This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate – Review

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, by Naomi Klein, September 2014. Allen Lane, 566 pages, ISBN 978-147679-114-2. RRP £20 (hardcover)

Journalist Naomi Klein researches climate change. This is not a comfortable book, it one where the science and the consequences of the deniers are laid bare. It also exposes the double standards of those who accept the dangers of climate change yet expand airlines, drill in reservations and frack gases. “The nature of the moment is… whether industrialised countries can deeply cut our emissions over the next decade expecting China and India to cut emissions over the following decade…. The environmental crisis supercharges each one with urgency.” Already climate change is happening, 1 degree centigrade is already warming our planet and 2 degrees is inevitable. 4 degrees must be avoided. 400ppm of CO2 is now and rising. The contemporary movement could not only heal the planet, but also our broken economies. There is a climate justice fight for a new relationship with the planet as well as mitigating and adapting to the tipping points already passed.

There are new fighters on the block which she calls Blockadia; new climate warriors opposing mining and drilling for hydrocarbons. Some are First Nation peoples preserving their reservations and way of life, others are activists against climate change, transition towns are beacons of opportunity for community. She discusses the prospective uncertain geoengineering solutions and finds them scary.

In the final section of the book she tries to be hopeful that nations will adopt the changes, “for the status-quo is no longer an option”1. There must be an international agreement based on the deliberations which failed at Copenhagen and are now being discussed at New York and Paris. Can we humans consume less, using less energy to drive, fly, heat our homes and develop local economies using renewable and sustainable energies? GDP is polluting so we need to find other acceptable green measures of progress. There are answers, but can a selfish/unselfish humanity adopt them? We need to liberate science from economics and stand by the conclusions, however uncomfortable. Globally, human beings need a complete social change.

There are signs of hope, one of which is this book, one of the best books on climate change, its opportunities and threats, that I have ever read. A powerful economic opposition is active in developing and using the buried hydrocarbons for profit. These, if we are to live equitably with the Earth, must be kept in the ground. There are alternatives.

There are no religious discussions here, unlike the Skidelsky’s book2 on Enough. This is a book about science and politics and the urgent need to change. Others have written of the need to change, few have done it so comprehensively and cogently.

This book offers a new view of the planet, not the romantic view of the blue orb in space, but the reverse, a view grounded in the Earth itself. Nature is not bottomless. Humanity must change, and must learn how the economics of the Earth must live within its ecological limitations. Our future could be either dire or glorious, it is hard to be more precise. Naomi Klein offers us the two visions – change or collapse. She tries to have hope. The future that my grandchildren and her son inherit may yet be good. Let us as Christians hope so.

By John Smith

1 Stern, Nicholas. Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, 2006.

2 Skidelsky, Robert and Skidelsky, Edward. How Much is Enough. Allen Lane, 2012.

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A message from Martha – The extinction of the passenger pigeon and its message for today book review

by Mark Avery.  Bloomsbury 304 pp rrp £16.99

Book review by Revd Peter Grimwood

 Mark Avery knows about birds having worked for the RSPB for twenty five years. This is his first book but I hope it’s the first of many.

“Martha” was the last passenger pigeon on earth. She died in Cincinnati Zoo in September 1914 so this year marks the centenary of the loss of this species. They disappeared very rapidly having been one of the most numerous bird species on the planet only fifty years before. There were billions of them and as they undertook their seasonal migrations their flocks were so large that the sky was quite literally darkened by their numbers. They were an American bird largely confined to the eastern and north eastern parts of the USA.

Why did they disappear? Mark explains. The forests which were its natural habitat were cut down and they were hunted indiscriminately. The passenger pigeon was the victim of progress and the settlement of the United States of America by the “European invaders”. It was not the only species to suffer in this way. There was also the bison which once numbered nearly 30 million but had been reduced to no more than 1000 individuals by the end of the nineteenth century. Martha and her kind were the victims of economic growth and a particular and narrow vision of what constitutes progress.

Does this matter? Mark thinks it does and as Christian environmentalists we would agree with him. The diminution of the natural riches of flora and fauna on this earth leads to a poorer earth for those species that remain. Mark also describes the growth of environmental awareness and conservation movements in America which accompanied the decline of the passenger pigeon. He cites the work of John Muir and praises the work of the conservation pioneers in America including President Theodore Roosevelt. But it was all too late for the passenger pigeon!

In a final chapter entitled: “Bringing it all back home” Mark returns to rural England and to our own bird life. He has a long passage on the turtle dove once a common farmland bird and a cultural icon. It has shown an 81% decline since 1995. Is it going the way of the passenger pigeon?

Mark concludes his book with an imagined and an impassioned speech by Martha to us all:

“I forgive you for wiping out my species-you didn’t really mean to do it, and maybe you knew no better……. However the excuses are slipping away. You can now choose what kind of world you live in and what type of world you create in a way that no other species can….Whether you do better is a test of your worth as a species. You have the knowledge and ability to live sustainably on the planet but it’s a hard road from where you are now……..It’s a test of whether you care ….do you care enough? Please care. Please do better. Please start now.

Great sermon Mark! I enjoyed it. To learn more about Mark and his work go to w.w.w.markavery.info

 

 

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24 countries at European Christian Environment Network 2014

 Martyn Goss reports on the  

European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) 10th Assembly, Hungary – September 2014

Nine people attended from countries within the British Isles

“There is no other world that has been redeemed through Jesus Christ.  It was in this world that He was born in a stable.  He walked this earth. He breathed in the same dust as the disciples. He ate and drank what everyone else did. He was crucified on a splintered piece of wood, and the stone which was rolled away had a moment of inertia.  There is no other world that we could live in… We should guard the deposit entrusted to us with the courage of Christ, under earthly conditions and with heavenly hopes.” 

                                                                                                        (Pastor Tamás Kodácsy) 

With beautiful lake Balaton in the background, over 100 participants joined the 10th Assembly of the European Christian Environment Network at Balatonszárszó in Hungary from 27th – 30th September 2014.  We were from Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions from 24 different countries meeting on the theme of ‘Climate Change – the Churches Response’.

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The majority of the delegates were activists from their own churches already engaged in tackling global warming through campaigns, projects, liturgies and green policies.

 At the opening ecumenical service, which took place in the Lutheran church at the neighbouring village of Balatonboglár, we were invited to make pledges to change our own lifestyles by writing on paper leaves, which were then pinned symbolically on the outline of bare tree branches on the wall.   We were also presented with a key to take home to remind us of our human guardianship of the Earth and her resources.

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Participants shared worship, meals and practical activities together, as well as engaging in focussed discussion.  The youth representatives invited us to convert used (but washed!) T shirts into shopping bags and shun plastic carriers.  They also demonstrated the use of more natural substances such as baking powder and vinegar in everyday household cleaning.

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Former Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, opened the Assembly with a call for all Christians to act ethically and locally from a global perspective.  The gospel invites us to be actively involved in the ‘earthing of heaven’ – the living out of values of a living, loving God in the midst of Creation.  As the second Adam, Jesus points to a profound interaction with all the elements of life and the completion of the good work begun in Eden.

He later reminded us that all energy is from God and is offered as a good divine gift.  The Greek word ‘logos’ can mean power or energy, and so we can speak of energy being sacred, and therefore to be handled with respect and care.

Small Working Groups on Biodiversity, Eco-Management, Theology, Transition Communities and Climate Change gave those present an opportunity to explore these particular themes further, with each developing action plans for follow-up work.

In networking over meals, coffee and music I got to hear of the ‘Lent for the Earth’ project (France), of seed-saving congregations (Austria), of churches involved in Transition Towns (Italy), of carbon-free church centres (Hungary) and Water saving schemes (Greece).

We were told of 6 twinning links across denominations between 10 countries and 9 currencies which have led to a number of environmental projects.  These include eco-management work between Germany and Romania, Eco-Congregations in Scotland and Hungary, and energy conservation work in Norway and Belarus.

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Hungarian Christians spoke of native tree-planting schemes, whilst Germans are making church buildings more energy efficient.  UK churches are divesting from fossil fuels and Czechs developing solar, wind and hydro renewable energies.

 Our attention was drawn to Carbon Fasting – reducing or refraining from eating on the first day of each month, with many ‘fasters’ now joining in from twenty countries, and continuing at least to the COP (Conference of the Parties) summit in France in December 2015.  Members of churches and faith communities who prayed and protested in New York on 23rd September are encouraged to do the same next year at Paris, and Norwegian churches are planning pilgrimages to the French capital from Trondheim and elsewhere across Europe.

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However, a key underlying message from the Assembly was that current church initiatives, vital as they are, may not be enough.  Scientists and theologians at the conference pointed out that the failure of governments to agree to actively cap greenhouse gas emission levels means an even greater challenge. 

It is now unequivocal that the world is warming and this is with 96% certainty due to human activity.  The impacts on food security, migration, habitat loss and species extinction are already very real in the most vulnerable communities and countries, and these are immense challenges to people of faith who believe in issues of justice, integrity and peace for the whole of life on God’s earth.

As delegate Henrik Grape (Church of Sweden) said, “to be church is to be contextual”.  And today’s context is one of our world being deeply affected by climate change – whether on the coasts of Europe, in the glaciers of the Alps, the desertifying communities around the Mediterranean, or further afield in low lying Bangladesh, the rainforests of South America or the ice sheets of the Poles.  Sea levels are rising by an average of 3mm a year and the oceans are being rapidly acidified.

One speaker quoted President Barak Obama’s words:  “We are the first generation to experience the impacts of climate change, and the last generation to do anything about it”.  All of this calls points to the need for collective action, not just the efforts of individuals.

It is essential to tackle the causes (the excess extraction and burning of fossil fuels) as well as the consequences (increasing greenhouse gas emissions), prompting questions about the relationships between governments, who are reluctant to constrain the liberties of large energy corporations, and the fuel industries themselves – with their insatiable desire to maximise huge profits from oil, coal and gas consumption.

 Some contributors called for more radical action with the need to leave unexploited fossil fuels in the ground and for long-term strategies to reverse the damage being done by carbon and other emissions.

 In this respect maybe the transformation of Germany to renewable sources of power through the ‘Energiewende’ programmes is an example of hope for future generations.  If our churches and civil society agencies can press for mass energy savings, energy efficiencies and greener sources of heat and light, we may still make a difference – especially if linked to the active re-investment of church funds into renewable energies such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass.

 The Assembly at the Hungarian Reformed Church Centre Soli Deo Gloria produced a number of tangible outcomes including a short letter to Churches of Europe, a statement to the European Union and a proposal to meet again at the invitation of the Finnish churches in 2016.

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For further details see:  www.ecen.org

                                                                    Martyn Goss, October 2014                         

European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) is a church network promoting co-operation in caring for creation. ECEN is an instrument of the Conference of European Churches, in cooperation with the European Catholic Bishops’ Conference, for addressing the relationship to nature and the environment from the perspective of Christian theology and Christian way of life.

 

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Report of stall at Greenbelt 2014

David Beattie who helped on the CEL/A Rocha stall at Greenbelt in August 2014 writes: 

 

greenbelt2014aI looked forward to Green belt this year with a mix of excitement and uncertainty.

I always do enjoy the Festival but this year we gathered in a new location. There was much more walking to do, but that meant you were not going to be disturbed by any vehicles.

I had travelled part the way by train and then got a lift in a friend’s car. Once tents were pitched we tried to learn the layout. You get some idea in the photo of the distance we had to walk.

CEL and A Rocha shared a stand in G-Source, with each of us emphasising the green part of being a disciple of Jesus. Most of my time was spent either on the stand or supporting the two Ruths ( Valerio and Jarman) as they did their various slots.

In Ruth Jarman’s case that also included busking (see below) .

I also made sure I went to the seminar about Palm Oil hosted by Traidcraft. You must check out their new cleaning products.

Michael Northcott was his usual challenging self in both the discussions I joined.

The only musician I heard was Jahmene Douglas. I’d never heard of him before, but his voice was amazing.

I also went on a morning stroll with some folk from a Forest Church. They shared how you could make string or even clothing from nettles, as well as make nettle soup or wine.
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Communion with thousands of others is always special but when then person leading is the daughter of Desmond Tutu it makes it even more so.

Being a birder, one thing I noticed was a stock dove slowly circling the congregation as we gathered, then perching on a gantry as we worshipped. It was as though the Holy Spirit was ensuring everything went in a way to glorify Father God.

The final day was a bit of a washout, but not in the Festival content. It reminded me of a Mahalia Jackson song, “ Didn’t it rain Children”. Dampened physically but not in spirit, we still had a great time on the stall. I had two great conversations with some folk. One said “ I’m a trained ecologist who wants to help but I’m not sure I’m a Christian” The other asked “ What has God got to do with the environment?”  I can’t remember what I said but they both went away happy. Already I am looking forward to next year.

 

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CEL seeks new editor for Green Christian Magazine

 

gc76w300Christian Ecology Link is looking for a new editor (voluntary) to oversee production of ‘Green Christian’,   CEL’s magazine
— two issues a year (published in May and November).

Please can you forward this message through your networks.

Just two weeks left to apply.

 

We feel it’s important that CEL’s most creative work, such as this, IS in the hands of volunteers.

Section editors are already in place for book reviews, internal news from CEL and our local groups — plus a graphics expert and printing system.

Could you be the person with the vision to pull each issue together?
Are you passionate about faith and environment?
Longing for a prophetic Church and a sustainable world?

Then join us at the leading edge of green Christian witness as editor of our magazine.

Deadline for applications is 12th October.

See website www.greenchristian.org.uk  – More details


Feel free to talk it over with current ‘Green Christian’ editor, Chris Walton, without any obligation.
Email: greeneditor@aol.com Tel: 0788 194 1296

Please forward / tweet this.

Many thanks,
Barbara Echlin
CEL Secretary

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Climate March – Manchester – S Dutson

Sandra Dutson gives a moving account of the climate march and what it means to her.

 

Today is September 23rd 2014.  Over the last few days people all round the world have been out on the streets to urge the UN Conference being held to day in New York to address the reality of climate change and take the steps which may be drastic but are vitally necessary to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

 

On Sunday I took part in the Manchester Climate change march and rally.  This was particularly focussed on getting messages over to the Labour Party conference currently meeting in Manchester. It also focussed on the concerns of the NW area about the threat of fracking for shale gas in this area. Several companies have been given permissions to conduct exploratory drilling for shale and coal bed methane and this has provoked serious protest. The depth of concern in this area can be judged by fact that there was a stream of speakers at the rally, all impassioned, and that the speeches continued for well over an hour with a large crowd still there listening.

 

September 23rd is also a kind of anniversary for me personally.  10 years ago I was waking up in hospital and facing the amputation that day of my left arm because of an unusual cancer. I had been prepared for several weeks that this was a possibility but this was confirmed by the surgeon only on the morning of the operation. The type of cancer involved does not respond well to chemotherapy and it most usually spreads  to lungs and rapidly becomes fatal.  So my choice was very starkly to lose my arm or lose my life.

 

10 years on I am very grateful I chose ‘life’.

 

It also seems to me there are parallels with the choice the world has to make in the face of climate change.  If we go on hanging on to our dependence on fossil fuels then we will destroy the precious life this unique planet sustains.

 

Outside the friends Meeting House in Manchester, very near the arena where the Labour conference is meeting, the current wayside thought reads. ‘LIVE SIMPLY AND SIMPLY LIVE’.  My own experience is that what actually makes life so precious are often very simple things, the love and care of family and friends, and delights of sharing a walk in lovely surroundings or conversation over a simple meal or drink. Losing fossil fuels may well feel like losing a limb, and we may wonder whether we can cope but in fact  life – in all its fullness – can continue.

 

I hope and pray our leaders do implant that message deep within their hearts so their minds can get to grips with the reality of what is needed in terms of action.

See reports of marches attended by other CEL members in September 2014

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Reports by CEL members of Sep 21 Climate marches round UK

CEL members marched to raise awareness about climate change in marches in several cities around the UK on 21 September. These marches were just a few of the over 2700 marches worldwide  this weekend.  Here are a few of the reports and articles by our members:

1) Bristol – by Ann Parker:

2) Manchester by Sandra Dutson 

1.) Bristol – by Ann Parker:

You Missed It!

. . .unless you went on the London one. The World-wide Climate Marches. Including in Nottingham, Sunday 21 Sept at 1pm from the Square.

‘This weekend more people took to the streets calling for climate action than on any other day in history. Well over half a million of us flooded the streets – from sunny New York City and London to rainy Stockholm and Romania. 2646 events in 156 countries. We were everywhere.’

The Climate March this afternoon in Bristol. Estimates of numbers were 2,500-3,000. A big mix of people.

Two vans and a big bus filled with truly great people—the new Climate Riders—on their way to New York City for the People’s Climate March pulled up to the First Watch for breakfast this morning in Columbus, Ohio.

Twenty-four hours on the road each way to march for a few hours .

One thing I was pleased and impressed about the March was the coverage on main news it got. It was certainly greater than all previous Marches!
We’ve not heard of any trouble or threats against the Marchers, yet! I don’t recall others getting so many announcements on the news bulletins
.

These are quotes from emails I have received from other parts of the country and one from the Harvey Wasserman site in USA.

In Nottingham it wasn’t that big, but the estimation was for over 300, which is a good turn out for this part of the country. People came, some with banners, from Friends of the earth, the local Green Peace. Anti-fracking campaigns and  as individuals with specific concerns over animal welfare or land loss. A young man with his portable solar kit to demonstrate the wonders of off grid electricity. A speaker from the Woodland Trust. We paraded down busy Clumber street, keen to involve all those already there, and I think some did join us at that point. We got down to outside St Peter’s where a chap with a bicycle rode up and offered everyone veggie burgers, with onions, still warm from the tin he had packed them in, and a bottle of organic tomato sauce on the ‘Speakers’ Circle’ so we could help ourselves if we felt our burgers needed it We talked and walked together, just joining in, no need of introductions or take your turn. People were just there, wanting to be involved with each other. As it seems they were all over the world.

According to BBC Science news (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29302277) , an estimated 40,000 took part in the London march, although only 10,000 had been expected. Actress Emma Thompson told the rally: “Climate change is the human rights issue of our time. “No more are we the grungy hippies sitting in trees. We are the voice of the future – if there is to be a future.”

I wonder if our churches or any PCC could feel so concerned about world rights as to parade around the city centre with banners and megaphones announcing their visions and concerns so that others came up and said, what a good idea, tell us more, can we join you?

Ann R Parker

 

 

 

 

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A good place to pray

breakfast with dave blockadeSometimes it’s good to close your door and pray alone, away from the hustle and bustle of the world.  But this time, praying publicly at a place of worldly power at a time of such historical significance felt wonderfully right.

On Monday morning, 22nd September, as David Cameron flew to Ban Ki-Moon’s Climate Summit in New York, the newly formed Christian Climate Action group held its first event. We met for prayer. Not unusual for a Christian group, you might think.  But our choice of situation meant that we blockaded Downing Street for half an hour, putting our bodies in the way of the normal operation of this seat of power, where normal operation scandalously ignores the plight of creation.

The action was followed by The Peoples’ Climate Vigil next to the entrance where the Rev. Daniel Woodhouse led us in prayer and people shared thoughts, poems and meditations.

The focus of the action was to respond to David Cameron’s call for Christians to be more confident and to get out and make a difference.  We prayed for him to have the humility, courage, conviction and integrity to hold to his manifesto promise to be the greenest government ever.

For someone who has now been on a few direct actions, it felt beautifully empowering to be in a Christian action, where our focus was on prayer and witnessing to our faith.

Passers-by were very supportive.  As he left, one said, ‘I hope he hears you,’ leaving me wondering whether he meant Cameron or God.  Either way, that is our hope too.

See more here

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