New Year Greetings to all the readers of this blog. The year 2013 lies behind us and we await the challenges and opportunities that 2014 will bring as we seek to inform our churches and communities about the urgency of the environmental issues we face and encourage them to make a renewed effort to tackle them.
September 2013 saw the publication of the Working Group I component of the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report (see the article by Sir John Houghton on the main JRI website). The reports of the other IPCC Working Groups will follow during 2014. In my view the WGI report did not receive the attention in the media that it merited. There would therefore seem to be an increased responsibility on those of us who do understand the implications of the IPCC Assessment to make them more widely known. The situation seems to me to be similar to that of the watchman in Ezekiel Chapter 33.
What else is likely to engage our attention in 2014? Two issues that immediately spring to mind are:
• There are now less than two years to the COP Climate Change talks in Paris towards the end of 2015 where an agreement on emissions reduction is to be reached. There was widespread disappointment across the spectrum of NGO’s at the lack of progress at the recent talks in Warsaw and a recognition that since Copenhagen in 2009 Climate Change has slipped down the public’s priority list. The hard work of raising the public profile again will need to commence in 2014;
• ‘Shale Gas’ and ‘Fracking’ have been the source of much controversy during 2013, and for the residents of Balcombe in Sussex the cause of considerable disruption. The government have now published for public consultation a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) relating to shale gas and other hydrocarbons. The SEA provides us with the opportunity to input to the debate on whether shale gas should be exploited on a large scale in the UK and to scrutinise and where appropriate challenge the arguments presented relating to compatibility with the UK emissions reduction targets and the adequacy of water resources.
All those of us who are engaged in attempts to raise awareness regarding climate change, through either advocacy or education will be aware that our efforts are currently only meeting with limited success. We therefore need to constantly seek to refine and improve our communication skills. In that regard the Stephen Schneider Lecture delivered by Gavin Schmidt at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2013 Fall Meeting is well worth listening to. (You can find it on the AGU YouTube Channel). The lecture considers the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of communication and advocacy by scientists and identifies some of the benefits and pitfalls. Dr Schmidt and some of his colleagues run the ‘RealClimate’ blog which is a resource I have found particularly useful for comment, discussion and context relating to newly published papers on climate science.
I hope to discuss these and other issues in more detail in future posts. Meanwhile your views on what are likely to be the most significant issues on the environment scene would be welcome via the comments facility.
Just down the bottom of the road in my village stands an empty pub waiting to be turned (probably) into an expensive country residence. On the gate is a notice telling us that the District Council is being asked to designate it as an “Asset of Community Value” (ACV). The fact that it is an establishment that could not be made financially viable, should tell you a lot about this particular “rural community”. Meanwhile, I watch with interest as colleagues engaged in what is called “Asset Based Community Development” (ABCD) gathered at a conference of the Church Urban Fund, where the speakers have included the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) and advocate of Blue Labour, Lord Glasman (no letters available I’m afraid), tweet their enthusiastic comments about “community”. Some examples: “whatever the question; community is the answer”; “community is not just a place of need, it’s a place of incredible untapped resources”; “it is in community that everything comes together”; “we are often trying to engage community before we have built community”. Whilst not wanting in any way to denigrate the efforts nor dampen the idealism of those currently engaged in faith based community development work – and I applaud (I think) the ABCD approach which begins not by identifying local needs and responding to them, but instead by identifying local skills and attempting to build upon them – I am amazed at this use of the term “community”.
Continue reading Community – what community?
Hello everyone. These are a few words by way of introduction. My name is Peter Lornie and JRI have asked me to be the editor of their new blog. I am a physicist by training and spent my working career in a technical role in industry. I took the opportunity a couple of years ago to become semi-retired so that I would have more time to spend on environmental issues.
I became a christian part way through my first term at university in 1968. I live in Essex and am part of the leadership team of the local Baptist church. I have been involved with JRI for several years now and so some of you may have met me at various JRI events.
Continue reading Introduction from the Editor
The JRI community blog will feature articles by JRI Associates and guest writers. Contributors should submit text by email via the JRI Administrator. Blog articles should usually be a maximum 500 words, and be accompanied where possible by a suitable image or images.
Our latest newsletter is now online for viewing and download.
November 2013 JRI Newsletter
It is a double-length (8 pages) edition, with news of the forthcoming annual conference at Redcliffe College on Saturday 1st March 2014; the completion of our “Environment and Hope” project and its publication in a special issue of Anvil theological journal; the move of our office to Redcliffe College in Gloucester; the fifth IPCC report and the publication of Sir John Houghton’s autobiography; two reviews by Rev Keith Innes of other new books; and more.
Progress or Problem? Responding to Genetically Modified Food and Crops. The annual Redcliffe College / JRI Environment Day. Conference report now available including video and audio recordings, as well as Powerpoint slideshows.
GM crops and food report with video and audio files.