Resolving the crisis.
Researchers, including Gregor Czisch (Kassel), Mark Jacobson (Stanford) and Mark Delucchi (California-Davis), have observed that we could move entirely to renewable energy with twenty years. Czisch projects an European super grid and Jacobson and Delucchi a world wide one. What are the problems? The lack of political will and planning difficulties, according to researchers. I would add to those the ‘hair shirt’ tendency that exists within many parts of the ‘environmental movement’: the belief that resolving climate change is primarily, if not only, about reducing energy use and not implementing renewables. Plus, simple scientific ignorance and powerful fossil fuel lobbies.
These problems were extensively discussed at the recent Sustainability in Crisis conference, organised in late September by Faraday, at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. I believe that there is a resolution and that it lies within that discussion. We need a new initiative, a lobbying organisation that links faith and science: the basis for this was within that conference.
Lobbying is not campaigning, nor is it protesting though there is an important role for that too. Lobbying is about a representative group of people who stand for a very much wider constituency and who seek to present rational argument to decision makers. Fossil fuel companies don’t turn up to Parliamentary meetings en masse, they build relationships and spread their message quietly and effectively.
Could this be possible for a faith/science grouping in Britain? I believe it could. About six years ago I was able to link a then relatively small business and NGO led environmental lobby organisation, the Aldersgate Group, with a committee member of a think tank. Somehow, by the grace of God, I was asked to join, too.
Aldersgate has grown in membership and in influence with major multinational companies and well known MPs clamouring to join. Our receptions include Secretaries of State and a very wide range of company members and supporters. Aldersgate’s primary remit is for more and more effective environmental legislation; this has been focussed on climate change but, last year, I successfully introduced biodiversity/ecosystem services to our work-stream.
Scientists have had a bad time in the USA, where fossil fuel companies are much stronger and have the unfortunate support of the religious right. Science and religion, or, more accurately, scientists who have a religious faith would, I believe, have a much greater opportunity here. In Aldersgate we have NGO members such as Friends of the Earth and WWF and there is no reason why similar linkages could not be incorporated. Through our faith communities we have a very wide constituency – a large number of voters – and that gives us a numeric strength as well as a channel for communicating good science.
It’s not an easy answer nor yet a fast one but it would establish a new, powerful and generally respected voice that could link environmental issues with economic ones and wider social justice. We already have the people and the skills within our faith communities. We should remember, too, that we cover the world and that, down the line, we could be a world voice.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8.