Category : Energy, Natural Resources

(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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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

(Church Times) Bishop Holtam welcomes Government’s campaign against plastic

The ambition behind the Government’s new environmental plans is “terrific”, and shows it to be “caring for God’s creation” the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, has said.

Bishop Holtam, the C of E’s lead bishop on environmental issues, said on Thursday that it was good news that the environment had become a priority, and that there was “a recognition of the state we are in”.

It was “a very significant document”, Bishop Holtam said, and accompanied by a “very significant speech”.

The plan was unveiled by the Prime Minister on Thursday morning. The Government is to introduce a raft of proposals designed to eliminate all avoidable plastic by 2042.

Speaking at the launch of the Government’s new 25-year environmental plan on Thursday, the Prime Minister announced a war on plastic waste, calling it “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

([London] Times) Church of England tells landowners it owns their mineral rights

The Church of England has laid claim to minerals beneath privately owned land covering an area the size of the Lake District, including in regions earmarked for fracking, The Times has learnt.

Since 2010 the church has officially registered its ownership of 585,000 acres of underground resources. Thousands of people have received letters warning that they do not own potentially valuable deposits under their land.

In most cases, the church has laid claim to deposits beneath land that it used to own but is now held privately. It has also exploited ancient property laws allowing it to claim the minerals beneath land that it owned under the feudal system. This gives the church the right to cash in on any profits from the extraction of stone, metals and other minerals in the earth, though it may have to compensate the surface landowners for access.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Stewardship

(FT) ExxonMobil bows to shareholder pressure, vows to improve disclosure of impact assessment from policies to tackle warming

ExxonMobil, the world’s largest listed oil and gas group, will start publishing reports on the possible impact of climate policies on its business, bowing to investor demands for improved disclosure of the risks it faces.

The decision is the biggest success so far for investors who have been pushing companies to do more to acknowledge the threat they face from climate change and from policies that curb greenhouse gas emissions.

In a regulatory filing on Monday evening, Exxon said it would introduce “enhancements” to its reporting, including analysis of the impact of policies designed to limit the increase in global temperatures to 2C, an internationally agreed objective.

At Exxon’s annual meeting in May, investors controlling about 62 per cent of the shares backed a proposal filed by a group of shareholders led by the New York state employees’ retirement fund calling for an annual assessment of the impact of technological change and climate policy on the company’s operations.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(Guardian) Some Anglican Leaders call on Church of England to lead on climate change by divesting from ExxonMobil

As Church of England clergy, we have a strong interest in the ethics of investments made by the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board on our behalf.

This week, governments from around the world will meet in Bonn for the next round of UN climate talks. The Paris climate change agreement, which was signed by 195 countries in December 2015, included a commitment to hold the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2C … and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”.

A lot has happened since then. We have witnessed the shameful decision of the president of the United States to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Average global temperatures have risen to more than 1C above pre-industrial levels. Extreme weather events, which are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change, have had devastating impacts, leading to loss of life and severe destruction in the US and the Caribbean, Africa, South Asia and as close to home as Ireland.

Read it all and note the signatories.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(NYT Op-ed) Archbp Justin Welby–Our Moral Opportunity on Climate Change

Climate change is the human thumb on the scale, pushing us toward disaster. It is not a distant danger — it is already with us. As we continue to burn fossil fuels, its effects will only grow.

Some years ago I worked in Nigeria, helping to find peaceful solutions to conflicts. Its capital city, Lagos — one of the world’s megacities, with a population estimated at 14 million to 21 million — will most likely experience a sea-level rise of around 35 inches in the next few decades if current warming trends continue.

Even in this best-case scenario, which depends on the global community’s sticking to the Paris climate change agreement, many of the shops I visited and homes I passed during my years in the country will be flooded. The rising waters are already changingways of life and pressuring people to leave their homes. In the coming years, experts predict that millions of peoplein Lagos will be forced to move.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Climate Change, Weather, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria

(Scientific American) Dissolve the Dead? Controversy Swirls around Liquid Cremation

Proponents note that traditional cremation is trending upward in the U.S. In 2015 more people in this country were burned than put in the ground for the first time, according to a report by the National Funeral Directors Association. This fad is driven in part by price: A fire cremation usually costs less than a third of a burial, according to an industry report by market research firm IBISWorld. It also saves on some natural resources; a burial requires land as well as the stone, steel, cloth and wood used to make the casket and gravestone.

Some see alkaline hydrolysis—versions of which go by the names biocremation, aquamation and resomation—as the next big thing for those who want to make an environmentally friendly exit.

The technique has its origins in an 1888 patent for making fertilizer and gelatin, which describes dissolving animal parts in an alkaline solution such as potassium hydroxide. In the 1990s two researchers began disposing of lab animals this way at Albany Medical College in New York State. Their work informed the construction of the first machine that could handle a single human body, built by a company called WR2 and first used in the Mayo Clinic’s anatomical bequest program in Rochester, Minn., in 2006.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Energy, Natural Resources, Eschatology, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Secularism

(Local Paper) Some leaders say the time is now to act to save Charleston, South Carolina, from seas which have risen 4.2″ in 33 yrs

Fast-forward 33 years.

The sea level has risen 4.2 inches since then.

Last year, the city’s low-lying areas saw 50 days of nuisance flooding, a record.

Three mega storms in the past three years turned the city of Charleston’s largest medical district into a virtually inaccessible island.

And some city officials still talk about the “generational challenge” that rising seas present.

That doesn’t sit well with Mike Seekings, a city councilman who spent the past few days tromping around city streets as nuisance tides once again cut off thoroughfares in his district.

“Last night between 8:30 and 9 o’clock, there was a foot of water at Broad and Lockwood,” he said. “You can’t live in a city when roads are closed on good days and roads to hospitals are closed on bad days.”

This is no longer a generational challenge, he added. “We’ve been talking about doing things for so long. Let’s start these projects now.”

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

(Bloomberg) The Church of England Takes on Climate Change—and Generates a 17 Percent Return

Over the Exxon board’s objections, almost two-thirds of shareholders voted for a proposal asking the company to provide a detailed report on how curbing climate change could affect its business. Leading the charge was the giant New York State Common Retirement Fund, which manages $192 billion and is a veteran activist. Its partner was a far smaller and lower-profile newcomer taking one of its first public stands in the U.S.: the Church of England.

Through a £7.9 billion ($10 billion) fund that finances the church’s mission activities, cathedral costs, and clergy pensions, the church has been quietly—and successfully—engaging with European companies in the energy and mining industries for the past few years. BP, BHP Billiton, and Royal Dutch Shell have all voluntarily adopted similar climate change steps to those sought at Exxon.

“We see ourselves as active, rather than activist,” says ­Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at Church Commissioners for England, as the fund is formally known. The Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, is the state church of England. Christianity came to the country during Roman times, but the church split from Rome in the 16th century under King Henry VIII. Like many socially responsible investors, the church today prefers to engage collaboratively with companies rather than resort to a public brawl.

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