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Date posted: 20 December 2013
December 2013: A letter to Church Times from Dr Isabel Carter, Chair of Operation Noah, in response to their coverage of fossil fuel disinvestment.
I was particularly encouraged by the news that two thirds of the respondents to your ‘Question of the week’ agreed that the Church should indeed disinvest from fossil fuels. However last week’s challenging letter from Michael Roberts calls for some clarification on Operation Noah’s campaign asking the Church to make this step.
Fossil fuels are one of God’s many blessings. Their rich sources of energy drove the industrial revolution and led to so many of the technologies our Western world takes for granted. They also yield so many other products, such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, antiseptics and fertilizers that we depend upon. But, and it is a huge but, our excessive consumption of fossil fuels is leading to potentially humanity’s biggest crisis; a changing climate that threatens all our futures.
With Christmas in mind, chocolate is also a wonderful gift. But few of us overindulge so much that we risk damaging our long-term health!
At present, we are still dependent on the fossil fuel industry to continue driving our vehicles and heating our homes. Weaning away our dependence on fossil fuels will take time and creativity: although the need is urgent, we know it won’t happen overnight. When Operation Noah calls for disinvestment from fossil fuels, we are not saying stop using all fossil fuels immediately, but rather stop spending vast sums on future exploration of ever more inaccessible reserves – in our view crazy when the world already holds five times as many oil reserves than we can safely burn for our own future wellbeing. And we have increasingly viable and varied alternatives as renewable and sustainable energy sources continue to develop.
Poor, subsistence communities around the world are already paying the price of the western world’s enjoyment of fossil fuel energy with changing weather patterns, more frequent droughts and flooding and the inundation of once fertile low lying land with sea water. The choices humankind makes in the next decade or two about our over-use of fossil fuels are immensely serious – that is why we are asking the Church to provide the moral and ethical leadership that our global community is seriously lacking.
Dr Isabel Carter
Chair of Operation Noah
(Letter published in Church Times, December 2013)