The churches are very much larger than any British political party. Even the Methodist church has more paying members than the Conservative or Labour parties – more than the Conservatives and Ukip together. The Church of England has five times as many people in church every Sunday than the number of Tory party members.
today, we have a country that has spent vast sums of money on futile militarism; that is currently preparing to spend another £2 billion or so on a fleet of fighter planes so that Britain can continue to ‘punch above its weight’, yet which cannot – or will not – find the £500 million shortfall identified by the government advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, to strengthen the country’s flood defenses. These priorities must change, or we are going to see some truly horrendous events over the coming years.
But if there is one good thing that might come out of the terrible series of weather events we have seen both in the UK and beyond this this winter, it must surely be to reach a common consensus that we are facing a real emergency - not the pseudo-terrorist emergency that has been so wildly exaggerated and blown out of all proportion since September 2001 – and used for all manner of objectives that have nothing to do with anyone’s security. On one level ‘national security’ is a misleading prism through which to view climate change. What we are really talking about – or should be talking about – is human security, and the need to develop common national and international policies that can mitigate the worst effects of global warming and try and prevent some of the catastrophic disclocations that seem almost certain to take place if we don’t do anything.
today’s teenagers – or youth, as certain newspapers prefer to dub them – far from being antisocial hoody-clad riot-mongers, are actually highly concerned with social issues, keen to volunteer, and take fewer drugs and drink less alcohol than previous generations.
Like many of you I lay in bed listening to the radio on Wednesday morning as the story about statins for all over forties broke and I began to sob and rock gently in a foetal position. But then I saw the world through the cold, hard eyes of a profiteering multi-national and the scales of naivety fell from my eyes. They weren’t just after me… they wanted to hook the next generation too. By launching a campaign to get every single forty plus onto statins then their cash tills will begin to chime like never before… but there is a subliminal message that became clear to me – and it goes like this. Overtly they are saying that folk are doomed to a life of chronic heart problems due to succumbing to unregulated consumption of fast food, ready meals and cheap booze, but can save themselves with a daily statin. Covertly they are telling our kids to pig out on all of the burgers, chips, pizzas, microwave horsemeat lasagne and bargain basement alcopops that they can because there is a magic pill to save them further down the line. How about that for a piece of cunning.
Steven Croft, the bishop of Sheffield, described the threat of climate change as “a giant evil; a great demon of our day”, adding: “Its power is fed by greed, blindness and complacency in the present generation, and we know that this giant wreaks havoc though the immense power of the weather systems, which are themselves unpredictable.”
Throughout my life, the Bible has been a constant source of personal inspiration. Because of this, I feel deep sorrow that, on the one hand, vast numbers of people around the world consider it at best, to be confusing and at worst, intolerant and violent. On the other, I am frustrated that our responses, as the Church, to their questions are so often ill thought through, poorly articulated and laden with in-house, inhospitable, inaccessible language. To put it more bluntly, I believe it is the responsibility of all those who are not ready to agree with, what I regard as, Professor Dawkins’ rather superficial and juvenile conclusions about the biblical text, to create space for a deeper discussion and debate around the way in which we work with it and, as a consequence, who we understand God to be.
“Fracking gas,” like all natural gas, is basically methane. Methane unfortunately is an even more potent greenhouse gas than CO2: at an interval of 100 years it is now estimated to be 32 times as bad, and at 20 years to be 72 times worse! If it leaks from well head to stove by more than 3%, it gives back its critical advantage and becomes no better than coal in its climate effect.
While we assume that virtual worlds are an escape from reality, they are in fact perpetuating the status quo. And while we assume that virtual worlds allow us to reinvent ourselves, they are in fact powerful psychological tools for shaping how we think and behave.