Category : Energy, Natural Resources

(ACNS) Anglican Church of Burundi helps improve rice growing techniques

The Anglican Church of Burundi has been training farmers to improve rice yields as part of efforts to combat food insecurity in the country. The two-year project has been run in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, the overseas development agency of the US-based Episcopal Church. Growing rice has been the main activity for people living along side Lake Tanganyika for many years; but the lack of improved techniques and seeds has caused low production and farmers could not expect to gain much from it.

Through the project, farmers have been trained and equipped with agricultural techniques and materials to improve rice production. “Already the farmers are seeing changes in agricultural production and consequently in their daily lives,” the province said in its newsletter.

“Our situation has improved since we no longer cultivate the rice just for consumption,” farmer Esperance Ndayishimiye, said. “I’m now able to meet easily my family’s needs. I pay school fees for my children. I have bought lands and built houses.” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Burundi, Burundi, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Energy, Natural Resources, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Stewardship

In South Carolina, a $2 million grant from DHEC will go towards removing 220,000 tires

More than 220,000 old tires litter the land at a Berkeley County abandoned recycling and tire processing facility.

A $2 million grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) aims to remove them all.

A viral aerial video showed the vast amount of old tires at VIVA tire recycling facility in Moncks Corner.

Alarmed elected officials soon got involved in the cleanup, all the way to the governor of South Carolina.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

(Diocese of London) Islington Sustainable Church Buildings Project scoops European award

The Islington Sustainable Church Buildings Project is a partnership between Cloudesley (an Islington based charitable trust), the Diocese of London and the Islington Deanery. It is the first time these three partners have worked together so closely to deliver a joint project. It was initiated by Cloudesley’s Trustees as part of Cloudesley’s 500th anniversary year.

The Sustainable Church Buildings Project has four parts; environmental audits of 24 of Islington Deanery’s Church of England churches; Energy-saving Benchmarking carried out by the Diocese of London; a dedicated Cloudesley grant fund of £440,000; and a learning programme to raise awareness and understanding of environmental issues and how to apply this to their buildings.
As a result, Islington Church of England churches are now applying to Cloudesley for grants to undertake a variety of energy-efficiency measures, such as LED lighting, solar panels and draught-exclusion.

Rev’d Jess Swift, the Islington Area Dean, says:

“The Sustainable Church Buildings Project is brilliantly placed by being both visionary and inspirational in promoting environmental responsibility, and also facilitating churches into being able to take practical action. It has revitalised our churches’ commitment to prioritising global sustainability and their own local environmental impact. We are so grateful to be a part of this project.”

Read it all.

Posted in Architecture, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT Op-ed) Heather Heying–Nature Is Risky. That’s Why Students Need It.

One brave student from the 2016 trip was injured in the boat accident in the Galápagos. The boat was destroyed, but she soldiered on. Then, three weeks later, she was nearly crushed when the five-story unreinforced masonry hotel she was staying in collapsed during a major earthquake. She was lucky: Almost everyone in the building died. She and another student dug themselves out of the rubble.

Her recovery was long and painful. She — a serious ballet dancer — was wheelchair-bound for months. After a year of surgeries, crutches and other frustrations, she caught me off guard. Despite everything, she said, she would do it all again. The trip had been that important to her.

In advance of these study-abroad trips, I led long conversations about risk, how to assess it, what we perceive our own relationship with it to be. We discussed how risk is different in landscapes that haven’t been rendered safe by liability lawsuits and in which medical help is a very long way away. We talked about the hidden hazards of the jungle — rising water, tree falls — compared with the familiar ones, like snakes and big cats, that people are primed to be scared of. In the tropical lowland rain forest — the jungle — you might get stuck in deep mud and perhaps need help to get out. Look before you reach for a tree for leverage. Some trees defend themselves with nasty spikes, and a branch might be crawling with bullet ants, so named for the intense experience of being stung by one.

But it turns out that risk and potential go hand in hand. We need to let children, including college students, risk getting hurt. Protection from pain guarantees weakness, fragility and greater suffering in the future…

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

(C of E) Hog-hair breath and refilling shampoo bottles: Bishop Graham Usher negotiates the trials of cutting out plastic

I was staggered by the terrible damage that our plastic usage is causing God’s creation, including humans, on this single island home that we call planet Earth. It’s nearly impossible to live plastic-free but we can all live with considerably less plastic if only we give it commitment.

Every piece of plastic I use will most probably outlive me by hundreds of years.

We can, one by one, and collectively as communities and nations and governments, do something about it. It’s simple. We have to do something about plastic. We can do it – now let’s do it!

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture

(NBC) Evangelical Christians divided on human role in global warming

Preaching an environmental message to evangelicals is a bit like, as the New Testament says, casting seeds on rocky ground.

And few people know that better than atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, who recently ran into a pair of climate change skeptics while speaking at the Presbyterian Church in Granada Hills, California.

“These were two men who were leaning back and looking stern, with their arms folded across their chest and shaking their heads while I was speaking,” said Hayhoe, who is both the director of the Climate Change Center at Texas Tech University and a pastor’s wife.

“So I finally said, ‘The real reason most people reject the science of climate change has nothing to do with the science and everything to do with the solutions … they’re afraid of having the government regulating their thermostat,'” she recounted.

“One of the two guys said, ‘Yes, that’s exactly it!'”

Read it all.

Posted in Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals

(FT) Shell faces push from shareholders, among whom is the Church of England, on climate change goals

…climate activists are disputing Shell’s claim that its goal is in line with the Paris agreement — the 2015 international pact aimed at limiting global temperature rises to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels.

“The ambitions announced by Shell are inconsistent with the Paris agreement, in particular when taking into account expected global energy demand growth,” said Mark van Baal of Follow This, the shareholder group that has submitted a resolution calling for more aggressive targets.

Activists point to forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency, which advise governments on climate change and energy policy, that an absolute reduction in carbon emissions of 60-65 per cent would be required by 2050 to fulfil the Paris agreement.

Moreover, they say that Shell’s goal for a 50 per cent reduction would be only 25 per cent in absolute terms if the group maintains its share of a global energy market that is forecast to grow by 50 per cent by 2050.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(CT) Many Species Face ‘Thinning of Life’–On World Wildlife Day, conservationists reflect on biblical ways of dealing with eco-anxiety

There has been a 95 percent drop in tiger numbers over the last hundred years and a 40 percent drop in African lions over just 20 years.

Numbers like these have drawn attention to the “pre-traumatic stress” felt by environmental scientists whose everyday work seems to be that of a doomsday prophet. Not only are their audiences not as receptive as they feel they should be, but their understanding of what their data mean for the future is driving them to a “professional depression.”

Last year meteorologist Eric Holthaus sparked an online frenzy, as well as solidarity from fellow scientists, as he spoke openly about the psychological effects of his work. “How am I supposed to do my job—literally to chronicle planetary suicide—w/o experiencing deep existential despair myself? Impossible.”

Christians are called to rule over creation as God’s image bearers on earth, reflecting the character and self-sacrificial rule of God. So how can we respond to this atmosphere of despair? We spoke to a number of Christian conservationists who are working in very different countries and contexts but share similar stories of working with feelings of deep personal loss.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Church of England issues anti-plastic tips for Lent

The Church of England is urging Christians to give up single-use plastics during Lent, in a bid to cut the environmental damage it can cause.

Worshippers have been offered tips to cut plastic use for each day up to Easter, such as choosing a fountain pen over a plastic ballpoint pen and buying music electronically rather than on CD.

The Church linked it to a Christian calling to “care for God’s creation”.

The calendar of tips has been sent to each of the Church’s 42 dioceses.

Each week of the Lent Plastic Challenge has a theme, for example food and drink, kitchen, clothing and travel.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Lent

(Tablet) Lord [Rowan] Williams: the environmental crisis is a toxic expression of humanity’s failures

Lord Williams of Oystermouth was speaking on Monday night at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, where he gave an address on Pope Francis’ green encyclical, Laudato Si’.

He praised the encyclical for highlighting that the Christian understanding of “who is my neighbour?’’ should embrace the whole of creation and that humanity’s treatment of the environment is self-destructive.

“For the Christian, the doctrine of creation is a declaration that all that is comes from God”, said Lord Williams. “But as Pope Francis says, it is not enough to avoid environmental disaster, to love our neighbour and ourselves…we have to ask how do we live in such a way to receive from God”.

Lord Williams, now the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, reserved his staunchest criticism for contemporary approaches to education.

“Children need to know what beauty is and we need to think how this can be nurtured and developed in education. We have increasingly lost sight of education as a humanising task,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Economist Erasmus Blog) In America, being religious does not make you greener

Mr Konisky set out to fill that gap by micro-analysing the annual surveys of public attitudes undertaken by Gallup, a pollster, since 1999. He devised a set of eight markers by which sensitivity to the planet’s fate might be measured: whether people prioritised economic development or conservation, how they felt about pollution, whether they considered climate change a threat, and so on. He came to a sobering conclusion:

Analysis of multiple measures of environmental attitudes reveals little evidence that Christians have expressed more environmental concern over time. In fact, across many measures, Christians tend to show less concern about the environment. This pattern generally holds across Catholic, Protestant and other Christian denominations and does not vary depending on levels of religiosity. These findings lead to a conclusion that there is little evidence of a “greening” of Christianity among the American public.

As the article acknowledges, environmental discourse among religious leaders has shifted over the past half-century. In 1967, the American historian Lynn White gained much attention when he argued that the Judeo-Christian tradition was directly responsible for the planet’s depradation because it assigned man “dominion” over the earth. This triggered a powerful countervailing trend among religious leaders. They argued that belief in God implied a duty to care for the natural world and all forms of life. A high point in this process was the publication in 2015 of the Pope’s “green” encyclical, Laudato Si. The missive combined high theology with an appeal for practical measures, such as the abandonment of fossil fuels.

Mr Konisky’s findings do not necessarily imply that Americans in the pews have simply ignored these high-level pronouncements. Rather, they suggest that religion in America is as deeply divided as other parts of society: not so much between denominations as between liberals and conservatives….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Screen-addicted children spend 16 minutes a day outside

Children in Britain spend just 16 minutes a day playing or exploring in parks and other open spaces, according to a detailed new study.

The figure, an average of time spent outdoors in parks, the countryside, the coast or seaside, includes excursions at weekends as well as weekdays.

Among children in their mid-teens it drops to ten minutes per day as younger children, aged between eight and 13, spend more time playing outdoors.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, are the first to examine how children spend their free time and will be used to track engagement with the outdoors and sport.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(NYT) Dangerously Low on Water, Cape Town Now Faces ‘Day Zero’

It sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster. “Day Zero” is coming to Cape Town this April. Everyone, be warned.

The government cautions that the Day Zero threat will surpass anything a major city has faced since World War II or the Sept. 11 attacks. Talks are underway with South Africa’s police because “normal policing will be entirely inadequate.” Residents, their nerves increasingly frayed, speak in whispers of impending chaos.

The reason for the alarm is simple: The city’s water supply is dangerously close to running dry.

If water levels keep falling, Cape Town will declare Day Zero in less than three months. Taps in homes and businesses will be turned off until the rains come. The city’s four million residents will have to line up for water rations at 200 collection points. The city is bracing for the impact on public health and social order.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, South Africa, Theology

(WSJ) Lou Weiss–The Jewish Arbor Day

Jewish tree huggers have their own official holiday, and this year it begins next Tuesday. Tu B’Shvat, literally the 15th day of the Jewish lunar month of Shevat, marks the day when all trees become one year older—at least for the purposes of their fruit being deemed suitable for tithing and eating. Many families and congregations celebrate by hosting a special meal with fruits from trees grown in Israel. Think of it as a Jewish and Israeli Arbor Day.

Trees are a big deal in Jewish liturgy. Jews refer to the Torah as a “Tree of Life.” In the center of the Garden of Eden, God put the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The latter provided some irresistible and fateful fruit.

The Torah describes the various species the Israelites encountered or planted. Acacia wood was the specification for the Ark of the Covenant and the poles with which it was carried. King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem featured cedar wood. Various books of the Torah mention at least 16 different tree species—not including the burning shrub Moses chatted with.

As important as trees are to Judaism, the faith still navigates nature without elevating it above humanity. It makes the case for an environmentalism that rightly puts people first. It is a sane alternative to placing “the environment” over every human benefit. This model of stewardship has much to offer today’s environmental policy debates.

Read it all.

Posted in Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(CT) God, Guns, and Oil A Los Angeles church seeks the good of its neighborhood by confronting crime and environmental distress

For [Richard] Parks, shutting down the oil well is part of a bigger story of how the gospel is transforming the Exposition Park neighborhood. Members of Church of the Redeemer have tied their fate to the fate of the community. They want to see their neighbors flourish.

Shutting down oil wells or nuisance liquor stores, planting trees, tutoring kids, holding neighborhood Bible studies, and making friends with neighbors during a community service project are all part of how a neighborhood is reached with the gospel, Parks says.

“In the context of friendship—there are normal, natural opportunities to talk about our love for Jesus,” he said. “Our church is made up of people that our kids go to school with, our kids play soccer with, neighbors that we clean up trees with. That is how the gospel is going out in our community.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Urban/City Life and Issues