Counting on ….day 1:031

31st January 2023

Support campaigns for restoring rivers. Allowing rivers to follow their natural course rather than being dredged and straightened helps control flooding and provides a more secure habitat for river wildlife. Cleaning rivers of physical pollutants also helps prevent or limits the affects of flooding – wind blown and carelessly discarded plastic and other rubbish can block inlets and outlets and be a death trap for river wildlife. Cleaning rivers of chemical pollutants enables rivers once more to become vibrant places of biodiversity as well as becoming safe places to bathe!

Clean and biodiverse-rich rivers are rewarding places to spend leisure time and we are increasingly  aware of the health benefits of blue spaces. What’s not to like?

https://theriverstrust.org/our-work/cleaning-up-rivers#main-content

Counting on …day 1:005 

5th January 2023

Last year’s Biodiversity COP was more successful than anticipated. The participants finally agreed targets to protect 30% of the planet for nature by the end of the decade, reform £410bn of environmentally damaging subsidies, and restore 30% of the planet’s degraded terrestrial, inland water, coastal and marine ecosystems – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/19/cop15-historic-deal-signed-to-halt-biodiversity-loss-by-2030-aoe?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Counting on … day 410 

17th December 2022

Delegates at the Biodiversity COP are working to define what it is to be ‘nature positive’. I would hope it means a default of working with rather than against the natural environment wherever possible. One of the Guardian correspondents commented that little is being said about how we as individuals can be ‘nature positive’, adding “Dietary changes, for example, is one of the most significant things people reading this could do to reduce their impact on biodiversity, namely cutting meat consumption.”

Counting on day 405

12th December 2022 

The Wildlife Trust notes ‘Orchards are areas of trees and shrubs planted for food, usually fruit. They are an historic habitat; many species of fruit tree were brought over by the Romans and cultivating fruit trees might date back to the Neolithic period. Not only are orchards useful and beautiful, they can also be important for wildlife. They are perfect for pollinators, and fruit trees age quickly which creates essential deadwood habitats.’

Preserving orchards is an important way of maintaining the UK’s biodiversity. Many orchards are under threat partly because the lack of people to pick the fruit and partly because of the propensity of supermarkets to stock imported fruit – so equally that may suggest we as consumers need to ensure we seek out UK grown produce.

Prayers for Creation

9th December 2022 

‘You are the Lord, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you give life, and the host of heaven worships you.’  Nehemiah 9:6 

 Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16

Creator God, forgive us 

when we have failed to love all that you create; 

when we do not treat creation with respect.; 

when we have sought to impose our will – and not yours. 

As we wait for the coming of your Son, 

help us to show him honour by honouring creation,

to show him care by caring for creation, 

and to show him love by loving creation. 

Amen. 

As the world’s leaders focus on the importance of biodiversity, may we all seek to understand better the importance of biodiversity and the role it plays in our daily lives.

The whale that keeps on giving

The wide vast oceans, 

tropical balm and arctic chill,

teem with living things 

great and small 

And  here dwells the whale – 

God’s tiller of the sea –

formed to frolic in its deeps 

and traverse its lengths. 

From an infinitesimal nil 

to 200 tonnes of mammalian flesh, 

its life spans a century full.  

A life of daily gorging and expurgating 10, 

nay, 20 tonnes of krill 

replenishes the seas with iron,

and spins once more 

the phytoplankton’s oxygen giving, 

carbon absorbing wheel.

From the depths the whale

redistributes food, 

sustaining small fry 

that dare not dive so deep.

Migrating between distant poles 

and warmer summer seas, 

the whale spreads the bounty 

of each mouthful it digests

and spins once more

the global food chain’s thread. 

Under the whale’s ocean watch, 

krill and plankton multiply, 

and so God’s worker feeds 

5000 mouths and more.

Its leviathan frame

 a maritime conveyor belt

of sequestered carbon 

that gracefully sweeps the seas 

till finally at whale fall

 it sinks to rest –

a carbon store 

for evermore 

upon the ocean bed.

The Lord’s Prayer.

NB Over the last century whale numbers have declined by an average of 64% of which the worst losses have been of blue whales, down by 99%.  Scientists are experimenting with reinvigorating the biodiversity of the oceans by the application of artificial whale poo.  

Counting on … day 400

7th December 2022

Today the Biodiversity COP15 starts in Montreal. “The Earth is experiencing the sixth mass extinction, according to scientists, which threatens the foundations of human civilisation. How we farm, pollute, drive, heat our homes and consume is beyond what our planet can sustainably provide and at Cop15 governments are tasked with plotting a path to living within planetary boundaries.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/05/making-sense-of-cop15-what-to-look-out-for-in-montreal?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

The issues of biodiversity loss and climate change are interlinked and neither can be addressed in  isolation from the other. 

For another insight into this topic see https://green-reporter.com/spaceship-earth-cop-15-on-biodiversity/

Green Tau: issue 58

30th November 2022

Who benefits from fossil fuel investment? 

The big oil companies are expanding their exploitation of gas and oil reserves in response to the short falls in supply from Russia. The rapid rise in gas prices is prompting some African nations to consider developing the gas reserves under their land. To  explore and develop these reserves investment is needed and, it seems, is  readily available from western investors. 

In some ways it is not illogical. If you are a company whose raison d’être is finding, extracting and selling oil, that if you hear of new oil deposits, you go after them. Ditto if you are an investment company that has always invested in oil because it has always earns large dividends, then that is what you keep on doing. People and companies are wary of change, or perhaps become so immersed in the comfort of where they are, that they don’t look outside their own silo to be aware that change is already happening. This can be short sighted. Vis a vis oil, there are two black clouds on the horizon. Peak oil – that point in. Time when demand for oil will start to drop and co to use to drop. Many commentators suggest that we have already passed peak oil back in 2019. The decline in oil use arises when cars switch from petrol to electrical power (something that is happening aster than expected), as more plastics are made from recycled plastic rather than virgin oil, as users of oil become more efficient in their use of an expensive raw material,  and as users find renewable energy is cheaper. The second dark cloud is the climate crisis. As concern about the crisis takes root more people, companies and countries are going to be cutting back on their use of oil in an attempt to limit global temperature rises. If such moves are not successful then the world will experience rising sea levels, widespread drought, extremes of weather and widespread loss of life and incomes. And this of itself will severely reduce demand for oil. Either way it seems that long term the future for the oil industry is not good – but for in the short term their dominance of the global economic systems shields them. This has been highlighted by the war in Ukraine.  So the oil industry continues to be heavily subsidised by governments. “Since the Paris Agreement, the government has provided £13.6 billion in subsidies to the UK oil and gas industry. From 2016 to 2020 companies received £9.9 billion in tax relief for new exploration and production, including £15 million of direct grants for exploration, and £3.7 billion in payments towards decommissioning costs.” https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/energy/paid-pollute-fossil-fuel-subsidies-uk-what-you-need-know

So we are seeing large numbers of oil companies and oil investors focusing on exploring and  extracting oil and gas from the African continent. Despite the long term risks of declining demand, these companies seem convinced that there is money to be made. The idea of making rich profits from oil is certainly seen as attractive by some governments in Africa – oil would seem to offer rewards in licence fees and taxes. But who will benefit? Possibly governments, big businesses, banks and the like. Probably not the ordinary person in the street, the small scale farm or business, and definitely not the rich biodiverse  natural environment. 

Given the high price of oil, the availability of more oil will more likely benefit the big users of oil in the western world, not the person on the street in Luganda or Accra or Windhoek, not the small farm and the rural villager, nor the small businesses. What they need is cheap and accessible electricity , electricity that can be produced locally without reliance on an expensive national grid, electricity that comes from local wind turbines and solar panels? What they need is a move away from polluting vehicles and power plants. What they don’t need is the pollution and disturbance caused by drilling for oil,  building pipeline and running oil refineries. 

What the nations of Africa do need is investment in renewable energy. Ideally not in large projects such as hydro electric dams but in multiple smaller scale projects that will connect to and supply local towns and communities. 

“The potential for wind and solar is 400 times larger than Africa’s total fossil fuel reserves and it comes pollution-free and creates more jobs, but there is finance gap…That is why there is so much attention at this COP to changing the global capital allocation system,” Mr Gore

What the nations of Africa need is protection for their remaining areas of natural habitat – rain forests, wetlands and savannahs. Again this is an area in need of large scale investment that will protect habitats and provide sustainable incomes for local people. 

 “The area of land allocated to oil and gas activity in Africa is set to quadruple, threatening critical forests that help combat climate change, according to a new report by two environmental groups. Rainforest Foundation UK and Sacramento, California-based Earth InSight used mapping technology to show that gas and oil blocks overlap with about 30% of the continent’s dense tropical forests and more than a third of the Congo Basin, the world’s second-largest rainforest after the Amazon. The Democratic Republic of Congo, which accounts for about 60% of the basin, launched a bidding round  in July for 30 oil and gas permits, several of which overlap with the basin. Congo, one of the world’s poorest countries, has defended its right to explore for oil and develop its economy.” KBloomberg UK 

Can the big fossil fuel companies reinvent themselves? Can they recalibrate their raison d’être as energy companies?  Can they become suppliers of renewable energy technology that can enable communities to control their own energy sources? Can they create new business models that can invest the money from our banks, pensions funds and insurers, to protect and enhance the natural environment? 

Counting on… day 380

16th November 2022

Today COP27’s focus is on biodiversity

Therefore the LORD God sent them out of the Garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which they were taken. After sending them out, the LORD God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And the Lord God placed a sword of flame that turned back and forth to protect the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3: 23-24

We pray for all the participants,

the decision-makers and the protestors,

the bureaucrats and the prayerful.

May they recognise and understand 

the interconnectedness of creation, 

the fine balance of ecosystems,

the necessity of biodiversity 

and our dependence on safe carbon levels.

We pray for scientists and environmentalists

whose skills sustain and protect 

the long-term well being 

of our environment, our lives, our world.

Loving and patient God,

may your will be done.

Amen.

Painted lady and bumble bee

damsel and  dragon fly: 

their lives praise you, holy God.

Wood mouse and pipistrelle bat,

urban fox and badger:

their lives praise you, holy God.

Buttercup and toadflax, 

cat’s ear and pimpernel:

their lives praise you, holy God.

Girdled snail and leopard slug, 

shield beetle and earwig:

their lives praise you, holy God.

Copper beech and sessile oak, 

black poplar and mountain ash: 

their lives praise you, holy God.

Yaffle and mistle thrush,

jackdaw and sparrow:

their lives praise you, holy God.

But we humans – blinkered and wasteful, 

short-sighted and careless –

do our lives praise you, holy God?

Renew us, your people;

pardon our failings

and bless our strivings 

that our lives may praise you.

Amen. 

Counting on…day 357

23rd October 2022

Solar farms in the UK are also producing a diversity of additional benefits. Creacombe solar farm in Devon reports “ In essence, a solar farm is a nature reserve that is left largely untouched for 25 years, resulting in huge benefits for wildlife and biodiversity [and will] help to reverse the decline in wildlife due to intensive farming practices [with]

  • Wildflower meadows sown across the site, 
  • Bee hotels and hives for honey bees and solitary bees to take advantage of the pollen and nectar.
  • Hibernacula for small mammals and birds, with areas outside the fence line being left as coarse grassland.
  • Bird and bat boxes.
  • Land maintenance by sheep grazing the site each winter after the wildflower meadows have cast their seed.” https://www.creacombesolarfarm.co.uk/

 Counting on…day 355

21st October 2022

O what joy! The first baby bison in thousands of years has be born in the UK at the Knepp rewilding project. The three female bison arrived at the project in July but unknown to everyone one was carrying a calf. 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/21/first-wild-bison-born-in-uk-for-millennia-after-surprise-pregnancy?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other