Welcome to RCEL's blogsite

Welcome to Reading Christian Ecology Link's blogsite

"For the Church of the 21st century, good ecology is not an optional extra but a matter of justice. It is therefore central to what it means to be a Christian"
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Super Soup Lunch

The Green Apostles at Tilehurst Methodist Church are holding a Super Soup Lunch at Tilehurst Methodist Church Hall, School Rd, Tilehurst on Saturday 26 March from 12.00 pm - 2.00 pm to raise money for Christian Aid (www.christianaid.org.uk/super-soup-lunch ).  There will be soup, rolls and cakes made by church members, displays from different church organisations and a Traidcraft stall.  We will be trying to use at least some Locally produced, Organically grown, Animal friendly and Fairly traded food – LOAF for short.   (See http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/use-your-loaf.pdf for more information.)  The event is open to the public.  All welcome.  Christian Aid suggests a voluntary donation of £2.  10% or £50 of the profits, whichever is greater will be going to Park URC (www.parkurc.org.uk ) towards their solar panels and woodchip boiler.  There will be an opportunity to enter a free Christian Aid prize draw.
If you would like any posters, please contact Rachel Chilton on 0118 9431602.  If you would like to help or for further information please contact Rachel or Holly Skeet on 9412516.

Urgent Action on Climate Change

A message from Ruth Jarman at CEL (dated 16.3.11):

In the next two weeks the government will be making a critical decision about the Climate Change Act, and we need to help them make the right one.

All the campaigning, marching and praying we’ve done on climate change helped create the Climate Change Act, with its legal target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and the independent
body, the  Committee on Climate Change to keep it on target.

Right now the government is considering the latest advice of the Committee on Climate Change on the size of the carbon budget in the 2020s. You can see the report which  sets the Committee's advice on "The fourth carbon budget" covering the period 2023-27 http://www.theccc.org.uk/reports/fourth-carbon-budget
A 'carbon budget' is a cap on the total quantity of greenhouse gas emissions emitted in the UK over a specified time. You can see an explanation of carbon budgets here http://www.theccc.org.uk/carbon-budgets
Each carbon budget covers a five-year period, with budgets set at least three periods in advance. The first three carbon budgets run from 2008-2012, 2013-2017 and 2018-2022. The latest report says that no more than 1,950 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent should be released in the 5 year period 2023 to 2027.
(CO2 equivalent is used because carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas. Gases such as methane are given an "equivalence" to carbon dioxide and then methane can be added to carbon dioxide to give a total of greenhouse gases.)

To hit the 2050 target, the government should accept this advice of the Committee on Climate Change in full.

The decision on the next carbon budget (the fourth) will be made in the next week.   Please take a minute to:-

1. Remind David Cameron and Nick Clegg of their pledge to make this the 'greenest Government ever' – and to ask them to accept the independent advice of the Committee in full. See below for action options.

2. Forward this message to anyone else who might be interested in securing the earth’s future.

3. Pray for our leaders.  The cries from many quarters to water down these fairly radical recommendations will be loud. They will need wisdom and moral fortitude

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Reading Science Week

Reading Science Week starts this Friday:  
Monday 14 March; 19:30 start
Café Scientifique: What will we do when the oil runs out? - Professor Chris Rhodes
Déjà vu Bar and Eatery, 61 St. Mary's Butts, Reading (RG1 2LG)
Join Professor Chris Rhodes for a discussion about what we will do when oil supplies run out. Suitable for adults aged 18+.

Tuesday 15 March; 19:30 start
Ways to save the world: a scientific dragons den
Café Mondial, Reading University Students Union, Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading (RG6 6UR)
Suitable for adults aged 18+

Saturday 19 March; 11:00 and 13:00
Turbine tours - wind turbine visits
Reading Wind Turbine Visitor Centre, Green Park, Reading (RG2 6UL)
Find out about wind turbines, how they operate and how they produce energy. The visit is free but places are limited. To book a place, please email greeneducation@hotmail.co.uk

Sunday 20 March; 14:00-16:00
Science of Mother Nature
Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading (RG1 5EX)
Come and discover the science of nature at MERL and find out all about biodiversity. Lots of fun for all the family!

All events are FREE and suitable for the whole family unless otherwise stated.

End of the Age of Thorns: Surviving Consumerism

Rachel and I and some friends from my church attended Christian Ecology Link's conference in London on Saturday. The main speaker was Peter Owen Jones and in the afternoon there were sessions on Shopping as if the World Mattered, Greening your Church and on Green Economics - I attended the latter which was by Tim Cooper, Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption at Nottingham Trent University: excellent, interesting and accessible - the notes are on the CEL website, as are those on Greening your Church and now the text of Peter Owen Jones's talk too, below is a summary of the latter:

According to my erratic notes, Peter Owen Jones began by asking if we'd seen a butterfly yet this year: we are not natural predators of the butterfly but we are responsible for the decimation of their kind. He talked of the progress of the green movement (Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth), gaining credibility as they moved from the emotional to the empirical. But this can lead to the danger of expecting science to find the answers: the idea that science can save us is as flawed as the idea that theology can save us! Another dreadful truth is that Christianity has been responsible for much of the character of our propulsion towards 'progress', if you can call it that.Christianity is ruthlessly anthropocentric and as long as Christianity is offering salvation of self, separate from the natural world, humanity in the west will remain dangerously self-centred. In calling ourselves 'stewards' we place humans above Creation. It is a term so dry and without love - would you call God our steward or Jesus steward of the disciples? It is in communion with the natural world that we will realise our most dazzling future. Christianity began in urban enclaves and in 1900 years not a lot has changed.
He read out his ordination vows and asked, Did you hear a robin in there? the sound of the waves? the seals calling on the north Norfolk sands? It is not that we do not care, but we simply do not know where to put it. Our struggle is that we do not know where to put this love.
He then read out statements from the World Council of Churches:
”The drive to have “mastery” over creation has resulted in the senseless exploitation of natural resources, the alienation of the land from people and the destruction of indigenous cultures ... Creation came into being by the will and love of the Triune God, and as such it possesses an inner cohesion and goodness. Though human eyes may not always discern it, every creature and the whole creation in chorus bear witness to the glorious unity and harmony with which creation is endowed. And when our human eyes are opened and our tongues unloosed, we too learn to praise and participate in the life, love, power and freedom that is God’s continuing gift and grace”.
written in 1988 and similar sentiments from a declaration in 1990 that the churches would 'resist species destruction', but what has happened?
We need a new language, new festivals that do not separate us but include the environment, synchronise with the life of the planet. There has been a marked decline in the relevance of our festivals. Lent is one of the most important counter-cultural festivals in a world where materialism is so rampant. We cannot have a church that is so defined by its need for money that it is mortally compromised.
The church does not have the heritage to draw on or the language to speak on the environment. Over the last thirty years we've had some incredible theology but it has not reached the pews and the light of it has not reached the house of bishops. We need confidently to dream a new church beginning in communtion with the natural world (not stewardship). Yet he cannot see any substantial opening. Christian Ecology Link has dropped a pill into the establishment water but it does not appear to have dissolved. Since the first Christian woodland burial site was set up ten years ago no diocese has started their own. It is time now to  move beyond words. Abbey Well gardens in Glastonbury, Iona, Lindisfarne have much of this right relationship. The ground has been laid and we need to start living on it boldly, beautifully and confidently. We are not 'making an issue of it': it is the greatest issue of our age. Great changes always start with very small groups of people.

Reading Climate Change Partnership

I attended my third Reading Climate Change Partnership meeting on Friday. The RCCP is currently proposing an exciting and very sensible project to put pv panels on properties in a scheme that will use the Feed in Tariff to help tackle fuel poverty.

Among the various issues discussed was the need for more people to get involved in Reading Green Business Network - this is 'a web-based community for individuals active on climate change, sustainability and other green projects within businesses and public sector organisations in the greater Reading area. The website proposes to offer a forum for collaboration and best practice sharing, with the aim of adding value to the individual activities of its members and assisting all of us towards the achievement of the substantial reduction in carbon emissions and other environmental impacts in order to mitigate and adapt to climate change'. If you think this sounds useful please go to www.rgbn.org.uk.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Fairtrade Fortnight and Lent

It's Fairtrade Fortnight and there are some exciting events happening in Reading including:
The Great Cotton Stitch-up
Aurelie Walker, policy adviser to the Fairtrade Foundation will be talking about unfair trade rules at RISC this Thursday (3rd March) - click here for more details
Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance: What's the Difference?
Tuesday 8 March at Reading University - click here for more details

Lent starts next Wednesday and there is plenty of inspiration out there to make this an opportunity for greening our lifestyles:
Small daily actions to reduce our carbon footprints: Tearfund Carbon Fast
For details of the Lent course 'Jesus, the Earthly Powers and Us', co-written by Reading CEL member Owen Jewiss, see the Earthing Faith website which has more suggestions for Lent too