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the Christian ministry of the whole people of God.

The power of the wind

"Hewitt announces biggest ever expansion in renewable energy."  Thus ran the recent DTI Press Notice, informing us that 10% of Britain's energy will come from renewable resources by 2010, and perhaps double that figure by 2020.  Having recently read The carbon challenge, a carefully researched article in the Centre for Alternative Technology magazine (www.cat.org.uk), I was encouraged.

Author George Marshall starts with chilling lines: "It is important to recognise that stabilizing concentrations of greenhouse gases is not the same as preventing climate change - sadly we have missed that opportunity. The best we can hope for now is a soft landing in a radically different climate."  Stability means limiting emissions to the amount of carbon that can be removed from the atmosphere by natural processes - 4 billion tonnes globally per year, or about 0.67 tonnes per person at present population levels. For the UK, current consumption is 2.5 tonnes per person and for the US 5.0.

Fine, but is this of any particular relevance to the Christian?  Without doubt.  We read of God's good creation in Genesis 1, and his command to humankind to 'subdue' it (v28).  The nuance of the verb in its context is 'to master' in a way that respects the environment.  After all, "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it" (Ps 24:1).  And as Wright puts it in his book Living as the People of God: "Ö the principles of fairness and compassion [in the Old Testament] extended even to working animals, such as the laden donkey and the threshing ox."  To which we might add: "and the land" (Lev 25/26; Judges 3, 5, 8; 2 Chronicles 14).

If that's some global Christian thinking, what is some local Christian action in this context? George Marshall argues that for the planet's - and our own - survival we must apply three mutually supporting strategies: increase efficiency, substitute renewable energy for fossil fuel, and change lifestyle.  So as I relocate next month, I want to work on insulating my home and improving the efficiency of its heating system.  I want to explore solar water heating ("reduces emissions by 15%") and switch to electricity generated from renewables (Juice - www.npower.com/juice).

I learn, however, that to get below that 0.67 tonne/year limit, lifestyle change is inevitable: for example use the bike or the bus; curb the flying which consumes most of my annual allowance on a one-way trip to New York. But hey, Jesus said: "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions" (Luke 12:15) - or the rate of consumption of energy?

Yours in Christ

Peter Nicholls

"It is important to recognise that stabilizing concentrations of greenhouse gases is not the same as preventing climate change - sadly we have missed that opportunity. The best we can hope for now is a soft landing in a radically different climate."

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