Bishop of Doncaster

The Environment

Last weekend I was doing battle with myself as I enjoyed the pleasures of the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone.  Most of my family and many friends do not share my love of Formula 1.  As I describe the beauty of the cars, the aerodynamic design and the engineering, I can see them looking blank or disinterested.  I think the cars are things of real beauty.  As they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

On the other hand I am conscious that the cars, in spite of their improved design and new rules, use enormous amounts of fuel and produce emissions that cannot be good for the environment.  So I wrestle with something that I enjoy and find fascinating, with a desire to protect the environment.  This is an issue that most, if not all of us, have to deal with every day.  When we travel to work or make trips by car, bus, train or aeroplane, we are conscious that they will be giving off high level emissions.  When we use household items or heat our homes, we are aware that they are in the main not carbon neutral.

The list could go on and we will continue to wrestle with this serious issue and in our own way try to find ways of compensating.  What we do may seem insignificant, even irrelevant in a global sense, but each of us doing something however small to counterbalance environmental damage must have an impact.

From a Christian perspective the environment is God’s gift to everyone and we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.  Our duties towards the environment are linked with our responsibilities to each other.  We cannot consider ourselves in isolation to others.  Closely connected to this is the issue of consumerism.  In our desire to have and to enjoy we consume the resources of the earth in an excessive and disordered way.  Humankind has discovered that they have a capacity to effect change and transformation and in some ways create the world through personal endeavour.  This is a dangerous delusion, it ignores the Christian belief that we co-operate with God in the work of creation. 

We have a responsibility to look after the beauty of God’s creation and combat environmental issues and how we play our part in protecting the environment for all who will follow us.  It is to be hoped, therefore, that the Paris Climate Conference in December does not end in failure.  If each of us plays our small part politicians and world leaders must do theirs by negotiating an agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring that poorer countries can respond to floods, heatwaves and drought.

As we wrestle with our own consciences and as we try to resolve environmental crisis in our own ways, we should call on our own government to be a major player in these talks and not to withdraw from the table until a real and binding agreement is reached.  The lives of many in poorer countries and in future generations literally depend on this and us.

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Comment by Deepak Sircar on 11.19pm 14th July 2015 I think it's great that you are highlighting the environment, particularly from a Christian standpoint. As a follower of F1 since the days of Fangio and Moss, I echo your comments. We all need to look at how we can improve our own carbon footprints, and encourage others to do the same. I have a long way to go, but try to use the car much less for short trips and visiting in and near the parish, using my Ebike, mountain bike and good old Shanks' pony whenever possible.
Comment by Dean Fielding on 4.16pm 13th July 2015 Well I didn't realise you were an F1 fan! - and Formula E. This post is very interesting. I share the same passion for F1 and the environment, which F1 is a great developer for greener technologies that filter down to our hybrid and road cars. I have recently had solar panels fitted, thinking I was doing a big favour for the environment, (which I was) but to my horror I did some carbon footprint calcs and realised how much more we need to do! Some shocking facts: 1 litre of petrol creates 2.4Kg of CO2, 1Kg of CO2 at 1 atmosphere (normal air pressure) and room temperature takes up a volume of 550 litres. 1 litre of petrol burned creates 1320 litres of CO2!!! scary but true, and diesel is about 8% worse! I've just bought an electric car (yes it is still cleaner than petrol, the batteries are recyclable and at even at 470g/kwh from the national grid at 4.5 miles per kwh it works out at only 65g per km, and 0 when charge via my solar panels!) Also I am also applying to have a 10KW solar panels installed on our local church which will help produce clean electricity and generate some much needed income. Also heard that around 5000 people in the UK alone die each year from cancers and lung diseases attributed to road vehicle emissions, sadly that's over 3 times as many that are killed in road traffic collisions. Lets all do our bit to look after Gods beautiful creation!

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