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Water shortages lead to tribal battle in Kenya: The Church of England Newspaper, October 6, 2012 p 6. October 10, 2012

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Tribal clashes over the shortage of water in Eastern Kenya’s Coast Province have left 111 people dead, church leaders report. On 11 Sept 2012 the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) denounced the government’s failure to intervene in clashes between Pokomo farmers and Orma nomads in the Tana River District.

On 10 Sept, 38 people, including nine policemen were killed in a revenge attack following weeks of fighting between farmers and cattle herders. “It is not enough for government to issue hard hitting statements after the damage is done,” Canon Peter Karanja of the NCCK and EAK General Secretary Dr Willy Mutiso said.

“It is indeed incomprehensible to us that more than a hundred Kenyans have been killed in Tana River County over the last three weeks yet the government seems either incapable of or un-committed to restoring sanity,” they said.

The church leaders urged the government to address the root cause of the conflict and establish secure property rights and grazing rights under law.  Eastern Kenya has been afflicted by drought in recent years and the access to water for farmers and pastoralists has led to violence. “As the custodian of security and safety of Kenyans, we call upon the government to ensure that it provided humanitarian relief to all the affected community members regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, and deploy adequate and well equipped security agents on the ground to protect all the community members without discrimination,” the church leaders said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Maverick bishop backs mining ban in Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, August 19, 2012 p 6. August 23, 2012

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The Australian Bishop at the center of that church’s controversy over gay clergy has taken up a new cause, writing in his diocesan newspaper that he would close down local coal mines until the government had determined they posed no threat to the environment.

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last week, Bishop John McIntyre of Gippsland said that if he had the power, he would “lock the gate and I would invite my neighbours to do the same” until Exxon Mobil and other mining companies agreed to his terms.

Writing in the August issue of the Diocese of Gippsland newspaper, Bishop McIntyre said coal seam gas extraction was unsafe and posed a threat to the environment.  The Victorian state government had an obligation to study its environmental impact before permitting any further mining and drilling.

Exxon Mobil had a “questionable reputation in our communities for not being transparent in its dealings with local people” he wrote, adding that he was surprised the Victorian National Party was “standing with the landholders” in this dispute.

He told the ABC: “I did that to be a little bit provocative I guess because it strikes me that too often a lot of decisions that get made by governments are made sometimes more often for political reasons than they are for actually looking at the facts of the matter.

In his presidential address to the 36th meeting of the Synod of the Diocese of Gippsland in May, Bishop McIntyre said that as a matter of conscience he could not conform to the House of Bishops protocol on gay clergy.

“I will appoint to office in our diocese those whom I believe God is calling to minister among us,” he said adding that this as “my commitment to God and to you, and I am willing to live with any consequences that may arise from remaining true to that commitment.”

At their March meeting the bishops agreed that they accepted “the weight” of the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on Human Sexuality as well as resolutions adopted by the Australian General Synod as “expressing the mind of this church on issues of human sexuality” and agreed not to ordain, license, authorise or appoint persons known to be in a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Pipeline protest from Canada’s bishops: The Church of England Newspaper, April 22, 2012 p 5. April 26, 2012

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The Bishops of the province of British Columbia and the Yukon have urged Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) to show “integrity, fairness and freedom from political pressure” in its deliberations on the construction of a gas pipeline.

In a statement adopted at their March meeting the six Western Canadian bishops urged the government to pay close attention to the concerns of the regions indigenous people as well as those of environmental activists.

The proposed $5.5 billion will build two 1200 km pipelines from Alberta to British Columbia to transport crude oil extracted from the regions tar sands for export and refining.  Local “First Nations” groups have opposed the project saying it could devastate the land.

“In a project of this magnitude, it is imperative that the final NEB Report on Northern

Gateway be thorough and credible and command wide public support,” the bishops wrote.

“To this end, it will be critical to hear the views of all people who live along the intended route of the pipeline. In particular, we call upon the Board to pay close attention to the concerns expressed by First Nations communities whose traditional territories and waters the proposed pipeline and the marine supertanker traffic would cross.”

“In the Christian year, this is the season of Holy Week,” the bishops said.

“Throughout the nations, churches of every kind are recalling the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that the created world, which flows from his life, will be respected and safeguarded by all,” they wrote.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop arrested in anti-nuclear protests in India: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2011 p 6. November 29, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders are among those arrested by police in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu in a crackdown against activists protesting the construction of the Koodankulam nuclear power plant.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Tuticorn along with clergy from the Church of South India’s (CSI) diocese of Thoothukudi-Nazareth were booked by police on charges of unlawful assembly, creating a public nuisance, “spreading rumours” and blocking civil servants from the lawful performance of their duties.  They have been released on bail pending hearing and a formal investigation.

Construction has slowed to halt at the power station in Koodankulam in the Tirunelveli district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and the Russian state corporation Atomstroyexport are building two 1 Gigawatt reactors at a projected cost of £2.2 billion. When completed the water cooled reactors will be the largest atomic power plant in India.

However, local residents have opposed the programme and for three months have blocked access to the site to construction traffic and have stated hunger strikes to halt the building.

In September the CSI General Synod issued a statement expressing “her deep solidarity” with the protestors and warned it was a mistake to build a nuclear reactor in a “tsunami-prone and quake-prone area,”

The risk of ecological damage was great, the CSI stated. “We fear that the reactor effluents would kill the fish and further, that the other life inside the sea would be affected by the water discharged from the nuclear reactor into the Bay of Bengal.”

On 27 Oct 2011, the CSI Bishop in Thoothukudi-Nazareth joined protestors outside the plant and pledged his solidarity in stopping construction.  However, local government leaders have charged the bishops with crossing the line between religion and politics.

The indictment charges the protestors with having used places of worship to organize political protests – a practice forbidden by Indian law.  Police have also begun an investigation of the churches’ bank accounts to see if they were funding the protests.

A police spokesman told the Indian press the churches’ involvement in the protests was bad for local businesses.  “Some are asking the people to revolt against the government and against the plant. This is unfair. The shops are closed, the life is not normal…this cannot be allowed to go on indefinitely,” the spokesman told the New Indian Express.

Ignore climate change skeptics, say church leaders: The Church of England Newspaper, June 10, 2011 p 6. June 11, 2011

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Lord Turnbull

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Religious leaders have urged Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to hold fast in the face of mounting criticism of her government’s proposed “carbon tax” to help stop global warming.

Last week, 28 members of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) coalition called upon the prime minister, giving her their support for federal legislation to combat climate through a programme of carbon emission credits.

However, the political and scientific consensus that saw 193 nations and the European Union endorse the Kyoto protocols in 1997 appears to have collapsed, with the US, China and many developing nations pulling back from the accord.  The coalition government in Britain’s green agenda has also come under fire, with senior figures questioning the underlining assumptions surrounding climate change.

On June 2, the ARRCC urged the Australian government not to buckle under pressure from industry.  “Climate change is not only a scientific, environmental, economic and political issue – it is also a profoundly moral and spiritual one,” the organization’s website argued.

A member of the ARRCC delegation, retired Bishop George Browning of Canberra and Goulburn, the current chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council’s Environmental Network, said “our generation has been given humanity’s last chance to avert a climate emergency. Our grandchildren will just have to bear with the results of what we decide to do now.”

The bishop lambasted climate change skeptics on May 27, saying “the naysayers are holding Australia back from taking responsible action with their fear-mongering and misinformation. Not only can we act, we must act.”

While calls for action to combat climate change enjoyed a considerable vogue in recent years, the claims of global warming alarmists have met with sustained scientific and political attack with the momentum of the movement now stalled in most industrial countries.  In a paper released last week, the World Bank reported the global market for trading in carbon permits had collapsed, raising questions over the feasibility of the Australian federal government’s plans to shift to an emissions trading scheme.

In the UK, support for carbon taxes and other government ‘green’ programmes was questioned on May 16 by Lord Turnbull, the former Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, who urged MPs and ministers to consider more carefully the rising costs and economic risks of Britain’s unilateral climate policies.

In a sharp critique of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that provides the basis for government thinking on climate change, Lord Turnbull questioned its scientific rigour.  “Ministers would be well advised not to place such heavy bets on just one rather alarmist source of advice,” Lord Turnbull said.

The “UK’s unilateral climate targets” pose a “serious threat” to “British business and the economy, particularly at a time of considerable economic fragility,” Lord Turnbull said, urging the government to rethink its green agenda.

Wage spiritual war against polluters, bishop urges: The Church of England Newspaper, May 20, 2011 p 6. May 23, 2011

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Bishop Mark MacDonald

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Church of Canada’s bishop for indigenous or “first nations” peoples has lent his support to environmental and ethnic minority groups fighting the exploitation of their lands by multi-national mining companies.

Speaking to approximately 150 delegates representing native peoples from 20 American, Asian and African countries at an ecumenical conference on mining held May 1-3 in Toronto, Bishop Mark MacDonald said resistance to the despoliation of the land was a form of “a spiritual warfare.”

Bishop MacDonald told delegates to the mining justice conference the issue was “not about the quality of life but the way of life and life itself.”

“God placed us on this earth to have a unique relationship with it. It is irreplaceable,” the bishop said.

Representatives from Guatemala, the Philippines and other developing nations, spoke of the environmental degradation of their ancestral lands by Western multi-nationals. They also charged local governments with abetting the destruction of the environment, seeking quick tax revenues at the expense of the displacement of native peoples and the destruction of their communities.

Bishop MacDonald, who served as the Episcopal Church’s Bishop of Alaska before accepting the position of bishop for Canada’s First Nations peoples, noted that even after centuries of colonization, indigenous people have “refused to sever the connection between land, culture and meaning, which have lost meaning in the developed and developing world.”

According to an account of the meeting published by the Anglican Journal, Bishop MacDonald urged Christians to stand in solidarity with the rural poor, whose way of life and lands were being destroyed to support Western consumption. While the cost of solidarity was high, “it is God’s future for us,” the bishop said.

“The key purpose of the gathering is to develop alliances between church leaders from the North and South in their efforts to achieve mining justice around the world,” conference organizers said in their closing communiqué.

“As churches, we recognize our internal contradictions and complicity with respect to resource extraction, and the urgent need to practice responsible consumption and citizenship. Therefore as people of faith who are members of local church congregations, we need to further develop our theological understandings of the issue, address our individual and collective lifestyles, develop an alternative economic model, and challenge the political and economic powers that drive the resource extraction industry,” the communiqué declared.

Church push for pesticide ban in India: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2011 p 8. May 15, 2011

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Bishop Thomas K Oommen of Central Kerala

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in India have called upon the government to ban the pesticide Endosulfan, saying its health hazards far outweigh its benefits to farming.

However, India’s agriculture ministry — which manufactures the pesticide via the government-owned Hindustan Insecticides Ltd — claims there is no scientific evidence the chemical agent is harmful to humans, and has so far resisted local and international pressure to stop production.

In a 20April statement Bishop Thomas K Oommen of Central Kerala, the chairman of the Church of South India’s Ecological Concerns Committee, urged the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests to ban Endosulfan.

While the pesticide is still used in India and China, over 80 countries, including the EU, Australia and New Zealand, have banned its manufacture and use in response to concerns over potential for accumulation in the soil its acute toxicity.

In 2001, aerial spraying of Endosulfan was suspected in a rash of birth defects in Kerala. The state government banned the use of the substance, but under pressure from industry the ban was rescinded. In 2006, the state government paid compensation of Rs 50,000 (£700) to the next of kin of 135 people identified as having died from Endosulfan exposure in Kerala. In December 2010 the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recommended banning the chemical, but the agriculture ministry declined to act.

However on 29 April, the agriculture ministry expressed its inability to clamp down on the pesticide to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at a high-level meeting. The NHRC had recommended its ban in December 2010.

The Conference of Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants agreed to a ban on Endosulfan to take effect by mid 2012. In 2006 India signed the global environmental treaty and is bound by last week’s decision. However, certain uses of the chemical have been granted an exemption for five years, and enforcement of the ban is problematic.

In a letter read out to churches across his diocese on Easter Sunday, Bishop Oommen asked Christians to join him in implementing as 12-point programme of environmental stewardship.

He outlined a plan for rainwater harvesting projects for Church schools and institutions, the planting of vetiver grasses around church properties to control soil erosion and water loss, a ban on plastic cups and bags at all church functions, the encouragement of “eco-clubs” among school children, and encouraging farmers in the diocese to end the use of pesticides and hormones and switch to organic farming.

“Baby bonus’ ban rejected by rejected by Australian govt: The Church of England Newspaper, May 6, 2011 p 7. May 11, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Australian government has rejected a proposal to scrap the country’s £3500 ‘baby bonus’ put forward last year by the Anglican Church of Australia’s Public Affairs Commission (PAC), rejecting the commission’s doomsday scenario that more children will lead to a collapse of the environment and the economy.

On April 28 the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury MP, told Sky News the ‘baby bonus’ was part of a “package of measures and they are important in providing assistance” to Australian families.

Last year the PAC submitted a discussion paper the September meeting of General Synod to help guide the church’s discussions to the government’s ‘big Australia’ debate over the optimum population for the country initiated by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

“I actually believe in a big Australia. I make no apology for that. I actually think it’s good news that our population is growing,” Mr. Rudd said in an Oct 2009 television interview, and in 2010 appointed the country’s first Population Minister, Tony Burke.  Mr. Rudd said it was the “responsible course of government policy” to prepare for a rise in the population.  The opposition responded to the “big Australia” plan by calling for a cut in immigration, estimated at between 180,000 and 300,000 per year.

In its paper, the PAC argued that it was a Christian’s duty to consume less, spend less, and have fewer children.  “Consumption and population need to be addressed, and very sensitively, given the benefits received by rich nations from their use of global resources,” the paper said, warning that “unless we take account of the needs of future life on Earth, there is a case that we break the eighth commandment – ‘Thou shalt not steal’,” the PAC paper said.

The PAC paper called for the government to eliminate the baby bonus, while also urging a relaxation of immigration restrictions.

Curbing the number of newborns was an ecological imperative, the paper suggested as the “population increases will be taking place in a finite world that has not yet been able to agree on reducing greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid potentially catastrophic temperature increase and climate change,” the paper said.

Unless steps were taken to curb population growth, disaster loomed the paper said, offering an update to the Rev. Thomas Malthus’ 1798 prediction in an Essay on the Principle of Population.  In his 1798 work, Malthus, a Church of England clergyman, argued that “population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio.”  It was inevitable that population would outstrip the food supply—leading to chaos.

“Out of care for the whole Creation, particularly the poorest of humanity and the life forms who cannot speak for themselves, it is not responsible to stand by and remain silent,” the PAC paper said.

However, General Synod did not endorse the PAC paper, and its recommendations were only those of its members, not of the church as a whole.

“When we do have a discussion about sustainable population we do need to acknowledge the challenges of an aging population,” Mr. Bradbury told Sky News, but the government would not act upon the PAC report.

‘Corporate Social Responsibility” in Africa is a farce, Archbishop charges: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 18, 2011 p 8. February 24, 2011

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Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The claims of ‘corporate social responsibility’ made by multi-national mining firms in Africa are untrue, the Archbishop of Tanzania said last week at a fringe meeting held during the 17th Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

Speaking to a reporter from the South African Independent on Feb 9, Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa said multi-national mining firms were despoiling the land and disrupting the culture of Africa.  He urged African governments to put the needs of their people before tax revenues.

The archbishop’s remarks followed a presentation on Corporate Social Responsibility at the Mining Indaba—a trade show for Africa’s major mining and metals corporations.  Speakers at the forum from the mining and banking industries spoke of the social and economic programmes their corporations provided to the native populations.

However, the mining companies were “still misbehaving,” the archbishop said.

“The use of chemicals in the extraction process has terrible effects on the environment, rivers are ruined, people are dying… but they claim to be working with the community, building clinics and schools… Yes they do build schools and clinics but they are substandard, unlike the ones they build for their own employees,” the archbishop said

In 2008 Archbishop Mokiwa spearheaded a drive in Tanzania to change the country’s tax laws governing multi-national mining corporations, and urged the government to revoke mining concessions that had been let through bribery and false dealings.

The mining companies “know how to corrupt the system,” the archbishop said.  It will take time for multi-nationals to change their business practices as “they are making so much money it is hard for them to hear what we are saying.”

A 2008 report underwritten by Christian Aid and Norwegian Church Aid for the Tanzanian Council of Churches found the Tanzanian government was mismanaging its mining contracts with foreign multi-nationals.

“Tanzania is one of the ten poorest countries in the world. At the same time, Tanzania possesses around 45 million ounces of gold, which at the current gold price means this country is sitting on a fortune of up to $39bn,’’ said the report entitled, “A Golden Opportunity – How Tanzania is Failing to Benefit from Gold Mining.”

However, the gold is being “extracted at a rate of over 1.6m ounces a year, meaning that they may last 28 years,” requiring the government to enact major policy changes in the royalties, and in developing plans for restoring the land once the ore has played out.

Bishops back ‘Save England’s Forests” campaign: The Church of England Newspaper, Jan 28, 2011 p 5. February 2, 2011

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The Rt. Rev. Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Leaders of the Church of England have given their support to the “Save England’s Forests” campaign, endorsing an open letter printed in The Sunday Telegraph calling for the government to halt the sale of state owned woodlands.

In October, the coalition announced plans to sell of 15 per cent of the 620,000 acres owned by the Forestry Commission in England.  The sale of timber and land in the New Forest, the Forest of Dean and Sherwood Forest, could generate upwards of £100 million in revenue.

However, on Jan 23 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, actress Dame Judi Dench, Lord Rees the astronomer royal, pop singer Annie Lennox, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and approximately 100 public figures called the sale “unconscionable” and “ill-conceived”.

“We, who love and use the English forests, believe that such a sale would be misjudged and shortsighted,” the letter said.

“It is our national heritage,” they stated, adding that it was “unconscionable that future generations will not be able to enjoy the guarantee of a public forest estate.  They called upon the government to “suspend any significant sales, until the public has been fully consulted.”

The president of Save England’s Forests, Rachel Johnson stated the “great and the good” who signed the letter “stand as the mouthpiece of the nation. Our message, in no uncertain terms, is that the Government cannot rush through legislation that will change our English countryside forever.”

The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt. Rev. Michael Perham, one of the signatories of The Sunday Telegraph letter, said the proposal to sell of parts of the Forest of Dean, which lies within his diocese “saddens me greatly.”

He noted the proposed law would alter the character of the Forest communities and make it “vulnerable to any plans for sale or development.”

“I am concerned that this Bill will retract the acknowledgement of the unique nature of the Forest of Dean, established in the early 1980s,” he said.

In 1981 Parliament limited the powers of the Forestry Commission to sell land in the Forest of Dean, the bishop said.  “The current Public Bodies Bill proposes to remove this exemption, undermining the importance of special situation of this area of Gloucestershire,” he said.

The Bishop of Guilford would present an amendment to the Public Bodies Bill to the House of Lords on Jan 25, Bishop Perham said, that would preserve the historic character of the Forest of Dean.

Church protests over Korean river projects: The Church of England Newspaper, May 30, 2010 May 31, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A massive government works programme to re-engineer South Korea’s rivers has drawn protests from the country’s Christian and Buddhist leaders.

The government’s plan to tame nature has brought together the country’s Christians and Buddhists in an unusual coalition to stop the project.  The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), the Anglican Church of Korea, the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, Won Buddhist officials, and the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism’s committee on the environment have banded together to protest the government’s plans, holding rallies and inter-faith prayer services to raise public awareness of the dangers the development poses to the environment.

Korean President Lee Myung-bak — the former CEO of Hyundai Construction—has proposed a “Green New Deal” public works project to jump start the economy and generate 340,000 jobs.  The Green New Deal seeks to develop solar, wind, and tidal power, increase production of hybrid vehicles, expand public transport and the nation’s rail network, and institute a national tree-planting campaign.

The centerpiece of the Green New Deal, however, is the Four Rivers Restoration Project. With an estimated price tag of 22.2 trillion won (£12.5 billion) the government plans on developing Korea’s four major river systems; the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Youngsan.

The goal of the programme is to prevent water shortages, control flooding, and create an “eco-friendly” space for tourism and development.  It plans to construct 16 new dams, rebuild 87 old dams, reinforce 209 miles of riverbanks, and dredge 570 million cubic meters of sediment from 428 river miles. On 14 minor tributaries the government will build five new dams and refurbish nine old ones, and encase 151 miles of riverbank in concrete.

On April 26 the Catholic Church held a “Life and Peace Mass to Urge an End to the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project” at Seoul’s Myeong-dong Cathedral and on May 24, Christians joined Buddhists for a joint prayer meeting at Silleuk Temple in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, issuing a joint declaration calling for an end to the project.  Prayer services have also been held at the Anglican Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin and St. Nicholas in central Seoul to raise public awareness.

South Korea’s countryside is one of the most developed in the world.  Over the past twenty five years the government has built 18,000 dams, and only the Dong river is free of any artificial barrier.  A number of projects have proven to have had long term deleterious effects upon the environment.

The Saemangeum reclamation project on the west coast of the Korean peninsula was built over the estuaries of two rivers and a large tidal flat.   The development wiped out a habitat critical to the survival of migratory birds on the Australasian flyway.  Bureaucratic wrangling over how to develop the Saemangeum has left the landfill, some six times the size of Manhattan, vacant.

The Rev. Yang Jae-seong of the Christian Environmental Solidarity Movement told the Hankyoreh newspaper the united religious front against the project “stems from the fact that the proper role of religion is to preserve and save life.”

“All of the destruction of life and the development that we have witnessed over the years requires much in the way of repentance,” Mr. Yang said, “but the religious sector has stepped forward because it can no longer stand by and watch the forceful push for the development of the four rivers.”

Bishop calls for Climate Change data inquiry: CEN 12.18.09 p 4. January 1, 2010

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The Bishop of Chester has backed the call made by the former Chancellor the Exchequer, Lord Lawson, for an independent inquiry into the CRU data affair.

“I think an independent inquiry into the CRU emails would helpfully clear the air,” Dr. Peter Forster told The Church of England Newspaper, in the wake of allegations that researchers at the Hadley Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia had falsified data to support claims of global warming.

Last month an unknown individual posted thousands of emails and data from the CRU onto the internet. The CRU has verified its security was breached and that the emails are genuine.

Journalists and scientists skeptical of the claims of man-made global warming have reviewed much of the data from the CRU, the world’s leading scientific source for the claims of global warming, finding that the proponents of global warming have privately admitted amongst themselves that global temperatures have actually declined for the past decade.

The emails also allegedly contain an admission from one prominent global warming scientist that he used a statistical “trick” to “hide the decline” in temperatures, while other emails have been interpreted to show that scientists ‘cherry-picked’ data to support the theory of global warming.

Dr. Chris Jones, CRU research head has stepped down pending an investigation into allegations of scientific fraud.

Last month the former chancellor, Lord Lawson, who serves as chairman of the board of trustees of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), called for an independent inquiry into the CRU data affair. Bishop Forster, who serves as trustee of the GWPF, told CEN he supported an “open scientific enquiry into the pace and extent of climate change, and possible influences upon such changes.”

On Dec 11, the GWPF criticized the Met Office for its “political intervention” in Copenhagen. The Met Office claims that preliminary temperature data for 2009 show that global temperatures continue to rise and that the argument that global warming has stopped is flawed, however the data supporting this claim will not be released until next year. A spokesman for the Met Office said the preliminary estimates had been released in order to influence the negotiations in Copenhagen.

The director of the GWPF, Dr. Benny Peiser said his organization was concerned that the Met Office had overstepped its scientific remit, which is to “provide balanced advice and empirical data, and not to lobby politically.”

There has been no statistically significant warming trend for the last decade, climate scientists at the GWPF said. “The world’s major scientific journals agree that since 2001 the global average temperature has been constant. We live in a warm decade and the world is reacting to that warmth but, contrary to predictions, the world isn’t getting any warmer at the moment,” Dr David Whitehouse, the GWPF’s science editor, said.

Global warming ‘is new CofE religion’: CEN 11.27.09 p 4. November 27, 2009

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

 

Global warming is the new faith of the Church of England, a Tory MEP declared last week.

Writing in the Leicester Mercury on Nov 16, East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer stated the “Church of England seems to have abandoned religious faith entirely and taken up the new religion of climate alarmism instead.”

Global warming ‘is new CofE religion’

“Many commentators have remarked on the similarities between religion and climate alarmism,” Mr Helmer said, as “both are based more on faith than on evidence. Both warn of dire consequences unless we have faith and change our way of life.”

Mr Helmer, who resigned from the Conservative Party’s frontbench in Europe when the party leadership jettisoned its promised referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, noted with approval the comment by children’s author and former Anglican priest GP Taylor, that “many bishops spend more time preaching about climate change than preaching a gospel of salvation” and that the Church of England had become the “spiritual arm of New Labour.”

The “world is cooling” and not warming, Mr Helmer said, arguing that “more and more scientists around the world are breaking cover to challenge the theory of man-made global warming” and called for the church to have “more faith in God, and less in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” The Bishop of Leicester told the Independent he was “surprised and saddened” by Mr Helmer’s remarks. Bishop Tim Stevens noted that Mr Helmer had not offered his “extraordinary view that the earth is cooling” when he spoke at a climate change debate at Leicester Cathedral.

While the consensus among the top echelon of the Church of England is that man-made global warming is a threat to the planet, a growing number of climate scientists have disputed this view. In the United States a petition endorsed by 32,000 scientists including the late Edward Teller argues the claim of “settled science” and an overwhelming “consensus” in favor of the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climatological damage is wrong.

“No such consensus or settled science exists,” they argue, noting that “human-caused global warming hypothesis is without scientific validity and that government action on the basis of this hypothesis would unnecessarily and counterproductively damage both human prosperity and the natural environment of the Earth.”

One of the most pugnacious critics of the global warming, Ian Plimer, a professor of mining geology at Adelaide University, argues in his recently released book, Heaven and Earth — Global Warming: The Missing Science, that the proposition that anthropogenic global warming is a confidence trick played upon the public by fundamentalist environmentalists and callously adopted by politicians who thrive on creating public anxiety.

Plimer notes that fears of carbon dioxide building in the atmosphere are misplaced, as the current levels are at their lowest point in 500 million years, and that atmospheric carbon dioxide is only 0.001 per cent of the total amount of the chemical held on the earth’s surface. Mankind, he argues, contribute an insignificant fraction to the atmospheric presence of carbon dioxide.

Church urges the Indian government to ban GM foods: CEN 11.20.09 p 5. November 26, 2009

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

 

The Church of South India (CSI) has urged its government to ban the cultivation of Genetically-modified (GM) foods in India.

On October 15, the Indian government’s Genetic Engineer Approval Committee (GEAC) authorized the commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal, the trade name for genetically modified eggplant, or aubergine. The decision must now be affirmed by environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

Church opposes GM foods

Developed by the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company or Mahyco, an affiliate of US multi-national Monsanto, Bt brinjal was initially approved by the GEAC in 2007.  Bt, or Bacillus Thuringiensis, is a bacterium that produces crystal proteins that are toxic to many species of insects and pests. The resulting genetically modified crop produces higher yields.

There are no known adverse effects of Bt brinjal seeds, AB Rai, the principal scientist at the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research which conducted the tests, told Dow Jones. However, protests from NGOs and church groups over the health safety and environmental impact of GM foods caused the government to ask for a second review.

“My objective is to arrive at a careful, considered decision,” Mr Ramesh told reporters last month, after GEAC gave its approval to Bt brinjal.

If approved Bt brinjal will be India’s first GM food crop. In 2002 the Indian government approved the cultivation of Bt cotton, a move that has led to the doubling of the nation’s cotton crop, making it one of the leading cotton exporters in the world. The GEAC is also studying genetically modified cabbage, cauliflower and peas with an eye towards authorizing their cultivation.

The environmental activist group Greenpeace denounced the decision, saying GEAC had “mindlessly” approved Bt brinjal despite “informed scientists and citizens of the country” raising safety concerns. The Ecological Concerns Committee of the CSI urged the government to reject the GEAC decision. Committee chairman Dr Mathew Koshy Punnackadu said GM foods poised troubling theological, environmental and economic concerns, and the church could not remain silent on this issue.

“It is obvious that the introduction of Bt brinjal will contaminate the large number of traditional brinjal varieties available to us, particularly those with unique medicinal properties. This will also shift the control of seeds from the farmers to profit-hungry corporations that have already established a virtual monopoly over seeds through the new patent regime,” the Ecological Concerns Committee said.

“What is at stake is not only our food security but also our food sovereignty. Disempowerment of small and marginal farmers and their displacement by aggressive models of corporatised agriculture are the inevitable consequences,’’ the statement said.

Utility urged to drop new coal-fired plants: CEN 11.20.09 p 5. November 25, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Cape Town has urged the nation’s electric utility, Eskom, to rethink its plans for building new coal-fired electricity generating plants, saying South Africa should do its part in helping reduce global warming.

In a statement released on Nov 6 following the resignation of the CEO of the state-owned utility, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said he wanted to make public concerns he had shared with the corporation’s management in recent weeks.

Archbishop calls for re-think on coal-fired generating plants

“We believe we have a responsibility to God and to future generations to care for this planet – our home – and not to put its well-being at risk because of short-term gain, or the idolatrous pursuit of money,” Archbishop Makgoba said.

On Sept 18, the archbishop wrote to the chairman of Eskom’s board of directors to express “deep concern” with plans to build “yet more coal-fired plants for the production of electricity. This plan of action continues in the face of growing public discourse about the need for South Africa to reduce its release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a major cause of climate change, and to look seriously at both greater efficiency in energy use and renewable energy sources.”

He asked Eskom and the government’s Minister of Public Enterprises, Barbara Hogan, to give “strong and decisive leadership” on finding a way forward “on energy generation and use.”

Archbishop Makgoba conceded it was “unrealistic” to expect an answer “right now” to the country’s energy needs, but he urged the utility to “consider carefully alternative sources of energy which may ‘seem’ more expensive but which will represent huge savings for our planet – and all who inhabit it.” The Bible speaks of our calling to be stewards of creation, the archbishop said. “May God guide, direct, and bless” government and business leaders “and each one of us, as, in our various capacities – whether professional or personal – we seek to discharge with integrity this responsibility to our environment, our planet” he said.

Statistics released by Eskom show that 89 per cent of South Africa’s primary energy needs are derived from fossil fuels. The country emits about 400-million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year, which represents one per cent of total emissions on the global scale. And, with the advent of new coal-fired electricity-generating stations and new coal- and gas-to-liquids fuel plants, South Africa’s emissions are likely to rise still further.

Eskom must soon decide on whether it will build a new coal-fired power station as the country’s growth has outstripped the available power supply.

Speaking at the eighth Coaltrans South Africa conference in Johannesburg in September, the head of Eskom’s planning division Kannan Lakmeeharan said South Africa’s power supply and demand situation would remain tight. Eskom had a generating capacity and the ability to import up to 43.5 GW, but would require an additional 20 GW of electricity by 2020 to meet energy needs.

Archbishop of Canterbury accused of ‘green hypocrisy’: CEN 10.23.09 p 5. October 22, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was accused in Parliament last week of hypocrisy, for promoting agricultural self-sufficiency while at the same time overseeing the sale of church farm land for suburban development.

During the House of Commons question time on Oct 15, the member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, Mr Nick Gibb (Con) asked Second Church Estates Commissioner Sir Stuart Bell the size of the church’s agricultural holdings. Sir Stuart responded the Church Commissioners hold over “109,000 acres of English farmland, spread across 44 estates and over 300 farms.”

Archbishop of Canterbury accused of ‘green hypocrisy’

Mr Gibb stated in response that Dr Williams “wants more food to be grown locally and has attacked organisations driven solely by the desire to make money. Is it not therefore paradoxical that the Church Commissioners, which he chairs, wants to concrete over 3,000 acres of prime agricultural land to the west of Chalcraft lane in my constituency?

“When challenged, the Commissioners say they want to build on that land because they are obliged to maximise the amount of money they make. If the Archbishop of Canterbury were a politician, would it not be fair to say that he says one thing but does another?” Mr Gibbs said.

The Church Commissioners have submitted plans for the development of up to 2,000 homes on 370 acres of farmland near Bognor Regis in order to “meet local housing needs.”

On Oct 14 Dr Williams delivered a lecture at Southwark Cathedral calling for people to rediscover their responsibility for the environment and that engaging in “apparently small-scale action” in “personal habits and local possibilities” was vital to the nation’s health. “When we believe in transformation at the local and personal level, we are laying the surest foundations for change at the national and international level,” Dr Williams said.

Mr Gibbs said this inconsistency of Dr Williams was worrying, and asked Sir Stuart, “if the Archbishop of Canterbury were a politician, would it not be fair to say that he says one thing but does another?”

The Second Church Estates Commissioner responded that it was “always pleasant when the Archbishop of Canterbury is cited in the House of Commons. I am sure that he does not wish to be a politician and I would urge him not to be one.” This brought some members to their feet with shouts that “he is a Member” and “shame.”

Sir Stuart responded “the archbishop is a Member of the House of Commons now, is he?,” which prompted shouts “he is in the Lords.”

Sir Stuart conceded “he is a Member in Parliament,” but noted he was “being diverted” from the matter at hand, and said “we have a legal duty to our beneficiaries. On this occasion, we accept that we have met some controversy in his constituency, but we have not to be distracted from our fiduciary duty.”

Sir Stuart turned to the House and said as the members were “in an enlightened mood, may I cite the scriptures? In Ezekiel, it states: ‘In controversy they shall stand in judgment…and they shall keep my laws and statutes’.”

“We propose to keep the laws and statutes of Parliament that have been conferred upon the Church Commissioners,” he said.

New Zealand urged to go further to stop global warming: CEN 8.14.09 p 6. August 15, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

THE ANGLICAN Archbishops of New Zealand have welcomed their government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but have cautioned that the proposed level of cuts may not be enough to head off global warming.

On August 11 Archbishops David Moxon and Brown Turei wrote to Prime Minister John Key applauding their government’s decision to cut emissions “to between 10 and 20 per cent below what they were in 1990” by 2020.

New Zealand had an “enviable” and “valuable” reputation of being “being clean and green, and your actions will help safeguard this good image,” the archbishops said.

New Zealand urged to go further to stop global warming

The proposed cuts, however, did not go far enough, as the “10 to 20 per cent band is well short of the 40 per cent reduction” needed to limit global warming to 2 degrees. The 2 degrees mark, they said, was “a threshold, which marks the difference between controllable climate change, and runaway change that would spiral out of control.”

They urged the government to set the “highest possible target for greenhouse gas emission reductions: in all sorts of ways, doing too little now will cost a great deal more in the long run.”

The “implications of runaway climate change for our brothers and sisters in the Pacific Islands alone are obvious,” they said, warning of rising sea levels and massive dislocation of island and coastal populations that would occur if global warming were not stopped.

Speaking to reporters in Wellington, the minister for climate change, Nick Smith, said current NZ greenhouse gas emissions were 24 per cent above the 1990 level. “This target means we’re going to have to both catch up that 24 per cent increase as well as reduce emissions by 10 or potentially 20 per cent,” he said.

Last week the Pacific Islands Forum called for a 50 per cent global cut in greenhouse gases by 2050. “We call upon world leaders to urgently increase their level of ambition and to give their negotiators fresh mandates to secure a truly effective global agreement,” the South Pacific leaders said in an August 6 statement.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that for some Pacific nations cutting greenhouse gases was “not just a matter of importance, it is not just a matter of urgency, for many of them it is a matter of national survival,” Rudd told reporters. Australia pledged to cut its emissions by up to 15 per cent of its 2000 levels by 2020.

Seven members of the 16-member forum had asked for a 45 per cent cut by 2020. The forum comprises Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

MP attacks Church Commissioners over redevelopment plans: CEN 5.14.09 p 5. May 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Environment, Politics.
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Bognor Regis, the English south coast holiday resort, is horrified by the Church Commissioners’ disregard for the ecological and fiscal well-being of rural England, a Conservative MP charged in Parliament last week.

Mr Nick Gibb, the Conservative MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehamptom denounced plans to develop agricultural land owned by the church in his constituency, charging the Church Commissioners with willfully disregarding the needs of their tenants and rural communities in the pursuit of income.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

MP attacks Church Commissioners over redevelopment plans

‘Green Jesus’ is key to interfaith dialogue, says bishop: CEN 5.15.09 May 16, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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The ‘green’ Jesus should be the opening salvo from Christians in interfaith dialogue with Muslims and Jews, the Bishop of Liverpool told an American audience in light of the pressing demands of climate change.

Speaking to members of the Virginia Theological Seminary in the annual Kreitler Environmental Lecture Bishop James Jones argued the “future stability of the world depends upon the fostering of good relationships between the faith communities internationally and locally.”

A tool for building this dialogue lay in talking about “Jesus and the earth with Islam and Judaism where the concept Son of Man” was “neither strange nor aggressive,” he said.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

'Green Jesus' is key to interfaith dialogue, says bishop

Canadian Anglican and Catholic bishops battle over oil: CEN 3.27.09 March 27, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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The development of the Athabasca oil sands has led to dueling pastoral letters from Northern Alberta’s Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops. Bishop Luc Bouchard of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Paul has called for a halt to mining, saying its development “constitutes a serious moral problem.” However, Archbishop John Clarke of the Anglican Diocese of Athabasca has endorsed development, chastising those who were “vilifying one of the most exciting and challenging projects in Canadian history.” 

Spread across 54,000 sq miles of sparsely populated Northern Alberta, the Athabasca oil sands contain an estimated 1.7 trillion barrels of heavy oil or bitumen, and are roughly equal to the world’s total proven reserves of conventional petroleum. Commercial extraction of oil from the tar sands began in 1967, but recent developments in oil extraction technology as well as the spike in world petroleum prices has led to considerable private and government investment in the region.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Canadian Anglican and Catholic bishops battle over oil

G20 must take quick action says Archbishop Makgoba: CEN 3.26.09 March 27, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Development/Economics/Govt Finances, Environment.
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Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has called upon the leaders of the G20 group of nations to take “swift and decisive action” on global warming, saying that recent deadly floods in South Africa, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique were evidence of a changing climate.

In a March 24 statement issued a week before the meeting of world leaders in London, Archbishop Makgoba said “we have had enough of talking. The international community cannot continue to prevaricate while countries like ours are increasingly suffering inestimable human cost, in deaths, displacement, and the destruction of livelihoods.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

G20 must take quick action says Archbishop Makgoba

Canadian churches protest at uranium mining expansion: CEN 3.16.09 March 16, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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The Anglican bishops of Saskatchewan have joined their Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Ukrainian Catholic brethren in protesting against government plans to expand uranium mining in the prairie province, and permit the construction of a privately owned nuclear power plant. 

In a joint statement released on Feb 26, the Anglican bishops of Saskatoon and Qu’Appelle questioned whether the government had fully studied the environmental risks of nuclear development in the province. A government-appointed panel is expected to release a report this month encouraging “value-added” initiatives to expand the uranium industry. Saskatchewan is the world’s largest producer of uranium ore and last year a private company, Bruce Power, began work on a feasibility study for building a nuclear generating station. 

Before any decision is taken, the bishops said it was “critical that any recommendations be made only after full and open consultation with the people of this province.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Canadian churches protest at uranium mining expansion

Bishop–Global warming is a theological challenge: CEN 2.27.09 p 4. March 1, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres. Photo CCEE-CEC / Ag. Siciliani

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres. Photo CCEE-CEC / Ag. Siciliani

Global Warming presents a theological as well as environmental challenge for European, the Bishop of London has claimed.

Speaking on Feb 21 to Vatican Radio at the close of a meeting of the Joint Committee of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Roman Catholic Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE), the Church of England’s representative to the meeting, Bishop Richard Chartres said church leaders were agreed that “climate change reveals a spiritual problem.”

Participants shared a “common perception” on the environment, Bishop Chartres said, that was summarized in Pope Benedict XVI’s dictum that the external deserts in the world are growing because the internal deserts have become so vast.

The question was “what are we to do about it,” Bishop Chartres said.

Climate change was “certainly a challenge which reinvigorates Christian ascetic teaching as well as Christian Eucharistic teaching,” but there would be no kneejerk response from the church.

“We are not in an apocalyptic frame of mind,” he explained. “We want to put human flourishing and the common good right at the center of our concern. And we see in the Christian teaching both ascetic and Eucharistic a response to the present challenge which does just that, which puts human flourishing at the center of the picture.”

The Joint Committee of the CEC, the leadership council of the communion of 125 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic European Churches and the CCEE, the assembly of the presidents of the 33 European Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conferences meet from Feb 19-22 in Hungary as the guest of CCEE president, Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Primate of Hungary to discuss ways European churches were taking initiatives to give due prominence in their own witness to the issue of creation, working in parallel with scientists and other people of goodwill.”

Participants at the meeting affirmed that “as human beings we need to see ourselves as stewards of creation and not as its exploiters” and that the “concern for effective stewardship of creation” was tied to “a concern for justice in our world.”

The church leaders also stated that as “Europeans we need to share a sense of solidarity with the poorest in the world, who are the primary victims of our lack of responsibility towards creation” and that churches should set an example of being “good stewards of creation” and take “steps to reduce our own carbon footprint.”

Church of England puts faith in Al Gore’s investment arm: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 30, 2008 December 30, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of England’s Church Commissioners have gone green, investing £150 million with former US Vice-President Al Gore’s environmentally minded investment firm, Generation Investment Management.

On Nov 18 the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith reported that in late September the Commissioners had placed the funds with Gore’s boutique management firm which follows an “environmentally sustainable global equities mandate.”  Funding for the investment came from “cash and Treasury bills”, he said, and not from the sale of UK equities as initially planned.

In Oct 2007 Mr. Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in raising awareness of the potential threats from climate change.  Generation Investment Management was founded in 2004 by Mr. Gore and David Blood, former head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and had almost £5 billion under management before the market collapse.

The firm invests in companies that follow “socially responsible” business model such as insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk, Swiss food conglomerate Nestlé, and San Francisco’s New Resource Bank—a “green” lender in the US.

Speaking at a press conference last March in Geneva, Mr. Gore said private industry should take the lead in creating environmentally friendly market capitalism noting that “more money is allocated by markets around the world in one hour than by all the governments on the planet in a full year.”

“The principles and ways and values that have an impact on the way markets allocate resources can have an enormous effect” in tackling climate change, he said.

Institutional investors in his fund are “more attracted to the strategy we follow are managing long-term assets toward long-term goals.”

“Those looking for a quick hit in the market place, to skim the cream and go somewhere else, those are not the investors attracted to this strategy,” Mr. Gore said, according to wire service reports.

Tanzania churches criticise mining mismanagement: CEN 10.24.08 p 6. October 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, Development/Economics/Govt Finances, Environment.
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Government mismanagement of Tanzania’s mining industry has led the despoliation of the land and a loss of £150 million in potential tax revenues, a report released by Tanzanian churches has charged.

A report entitled “A Golden Opportunity? How Tanzania is failing to benefit from gold mining” released last week in Dar es Salaam, charged that tax concessions given to international mining conglomerates had cheated the people of Tanzania. The £150 million in lost revenues was a “very conservative estimate,” the report said, as it did not cover all gold mining concessions as well as the intangible costs of granting overseas mining concerns preferential tax treatment.

While large-scale gold mining employed 7,135 miners and had led to lower production costs, it had come at the “expense of small-scale artisan miners, around 400,000 of whom have been put out to work,” the report said.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Tanzania churches criticise mining mismanagement

Church must take lead on the environment, says bishop: CEN 7.30.08 July 30, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Environment, Lambeth 2008.
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The Lambeth Conference must exercise moral leadership on the issue of the environment and global warming, the chairman of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, the Rt. Rev. George Browning of Canberra said last week.

“The church has only itself to blame for giving the impression that it is in the business of saving souls only,” Bishop Browning said. The environment is “what we are about,” he told reporters on July 26.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church must take the lead on environment, says Bishop

Bishops attract criticism over controversial calls: CEN 6.06.08 p 4. June 6, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Crime, Environment, House of Lords.
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The Bishop of Chester’s call to allow science, not emotion, lead the debate on global warming has come under attack from environmental groups.

The green activist group, Friends of the Earth, denounced Dr. Peter Forster’s statements in the House of Lords last week that the causes of global warming remained a scientific “open question.”

The bishop’s remarks come in sharp contrast to statements made by the Bishop of Stafford who argued that failing to act on climate change was criminal. However, Dr. Forster’s comments find support from British-born theoretical physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson, who writing in the New York Review of Books (NYRB), observed that “environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion.”

Speaking in the debate on the government’s energy bill, Dr. Forster, a scientist by training, noted there was no consensus among climate scientists that “carbon dioxide levels are the key determinant”.

“Climate science is a notoriously imprecise area, because the phenomena under investigation are so large,” he said, making “precision difficult to achieve.”

A spokesman for Friends of the Earth told the Liverpool Daily Post we must “wake up to the threat posed by climate change.” The “debate is over” on the causes of climate change, the green group insisted. “The alarm bells are ringing” and action must be taken now.

Writing in the June diocesan magazine, the Bishop of Stafford Gordon Mursell said, “our refusal to face the truth about climate change” makes us guilty of “locking our children and grandchildren into a world with no future and throwing away the key”.

He linked the “monstrous and revolting” crimes of Josef Fritzl to the climate change debate, saying they represent the worldview that “I will do what makes me happy, and if that causes others to suffer, hard luck.”

While praising the aims of the environmental movement, “as a religion of hope and respect for nature” Dr. Dyson warned against an uncritical fanaticism.

“Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet,” he wrote in the June 12 issue of the NYRB.

“That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice. Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard,” Dr. Dyson said.

Tanzania mine row anger: CEN 5.23.08 p 8. May 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Church in Tanzania has urged its government to take greater care in the licensing of foreign companies to develop the nation’s natural resources.

Abandoned open pit mines have rendered the land useless for agriculture, the Bishop of Mara said last week, while a church sponsored report argues that foreign multi-nationals have taken millions of ounces of gold out of the land, but paid little to the government.

During a tour of an abandoned gold mine in Buhmeba, close to Lake Victoria and the Kenyan border, Bishop Hilkiah Omindo Deya told reporters multi-national corporations had “harvested a lot of gold at the mine but left Buhemba villagers with huge holes.”

While providing wealth for government coffers, the mines in Tanzania’s rural provinces despoiled the land, ruined the few roads, and provided few social benefits for the surrounding areas. When the gold seams played out, the companies and miners moved on, he said, leaving the land wasted and the water polluted for the local villagers.

A report underwritten by Christian Aid and Norwegian Church Aid for the Tanzanian Council of Churches has also charged the government with mismanaging its mining contracts with foreign multi-nationals. “Tanzania is one of the ten poorest countries in the world. At the same time, Tanzania possesses around 45 million ounces of gold, which at the current gold price means this country is sitting on a fortune of up to $39bn,” said the report entitled, “A Golden Opportunity – How Tanzania is Failing to Benefit from Gold Mining.”

However, the gold is being “extracted at a rate of over 1.6m ounces a year, meaning that they may last 28 years,” requiring the government to enact major policy changes in the royalties, and in developing plans for restoring the land once the ore has played out.

Projections of quick riches from foreign operated mines do not survive public scrutiny. The report cited the case of the Buzwagi mine deal made with Canada’s Barrick Gold Corporation. Claims by former Energy and Minerals Minister to Parliament the Buzwagi contract would pay $20 million a year in taxes, was shown to be overstated, as the true rate of return for the government was only $590,000 a year in revenue.

The government’s claim appears to “have been put forward to hoodwink parliament and silence calls for parliamentary scrutiny of the contract,” the report said.

In his Christmas Eve sermon last year, the new Archbishop of Tanzania, the Most Rev. Valentino Mokiwa challenged the government to revoke mining deals such as the Buzwagi contract given to multi-national corporations, saying they were let on dubious terms and cheated the common man.

Lambeth hosts climate change summit: CEN 5.23.08 p 4. May 23, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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The Church of England must play a “central part” in alerting people to the problems and solutions to global warming, the Archbishop of Canterbury said following a round table discussion at Lambeth Palace on May 13.

In a meeting moderated by Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, business, government and civil society leaders hosted by Dr. Rowan Williams and the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres, discussed ways of promoting environmental responsibility in the marketplace.

Tackling climate change was a moral imperative, Bishop Charters said, that required prompt action. “We are all determined that our children will not say to us in 20 years’ time – why didn’t you do more about the greatest challenge of the 21st Century?”, he said.

Dr Williams stated “the Church of England and all people of faith have a central role to play” in this issue. “By practising what we preach and by putting our own house in order, the Church and all people of faith can make our own contribution to ensuring the safe stewardship of our planet for the generations to come,” he said.

Representatives from Tesco, M&S, O2, Sky, British Gas, B&Q, Barclaycard, More Than, National Express, the National Trust, WWF and Coca-Cola attended the meeting along with DEFRA Minister Phil Woolas and Number 10 adviser Michael Jacobs.

EU says religious groups can help in climate change campaign: CEN 5.09.08 p 9. May 10, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Environment, EU, Multiculturalism, Persecution, Russian Orthodox.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper

Religion must play its part in combating climate change, EU political leaders told a gathering of European religious leaders on May 5. However, Russian delegates used the one-day conference in Brussels to urge the EU to direct its political energies towards supporting oppressed Christians around the world.

Twenty Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders—including the Bishop of Hulme, the Rt. Rev. Steven Lowe met with the Presidents of the European Council, European Commission and European Parliament in the fourth annual meeting of EU officials and religions leaders.

European Council President Janez Janša, the Prime Minister of Slovenia, told the delegates the environment was “not only natural but also a sacred place.”

“Community and loyalty between man, nature and the Creator is a basic principle of Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike,” he said. “Climate change requires us to rethink how we channel imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship into creating a world, free of dependence on fossil fuels, and yet prosperous and connected as never before.”

EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso added that climate change “obliges all of us to take urgent action,” and that “thanks to their outreach and role in our societies, religions and communities of belief are well placed to make a valuable contribution in mobilizing” against climate change.

Noting that 2008 was the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering asked faith leaders to take the lead in “building bridges between people and to safeguarding peace based on mutual respect.”

“Intercultural dialogue” he argued, was an “important contribution” to a common EU foreign policy “in particular in the Mediterranean region”.

However the Russian Orthodox delegate, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria said the EU’s notions of intercultural dialogue placed Christians at a disadvantage.

“Tolerance should not cause detriment to Christians, who still make up the majority of the European population. Phobia and discrimination of Christians should be condemned officially,” he said.

Bishop Hilarion called upon the EU to protect Europe’s Christian heritage, citing Muslim predations against Orthodox Christians in Kosovo and Cyprus. Turkey should not become part of Europe, he argued while it continues to “disregard the needs of its Christian population.”

The Russian Orthodox Church called upon the EU to “do more for the protection of Christians outside Europe, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and many other Islamic countries,” Bishop Hilarion said, according to a statement released through the Interfax news agency.

Senate’s Green Challenge: CEN 4.04.08 p 7. April 5, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Environment, The Episcopal Church.
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American Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has written to the leaders of the US Senate urging them to adopt legislation that would address the problems of global warming.

“Climate change and global warming are real, and caused in significant part by human activities,” Bishop Schori wrote on March 31, endorsing Senate Bill 2191, America’s Climate Security Act, which she called “a strong step forward in achieving carbon emission reductions.”

Bishop Schori said this bill “includes measures aimed at addressing the needs of the world’s most vulnerable: those, who for demographic reasons such as health or location are most susceptible to the effects of climate change, and those living in poverty at home and around the world.”

America “historically the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, has a responsibility to lead the way in addressing the impact of climate change,” she said.

The US Church’s General Convention has backed calls to combat global warming which “threatens the future of God’s good creation.” In June 2007, the Presiding Bishop testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee stating global warming was “one of the great human and spiritual challenges of our time.”

America’s religious leaders are divided over the moral and scientific claims of global warming theorists, with many evangelical leaders arguing global warming is bad science and the government regulations proposed to fix the crisis would serve only to further impoverish the world’s poor.

Whether Bishop Schori’s words will move the Senate to act is unknown, as political positions on global warming in the US have hardened in recent years, and the on-going divisions within the American Episcopal Church have muted its public voice.

Bishop Schori argued in her March 31 letter “Climate change is a threat not only to God’s good creation but to all of humanity.”

Kyoto Action Welcomed: CEN 12.07.07 p 7. December 11, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Environment, Politics.
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Christian climate change campaigners have welcomed the new Australian government’s pledge to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd endorsed the agreement which governs carbon emissions believed responsible for global warming, after taking the oath of office on Dec 3.   Following Rudd’s announcement, Governor-General Michael Jeffery endorsed the treaty for Australia on behalf of the crown.

“This is the first official act of the new Australian government, demonstrating my government’s commitment to tackling climate change,” Rudd said in a statement.

Rudd led the Labor party to victory at the Nov 24 general election, ending 12 years of conservative rule, by promising a new generation of leadership, withdrawal from Iraq and by support for the Kyoto pact.

Word of the Australian support for the Kyoto Protocols was well received by delegates to the Bali environmental summit.  Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said he could “speak for all present here by expressing a sigh of relief.”

Ben Thurley, Advocacy Coordinator for TEAR Australia, said he was “thrilled that the first act of our new Prime Minister was action on Kyoto.  I hope it signals a new era in climate change negotiations.”

Andy Atkins, Advocacy director of Tearfund said, “This is a huge boost to the Bali talks, good for Australia and the world’s poorest people who suffer most at the hands of a changing climate.”

Government ministers from almost 200 nations along with environmental activists are in Bali, seeking a global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next five years to a level 5 per cent below the 1990 rate.  During the election campaign Rudd pledged to cut Australia’s carbon emissions to 60 per cent of its 2000 rate by 2050.

UN begins environmental survey in Niger Delta: CEN 11.13.07 November 13, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Crime, Environment.
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THE UNITED Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has begun an environmental impact survey on the damage done to the Niger Delta by oil drilling.

The Nov 5 announcement has been welcomed by church and civil leaders in Nigeria, as it marks a significant step towards peace and reconciliation in the troubled Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta. Scarred by decades of unregulated oil production, Ogoniland has been a hotbed of social and tribal unrest.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

UN begins environmental survey in Niger Delta

Australian row over climate change erupts: CEN 11.02.07 p 8. November 3, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Environment, Roman Catholic Church.
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A war of words has erupted between Anglican and Roman Catholic Church leaders in Australia over climate change.

george-browning.jpgBishop George Browning of Canberra attacked the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell in a speech to the Anglican Church of Australia’s General Synod last week, denouncing the Cardinal’s skepticism over global warming.

The Cardinal’s view that Jesus had said nothing about climate change was “unbelievable.” Bishop Browning said he had written Cardinal Pell saying that Jesus had a great deal to say about the “rich taking what belonged to the poor and about the heritage of the children.”

As Christ had spoken “about both of these things he spoke about climate change,” the Bishop of Canberra said.

Writing in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph on Oct 28, Cardinal Pell said “some allege preachers raise their voice when they have a weak point. It has never worked for me and it doesn’t work in science and politics.”

He said he was “a believer in the Catholic understanding of faith and morals. I reserve my leaps of faith for religion e.g. the Incarnation and Redemption. I am certainly skeptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes, because the evidence is insufficient.”

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“Scientific debate is not decided by any changing consensus, even if it is endorsed by public opinion. Climate change has always been occurring,” Cardinal Pell argued.

Bishop Browning encouraged Synod to take an activist stance towards climate change. “We need to do it today. I want all of you to leave the synod today believing this is our core business, it’s not (simply) something greenie Christians do.”

The Australian bishop’s words found support from the Bishop of Liverpool. On Oct 24 Bishop James Jones addressed a briefing for members of the House of Representatives in Washington, urging the US government to take action on climate change.

Christians can change the world by “fighting global warming”: CEN 10.26.07 p 4. October 28, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt. Rev. James Jones challenged the congregation of St. Paul’s Cathedral to “change the world” and lead the fight against Global Climate change at the annual National Service for Seafarers on Oct 10.

Noting that he was likely to have been the only bishop ever to have been a member of the National Union of Seaman, Bishop Jones stated that he had gained an appreciation of the work of seamen during his youth when he worked as a steward on cross channel ferries.

Seamen were on the front lines of Global Warming, he noted as “those who sail the high seas and go from port to port are special witnesses of the things that are happening to the planet.”

“Seafarers who live close to the elements see the dramatic effects of climate change – the changing weather, the melting ice caps, the rising sea-levels, the flooded plains and the changing contours of the map,” he noted.

The earth was “cursed” he argued, by a “changing climate due in large measure to human greed as we pollute the atmosphere with more and more carbon.  As we add to the blanket of heat trapping the earth tragically it’s the poor who are bearing the brunt in floods and droughts and ruined harvests.”

Calls for aid, trade and debt relief for the Global South were pointless, he argued, “if at the same time we change the climate and ruin their harvests.”

He called upon the congregation to take the lead in fighting climate change.  “If we had the vision, the moral vision, if we had the courage, the moral courage, we could change the world and make it a safer, better and fairer world.”

Church Leaders in Plea for Clean Water: CEN 6.08.07 p 6. June 8, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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CHURCH leaders attending the “Churches for Water in Africa” summit in Entebbe, Uganda, last week urged governments and NGOs to honour their commitments to bring clean drinking water to the people of the developing world.Drawn from 19 African countries, Europe and the Americas, the 70 delegates called for a “just and sustainable provision of water to the poor and the most excluded” and for governments to “make water and sanitation a strong component of national budgets.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper

Church leaders in call for clean water

The bit at the end to explain the photo …..
On June 1, actress Hilary Swank launched an around the world-relay race to raise funds and public awareness for the 1.1 billion people lacking safe drinking water. Organized by the Blue Planet Run Foundation and the UN and funded by Dow Chemical, some 20 runners will race 15,000 miles across the United States, Britain, from France to China and then by plane to Canada.

“What if it were your job to carry in a rusty metal pail all the water you and your family would use for the day?” Swank told an audience outside the UN in Manhattan. “What if the water made you sick? What if you had no choice? “I know I will never take a glass of water for granted again,” said Swank, known for her best-actress Oscars for her roles in “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby”.

Noah’s Ark Returning to Mt Ararat: CEN 6.01.07 p 7. May 31, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Environment.
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Noah’s Ark is returning to the summit of Mount Ararat, courtesy of the environmental advocacy group Greenpeace.  German and Turkish volunteers are building a replica of the Ark as a symbolic appeal to world leaders attending the June G8 summit in Germany.

Turkish and German volunteers are building the 10m x 4m x 4m (32ft x 13ft x 13ft) wooden ship, being in hopes of sending “a strong message to leaders of all nations that we must act now to tackle global warming and the impending climate change crisis,” Greenpeace said on May 16.

 

The Greenpeace Ark will be unveiled on May 31, a day after activists from the environmental pressure group scale the 8200 mountain, customarily held to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark. 

 

“At the upcoming G8 summit, many announcements will be made on climate protection, but they must be followed by real action,” said Andree Böhling, a Greenpeace energy spokesman.  “Otherwise, the G8 summit will pay only lip service to climate change and a historic opportunity will be lost.”

Greenpeace believes global warming could lead to a “future with huge coastal flooding, drought, extreme destructive weather events and massive increases in disease and displacement of hundreds of million of people.” 

Built over two weeks by a team of 20 carpenters, materials for the Ark were hauled up the mountain by 40 pack horses.  However Greenpeace has no plans to provide animals, two by two, to populate their Ararat Ark.