Green Tau reflection: prayer and hope

25th May 2022

Over the last 24 hours I spent about 6 hours supporting the Christian Climate Action vigil outside the Methodist Central Hall, the venue for this year’s Shell AGM. I didn’t stay overnight as some brave souls did but came and went in stints. My companions were deeply committed to the environmental cause: that we humans need to wake up to the damage we are causing to the wonderful creation God has provided and of which we are an integral part: truly we are brothers and sisters, kith and kin with every other living thing. Yet our human unabated consumption of fossil fuels is producing carbon dioxide in such quantities that we are changing the climate, wiping out plant and animal species, melting ice caps and glaciers, and consigning our fellow humans to poverty, ill health and death. 

Our presence, as well as being peaceful and prayerful, was intended to raise people’s awareness of the climate crisis and the role that large oil companies, such as Shell, play. To put this in context,  CO2 emissions for the entire globe in 2021 were 36.3 bn tonnes, and of this Shell contributed 1.299 bn tonnes. To avert the worsening affects of climate change, CO2 emissions need to be reduced by 43% by 2030, and to zero by 2050. This is a huge challenge for us all but one which will be hard to achieve if the fossil fuel industries continue to invest in expanding oil and gas production rather than shifting to the production of renewable energy. 

As I prayed, I admit I had little hope that my prayers were going to effect an about-turn on the plans that Ben van Beurden, the Shell CEO, has for the company. However I did have a slither of hope that our prayers and our presence might influence the hearts and minds of the shareholders. Perhaps there might be a stirring in their conscience about the effects that fossil fuel are having on the planet. Perhaps they might begin to ask questions about the sense of pursuing profits from oil if it results in a world that becomes uninhabitable. Perhaps they might question why the company was not protecting their future by investing in renewable energy. Perhaps they would question the leadership being offered when such a large CO2 producer choose not to follow the global strategy agreed at COP26? 

So I prayed. In my mind I envisaged the Holy Spirit like a dove flying around above the heads of the shareholders in the Methodist Central Hall, perhaps pausing to whisper in someone’s ear. I envisaged a scene similar to that of Pentecost, of  the room where all the disciples were gathered, with the wind of the Spirit inspiring and energising those present. I imagined little flames might hover above people’s heads and that they might have the experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, of something warm burning within them. 

Outside the building drums and the call and reply of protestors rose and fell like a storm. Inside the hall, the sound would, I guess, be deadened and I thought of the still small voice in the storm encounter by Elijah. And I thought of the story of Jonah and the storm he encountered and which manhandled him (with the help of a whale)  to the shores of Nineveh. There to his surprise and chagrin, the people listened to the message and repented.

And I prayed. I envisaged the call of the evangelists, repent and believe. Repent – a change of heart, a turning around of the way we think, a conversion of the way we do things – and believe. Believe that there is a better future, that we can look forward to a new and brighter future, where things will be green and beautiful, just and fair, where we will live in peace together. As well as seeking a new way of living – repentance – we need to offer a vision of the better world in which we can all live: the kin-dom of God.

 Counting on …day 193

25th May 2022

Pesticides and herbicides not only kill pests and weeds, they are also kill others higher up the food chain such as ladybirds, frogs, and birds. In the recent review, the  State of the World’s Birds it has been noted that across the globe more than half of bird species are in decline with farmland birds in Europe declining by 57%  since 1980.

“‘This is due to the intensive agriculture that supplies cheap food, Lees said, adding: “If we want farmers to farm wildlife, we have to pay for that as a society.”’ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/05/canaries-in-the-coalmine-loss-of-birds-signals-changing-planet

There are two things we can do: first opt where possible for organic produce, and second, avoid using pesticides and herbicides in our own gardens. 

Green Tau: issue 42

Bomb Scare! 

24th May 2022

The term carbon bomb has been widely used in climate circles for the past decade to describe large fossil fuel projects or other big sources of carbon, but more recently has been given a more specific definition: projects capable of pumping at least 1bn tonnes of CO2 emissions over their lifetimes. 

To put this figure in context, just before Covid, annual CO2 emissions peaked at about 36bn tonnes.

The IPCC report on Mitigation of Climate Change published on 4 April, specifies that emissions should peak no later then 2025 and be reduced by 43% by 2030 if we are to contain climate change and  global heating at tolerably safe level. If that peak in 2025 is, say, 40bn tonnes, then globally we would need to be reducing carbon emissions by 4bn tonnes per year. 

The International Energy Agency has already stated that the existing oil, gas and coal fields already in operation will provide all that is necessary to meet our demands for fossil fuels. In other words, if we are to meet our emissions  reduction targets there is no need to open up new fields.  This surely begs the question why anyone is investing money in expanding fossil fuel extraction or in exploring new fields?  In part it may the fear of being the first to opt out – will they be exposed to risk? Will they loose out on profits? If everyone moved together it would be safer and fairer. 

A recent report by the Guardian estimates that the current expansion plans of the fossil fuel industry includes 195 carbon bombs, and that the dozen biggest oil companies are on track to spend $103m a day for the rest of the decade exploiting new fields of oil and gas that cannot be burned if global heating is to be limited to well under 2C. These companies – and those investing in them – are betting that by 2030 governments will not have achieved the 43% reduction in emissions and will still be in the market to buy oil and gas. If their bet wins the world temperatures will have risen by more than 2C and we will all be suffering the worst impacts of the climate crisis. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/18/carbon-bombs-inside-the-20-may-guardian-weekly

On the other hand what could $103m a day achieve if it were invested in renewable energy? How many wind farms? How many tidal energy schemes? How many solar panels on buildings? How many heat pumps? What could it achieve if invested in climate adaptation projects? How many buildings could be insulated (against heat as well as the cold)? How many trees could be planted to absorb water and lower temperatures? How many efficient public transport schemes? How many new farming techniques, new varieties of seeds, and advanced weather ?

Counting on …day 191

23rd May 2022

Marking Rogation-tide yesterday, we walked round the parish boundary and finished with tea and cake  in the church garden. 

Vegan fruit cake

8oz flour plus raising agent

3oz vegan butter

3-4 oz sugar

12 oz dried fruit

Nutmeg

1 tbsp egg replacement powder

1 sliced banana

Oat milk

Rub butter into flour. Add nutmeg and egg replacement powder, sugar, fruit and banana.

Add milk and mix to achieve a firm dropping consistency.

Put into a lined loaf tin.

Bake 160C for 40 – 50 minutes or until cooked!

Counting on …day 188 

20th May 2022

What happens to the 44% of plastic that is recycled? 

Some, in closed loop recycling, will be remade into replacement item – eg a PET plastic bottle can be recycled into a new PET plastic bottle. They are known as ePET bottles. Some bottles sold by Coca Cola, Evian, Buxton and Volvic are made from ePET but not all. 

Manufacturers also produce more durable PET bottles that, like glass milk bottles, can refilled and these bottles can be reused up to 25 times before they will need to be recycled – ideally recycled to create yet another reusable bottle! In countries where these bottles are used, a deposit scheme encourages consumers to return them. 

We should contact companies who supply drinks in plastic bottles asking if they use ePET and if not, why not.

 Counting on …day 190

22nd May 2022

This month saw the launch of FlexCollect, a 3 year trial project in which  flexible – soft/ scrunchable – plastic will be part of the kerbside recycling collection  made by local authorities. The first council taking part will be Cheltenham Borough Council.

https://flexibleplasticfund.org.uk/

For more articles about recycling  see https://greentau.org/tag/recycling/

Sixth  Sunday of Easter

22nd May 2022

Reflection

“God …come to us. Let your ways be known upon earth, your saving health among all nations.” Thus begins today’s psalm, followed by the passage from the Book of Revelation which shows us a vision of what the earth could look like of God’s ways, God’s reign, was universally practiced. That is an image of hope we need to hold onto when we hear of the suffering caused by war, by free markets, by religious intolerance, by climate change. The world does not have to be so – if only we transform the way we live and the systems we live by to align with God’s will. 

The reading from Acts tell us of a call for help from Macedonia. We are not told what is the cause of their plight not what has prompted them to seek help from God/ Paul. Paul and his companions are in no doubt that what the Macedonians need is the Good News. Why? Because the message of the Good News is that God’s kingdom is at hand. The Good News assures people that they are loved by God and by their fellows, and that this love is not just words. The Good News is about practical, on the ground transformations that ‘heal the sick, cure diseases, excise demons, raise the dead to life’. The Good News doesn’t just sort out individual problems, it tackles the systems too. Fo example, where Jesus tackled the system that said you shouldn’t heal people on the Sabbath, the Good News today tackles the system that lets healthcare be a postcode lottery, that lets private companies make vast profits from Covid while failing reward NHS staff,  that lets private heath care grow whilst underfunding public hospitals, that lets CEO’s double their income while care workers struggle to earn the living wage. 

We, as Christians, should not close our ears to the cries for help that come from all over the world, that come from every corner of the UK, that come not just from our fellow human beings but from our brothers and sisters in creation – wildlife and domesticated animals, trees and plants, seas and oceans … Our response should be active – as was Paul’s. We are called to share the Good News – both it’s message and its actions. We must heal and transform both the lives of individuals and the systems in which they – and we – live. The time between Ascension Day (this Thursday) and Pentecost is now marked by global ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ campaign. Let’s use this time to begin, or resume with even greater passion, the transformation of lives and systems that will bring in the universal Kingdom of God.

Acts 16:9-15

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptised, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.

Psalm 67

1 May God be merciful to us and bless us, *
show us the light of his countenance and come to us.

2 Let your ways be known upon earth, *
your saving health among all nations.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, *
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.

6 The earth has brought forth her increase; *
may God, our own God, give us his blessing.

7 May God give us his blessing, *
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.

Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5

In the spirit the angel carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day– and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

John 5:1-9

After Jesus healed the son of the official in Capernaum, there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids– blind, lame, and paralysed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath.

Counting on …day 189 

21st May 2022

HDPE and LDPE are widely used for packaging – plastic bags and wrappers, margarine cartons and milk containers  – and both can be recycled. As with PET bottles closed loop recycling is possible but more often these plastics are recycled into none food items such as pipes, plastic ‘wood’ for outdoor furniture,  recycling bins and rubbish bags. Clearly it would be better for the environment if all recycling were closed loop recycling as this is the best way of eliminating the use of oil to make virgin plastic. 

Again ask companies whether they use recycled plastics and of not, what not. 

NB the recycling of plastics is made much easier of the plastic is washed/ cleaned before it is put in the  recycling bin. Dirty plastic can contaminate a whole batch sent for recycling .

Prayers for Creation 

Friday 20th May 2022

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of her hands. Psalm 19:1

You Lord, are the source of all good things: 

We praise you.

You call us to tend and care for your creation: 

May we strive to do your will.

You have made us as brothers and sisters with all that lives: 

May we live together in peace.

A reading: God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:29-31

Prayers of praise –

Holy is your name and 

Holy is the sky above, 

shades of blue – 

azure, periwinkle, powder – 

with clouds billowing and piled high, 

little puffs and wispy streaks; 

glowing white or deepest dark greys, 

fair weather or storm bearers:

Holy is the sky!

Holy is your name and 

Holy is the earth below, 

shades of brown – 

umber, ochre, taupe – 

stones and grit, dust and hummus, 

teeming with life – 

worms and beetles, 

microfauna and fungi:

Holy is the earth!

Holy is your name and 

Holy are the waters far and wide, 

more shades of blue – 

aquamarine, cobalt, sea green – 

sparkling spring and dancing stream, 

majestic river and languid lake,

and voluminous ocean – 

each overflowing with the gift of life:

Holy are the waters! 

Holy is your name and

Holy are the weeds that toil and spin, 

shades of green – 

lime, moss, emerald – 

rooted in the earth, clinging onto rocks, 

colonising the desert, reaching for the sky, 

brimming with fruits in season,

breathing life into the air

Holy are the weeds!

Prayers of sorrow- 

Heavenly Parent,

We have erred against you and your world.

We have polluted the air and the water, 

the seas and the soil. 

We ask for forgiveness and healing.

We have squandered the earth’s resources, 

and consumed more than our fair share.

We ask for forgiveness and healing.

We have decimated plants and animals, 

we have destroyed habitats and poisoned food chains.

We ask for forgiveness and healing.

We have abused our kin and ignored their humanity,

grinding them down into lives of misery.

We ask for forgiveness and healing.

From a place of sorrow, revive us.

From a place of penitence, quicken us. 

From a place of humility, rebuild us.

The Grace