Category : Ecology

(Guardian) Christians in Oxford asked to commit to protecting environment

The addition to the liturgy comes as the Oxford diocese announces plans to spend £10m improving the energy efficiency of its vicarages in an effort to hit net zero emissions by 2035. It is one of 10 dioceses to have divested from fossil fuel companies, making commitments not to invest in coal, oil and gas in the future.

At a national level, the Church of England has been criticised for not acting quickly enough to cut its links with fossil fuel companies. It began to cut ties to coal and other heavily polluting industries in 2015, then pledged in 2018 to divest by 2023 from high-carbon companies that were “not aligned with the goals of the Paris agreement”. But as the deadline approaches, the organisation has said it is still “engaging” with key oil and gas interests, rather than cancelling all of its holdings.

Chris Manktelow, of the Young Christian Climate Network, told the Guardian earlier this year that that was not good enough. “The church should be moving quickly and showing moral leadership, and is just not going fast enough. We are not happy with this response [to the calls to divest].”

On Wednesday, Greenpeace welcomed the Oxford decision.

“The diocese of Oxford is moving away from fossil fuels, which is essential, but this liturgical change goes deeper,” said a spokesperson. “Today’s lesson is that, in a climate and nature emergency, you need to make environmental considerations central to your project right from the very beginning and keep them in mind the whole way through. That sounds very much like wisdom worth listening to.”

Read it all and you can see the additional wording in the liturgy there.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Theology

(Economist) How to fix the world’s energy emergency without wrecking the environment

Energy shocks can become political catastrophes. Perhaps a third of the rich world’s inflation of 8% is explained by soaring fuel and power costs. Households struggling to pay bills are angry, leading to policies aimed at insulating them and boosting fossil-fuel production, however dirty.

Mr Biden, who came to power promising a green revolution, plans to suspend petrol taxes and visit Saudi Arabia to ask it to pump more oil. Europe has emergency windfall levies, subsidies, price caps and more. In Germany, as air-conditioners whine, coal-fired power plants are being taken out of mothballs. Chinese and Indian state-run mining firms that the climate-conscious hoped were on a fast track to extinction are digging up record amounts of coal.

This improvised chaos is understandable but potentially disastrous, because it could stall the clean-energy transition. Public handouts and tax-breaks for fossil fuels will be hard to withdraw. Dirty new power plants and oil- and gasfields with 30- to 40-year lifespans would give their owners more reason to resist fossil-fuel phase-outs. That is why, even as they firefight, governments must focus on tackling the fundamental problems confronting the energy industry.

One priority is finding a way to ramp up fossil-fuel projects, especially relatively clean natural gas, that have an artificially truncated lifespan of 15-20 years so as to align them with the goal of dramatically cutting emissions by 2050.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(I E) A new plant-based material can replace plastic food packaging for keeps

Interestingly, they observed a decline in the populations of these pathogens after the introduction of APFs. The researchers further deposited the antimicrobial fibers on avocados. They noticed that the APF coating prevented the growth of pathogens on the fruit and protected the same from spoilage and damage. Thus increasing the shelf life of avocados by about 50 percent.

Whereas plastic packets often release harmful chemicals into our food and take more than 400 years to biodegrade, the APF coating is a naturally derived biodegradable and non-toxic biopolymer that does not impact the quality of the edible it covers (a previous study also highlights that humans can digest pullulan). Moreover, according to the researchers, it can be easily washed off from a food item using water and takes only three days to completely decompose in the soil.

Excited with these results, Demokritou wrote, “What we have come up with is a scalable technology, which enables us to turn biopolymers, which can be derived as part of a circular economy from food waste, into smart fibers that can wrap food directly. This is part of the new generation, ‘smart’ and ‘green’ food packaging.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Economy, Science & Technology

(NYT front page) Ravaging the Congo Basin’s Essential Rainforest, Raft by Raft

The mighty Congo River has become a highway for sprawling flotillas of logs — African teak, wenge and bomanga in colors of licorice, candy bars and carrot sticks. For months at a time, crews in the Democratic Republic of Congo live aboard these perilous rafts, piloting the timber in pursuit of a sliver of profit from the dismantling of a crucial forest.

The biggest rafts are industrial-scale, serving mostly international companies that see riches in the rainforest. But puny versions also make their way downriver, tended by men and their families who work and sleep atop the floating logs.

Forests like these pull huge amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air, making them essential to slow global warming. The expanded scale of illegal logging imperils their role in protecting humanity’s future.

The Congo Basin rainforest, second in size only to the Amazon, is becoming increasingly vital as a defense against climate change as the Amazon is felled. However, the Democratic Republic of Congo for several years in a row has been losing more old-growth rainforest, research shows, than any country except for Brazil.

In this lawless trade, the river is the artery to the world. In some places, where once-towering trees are prepared for the journey, the water itself is stained caramel from the bleeding sap of felled trees.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Africa, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Republic of Congo

(C of E) Sowing seeds: how a patch of wasteland became heart of community

In just a few years, a patch of once unused land in the middle of the Quarrendon estate in Aylesbury, Bucks, has been transformed into the beating heart of the community by the local church.

The once neglected scrap of land surrounding St Peter’s Church, has been turned into a multipurpose green space – simultaneously a community garden, an exercise site, a place to grow food, an outdoor classroom, and a tranquil spot in the centre of the estate.

In partnership with local organisations, St Peter’s regularly takes referrals from the local GP surgery, known as ‘social prescribing.’

It also welcomes schools, the local Adult Education Centre, and the Youth Offenders Probation Service – where young adults learn new skills in landscaping and horticulture to help get them back into employment.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(NYT front page) As the Great Salt Lake Dries Up, Utah Faces An ‘Environmental Nuclear Bomb’

If the Great Salt Lake, which has already shrunk by two-thirds, continues to dry up, here’s what’s in store:

The lake’s flies and brine shrimp would die off — scientists warn it could start as soon as this summer — threatening the 10 million migratory birds that stop at the lake annually to feed on the tiny creatures. Ski conditions at the resorts above Salt Lake City, a vital source of revenue, would deteriorate. The lucrative extraction of magnesium and other minerals from the lake could stop.

Most alarming, the air surrounding Salt Lake City would occasionally turn poisonous. The lake bed contains high levels of arsenic and as more of it becomes exposed, wind storms carry that arsenic into the lungs of nearby residents, who make up three-quarters of Utah’s population.

“We have this potential environmental nuclear bomb that’s going to go off if we don’t take some pretty dramatic action,” said Joel Ferry, a Republican state lawmaker and rancher who lives on the north side of the lake.

As climate change continues to cause record-breaking drought, there are no easy solutions.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(Medium) Umair Haque: The Age of Extinction Is Here — Some of Us Just Don’t Know It Yet

My friends in the Indian Subcontinent tell me stories, these days, that seem like science fiction. The heatwave there is pushing the boundaries of survivability. My other sister says that in the old, beautiful city of artists and poets, eagles are falling dead from the sky. They are just dropping dead and landing on houses, monuments, shops. They can’t fly anymore.

The streets, she says, are lined with dead things. Dogs. Cats. Cows. Animals of all kinds are just there, dead. They’ve perished in the killing heat. They can’t survive.

People, too, try to flee. They run indoors, spend all day in canals and rivers and lakes, and those who can’t, too, line the streets, passed out, pushed to the edge. They’re poor countries. We won’t know how many this heatwave has killed for some time to come. Many won’t even be counted.

Think about all that for a moment. Really stop and think about it. Stop the automatic motions of everyday life you go through and think about it.

You see, my Western friends read stories like this, and then they go back to obsessing over the Kardashians or Wonder Woman or Johnny Depp or Batman. They don’t understand yet. Because this is beyond the limits of what homo sapiens can really comprehend, the Event. That world is coming for them, too.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

(Church Times) Bishops challenge Government on cost-of-living and climate crises

Bishops in the House of Lords continued to challenge the Government’s response to the cost-of-living and climate crises this week, as debates on the Queen’s Speech of last week (News, 13 May) entered a fourth day.

On Monday, debate focused on economic development, energy, and the environment. The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Martin Seeley, said: “The climate crisis is the multiplying factor for all the other crises we face.”

In his maiden speech, Bishop Seeley dedicated much of his time to environmental issues. “Global temperature rises will dramatically increase the global refugee crisis and food shortages, and the geopolitical impact will continue to be magnified,” he said.

“We must pursue the determined course set at COP26, where we take actions —challenging actions — now, for the sake of the long term.”

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, who is the C of E’s lead bishop on the environment, wrote of the agreement at COP26 that “progress was made . . . but not enough” (Comment, 18 November 2021).

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Economy, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Cathedrals can light the way to Net Zero says Bishop Usher

Addressing the National Cathedrals Conference in Newcastle, Graham Usher, who is Bishop of Norwich, said that cathedrals can show the way in making changes for achieving Net Zero carbon across the whole Church by 2030, with a route map due for a vote at General Synod in July.

Cathedrals have an impressive track record within the heritage sector, with Gloucester Cathedral becoming the first Grade 1 listed building to install photovoltaic panels in 2016.

Many others have followed suit with green adaptations including solar panels, replaced light fittings, draft exclusion and in some places re-designed precincts to give greater access to green space and a chance for biodiversity to thrive.

The host venue, Newcastle Cathedral, was praised for the installation of an air source heat pump as part of a major recent renovation.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(BBC) East Africa drought: ‘The suffering here has no equal’

Families have become desperate for food and water. Millions of children are malnourished. Livestock, which pastoralist families rely on for food and livelihoods, have died.

The drought stretches far beyond this small Kenyan village and the UN’s World Food Programme says up to 20 million people in East Africa are at risk of severe hunger.

Ethiopia is battling the worst drought in almost half a century and in Somalia 40% of the population are at risk of starvation.

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Posted in Africa, Climate Change, Weather, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Poverty

(Guardian) God’s own gardens: why churchyards are some of our wildest nature sites

They are in nearly every village, town and city across the UK, thousands of church buildings peppering the landscape. But while many may no longer be in regular use, the churchyards surrounding them – quiet, peaceful and often ancient – amount to what Olivia Graham, the bishop of Reading, equates to “a small national park”. The land beyond the church gate is some of the most biodiverse in the UK because it has largely stayed untouched.

“A churchyard is a little snapshot of how the countryside used to be,” says Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Pippa Rayner, who is working on Wilder Churches, a new initiative with the diocese of Bath and Wells “to enhance churchyard biodiversity across the county”.

“Very often in a highly industrialised rural landscape, the fields around villages may be covered in agricultural chemicals. You often find that the churchyard is the one place in the area where they haven’t been using chemicals,” says Rayner. “The fact that they generally have been managed differently to the rest of the countryside, and they have been looked after in a different way, has enabled species to still be there,” she adds.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry

Church Commissioners for England invest €30 million in sustainable infrastructure

The Church Commissioners for England have committed €30 million into European sustainable infrastructure with Pioneer Infrastructure Partners SCSp

The investment marks a continuation of the Church Commissioners’ commitment to reaching net zero as a signatory of the UN-convened Asset Owner Alliance

Pioneer Infrastructure Partners SCSp has secured commitments from other large institutional investors, including Texas Municipal Retirement Systems

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stock Market

Archbishop Welby calls for the Government to work with faith groups to achieve net zero carbon

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(Economist) What Florida can teach America

What can Florida reveal about America? In many ways, it is a land apart from the rest of the country. Yet a state as diverse as Florida is also a mini-America, with its political divisions condensed into single blocks. The rise of minor parties and voters with no-party affiliation should be a reckoning for the two main national parties. Immigrants and transplants want a positive message about the future, not a dire one, which should be a wake-up call to Democrats to refine their campaigning to signal optimism and opportunity. The lurch to the right of Mr DeSantis and other Republicans, who prioritise social issues such as abortion over practical economic concerns of ordinary Floridians, is a political calculation that may yet backfire.

Nowhere are the intergenerational divisions that scar America clearer than in Florida. The elderly who retire there feel little connection to the state or much desire to invest in its future. Meanwhile, the young require more than “freedom” (Florida’s favourite rhetorical export) to thrive. With such austere investment in citizens and good government, there is a vast gulf between older migrants who import their fortunes and savings into Florida and those who want to build lives there, but face lower wages.

Florida is a test-bed for the limits of libertarian policies. The early 2020s may be remembered as America’s “Florida years”, with Mr DeSantis’s embrace of policies, such as anti-lockdown provisions, that put his state on the national stage. But now that Florida feels the pain of soaring house prices and displacement of the labour force by new arrivals, some voters’ faith that the free market alone is enough to fix things has been shaken.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ecology, Economy, State Government

(WSJ) Investors Dial Up Pressure Over Companies’ Climate Lobbying

Many companies are still lobbying against the Paris Agreement, according to InfluenceMap, a nonprofit group that pushes for corporate action on climate. It says only 14% of 375 companies it tracks have aligned their detailed climate-policy engagement activities with the Paris Agreement.

“Corporate political engagement continues to represent one of the key barriers to delivering the Paris Agreement’s goals,” said Ed Collins, director of corporate lobbying at InfluenceMap.

Having a shared standard will make it easier for companies to show their public climate promises are serious, said Adam Matthews, chief responsible investment officer at the Church of England Pensions Board.

But companies that don’t sign up may face more shareholder pressure.

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship, Stock Market

C of E Parishes prepare for mass ‘citizen science’ biodiversity events after huge success of last year’s Churches Count on Nature

The ‘citizen science’ event – set to run between 4-12th June – will welcome people to churchyards and encourage them to record what animals and plants they see. That data will then be collated on the biological records hub, the National Biodiversity Network.

Last year more than 540 activities and events were organised by churches across the country. People submitted 17,232 recorded pieces of data on wildlife they saw, with more than 1,500 species recorded.

This year’s event will take place during the same week as Love Your Burial Ground Week (4-12th June).

Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich and lead Church of England bishop for the environment, encouraged churches to start preparing.

He said: “I’m encouraging every parish to get involved with this year’s Churches Count on Nature.

“Churchyards and gardens are an incredible home of biodiversity, making up thousands of acres of green oases in every community of the country. Last year, hundreds of parishes got their local community searching for insects and plants in their open spaces.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(LA Times front page) Western megadrought is worst in 1,200 years, intensified by climate change, study finds

The extreme dryness that has ravaged the American West for more than two decades now ranks as the driest 22-year period in at least 1,200 years, and scientists have found that this megadrought is being intensified by humanity’s heating of the planet.

In their research, the scientists examined major droughts in southwestern North America back to the year 800 and determined that the region’s desiccation so far this century has surpassed the severity of a megadrought in the late 1500s, making it the driest 22-year stretch on record. The authors of the study also concluded that dry conditions will likely continue through this year and, judging from the past, may persist for years.

The researchers found the current drought wouldn’t be nearly as severe without global warming. They estimated that 42% of the drought’s severity is attributable to higher temperatures caused by greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere.

“The results are really concerning, because it’s showing that the drought conditions we are facing now are substantially worse because of climate change,” said Park Williams, a climate scientist at UCLA and the study’s lead author. “But that also there is quite a bit of room for drought conditions to get worse.”

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(Uxolo) Is faith-based finance making a dent in impact investing?

With a mandate to make a positive change, religious organisations are among the richest asset owners and investors, and are increasingly looking at impact investments to make market returns. Unique to these investments are faith values, which decide the sectors, regions, and projects that receive the funds. In many cases, those values fit comfortably within the SDG puzzle. However, overall, faith-based investors have yet to develop major impact investing portfolios.

While there are no publicly available figures for the value of the assets owned by religious organisations, they are estimated to own over 7% of the Earth’s land surface. The Islamic finance industry was estimated to be worth $2.4 trillion at the end of 2017, according to the 2018 Global Islamic Finance Report, and in 2020 was almost $3 trillion, a figure that is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5% until 2024.

“What we do see is a big trend where faith-based investors have woken up and now understand that a lot of their assets are stuck in very traditional investment vehicles, as they need those revenues and returns from those investments to maintain churches, pay pensions, etc. So it is important for them to make sufficient returns, but they are also realising that in some cases there is a complete misalignment between their values and those funds they have been investing in,” says Maarten Toussaint, COO of FIIND Impact, an investment consultant and advisor, working with faith-based investors.

Even though faith-based investors have noble intentions, their investments are not bereft of returns. “We target market rate with our returns,” says Aaron Pinnock, senior impact investment analyst at the Church Commissioners for England. The portfolio’s target is returns of CPIH +4%. “So, in the last 30 years, our returns have averaged just over 9%, and that’s the kind of target that we are looking for going forward. We are not looking at impact as taking financial returns off the table, but it has to meet the kind of return requirement that will make other investments possible.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Observer) How ‘super-enzymes’ that eat plastics could curb our waste problem

In 2016 researchers led by microbiologist Kohei Oda of the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan reported a surprise discovery. Oda’s team visited a recycling site that focused on items made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a clear plastic that is used to make clothing fibres and drinks bottles.

Like all plastics, PET is a material made up of long string-like molecules. These are assembled from smaller molecules strung together into chains. The chemical bonds in PET chains are strong, so it is long-lasting – exactly what you do not want in a single-use plastic.

Oda’s team took samples of sediment and wastewater that were contaminated with PET, and screened them for micro-organisms that could grow on the plastic. It found a new strain of bacterium, called Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6. This microbe could grow on pieces of PET. Not only that: Oda’s team reported that the bacterium could use PET as its main source of nutrients, degrading the PET in the process.

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Posted in Ecology, Science & Technology

(SA) Game-changing technology to remove 99% of carbon dioxide from air

University of Delaware engineers have demonstrated a way to effectively capture 99% of carbon dioxide from air using a novel electrochemical system powered by hydrogen.

It is a significant advance for carbon dioxide capture and could bring more environmentally friendly fuel cells closer to market.

The research team, led by UD Professor Yushan Yan, reported their method in Nature Energy on Thursday, February 3.

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Posted in Ecology, Science & Technology

(BBC) Truro Cathedral to switch off floodlights to reduce its carbon footprint

Truro Cathedral’s floodlights will be switched off to help the environment, it has been announced.

Canon Elly Sheard said in a blog the decision was “a worthwhile start on the cathedral’s journey towards reducing its carbon footprint to zero”.

She added the move from the end of January was not based on costs, but welcomed the financial saving.

Cannon Sheard said they were looking to “phase out energy use in whatever ways we can” at the cathedral.

“Although the system has not worked fully for some time, the decision to cease floodlighting the cathedral has been taken more on environmental grounds than on the grounds of the costs of either repairs or continued use,” she said.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(NYT) Even Low Levels of Soot Can Be Deadly to Older People, Research Finds

Older Americans who regularly breathe even low levels of pollution from smokestacks, automobile exhaust, wildfires and other sources face a greater chance of dying early, according to a major study released Wednesday.

Researchers at the Health Effects Institute, a group that is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency as well as automakers and fossil fuel companies, examined health data from 68.5 million Medicare recipients across the United States. They found that if the federal rules for allowable levels of fine soot had been slightly lower, as many as 143,000 deaths could have been prevented over the course of a decade.

Exposure to fine particulate matter has long been linked to respiratory illness and impaired cognitive development in children. The tiny particles can enter the lungs and bloodstream to affect lung function, exacerbate asthma and trigger heart attacks and other serious illness. Earlier research has found that exposure to particulate matter contributed to about 20,000 deaths a year.

The new study is the first in the United States to document deadly effects of the particulate matter known as PM 2.5 (because its width is 2.5 microns or less) on people who live in rural areas and towns with little industry.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Health & Medicine

The Church of England restricts investment in climate laggards

The Church of England’s National Investing Bodies (NIBs) are delivering on their 2018 commitment to General Synod to engage with and disinvest from high carbon emitting companies that are not making progress to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2023.

Twenty companies have made climate-related changes to stay off the Church’s restricted list since 2020.
Following extensive engagement efforts by the NIBs, nine companies made changes to meet the 2021 hurdles. As a result they stayed off the restricted list for a further year, while 28 companies that did not meet the latest climate hurdles were restricted.

These actions are part of the NIBs’ commitment to transitioning their portfolios away from companies that are unwilling to act and align their businesses with the Goals of the Paris Agreement. The climate hurdles were set by the NIBs using Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) data. Additional exacting hurdles will come into force in 2022 and 2023.

The NIBs are founding members of TPI and are investor engagement leads in the Climate Action 100+ (CA100+) global engagement initiative. As long-term investors, the NIBs will continue to engage with companies to meet their climate objectives and build alliances with like-minded investors to engage with company boards and executives.

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

(Church Times) ‘Eco dioceses’ all round in race to reach 2030 goal

All 42 dioceses in the Church of England have signed up to become “eco dioceses” as part of their commitment to reaching carbon net zero by 2030.

Under the Eco Dioceses scheme, developed by the charity A Rocha UK, churches and dioceses are awarded bronze, silver, or gold status, depending on actions taken to improve their environmental footprint.

The development was welcomed by the Bishop of Norwich and lead bishop on the environment, the Rt Revd Graham Usher. He said: “Having every diocese sign up is a statement of intent from all of us as we take seriously the need to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss today.

“A Rocha UK’s Eco Church and Diocese scheme is a great tool, which enables local churches at every level of their climate justice journey to engage with environmental issues. We know that climate change and biodiversity loss impact us all — especially the world’s poorest countries….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Guardian) Chemical pollution has passed safe limit for humanity, say scientists

The cocktail of chemical pollution that pervades the planet now threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends, scientists have said.

Plastics are of particularly high concern, they said, along with 350,000 synthetic chemicals including pesticides, industrial compounds and antibiotics. Plastic pollution is now found from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans, and some toxic chemicals, such as PCBs, are long-lasting and widespread.

The study concludes that chemical pollution has crossed a “planetary boundary”, the point at which human-made changes to the Earth push it outside the stable environment of the last 10,000 years.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology

(Guardian) Rowan Williams–The world feels fragile, but we can recover from the blows we’ve suffered

…what science alone does not do is build the motivation for a deeper level of connection. We act effectively not just when we find a language in common to identify problems, but when we recognise that those who share these challenges are profoundly like us, to the extent that we can to some degree feel their frailty as if it were ours – or at least, feel their frailty impacting directly on our own, so that we cannot be secure while they remain at risk.

This is where art comes in. Like the sciences, it makes us shelve our self-oriented habits for a bit. Listening to music, looking at an exhibition, reading a novel, watching a theatre or television drama, we open doors to experiences that are not our own. If science helps us discover that there are things to talk about that are not determined just by the self-interest of the people talking, art opens us up to how the stranger feels, uncovering connections where we had not expected them.

What religion adds to this is a further level of motivation. The very diverse vocabularies of different religious traditions claim not only that the Other is someone we can recognise but that they are someone we must look at with something like reverence. The person before us has a claim on our attention, even our contemplation, and on our active generosity. The religions of south and east Asia question the very idea of a safe and stable self with a territory to protect against others; while for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the claim of the stranger is grounded in the conviction that every human beings is a vehicle of God’s presence and God’s glory – “made in God’s image”.

Being more deeply connected will not take away the fragility of our condition, but it will help us see that it is worth parking the obsessions of tribes and echo chambers so that we can actually learn from and with each other; that it is worth making what local difference can be made, so as to let the dignity of the human person be seen with greater clarity. “Our life and death are with our neighbour,” said one of the saints of early Christian monasticism. That is the humanism we need if we are not to be paralysed by the fragility we cannot escape.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Ecology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message 2022

When it comes to climate change, it is tempting to despair, but there are real reasons to hope.

Last year, faith leaders representing three-quarters of the world’s population stood together at the Vatican and called for definitive action on climate change.

People of every background are campaigning and working for justice.

Important steps were taken at the COP26 summit. World leaders recognise the problem. Now they must agree and implement a fair solution for everyone.

When we plant a seed, we don’t see the fruit immediately. But under the surface, God is working with what we have planted.

In the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I see that God turns all endings into new beginnings, and death into life. God invites us to be part of this story – to be people who bring hope, healing and renewal to our world.

This year, let’s keep planting those seeds – let’s keep moving forward in hope.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Science & Technology

(Church Times) People are dreaming of a green Christmas, poll suggests

Eight out of ten people in the UK are prepared to change their Christmas habits to help tackle the climate crisis, a new poll suggests. Actions such as ending the use of non-recyclable wrapping paper, and no longer giving plastic toys, were the top choices for households.

Giving secondhand gifts and swapping the Christmas turkey for a vegetarian option were less popular actions for those who took part in the poll for Christian Aid: just 15 per cent of respondents were prepared to have a vegetarian Christmas lunch, compared with 55 per cent who were willing to swap the wrapping paper that they used.

Younger people were most likely to be willing to take action: 89 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds would change their habits this Christmas, compared with 79 per cent of over-55s.

The poll of more than 2000 people was carried out by Savanta ComRes to coincide with Christian Aid’s Christmas appeal for South Sudan.

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Posted in Ecology, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Science) The Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the world

It’s almost a mantra in climate science: The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. But that figure, found in scientific studies, advocacy reports, the popular press, and even the 2021 U.N. climate assessment, is incorrect, obscuring the true toll of global warming on the north, a team of climate scientists reports this week. In fact, the researchers say, the Arctic is warming four times faster than the global average.

“Everybody knows [the Arctic] is a canary when it comes to climate change,” says Peter Jacobs, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who presented the work on 13 December at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “Yet we’re misreporting it by a factor of two. Which is just bananas.”

Researchers have long known the world warms faster in the far north, because of a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification. The drivers of amplification include increased solar heating, as dark ocean water replaces reflective sea ice, along with occasional intrusions of tropical heat, carried to the Arctic by “atmospheric rivers,” narrow parades of dense clouds that drag water vapor northward.

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