Archive: August 2020 - Operation Noah

Book review: Creation Care & Climate Change: what the bible says

Posted in: Blog

Kevin Shang, an Operation Noah trustee, reviews Creation Care & Climate Change: what the bible says

It seems that everyone is talking about climate change these days. Believers in the church, however, have differing attitudes towards this topic, despite reading the same Bible. Some acknowledge climate change is a real phenomenon but insist the problem will correct by itself. Some sceptics categorise combating climate crisis as a secular issue, which is mainly the responsibility of scientists and policymakers; instead, Christians should focus on matters in the church.

Familiarity is not understanding. I would recommend Creation Care & Climate Change, by Roland Heersink, to Christians who have heard a lot about climate change or global warming but seldom explored what the Bible says about these issues. This is one of the most Bible-based books I have read on climate change. From Genesis to Revelation, this book will help you to uncover what the Bible says on climate change and what that means for God-honouring decisions today.

What particularly impressed me was a new perspective on the importance of God’s living creatures on earth, including all birds, fish and animals. ‘For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God’ (Romans 8:19-21). ‘He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”’ (Revelation 21:5). Creation and all creatures are waiting to be released into the new heaven and new earth ahead. Birds, fish and animals are also part of God’s BIG plan. This makes those creatures a little more special to me.

I would highly recommend readers follow the author’s suggestion: read one chapter a day, pray and meditate on relevant Bible verses. This gives God time to speak to you about climate change issues.

Buy Creation Care & Climate Change

Christians to Take Part in Climate Crisis Protests

Posted in: Blog

Christian Climate Action will be helping organise Prayer Vigils in three locations during the September Rebellion

Christians to Take Part in Climate Crisis Protests

More than 100 Christians are expected to participate in climate crisis protests around the UK during late August and early September. Members of Christian Climate Action (CCA) will join with Extinction Rebellion and a number of other organisations as part of the September Rebellion, taking place from 28 August and themed around the slogan, ‘We Want to Live’.

  • CCA, alongside a number of other faith groups, is organising Prayer Vigils in London, Cardiff and Great Malvern.
  • The group is also organising an ‘At Home’ Vigil which people can participate in via Zoom.
  • Local CCA groups will be joining and organising local actions around the country from 28 August and national actions in London, Manchester and Cardiff from 1September.

Melanie Nazareth, a barrister, mother of four and a CCA member, said, ‘Prayer is the foundation of everything we do in Christian Climate Action. It unites and sustains us and gives us the strength to act with loving purpose as we seek to be good stewards of God’s creation. In this vigil our prayers will help us to draw closer to God as we bear public witness to the message that God loves the creation that we are destroying.’

Community and Ecological Emergency Bill

One of the key demands of the protests will be that the UK parliament passes a Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill into law. This bill is calling for:

  • A serious plan to deal with the UK’s fair share of emissions and to halt critical rises in global temperatures.
  • Our entire carbon footprint to be taken into account, both in the UK and overseas.
  • The active conservation and restoration of nature here and overseas, recognising the damage we cause through the goods we import.
  • Those in power not to depend on future technologies to save the day; these technologies are being used as an excuse for us to carry on polluting.
  • Ordinary people to have a real say on the right way forward in a Citizens’ Assembly with bite.

The CEE Bill has been developed with members of Extinction Rebellion, members of the successful Big Ask campaign that led to the Climate Change Act (2008) and Power for People. It has been written with contributions from prominent scientists and academics. The Bill has already received support from Kumi Naidoo, (International Executive Director of Greenpeace International (2009–2016) and Secretary General of Amnesty International (2018–2020).

Individuals can sign up to support the Bill here.

Why are Christians taking part?

Hannah Malcolm (centre) pictured with other CCA members

Hannah Malcolm, an Anglican ordinand and member of CCA, said: ‘There is no uncritical time to face up to unfolding climate collapse, but the next six months hold a vital window for change as countries plan economic stimulus packages. If used well, these could accelerate global decarbonisation. Government responses to Coronavirus around the world have demonstrated that rapid, coordinated action is possible, and have also shown us the deadly consequences of indifference. The question is, do we have the courage to abandon the usual way of doing things in order to prevent further death and suffering, and to make way for life to flourish?’


Fr Martin Newell at a previous Rebellion

Fr Martin Newell, a Catholic priest from Birmingham and member of CCA, explained why he is taking part: ‘We believe that being faithful means taking a stand on the biggest issue of our time. If you agree, please get involved – there’s lots of work to be done, both on the ground or from home if travelling isn’t viable. When Jesus said to James and John, “Follow me,” they stood up, dropped their fishing nets and did just that. As disciples of Christ, we are called to take action. Will you stand up and do what we are called to or will you remain in the boat?’

In 2018, Operation Noah produced a statement of our position on Extinction Rebellion. It can be read here.

More despatches from the climate breakdown front

Posted in: Blog, Science

While all eyes have been turned, for the last five months, to the Covid-19 pandemic Bill McGuire, Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at UCL and a regular guest blogger for Operation Noah, has noticed that news about global heating and resulting climate breakdown has been coming thick and fast.

Hardly surprisingly, most of the news about global heating and climate breakdown has been bad recently – some very bed – but there have also been small nuggets of good news hidden amongst the gloom.

Silver lining

Photo by Dimitry B on Unsplash

Every cloud, even the darkest, has a silver lining. As much of the world went into lockdown during March, so transport and much of industry and commerce ground to a halt. The welcome result was a sudden fall in air pollution and carbon emissions. Despite easing of lockdown, the International Energy Agency calculates that global emissions for 2020 could be down by as much as six percent, which would wipe out the growth in emissions over the last five years or so.

This is a figure not to be sniffed at, but it needs to be considered in context. To avoid catastrophic climate change, emissions must fall by around 7.5 percent every year for the next decade. The rather depressing reality is, therefore, that even a global pandemic has not been sufficient to bring about emissions reductions on the scale that we need. Still, it is a welcome hiatus, and one that we need to make the most of by pushing for a ‘new normal’ that is far greener than the old.

Fire and ice

Meanwhile, the vast quantities of carbon we have already pumped into the atmosphere have continued to play havoc with the weather and climate systems. During June, temperatures in the Siberian Arctic reached an all-time record high of 38°C, driving wildfires across millions of acres of tundra, which released vast quantities of soil carbon into the atmosphere. In fact, Siberia has been baking in unseasonal heat since January, marking a heatwave that a new study by the UK Met Office confirms, would have been impossible without human-induced global heating. Not to be left out, Antarctica also recorded its hottest ever day in February, when the temperature in West Antarctica touched a balmy 20.75°C.

Warnings from Antarctica

There has been more bad news from down under too. New research looking at past warming episodes – published in the journal Science –reveals that the colossal floating ice shelves that encircle much of the Antarctic landmass, are capable of sliding into the sea five times faster than they are at present. This means that as our world continues to heat up, so these ice shelves could start disappearing at a rate as high as six miles a year. It is a sobering fact that, the last time the ice shelves retreated at this rate – around 12,000 years ago – sea levels were climbing at an astonishing six centimetres a year, which is 12 times the current rate.

A sensitive climate

Probably the most disturbing news came courtesy of new modelling undertaken for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) 6th Assessment, due out next year. There is an almost magical number in climate change science, which is the value of so-called climate sensitivity. This, in simple terms, is the amount the planet will eventually heat up if the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide is doubled from pre-industrial times, when it was around 280 parts per million (ppm). In other words, 560ppm. Originally thought to be around 3°C, the latest models suggest that the worst-case figure for climate sensitivity could be as high as 5°C, which is a terrifying finding.

Atmospheric carbon levels are currently around 417ppm, and before the pandemic lockdown they had been climbing at about 2.4ppm a year. If we get back to this rate once Covid-19 dies back, then a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide could be achieved as soon as 2080. This would lock in an eventual global average temperature rise great enough to bring our civilisation to its knees.

This is, it has to be said, a worst-case scenario, and an even more recent study – the results of which have just been released – argues that climate sensitivity is more likely to lie between 2.6°C and 3.9°C. This is less bad news, but still very bad. Furthermore, past experience has shown that global heating and climate breakdown observations typically meet, and often exceed, earlier worst-case predictions.

Two for the price of one

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

I started off this post with some good news, so let’s end with another optimistic story.

New analysis, published earlier this month in Nature, demonstrated that sprinkling rock dust on farmland – on a big enough scale – could capture as much as two billion tonnes of carbon a year. This rather simple method works because as the rock dust – common basalt is best – weathers, so it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere and locks it in. The method is also relatively cheap and fertilises the soil at the same time.

Of course, two billion tonnes is only about one twentieth of current annual carbon emissions and it would require a huge and co-ordinated international effort to accomplish. However, barring the unlooked for Covid-driven emissions cuts, it is the first positive news on the climate front in a very long time. It also flags the fact that, while we may be in desperate straits, there are always approaches we can take to begin to challenge global heating and catastrophic climate breakdown. That is, if we really want to.

Bill McGuire is Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at UCL and author of Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanic Eruptions. He was a contributor to the IPCC 2012 report on climate change and extreme events and disasters. His new book, SKYSEED, an eco-thriller about climate engineering gone wrong, is published in September.

July 2020 Newsletter

Posted in: Newsletters

Read our July Newsletter

We have news of new trustees, a Methodist motion to divest from fossil fuels and Climate Sunday is just over a month away now!

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