The toxic legacy of mined energy

We are stardust ? Well, not quite. As carbon-based lifeforms we’re actually the offspring of a young sun, composed of the lighter elements, with a low concentration of a few transition metals essential for our health and vitality. Irn Bru, anyone ?

The actual products of exploding old stars that got lodged in the crusty skin of the accreting Earth are often quite toxic to us. Over millions of years, heavy and radioactive elements, being of no use to the ecosystem, have been deposited at the bottom of lakes, seabeds, and ended up lodged in seams of coal, and caverns of petroleum oil and Natural Gas. Uranium ores and other nasties have been overlain by forests and deserts, and only rarely vent, like radon, from Vulcan’s infernal lairs.

And what do humans do ? We dig this stuff up to burn or fission for energy, and when we do it creates toxic waste, that hurts us, and the life around us. Why are we surprised that mercury from the coal power industry is killing fish and harming children ? Why is it a shock that the tailing ponds from mining tar and oil sands are devastating pristine wilderness and waterways ?

Continue reading The toxic legacy of mined energy

Cool poverty

They’ve never had it so cold. The British have just shivered through another long, centrally heated winter, and people are receiving enormous gas bills. Social campaigners and parliamentarians are rightly concerned that a clutch of harsher winters and rising energy costs could reverse gains made in tackling fuel poverty. The UK Government’s recent Budget announcement to reduce fuel poverty assistance payments is another blow to maintaining decent and warm homes for the vulnerable, the elderly and children. Proposals to cap the amount that energy companies can charge people in their bills is welcomed by some, but feared by others – as it could jeopardise energy company funding for the Green Deal – a free-to-the-consumer loan scheme for insulation and renewable energy installation. And there’s another problem waiting in the wings. Unlike the United States and Australia, the average British home doesn’t have air conditioning, and it costs real money to install it. If outsized summer heatwaves continue to pop up more frequently in Europe, UK households will face “cool poverty” in summer – a lack of cooling.

Continue reading Cool poverty

Sage Against The Machine


Image Copyright : Christian Ecology Link

PRESS RELEASE : TV ECO CHAPLAIN TUMBLES HOUSE OF CREDIT CARDS

The Revd Peter Owen-Jones, the whole nation’s media chaplain, will be sharing from the heart at a Green Christian London conference ‘End of the Age of Thorns’ on 5th March 2011.

He will be opening up about a new relationship with money, and how we can survive the credit, jobs and services crunch by digging for our spiritual roots.

In his BBC TV odyssey, Britain’s favourite vicar tried living without his cheque book in the series ‘How to live a simple life’, and travelled the world to peer into the human soul in the fascinating ‘Around the World in 80 Faiths’.

Now he comes back down to Earth in central London, bringing his unique, accessible style of presentation, to share the good news of life after moneymaking, in an all-day conference organised by Christian Ecology Link.

The programme for the ‘End of the Age of Thorns’ features a wide range of talks and workshops asking questions about the ecology of money and life after mass marketing. What are the green shoots nurturing a new economics? Is there prosperity without growth? And can society grow up and leave consumerism behind?

“Christians ought to be distinctive as consumers. Our shopping bags should reflect our values.” (Professor Tim Cooper)

Sustainability expert Professor Tim Cooper will lead a group learning the fundamentals of Green Economics; Ashley Ralston will guide a process looking at shopping as if the planet mattered; and Ruth Jarman will host a workshop on greening up the day-to-day life of church communities.

“The church needs to consider why its members so readily succumb to high street temptations despite clear Biblical warnings about materialism. We cannot expect Christians to be immune from the psychological and socio-cultural pressures that lead to excessive consumption.” (Professor Tim Cooper)
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END OF THE AGE OF THORNS : SURVIVING CONSUMERISM

Christian Ecology Link Conference: Saturday 5 March 2011, 11am to 5pm, St John’s Church, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TY (opposite the entrance to Waterloo station)

Come and explore spiritual roots for a new economics, for our own humanity and all life on Earth. Engage with Peter Owen-Jones on a new relationship with money and how we can challenge the consumerist age we live in.

“Christians are not prepared to tolerate economic injustice, and work hard to make the system better. But there is an elephant in the room. We take endless economic growth of the system for granted. And we wonder why we are failing to stem the extinction of fifty species every day, greenhouse gas emissions are out of control, and our children have becomes pawns of the market. Economic growth has become a cancer on the earth, and an abuse of the image of God in us.” (CEL Chairman, Paul Bodenham)

“God did not create a world with infinite resources for humankind to plunder. He created a world with finite resources for us to nurture. Some people argue that technological advance will enable consumerism to persist. We would do well to note that God also created people with finite minds. Perhaps people will not work out solutions in time. What then? We must address people’s values, not just their minds.” (Professor Tim Cooper)

More information
http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns
http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns.pdf
http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns-booking.pdf

Ticket prices vary
Non-CEL members £20
CEL members £15
£5 for the first 20 students aged under 25

Booking forms
http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/thorns-booking.pdf

Telephone
0845 45 98 46 0

E-mail
bookings@christian-ecology.org.uk
info@christian-ecology.org.uk

Speaker biographies

Peter Owen-Jones is a long-time supporter of CEL and a popular speaker. You will probably have seen at least one of his fascinating BBC TV series: ‘How to live a simple life’, ‘Around the World in 80 Faiths’, and ‘Extreme Pilgrim’.

He is a Church of England vicar in a parish near Lewes in East Sussex; writer of several books including Letters from an Extreme Pilgrim (2010) and Psalm: The World’s Finest Soul Poetry in a Contemporary Idiom (2009); and founder of the Arbory Trust, the first Christian woodland burial site.

Tim Cooper is Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption at Nottingham Trent University, a founder member of CEL and former CEL Chairman. He is author of “Longer lasting products; alternatives to the throwaway society” (2010) and “Green Christianity” (1990).

Workshop details

“Green Economics” : Tim Cooper will run two different sessions combining input and discussion. Both sessions will be self-contained so you can go to both, or just one.

“Shopping as if the planet mattered” : Bring your own ideas to share, led by Ashley Ralston, CEL trustee and a director of Better Tomorrows.

“Greening the church in daily life” : Eco-congregations are not just for Sundays. They should give every member the chance to change their life. Come and discuss ideas and experiences that can help people start on a journey of a lifetime, including CEL’s ecocell programme, led by Ruth Jarman, CEL trustee and climate change campaigner.

“We should be no less distinctive in our consumption ethics as in our sexual ethics. Christianity is as much about showing distinctive love to third world suppliers by insisting on ‘fair trade’ goods as it is about showing distinctive love to our husbands and wives by being faithful.” (Professor Tim Cooper)

“Jesus was forthright about the ‘deceit of wealth’, and yet we’ve fallen for this one big time. There is an alternative, but like any therapy, the treatment will be painful. A lot of people want to be the place where that healing makes a start, but don’t know how. That is why we have launched ‘ecocell’, to bring people together to make a journey in discipleship to find freedom, for themselves, for society and, we hope, for the earth.” (CEL Chairman, Paul Bodenham)

Green Peace

Peace would be truly green – besides eliminating a vast source of greenhouse emissions and environmental toxicity, the end to extensively militarised conflict would no doubt singlehandedly rescue the world’s major economies from the “double dip” or “permanent implosion”.

Thousands of marchers in London, England today repeated the public demands to de-escalate the “war on terror” :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/20/protesters-march-against-afghanistan-war-london

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11803918

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Article/201009115820164

Continue reading Green Peace

Dearth of the Oceans

An incomplete recording of the BBC Horizon programme “The Death of the Oceans ?” narrated by David Attenborough is below.

It’s about Global Warming, of course (and overfishing, and sonar making whales deaf – which is the bit that’s missing at the end). But it’s also about Global Warming’s evil twin – Ocean Acidification.

Believe what you will about the Anthropogenic component of Global Warming, and I know some of you resist the Science as if it were a hairy, sweaty, alcoholic dentist threatening to pull your teeth without Novocaine, but there’s no way you can deny that the increasing concentration of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, most of it a direct result of humankind’s burning of Fossil Fuels, is turning the Oceans into a giant bucket of fizzy soda, and is threatening marine life, which is a huge risk to the whole of Life on Earth.

The only solution is to stop burning so much Coal, Oil and Gas. Really, that’s the only way.

Oh, you can fight this inevitability with every brain circuit you have, trying to force others to believe that everything’s still OK, that the Earth is not dangerously heating up, that Life on Land and in the Oceans is not on the cusp of mass extinction, and that Progress is just fine, and Economic Recovery, or Shiny New Technology, or Geoengineering will save us, but one day you will understand. You will accept. The global systems of production, transport and agriculture have to change. The Carbon-based Industrial Age will be gone in only a few decades, only a couple of hundred years after it started.

You can relax. Everything will be fine – eventually. When we have Wind Farms on every ridge top, Solar Power plants in every desert, Geothermal stations in our Town Halls, Combined Heat and Power running on Biomass in every street, Marine Power-gathering machines, Organic food, small electric cars, useful 24 hours-in-a-day networks of electricity-powered public transportation. The time is coming for the new human world to be born – and it will be green, clean and less energy-hungry than before.

It’s going to be a bit of a traumatic birth and the Climate Medics are working hard in the delivery suite, but soon, very soon, Green Investment will see the light of day – those who are wealthy will, as one, put their finances towards Renewable Energy and Energy-efficient machines and Energy Demand Management, real assets, with real returns on investment, and the future will be secured.

Part 1/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4rloPBrA6w

See at top for video.

Part 2/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdn1RpqKziE

Part 3/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKPNcQyljds

Part 4/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIKOKG3L3zo

Investing in True Prosperity

What we want is real, long-lasting assets, created by public money stimulus, and private capital investment, investing in the future, a sustainable future – Renewable Energy, and Energy Efficiency measures : on all buildings, fuel efficiency for all vehicles permitted to drive, machine and appliance efficiency.

Not all investment is good investment. There’s no point in printing any more money if it’s going to be used to turn valuable raw materials into waste in a one-way process, keeping greenhouse gas emissions high, which increases the risk of very dangerous Climate Change.

We need to be spending our way out of Global Warming – and that means coming up with a plan to, amongst other things, close all the coal-fired electricity generation plants, reduce the fuel used in transportation and transit, and stop heat escaping from buildings in the cold season.

Any plan that does not include these objectives is a waste of time and energy, literally.