced me of God, but I never told my uncle, or my mother. It was another five years of sitting on the fence before I turned to Christ, after reading C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity, having been sold a copy by a member of the CU, who is now a Baptist minister in France. We’ve kept in touch.

Now back to Creation bathing. In the Richtersveld I could do it in the most dramatic ways as one can when you visit the Grand Canyon or see a lion going in for the kill. Far more important is to see the wonder of the Creator reflected in the wonder of the smallest aspect of creation. Thus today I noticed a hoverfly taking nectar from a dandelion. It is too easy to overlook things like that. We need to cultivate as part of our worship and daily life, a sharp eye for the beauty of nature around us. It also helps to have a moderate knowledge of natural history, which is becoming less common today. At present I visit a small wood close to home every few days. Since January I have been watching the bluebells slowing coming into leaf and a few days ago two plants were almost in flower. Revising this a few days later some are in flower. Two minutes before that I watched a treecreeper creeping forty foot up a tree. With all the emphasis on creation in the church today, we forget that until twenty-five years ago creation and the care of creation were almost ignored.

I spent a year in total in the desert and I could attend “a” church only on about dozen occasions and even then had to drive, or fly, between 60 miles and 500 milesto do so. Thus for most of the time I had to find an alternative, which I found in my private prayer and worship, which was totally non-sacramental. I will admit that even now after fifty years of my “forced isolation” I still find my private worship more significant than anything else. Dare I say church worship comes second?  In these Corvid-19 days, we are being forced to leave church worship on one side. The question is whether all have their own private worship to sustain them.

Looking back over my time in the ministry, the church has always put more emphasis on public worship than private prayer. Public worship must be sustained by meeting together, but private prayer is sustained by the individual, with or without the fellowship of others. However, if you only have public worship and no private prayer, you have nothing if the public worship is removed. I fear that may the case for some church members today. You become spiritually legless and cannot even hop.

Now that is enough,but earlier I mentioned one item in my intercessions.

For my last three months, one thing was very high on my list of petitionary prayer as it was very worrying and unnerved me every day. That was; safety from snakes. Due to the wet spring not only flowers came out in abundance, but also snakes and I saw them frequently. The two most venomous ones were the puff adder and cape cobra.

I had two close calls with snakes. The first was when I walked past a bush and a snake shot out and aimed for my calf. It only just missed! Luckily it was a Rhombic Skaapsteker (sheepkiller), which is slightly more venomous than a grass snake. It was scary as I did not know it was a skaapsteker while I was under attack. It could have been a mamba.

On another occasion I was descending a scrub covered hill I suddenly realised I’d put my left foot a few inches from a sleeping Cape Cobra.

Cape Cobra (Naja nivea) from Milnerton, South Africa. Dangerously ...

I did an Olympic Gold medal jump out of the way. Now I was over an hour from my Land Rover and then an hour from the nearest human, and the venom is fatal in two hours. Now just imagine if it wasn’t four inches………..

Maybe prayer helps. Is so this was a precise answer to prayer and on target!

So I was four inches away from writing this.

So, to conclude;

 

We need to emphasis two-legged worship (and our spiritual prehensile tail);

Worship in a place of worship

And

Worship in private I any place.

(and creation bathing)

 

Michael Roberts Ist April 2020

Why the Church of England’s decision for Net Zero 2030 is wrong.

Why Net Zero 2030 is doomed to failure and despair

2030
Summary; The Church of England has entered discussions on Net Zero for Carbon. At the meeting of General Synod on 12 February 2020 as proposal for the church to be Net zero by 2045 was rejected and Net Zero 2035 was narrowly passed.
If carried out, this will be extremely expensive and bankrupt some local churches. Further those who proposed this did not consider either the implications or how it can be implemented.
Here I argue it is fundamentally wrong, and no more than virtue signalling.

When I first heard of Global Warming (before its name change to Climate Change) in about 1990 I was sceptical. This was just two years after James Hansen’s warning of danger in the USA. My reasons were geological or rather glaciological. I was aware how the earth’s temperature had fluctuated with glaciations in the Precambrian, Ordovician, Permian and Pleistocene. I have worked on the Precambrian (600my) glaciation and the latest ones ending 10,000 years ago. I was also aware of historical fluctuations with the Little Ice Age and the warming since about 1810, which I found apparent when walking in the Alps, especially the recent retreat of glaciers. Thus I was fully aware how the earth’s temperature had fluctuated for the last billion years.

It took until 1998 when Sir John Houghton personally convinced me what was happening. I later wrote a survey of evangelical responses to Climate Change up to 2010. By then I was convinced of the seriousness of Climate Change and that we should change our energy use among many other things in the future. Ironically I finished that chapter on April Fool’s Day 2011, the day a Mag 2.3 tremor occurred at Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Lancashire. I never felt it though I was only 10 miles away, but it changed my outlook.

Soon afterwards an election leaflet was delivered by a certain political party to our house. I liked all the suggestions on better cycle routes etc and I decided to vote for them, until I read the risible comments on the risk of damage from earthquakes. From a position of being hostile to fracking I started to study it carefully and found that claims by anti-frackers were fallacious. I also found that Christian green groups were simply repeating them as Gospel and had no wish to listen to the science! Outside the churches the two worst offenders for misinformation were Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, as FoE found out to their embarrassment in early 2017.

It was clear that green groups were singing from the same hymn book with anti-fracking, anti-GMO, anti-nuclear along with a blind faith in renewables as the cure for everything energy wise. They also took the most extreme and apocalyptic understanding of climate change.  As the decade progressed the evils of fossil fuels and divestment came to the fore, but this was not accompanied with a presentation of what alternatives should be used, nor with a partiality to precision. Few acknowledged the intermittency of renewables, highlighted on 23/1/20 when lack of sun and wind resulted in little energy from renewables (see below). With an almost sectarian zeal any who did not accept this outlook were dismissed as a climate denier and thus the way was opened for Extinction Rebellion in late 2018. Green groups were clear what they were against – fossil fuels (and often nuclear) – but did not provide an alternative, except simplistic appeals to renewables. The actual aim is better seen in the anticapitalism which marks such activists as Naomi Klein or Extinction Rebellion.

To get back the General Synod resolution. The government target of Net Zero 2050 is, in fact, ambitious and unless new techniques of energy production or carbon capture are developed, very hard to fulfil. The aim of Net Zero 2025 by Extinction Rebellion is simply absurd and impossible to fulfil without killing lots of people through hypothermia.  The target of 2045 is more challenging than realistic, but could be doable for the church, because so many aspects of energy in industry are not considered. However the amendment from Bristol Diocese for Net Zero 2030 is beyond absurd. It is clear that the implication were not thought out, whether practical details or cost. On paper it could possibly be done, as the church could opt to use only renewables, but the cost is prohibitive and my rough calculation  of moving over with a considerable use of heat pumps is –

A backofenvelope calculation is that cost for my diocese -Blackburn would be £15 million and thus £600 million for the whole Church of England. That is each parish must raise extra £8000 p.a or £160 per week .

One could quibble over details but this is the right order of the financial implications. I look forward to this being sent to the parishes by the various Diocesan Boards of Finance!

And so the amendment was passed for 2030;

“The rest of the morning session was devoted to a debate on the Climate Emergency and Carbon Reduction Target. The motion as originally proposed was amended, most significantly when “2045 at the latest” in paragraph (a) was replaced by “2030”. This amendment was quite narrowly carried by 144 votes to 129 with 10 recorded abstentions. At the end of the debate, the amended motion below was carried on a show of hands.

Here is the amendment;

That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice, and following the call of the Anglican Communion in ACC Resolutions A17.05 and A17.06;

(a) call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs, education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals and the NCIs, to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;

(b) request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCIs every 3 years beginning in 2022 and;

(c) call on each Diocesan Synod and cathedral Chapter to address progress toward net zero emissions every 3 years.”

The account on the  CoE website

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/general-synod-sets-2030-net-zero-carbon-target

 

The Bishop of Manchester expressed his unease at the way the motion was got through.

https://viamedia.news/2020/02/14/general-synod-the-highs-lows/

I’d hoped the Environment debate would be a highlight, and in some ways it was. We heard passionate pleas for the Church to work to eliminate its carbon footprint. My one speech in the chamber this time was to support an amendment from the chair of the Finance Committee to set up the structures we will need to produce robust intermediate targets, identify specific solutions and oversee the work well. The crucial issue of selecting the year by which all this will be achieved was moved from a perhaps under-ambitious 2045 to a date of 2030. Whatever ones views on the urgency of the climate crisis, it felt unsatisfactory that this was achieved through an amendment which was decided after less than ten minutes debate, by a majority of 15, with a turnout that meant fewer than a third of Synod members voted in favour of it. Many, I suspect, were caught in the tea room, not having expected a close vote. 2030 maybe the right year, but the process felt flawed.

Perhaps a 2/3rds majority was needed………

The case for a 2045 target was laid down in  GS 2159 1

GENERAL SYNOD CLIMATE EMERGENCY AND CARBON REDUCTION TARGET

https://www.churchofe20Climatengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-01/GS%202159%%20Emergency%20and%20Carbon%20Reduction%20Target.pdf

It would be difficult to object to the general tenor of this report, unless one had no concern for the environment, which is to devalue God’s creation. However, it does reflect the general weakness of most recent Christian thought on the environment, in that it is weak on energy and mineral resources, with a tendency to appeal to renewables as a panacea and an implicit disdain for mining. Of course, those like Naomi Klein would agree as this is to reject all forms of “extractivism”. The term is pejorative and prevents one from seeing how much of everything in life is dependent on what has been extracted from the ground. Apart from food, most things we use have been extracted; fossil fuels, Uranium for nuclear, clay, gravel and stone for construction, every metal from Iron to Aluminium to rare Earths and Lithium which are needed for electronics and batteries.

My eco-friendly bicycles, which cover 4,500 miles, a year, are made as a result of “extractivism”; frame – mostly aluminium, fork – Carbon-fibre (very energy intensive), tyres –from petroleum, most parts are from a mixture of plastics, metals etc all from the ground. So my bicycles are dependant of fossil fuels! But the saddle is made of leather!

This “ethical” disdain of “extractivism” is apparent in the Church Times brief statement of Bishop Urquhart;

The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, has said that the Church Commissioners chose to invest in mining, despite the ethical considerations, because “it is important for everyone on the planet.”

Church Times 14/2/20

Ultimately mining and quarrying are messy businesses. They cannot be anything else·. But then so is farming, forestry and house building. Having worked half a century ago for an international mining company in various parts of Africa I saw the mess. One of the great concerns are tailings dams, but in Uganda I lived a few hundred yards from two, which were just above a river in the Ruwenzori mountains, which flowed into a National Park. The water below the dams looked pristine and pure.

Surely there are ethical considerations of any investment in any industry?  Mining when uncontrolled is awful, but that was not my experience of most mines I visited. However I was concerned when I visited an opencast Wolfram Mine in Uganda as there seemed to be no procedure, safety or otherwise, in place. At the time I thought it a cowboy outfit in contrast to my company, of which I was often critical.

Perhaps a cause of the Bishop’s disdain, which reflects that of most Green groups, Christian or not, is that it shows a simplistic green outlook, which does not grasp that all human activities are in some way polluting.  Hence there is a tendency for a kneejerk reaction regarding all mining and fossil fuels as unethical. For energy the “ethical” response is renewables, but then failing to ask where all the materials to make them come from. Some responses are examples of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

It makes me wonder whether I should admit that before ordination I worked in mining and whether I should repent of having been in mining!

From GS2159

Summary There is a climate crisis; indeed, a crisis for creation. Our response is driven by our call to mission, specifically to the fifth mark of mission. This motion encourages all parts of the Church of England to recognise this and to take coordinated action toward a target of Net Zero by 2045. The urgency and significance of climate change and the degradation of the environment cannot be over-estimated. The Church of England’s Environment Working Group (set up by General Synod in 2014) issued a Call for Action1 in November 2019, and this motion follows from that call.   “It becomes ever clearer that climate change is the greatest challenge that we and future generations face. It’s our sacred duty to protect the natural world we’ve so generously been given, as well as our neighbours around the world who will be first and worst affected. Without swift decisive action the consequences of climate change will be devastating.” Archbishop Justin Welby

 

Background 1. The recent International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that humanity has 11 years to take emergency action in order to prevent global heating greater than 1.5°C 2. Above this, the risks to humanity of floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty become much greater, impacting on hundreds of millions more people. Increasingly, the national discourse is one of climate emergency and climate crisis.

The report gives five possible targets; the first is the 2009 church one, which as they say is passe. The other two align with the government at 2050 and the Climate Coalition at 2045.  Both are hard but in the realms of possibility . The government one is also politically acceptable, even if grudgingly.

Here are possible targets from the Government’s 2050 to Extinction Rebellion’s 2025;

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Both the targets of 2050 and 2045 are sensible, and it is understandable that the Climate Coalition as an activist group should go for an earlier date.

However after the decision for 2030 the response of Christian members of the Climate Coalition raises questions. It does seem that they prefer 2030 and also support Extinction Rebellion.

Thus the response on Twitter and elsewhere on 12th February;

12/2/20 from JRI “Well done to @synod on going for the 2030 target. It is NOT going to be at all easy, and it will cost a lot of money, but it is the right thing to do.”

Andy Lester A Rocha “a positive message from CofE…we will need to keep some pressure on to make sure there is a genuine delivery alongside the genuine intent.”

https://www.tearfund.org/en/media/press_releases/tearfund_reacts_to_church_of_england_2030_net_zero_commitment/

Valerio from Tear Fund ““The church must continue to take courageous steps to cut its carbon emissions ensuring it reaches net zero as soon as possible, protecting the world’s most vulnerable people and the wider natural world.”

https://operationnoah.org/news-events/press-release-operation-noah-welcomes-church-of-england-decision-to-set-2030-net-zero-target/

Green Anglicans on FB 13/2/20 The Church of England takes a prophetic stand and commits to net zero in ten years

Congratulations!!!

I wonder how much behinds the scenes lobbying went on.

The paper pushes for more than 2050 and explains why a 2045 target is essential. When you take into account that the Church of England is a limited body – no attached industry! – 2045 is similar in challenge to the Government’s 2050.

20453

This is a very balanced argument for 2045 with a serious warning of aiming too high i.e 2030

2045 is achievable but hard; it is a possible target, which, most importantly, should get most on board.  It is vital to get almost everyone in the church on board, as even a small opposition group could derail the whole process.

2030 is set to fail. This is mostly because it is an impossible target as Bishop Holtam said in a veiled way. It is already getting a lot of criticism both from naysayers and others. It will attract a lot of tabloid attack, as well as losing allies. It will be unsellable to most PCCs.

I consider that it is a sad day for church. Whereas the original motion would have been tough, even if not enough for some, but going for 2030 will result in a serious loss of support, which will result in abject failure and then no chance of achieving 2030.

Getting all on board for 2045 would need much effort and persuasion and from experience I know that many PCCs would simply disregard it as something else from the “diocese”,  and then scoffed at and dismissed.

The target 2030 is far more challenging than 2045 with an immediate high financial commitment. I wonder whether all clergy would push for it as the cost becomes clear.

There are other concerns. There is a danger of a negative press (as clergy are often warned about!). Those church members who can be seen as “passive uncommitted” will reject 2030 and becoming vocal and stroppy, but would have gone along with 2045. This is absolutely vital as wither motion depends on parish and PCC support to have a chance of success.

The target of 2030 breaks any coalition of environmentally minded, as it only appeals to the left of environmentally minded Christians. Some will go into opposition and refuse to support 2030 in any shape or form.

I feel this is the worst kind of virtue signalling , which is going to cause major problems for the Church of England.

Were I still a vicar I’d simply refuse to take part.

 

This recent article by Peter Franklin outlines the range of views on the environment.

https://unherd.com/2020/02/bigger-than-brexit-the-new-politics-of-climate-change/?=frbottom&fbclid=IwAR0vGsA1Qnn3VsII1hN0Kp_vhs7eiu8FJQ8L0aCqCI4GFqc1PmCPfzsQ8DQ

It is a provocative article and stresses how we are divided between the Climate Left and the Climate Right

The Climate Left are dominated by Extinction Rebellion and their calls for Citizens Assemblies and System Change – yes, they are anti-capitalist and anti a few other things. It is hard not to see Christian Greens as aligned to them and Christian Climate Action most clearly is. The Climate Right, so often called Climate Deniers, are a varied bunch and thrive by picking holes (an easy task) in the Climate Left, and how costly even Net Zero in 2050 would be. One figure is £3 trillion. I would suggest neither the Climate Left or Climate Right have much to offer, and I find neither very constructive.

As Peter Franklin writes, “So, if the climate Left is mad and the climate Right is bad, then we desperately need an alternative to both. This is provided by the Climate Centre.

Climate centrism takes the science seriously — enough not to indulge in scare tactics or to pretend that business-as-usual is a responsible option. It rejects the accelerated timelines demanded by green new dealers, not because action isn’t required, but because haste makes waste. Achieving net zero in the space of a single decade would divert scarce resources into the creation of a command state, when what we need is more of what’s been achieved so far through competitive markets supported by smart government.”

This century the governments have been a snail’s pace Climate Centre, and have made many advances which are denied by the Left. Who in 2000, and even more so in 1990, would have thought coal has become almost redundant for electricity generation? Neither Delingpole nor Monbiot did that! Being of a certain age I have witnessed environmental changes for over half a century, including the last pea-souper of 1963 which stopped just short of our house. It has been loss and gain and definitely far better than the Climate Left claim. In the 70s and 80s any environmentalist was a bit of a nutter!! I was the green nutter then!

To return to the General Synod support of Net Zero 2030. This is very clearly of the Climate Left, as that seems to dominate Christian discussions on the environment. Few Anglicans would dare to admit they were on the Climate Right or even Centre, and us climate Centrists are often either silent by nature or muted. Perhaps more will come out when the implications of Net Zero 2030 become apparent.

The proposal from Bishop Holtam was much more central and with a target date of 2045 was more or less achievable. It also had the virtue of including many more supporters –  including the semi-committed who probably make up the bulk of the Church of England. Further it was a narrow vote and some were distinctly unhappy about the result. For this vote a 2/3rds majority should have been required in each house as the matter is of such importance.

The amendment was very much in line with groups like Christian Climate Change, and thus Extinction Rebellion who call a nationwide Net Zero by 2025. These are groups are clear in what they oppose and see a grim future. They also throw in anti-capitalism with appeals for a system change. However like many protest groups they are good at calling things out and stating what they want, but totally fall short on how to achieve it.

As well as involving political compromise a plan for achieving Net Zero, whether in 2030 , 2045 or 2050, must go beyond wishing it and actually giving detailed plans on all the technological issues along with costings. There needs to be plans on how to discard all fossil fuel heating in churches, vicarages and schools and how to provide a suitable replacement. My observation is that activists groups like those mentioned, whether Christian or secular are highly skilled at rhetoric, repeating simple appeals to be renewable, but do not have the engineering grasp or knowledge to begin to effect it. Here those actually knowledgeable, with a few exceptions, realise it is a long and slow process and that even 2050 is a tall order. Even worse, they realise that fossil fuels will still be need at mid-century.

Too often the climate Left resort to scaremongering https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerpielke/2019/09/26/its-time-to-get-real-about-the-extreme-scenario-used-to-generate-climate-porn/#75a19d7c4af0

There were several reports in the Church Times for 21st February. First is a general report https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/21-february/comment/opinion/net-zero-carbon-by-2030-is-do-able

Bishop Holtam was mentioned in a report but Canon Martin Gainsborough, who moved the crucial General Synod amendment, explains his hopes in an article. Nowhere does he consider the cost implications and difficulties that any parishes will face, beyond saying it “require a significant injection of money” (I suggest nearly half a billion pounds), but instead gives bland advice on what can be done to start;

“The charity Climate Stewards recommends six steps that churches can take to lower their emissions: carrying out a carbon-footprint audit and reducing emissions where you can; switching to a green energy supplier; registering for the A Rocha Eco Church scheme; joining in with the LiveLent campaign; engaging with your diocesan advisory committee; and offsetting unavoidable emis­sions. (The point about net zero is that it allows for some offsetting.)”

Apart from the first, which would make you look hard at energy use and “other carbon use” none will reduce emissions. If a church, or family or other group, has already been frugal and looked to waste it will have already reduced emissions. Obviously there will always be room for improvement. (I would argue that every individual or organisation should being doing this continually, whether on direct use of fuel or embedded use. I do.) His article may convince the faithful, but not the hard-headed grounded in the reality of delivering technical solutions.

Gainsborough has not convinced me that it is do-able. His article was far more wishful thinking than giving any real idea how Net Zero 2030 could be achieved. What was needed was to explain the steps and the costings. It seems that the amendment was brought to General Synod without considering either. That is not a responsible way of doing things.

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

Appendix

Some comments on Bishop Holtam’s General Synod paper GS 2159.

I’ve picked out a few sections which raise important aspects .

  1. We are now in a position where we could, with the right encouragement, and with no less than the current national resources and funding as well as strong support at diocesan and local levels, make great progress. It is important both to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the long term, and to make early and significant reductions in the amount of CO2 we produce.

The concept of Net Zero is not always helpful as it does not consider Carbon (in fact Carbon Dioxide) emissions for things other than energy. Many items are made using coal or petroleum , for example these from Natural Gas

20454

These are often overlooked in the wish to be Carbon-free.

As well as that there is the energy used in manufacture, which is often left out of the equation.

One aspect overlooked is the energy used for making many products from bricks to paper. This makes Net Zero almost impossible to achieve, unless products made with non-fossil fuel energy can be sourced. This is taken from the late Paul Younger’s wonderful book “Energy”. Paul, a Christian, died tragically young two years ago.

20455

In fact, almost all the materials we use rely on Carbon, either in their make-up or their preparation. As we get to 2030 should we only use bricks, concrete, paint etc which are Carbon-neutral? That was not considered.

I shall resist the temptation of suggesting our diets go Carbon-free.

  1. To achieve a net zero target much would need to happen, including, as examples,

the following;

  1. a) Energy use for heating and lighting would need to radically reduce in all our

buildings, through, for example, the installation of LED lighting where not yet in

place, extensive programmes of draught-proofing and insulation.

Many of these have been encouraged for years, especially on an individual level. We have been using low-energy bulbs since 1986. LEDs will only make a minute contribution compared to what is needed.

We need to start with the following

  • Woolly jumpers (serious suggestion!)
  • Thick socks
  • Heavy curtains where possible
  • Draught-proofing
  • Lowering ceilings
  • Insulation
  • Trees and shrubs in the built environment to reduce windchill of buildings

If people insist on wearing summer clothes in winter, they’ll either feel cold or switch up the heating!

They mere fact that these have been listed shows how far as a nation we have not come. Most have been around for decades and many of us have followed them.

 

  1. b) The heating of our 16000 churches, 4700 schools, clergy housing and diocesan

offices would need to move away from gas and oil, to electric heating powered

by green electricity and focussing more on heating people rather than heating

spaces.

The Key Flaw is that it rejects gas and oil, and probably nuclear, in the energy mix. (Many Greens today reject nuclear as strongly as fossil fuels.) Most forecasts for future energy supply include fossil fuels at least up to 2050. It also overlooks the fact that heating by electricity is the most expensive form of heating. All serious (non-doctrinaire green) scenarios include gas to 2050 unless dictated by ideological or political concerns

This also ignores oil, gas and coal as source of materials – not just plastic. Further coal is necessary for some industrial processes. Of course new methods will come in, but there is a considerable time lag from discovery, through development to delivery.

I am puzzling how to heat people not spaces, as the only way is heated clothing!!!  As it is February we have the heat on (gas) with thermostat to 20 deg. The house is cool warm! I am wearing a fleece, thick socks and feel a trifle cool. For me a few more degrees is too warm. I am also fairly cold-resistant. To have the air temperature of 10 deg or less is too cold for most people to sit around or work at a desk. It is also dangerous for the sick and elderly. The older you get the less you can withstand cold, as I have found out!

500 years ago many wore hats in the house and probably gloves. Gloves would prevent manual tasks. If too cold one needs gloves! This I found out on Seatsandle in the Lake District in the snow. I was warm but eating sandwiches with bare hands in subzero temperatures was painful.

This statement assumes plentiful, reliable and non-intermittent green energy, but at present renewables produces about a third of electricity demand and has a totally intermittent nature. Thus on 23/1/20 renewables were producing less than 10% of electricity but in the February storms it has shot up to nearly 50%. Economical battery storage on a large scale is not yet available. Further present batteries lose 20% of electricity on storage.

It also overlooks the fact that if we move from fossil fuels to electric then the grid must provide THREE TIMES the present electricity i.e tripling power stations and grid networks.  But that excludes other uses of energy in transport and industry. When you factor that in, you need another THREE TIMES as much energy  – thus to replace fossil fuels we need to increase energy from other sources TEN FOLD.

This wouldn’t really apply to the church, but to go totally electric many of our buildings would have to have a major upgrade of electrical circuits.

A very useful site  is https://gridwatch.co.uk/ And its twitter feed. To take an example take the details on 14/2/20 .These show immense variation from various fuel sources, with renewables being yo-yos and gas used to make up the shortfall

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Grey is nuclear which is constant. Blue is wind and orange is gas. When wind is insufficient gas (orange) is ramped up. At night gas is used less due to a lower demand, but when there is no wind, gas comes in as it did round 23rd January where there was  virtually nothing as no wind or sun.

But with the February storms there was a lot of wind power, with winds of 25-30 mph and stronger gusts. (I won’t go out on my bike!). But if the winds are too strong as it was on 15/2/20 wind Turbines were only operating at 50% capacity because of 80 mph winds, meaning they needed to be feathered back.

The concern over fossil fuels often ignores the drop of emissions in the developed world, which are declining this decade but rising elsewhere.

20457

And the change in 2018-9. (Japan’s reduction would be greater if they had not rejected nuclear.)20458I’ve left out clothes, and many long-term use of petroleum-based materials:i.e not single use plastics.

This pie chart from 2019 shows UK emissions in comparison to the rest of the world. Note UK population is 70 million and China 1,400 million i.e 20x greater, but Chinese emissions per capita are higher as are USA, Canada and Germany. So far reduction in emissions is limited to “Western” countries, but many Africans have no access to energy. (I am baffled why Christian Aid opposes any development of drilling for oil and gas in Africa. If nothing else it would slow deforestation.)

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Now what about Costs?

Heat pumps £6,000-£18.000  https://www.evergreenenergy.co.uk/heat-pumps/much-heat-pump-cost/

Solar  https://www.evergreenenergy.co.uk/heat-pumps/much-heat-pump-cost/

Need 4K/W for an average house – £4,000-£6,000 but a vicarage is larger. Let’s call it £10K

The cost for a church or school is far more and in the order of £20K.

Now that would put up Parish Share for each parish!

One aspect overlooked, and mentioned above, is the energy used for making many products from bricks to paper. This makes Net Zero almost impossible to achieve, unless products made with non-fossil fuel energy can be sourced.

 

  1. c) This would in turn require the church’s electrical supplies to be robust enough to

support electric heating, and the National Grid to support this increased

electrical loading.

How’s this going to happen?

The National Grid is not up to electrification of heat and transport. We need a doubling or tripling of generation and grid network, if this is for the whole nation.

To move to 100% electricity for heating in building would require major rewiring. To give an example, in one church in about 2004, the cost was prohibitive just to improve the wiring to install brighter lighting. If I remember right the figure was over £5K as opposed for a few hundred to ensure just adequate lighting. For financial reasons we ended up with lighting which was only just adequate. As that church was in the middle of a field oil heating was the only option.

  1. d) The travel and transport of staff and volunteers would need to move away from petrol/diesel powered vehicles (even in our rural dioceses).

There is no mention of bicycles for local journeys.  Why shouldn’t clergy use cycles around the parish? I can ask this question rather smugly as I often did. I reckon bikes are ideal in a parish and very evangelistic. You can actually stop. As a result of that several people started to come to my various churches.

Again there is a cost consideration. Apart from the tiny Twizzy there is no EV below £17,000  https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/best-cars/99735/the-cheapest-electric-cars-on-sale  but you can buy a Dacia for £7000!!

Further EVs are not in the breakthrough stage and carbon benefits are not clarified as much carbon emissions occur in manufacture, not to mention mining for electrical components which are more than a hunk of steel /alloy for the engine. But you never know when the change will come. After all, Randolph Churchill ridiculed electric lighting but within ten years it had taken off. 

  1. e) We would need to think about our international travel, recognising that there are

very strong connections with the rest of the world but also developing ways of

nurturing those relationships which are more sustainable, and offsetting flights

when necessary.

Most don’t travel by air except for holidays. Perhaps the church should limit frequent fliers, including bishops!!

  1. In addition to carbon output, we must also protect and enhance biodiversity across

our land and buildings, including churchyards, glebe land, and investment assets.

The Church needs to build ecological awareness into everything we do. Caring for

creation is an essential element of our mission and ministry.

This is very much needed, but is inhibited by inertia and a desire for tidiness. Many parishes are more concerned with a tidy churchyard than a green one. I will never forget a farmer churchwarden going around a churchyard spraying every wild-flower with roundup.

There is a tremendous amount that could be done on church land in the way of planting, and to encourage all churchmembers to do the same.

An inspirational read on this is;

204510

It gives lots of fun and hope.

My own brief case for the Christian and the environment, written as a beginners’ article

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

Appeals for a rapid energy transition at Davos thwarted – by Copper and Cobalt

dd

At the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, there seemed to be spat between Greta and Donald though they did not meet.

Image result for greta thunbergDonald Trump

As far as I can see one is “Drill, baby, drill”. and the other is stop using oil now i.e yesterday.

This article highlights the issues oil companies face, which are considerable.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-davos-meeting-oil/oil-industry-in-davos-torn-between-greta-and-trump-idUSKBN1ZM1Z6

The end is most interesting as it lays out the problems of going renewable ASAP along with electric cars. The obstacles to the energy transition are not the amount of wind or sun, or whether devices can be made to trap the energy, or the design of electric vehicles. The technology may be available now, but that does not make it possible.

It boils down to the availability of the metals required to do this. Here Richard Herrington just mentions cobalt and Copper

Richard Herrington, head of earth sciences at London’s National History Museum also said a speedy energy transition may simply be impossible.

“If the UK were to turn tomorrow all of its cars into electric ones, we would need twice the world annual cobalt and half of annual copper production,” he said. “You can imagine what happens if you scale it up to the whole world.”

He mentions only the UK, but the mind boggles at how many extra mines would be needed to provide just the copper and cobalt. Herrington made no mention of other metals needed , like Lithium.

Trust a geologist to make us face reality!

However I think we could do it in UK as there is a superb porphyry Copper deposit be the gorgeous Llyn Crafnant north of Betws y Coed in Snowdonia. This was successfully opposed in the 1970s, but because of the Climate Emergency I am sure all green groups would support it today .

We would see the area including Betws y Coed changing from this

Image result for llyn crafnant

to this

Image result for bingham copper mine

(Bingham Copper mine, Utah. )

I am sure all green groups want to see this transformation of Snowdonia National Park

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-davos-meeting-oil/oil-industry-in-davos-torn-between-greta-and-trump-idUSKBN1ZM1Z6