Falling in Love 4


Dark oppressive rain clouds warn us to put up our umbrellas, to hasten our pace and shelter inside where we can shut out the unwanted elements.

Stop. Pause. Look. See how the clouds blossom and bloom, how their mass grows. Contemplate the intensity of colour, the shades of blue and grey, shifting  and rolling as the occupy the sky. See the trailing edges where rain is already falling, the veils of water that wash across the air. 

The world around us is full of curious, beautiful and amazing things. As small children our curiosity and our amazement knew no bounds. Every day would produce novelties- things to see, things to chew or eat, things to grab and hold, things to poke and explore. 

As we have grow older we have often lost that sense of wonder. Things that were new have become mundane. In the rush to be busy, small things flop below the radar. Decorum dictates that we shouldn’t prod or lick things and, unless we’re wine tasters, swirling stuff around our mouth and spitting are frowned upon. Stopping suddenly just to look is discouraged – it interrupts the flow of traffic. Daily routines take over. 

And our love for the world wains and falters. 

The season of creation-tide runs from 1st September till 4th October, the Feast of St Francis. Let’s fall in love again with creation. 

Count Down

 Action 44: Change any high energy light bulbs. Replace them with LED bulbs – these use the least amount of electricity  and yet produce high levels of light (measured in lumen). The Energy Saving Trust provides a useful guide about LED  lighting. https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/how-get-best-out-energy-efficient-lighting/ And they also remind us that turning lights off when not in use is another easy way of saving energy.

Green Tau: issue 15

Varodrig took this photo from the Ula platformFirst – gas from the Oselvar module burns on the flare of the BP Ula oil platform in the North Sea on April 14th, 2012

3rd September 2021

Heating homes without carbon?

Domestic energy use, ie for heating, lighting and electrical appliances, generates around 22% of the UK’s carbon footprint. The majority of that 22% comes from heating our homes. This is not surprising when you consider that 90% of homes are heated using gas boilers. Gas, one of the main fossil fuels, is burnt to heat water to warm our homes. As it burns, carbon dioxide is released. A three bedroom house with a 30KW condensing boiler will, for every hour the boiler is running, will emit around 7kg of CO2 or over the course of year around 3.65 tonnes of CO2.

It is obvious that we cannot continue to heat our homes using gas (or oil or coal) if we are to prevent the catastrophic rise in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement signed by parties at the Paris COP in 2015 set as it goal that participants should reduce carbon emissions so as to keep the rise in mean global temperature to below 2 °C , and preferably no more than 1.5 °C. To achieve this Theresa May announced in June 2019 that the UK would set itself the target of cutting its carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. To achieve this Government target the means by which we heat our homes will have to be radically transformed. 

This can happen in surprising ways. In Islington waste heat from the Northern Line is being soused to heat 1350 homes, a primary school and two leisure centres. In addition the heat is also generating electricity that powers lifts and communal lighting in a nearby tower block. Similar district heating solutions are being developed in other parts of the country too, for example heat  extracted from a flooded coal mine in Durham will heat 1500 homes. 

Both these projects use heat pump technology. This is the most promising solution for drastically reducing carbon emission whether heating a large office block or the average house. A heat pump is a scaled up fridge that works in reverse. Its refrigerant liquid absorbs heat from the air – or the ground – outside the building. This is compressed and transfers inside the building  where it is released as heat via warm air or via warm water (for radiators or underfloor heating). The heat pump is powered by electricity. Heat pumps, in terms of energy used and heat produced, are at least 3 times as efficient as gas boilers. In terms of running costs, the carbon footprint of a heat pump will depend on the source of the electricity it uses. Electricity from a wind farm has a carbon footprint of 10-20g/KWh compared with 450g/KWh for electricity from a gas fired power station. 

The Government’s net zero carbon targets anticipates the installing of 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. However this target will be hard to meet unless there is an that expansion of both the production capacity of heat pump manufacturers and of the number of qualified heat pump installers.

Surprisingly the cost per KWh for gas is less than that of electricity –  this can impact on the cost of running a heat pump. Part of the higher cost of electricity is due to the government’s carbon tax designed to fund renewable energy developments. Whilst this tax is levied on electricity it is not levied on gas!  

If you would like to petition the government to reverse this situation go to https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/588159/signatures/new

To some extent the cost of running a heat pump can be subsidised by applying for the Renewal Heat Incentive scheme. This makes payments according to how much heat you generate via a renewable source such as a heat pump, but as they say, ‘conditions apply’.

The other approach to reducing the carbon footprint arising from heating our homes, is to insulate them. The better insulated a property is, the less additional heat is needed to achieve a comfortable level of warmth. Thus less energy is needed and one’s carbon footprint is reduced. A well insulated home also reduces draughts and cold spots which makes spaces feel warmer. 

Home insulation options include:

  • cavity wall insulation 
  • External wall insulation suitable for buildings with solid walls
  • Loft insulation 
  • Draught proofing doors and windows 
  • Double – or even triple – glazing windows
  • Underfloor insulation
  • Thermal external doors
  • Fully enclosed porches

Some grants are available for low income households to improve the insulation of their homes through the Energy Company Obligation scheme. Further information can be found here: https://warmauk.com/blog/who-qualifies-for-the-free-insulation-grant/

However the Government’s Green Homes Grant that would have seen an upgrading of the insulation of 600,000 homes has been cancelled. 

Next week’s Eco Tips will feature ways of keeping warm at home.

Falling in Love 3

Sparrows are seen as common place birds, birds of the dusty street or the old fashioned gutter. Insignificant birds in drab shades of brown. Their call is a repetitive  banter rather than a melodious song. Whilst still numerous their overall population is worryingly in decline. 

Look more closely. The delicate shades of taupe and bronze, flashes of russet. A beady eye and playful nature. Thronging together they are lovers of communal living. 

The world around us is full of curious, beautiful and amazing things. As small children our curiosity and our amazement knew no bounds. Every day would produce novelties- things to see, things to chew or eat, things to grab and hold, things to poke and explore. 

As we have grow older we have often lost that sense of wonder. Things that were new have become mundane. In the rush to be busy, small things flop below the radar. Decorum dictates that we shouldn’t prod or lick things and, unless we’re wine tasters, swirling stuff around our mouth and spitting are frowned upon. Stopping suddenly just to look is discouraged – it interrupts the flow of traffic. Daily routines take over. 

And our love for the world wains and falters. 

The season of creation-tide runs from 1st September till 4th October, the Feast of St Francis. Let’s fall in love again with creation. 

Falling in Love 2

Dandelion flowers are like gold medallions. They face up towards the sun, capturing its warmth and opening their petals to passing insects so they may feast on the nectar within. Later their seeds provide a popular food for goldfinches.

The world around us is full of curious, beautiful and amazing things. As small children our curiosity and our amazement knew no bounds. Every day would produce novelties- things to see, things to chew or eat, things to grab and hold, things to poke and explore. 

As we have grow older we have often lost that sense of wonder. Things that were new have become mundane. In the rush to be busy, small things flop below the radar. Decorum dictates that we shouldn’t prod or lick things and, unless we’re wine tasters, swirling stuff around our mouth and spitting are frowned upon. Stopping suddenly just to look is discouraged – it interrupts the flow of traffic. Daily routines take over. 

And our love for the world wains and falters. 

The season of creation-tide runs from 1st September till 4th October, the Feast of St Francis. Let’s fall in love again with creation. 

Count Down


 Action 42: Plant spring bulbs: the ideal time for this is between now and November. This is also the time to plant summer bulbs such as lilies and alliums. Plant a variety of bulbs from the earliest flowering crocuses to the later flowering tulips to ensure an ongoing supply of nectar for insects as well as scents and colours that will bring us joy too. 


As we continue to mark the days until the COP26 climate conference you might like to subscribe to the United Nations climate change news letter. https://news.un.org/en/newsletter/climate-change

Green Tau Reflection

This week saw a stand off between Christian climate activists and the clergy in St Paul’s cathedral over the Church of England’s continued investment in companies profiting from fossil fuels. It has distressed me greatly.

Woe to you … you tithe mint and rue and other herbs, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the other. (Luke 11: 42)

Medicinal Plant Herb Bee Pasture Plant Mint Plant

Is it that the Pharisees that Jesus was addressing have become so bogged down in the minutiae that they can’t see the bigger picture? Had they become so concerned that all the ‘t’s be crossed and the ‘i’s dotted that they could no longer read what the writing said? They could only see the spelling mistakes but not the story. 

Is it that they found it is easier to address the needs of personal hygiene than issues of  social justice, poverty and victimisation that were prevalent ills of the world in which they lived? Did they find it easier to keep washing their hands before meals than to address the luxury lifestyle enjoyed by Herod Antipas at the expense of the rural poor.  

Is it that by observing the smaller and easier religious requirements, that they could to all outward appearances be seen as upright exemplars of their faith and so earn the honour and respect of their fellow believers. Perhaps the observances of small things gave the impression of great integrity – if they so routinely practice these small religious acts how much more must they be observing the full law?

Yet Jesus sees through the outer show. He has seen that inside the polished exterior they are full of greed and wickedness (Luke 11:40). He is critical of them for their lack of love and disregard for justice. Whilst they have sought the best seats in the synagogue and respectful greetings in the market place, Jesus has been focused on the work of feeding the hungry, healing the sick, releasing the imprisoned, validating the forgotten, turning social expectations upside down, calling for a turning away from unsustainable lifestyles – and bringing in the kingdom of God. 

Jesus and his disciples knew from experience that doing God’s will meant getting hands dirty, getting down alongside the sick, withstanding jeers, taking the lower place, and ultimately to be self sacrificing. Such a lifestyle is not always easy, and do we not all want some degree of love and respect? Yet equally experience tells us that if we have confidence in God, even when we are ill-treated, scorned, marginalised, we will still find joy in doing God’s will.

Notice that in Jesus’s reply he reminds the Pharisees that doing the small things should have been an ‘and also’ to the exercise of love and justice. Paying attention to the small things as well as the large is about integrity. For this reason we see Jesus coming to be baptised alongside his fellow country folk. We see Jesus going regularly to the synagogue and taking his turn to read the scripture. We see Jesus observing the traditions of Passover. But for Jesus outward actions do not take the place of an inward commitment to the kingdom of God. 

At the present time the single most overwhelming disaster facing the world – God’s world – is human-made climate change. The effects of the rise in global temperatures is already being felt, and the accelerating affect that ongoing temperature rises will create is predictable. Plants and creatures unable to adapt are rapidly becoming extinct. Humans too are struggling and failing to adapt.

The elderly cannot readily cope with extremes of temperature and death rates are rising. The poor cannot afford to adapt their homes to improve insulation levels nor can they afford house insurance against flooding and fires as these becomes more frequent. Not can the poor readily move to more amenable climes. Islanders and those living along river deltas cannot stop rising sea levels from destroying their homes. Farmers cannot adapt practices quick enough to cope with extreme weather conditions. Young children cannot survive as drinking water supplies dwindle to nothing.

All this because we did not pay heed to the warnings, we did not stop polluting the atmosphere with more and more carbon dioxide. Instead we have kept our focus on our everyday habits – school run refuel the car, laundry in the tumble dryer, Sunday lunch roast beef, half term holiday in the sun- and ignored the long term direction of the climate crisis. We have not wanted to admit our responsibility for climate change, not even accepting that we might have been unknowingly guilty of causing harm. Nor have we wanted to change our lifestyles, our habits of a life time – to forgo our metaphorical seats in the synagogue – or loose the respectful comfort of western citizenship.

Surely, we said, this problem is so big it must be a problem for governments, big businesses and world organisations to deal with? It must be their responsibility not ours. And if they act as if there is no emergency, no urgency to act, should we not follow their lead and let things sort themselves out?

We are happy to do the small things, to reuse our plastic carrier bags, recycle the newspapers, buy an eco friendly hammock for the garden and make sure our new T-shirt is made from organic cotton. But to address the big problem, to seek love and justice for the earth and all its inhabitants, is beyond what we can even imagine. 

But in the background there have been people calling for and working for change. People who see the problem for what it is and see the scale and urgency of the changes needed. People who are prepared to stand up and stand out and say it like it is. 

And where in all this is the church? Where in all this are those who are followers of Christ? Where is the leadership, the penitence, the will to turn things round? Why are we still counting out our tithe of mint and rue whilst supporting a vast carbon producing, fossil fuel dependent economy?

Falling in Love Again

The world around us is full of curious, beautiful and amazing things. As small children our curiosity and our amazement knew no bounds. Every day would produce novelties- things to see, things to chew or eat, things to grab and hold, things to poke and explore. 

As we have grow older we have often lost that sense of wonder. Things that were new have become mundane. In the rush to be busy, small things flop below the radar. Decorum dictates that we shouldn’t prod or lick things and, unless we’re wine tasters, swirling stuff around our mouth and spitting are frowned upon. Stopping suddenly just to look is discouraged – it interrupts the flow of traffic. Daily routines take over. 

And our love for the world wains and falters. 

Today begins the season of creation-tide which runs from 1st September till 4th October, the Feast of St Francis. Let’s fall in love again with creation. 

Snails may be slimy, commonplace and the bane of gardeners but look again ! They are beautiful, with muted colours, a fluid muscular body and a wonderful spiralling shell. This is a white lipped snail, one of many which has occupied our garden this year.