S&L – Issue 15
Salt and Light
Issue Fifteen (December 2010)
Five Leaf Church Greening Initiative Newsletter
“We believe that Creation Care is a core Christian responsibility”
The aim of this newsletter is to provide a supportive and informative link between individuals and groups that share a care and Christian responsibility for our environment. You are on this newsletter list because you have expressed an interest in the Five Leaf Eco-Awards program or have communicated with the National Coordinator – Jessica Morthorpe.
l Letter from the Editor
l Doom and Gloom
l Monthly Action Tips
l A Stirring of hope
l Book Review
l Christmas Prayers
l Quotes of the month
l Websites to visit
Letter from the Editor:
Can you believe another year is almost over? I know I can’t. It’s been a big year! For the Five Leaf Eco-Awards, for church greening in Australia and for me personally. I’m looking forward to a short rest then getting right back into it next year. So many churches to visit and awards to give out!
I mentioned in the last issue that I would be away leading a Schoolies for the Environment trip organised through the Uniting Church’s Schoolies for a Cause program. The trip went very well. We took six girls up to the Grampians National Park in Victoria where we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and flora, took on the Pinnacle and a variety of other bushwalks, learnt a lot, and gave something back by doing some intense weeding of several campsites to protect the native plants and grasses. The girls were really wonderful and very enthusiastic about doing something for the environment. They made my job easy and we all had a great time. Any of you who worry about the younger generations – these girls would have helped restore your faith. If any of you know students who will be completing year 12 next year and might be interested in an alternative schoolies experience in the Grampians, Cape York or Indonesia, please let me know.
Now that I have graduated I will be on holidays once this newsletter goes out and away from my email until after the New Year, but I will get back to any queries then and I am always available on my mobile.
A big thanks to you all for reading Salt and Light this year and for being involved in the Five Leaf Eco-Awards. May God bless you for the contributions you have made to the redemption of creation and the Church.
I pray that God will keep you all in grace and peace and speak to you through the beauty of creation these holidays.
Wishing you all a very Merry and green Christmas,
Doom and Gloom
No one ever wants to hear bad news at Christmas, but the inescapable fact is that these celebrations have an impact on our planet – and it’s rarely a positive one.
Christmas can be expensive. Not just financially, but for the environment as well. In 2004, clothing purchased for Christmas produced 720,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution and used 38,000 megalitres of water. Australia’s most polluting power station would take more than two weeks to produce that much greenhouse gas pollution, and to use that much water you would have to leave the garden hose running for 324 years.
Gifts of popular electronic devices such as DVD players, i-pods and air-conditioners created 780,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution before they were even switched on! Meanwhile the production of the alcoholic beverages consumed in December 2004 used enough water for 42,000 Olympic sized swimming pools. Every dollar spent on lollies, chips and chocolates creates half a kilogram of greenhouse gas, uses 30 litres of water and 0.7kg of material and disturbs a meter square of land. In 2004, $123 million was spent on confectionary. So if you have bought only $30 of confectionary for Christmas, you will be using 20kg of materials, 940 litres of water and creating 16kg of greenhouse gas.
Books and magazines have a large impact also, with 40,000 hectares or 5,000 MCGs worth of land being disturbed in their production in 2004, along with greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to 85,000 cars being on the road for a year, a total of 430,000 tonnes .
Around 10 million turkeys are killed to provide meat for Christmas each year  and researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute have calculated that three days of Christmas celebrations (Christmas Day, Boxing Day and ) can create as much as 650kg of carbon dioxide emissions per person – around the weight of 1,000 Christmas puddings. This includes 26kg of CO2 from Christmas food consumed, 96kg from Christmas car travel, 218kg of CO2 from Christmas light displays and 310kg from Christmas shopping .
As you can see, Christmas can be bad news for the environment; but it doesn’t have to be. There are many things we can do to reduce the environmental impact of our Christmas celebrations; see one of the challenges below for ideas. After all, Christmas is not really about the trappings; it is about a single gift – Jesus Christ. The Son of God, born in a borrowed manger, who came to redeem all creation.
Question for thought: How would Jesus want you to celebrate Christmas?
 Australian Conservation Foundation (14/12/2005) The Hidden Cost of Christmas: The Environmental Impact of Australian Christmas Spending, ACF online, http://www.acfonline.org.au/uploads/res/res_xmascost.pdf
 Prime, Gilly, The True Cost of Christmas: A Special Report by the Vegetarian Society Highlighting the Plight of Animals at this Time of Year, http://www.vegsoc.org, http://www.vegsoc.org/animals/VegSoc-TrueCostOfChristmas-2.pdf
 The University of York (7/12) Calculating the Carbon cost of Christmas – In Puddings! Communications Office, The University of York http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/presspr/pressreleases/carbonpuddings.htm
Canberra’s ecological footprint growing
A new report shows ACT residents are highly dependent on land and resources and are leaving a big environmental footprint.
The footprint is a calculation of the amount of land and water required to support a community’s lifestyle. The results for 2008-09 show the average Canberra resident needs more than 9 hectares of land.
The ACT’s footprint is growing, increasing by 8 per cent in five years. It is above the national average and nearly three and a half times the global average.
For the full story see: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/12/14/3093058.htm
Monthly Action Tips
Conscious Christmas Consumption
So this month’s action tip is to be a conscious consumer. You may have already bought all your Christmas presents and food for this year and that’s fine, but have a think about the impact of this consumption. What are the social, ethical and environmental dimensions of the products you have bought? If you don’t know, do some research. The point of this exercise is not to get you down, but to help you to prepare for next year. How can you change your consumption patterns to make the impact of your grocery shopping and next year’s Christmas lower? What kind of tools might help you along the way? Many have been provided in this newsletter already, but if you need help don’t hesitate to contact us.
For those still looking for Christmas presents, most social and environmental charities have some great gift items you can buy, or simply make a donation on behalf of the person. Just do a search for their favourite charity and see what is on offer.
Sign up for Just Faith
Just Faith has been designed by TEAR Australia for Christians who are interested in exploring the connections between their faith and the big issues of the world today. Participants are invited to open their Bibles, open their eyes, and open their hearts. Together we will investigate the state of the world and what the Bible says about how we can look at, understand and live well in this world.
The Just Faith campaign will help the people in your church consider what a biblical worldview looks like and how such a worldview challenges our faith and life. With curriculum designed especially for adults, youth and children, you can see your church united, discovering together what it means to follow Jesus in an unequal world.
A Stirring of Hope
Endangered snails come out to play in big wet
Record rainfalls in Central Australia have resulted in a population explosion of endangered land snails. See the full story at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/12/13/3091707.htm
NASA Life Discovery: New Bacteria Makes DNA With Arsenic
A new species of bacteria found in California’s Mono Lake is the first known life-form that uses arsenic to make its DNA and proteins. Dubbed the GFAJ-1 strain, the bacteria can substitute arsenic for phosphorus, one of the six main “building blocks” for most known life. The other key ingredients for life are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur.
Warm praise for Cancun deal to stop logging
One of the key agreements from the Cancun climate summit is a deal to pay poor countries to stop chopping down their rainforests. The agreement, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), was completed at the weekend.
It is still unclear where the funds will come from, but some countries like Norway and Australia are already putting money into Indonesia to stop the destruction of rainforests.
European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard says stopping illegal logging and the legal clearing of forests for cattle farms and palm oil plantations was seen at the Cancun climate talks as a quick fix to tackle global warming.
The deal on REDD establishes a framework for rich countries to pay poor countries to stop logging. The deal also offers Indigenous groups some limited protection that they will have access to the forests for cultural or traditional purposes.
The details of the REDD agreement will be worked on during 2011 and finalised at next year’s climate conference. For the full story see: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/12/13/3092247.htm and for the World Council of Churches’ perspectives on Cancun see http://www.oikoumene.org/en/news/news-management/eng/a/article/1634/timid-hope-at-end-of-clim.html
Round-the-clock robots to explore Tasmania’s ocean waters
Tasmanians will soon be able to better manage their marine resources and track marine threats, thanks to hi-tech ocean monitoring.
The IMOS technology will enable scientists to thoroughly assess the state’s marine environment. It will also be made publicly available on the internet.
For the full story see: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/12/14/3093206.htm
The Ethical Christmas Resource Kit
There are options for better buys within the supermarket and department store. Yet at the same time, the real answers are in supporting alternatives beyond. We’ve tried to give you a sense of what to look for, but also outlined some resources to help you where to find local, free range, organic, sustainable and waste free options.
Remember to focus on one issue at a time. Your choices do make a difference, but at the same time it’s no use being overwhelmed. Do what you can with the resources available.
This resource kit divides information into three sections, covering food; gifts; and decorations, lights, trees. It is designed as a companion to the 2011 edition of the Guide to Ethical Supermarket Shopping and referenced throughout with links to the http://www.ethical.org.au website and the guide itself.
The Guide to Ethical Supermarket Shopping 2011
A handy pocket-sized guide designed to help you match your shopping habits with your values. It’s the ideal size for keeping in your bag for quick reference, so every time you shop in a supermarket, you can make an informed decision about where your money goes. This new edition has been completely revised and updated, and is also available as the Shop Ethical! iPhone app.
The Guide to Ethical Supermarket Shopping has sold over 75,000 copies and is in it’s fourth edition.
The Guide to Ethical Supermarket Shopping 2011
Compiled by Nick Ray and Clint Healy
Produced by the Ethical Consumer Group
Printed on 100% recycled paper
Published Nov 2010. RRP $6.00Order online at http://www.ethical.org.au/get/guide.php
Advent Green Pointers for Preachers from Christian Ecology Link
2011 Calendar Dates:
– 2011 is the UN International Year of Forests
– March 6 – Clean Up Australia Day
– March 26 – Earth Hour
– April 22nd- International Earth Day
– May 22nd – International Day for Biological Diversity
– June 5th – World Environment Day
– September 25th – Ecumenical Social Justice Sunday
– October – 17th – 23rd – National Water Week
– November 26th – International Buy Nothing Day
Many of you will have no time to read this month, but others will have more, so for those who do, why not read something on eco-theology or faith and the environment? There is an astounding number of books now available on this topic, so why not find one that interests you and write a book review on it for Salt and Light? All submissions will be most welcome.
Chris Dalton’s reflection on Here on Earth: an Argument for Hope by Tim Flannery (2010)
In his book ‘Here on Earth’, Tim Flannery moves on from Darwin’s reductionist view of evolution, Dawkins’ ‘selfish gene’ theory and the neo-classical Chicago school of economics and embraces a ‘re-enchantment of science’ by invoking Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis to find hope for the future amidst the prospect of environmental disaster. His holistic vision almost takes on a spiritual as well as physical dimension. He speaks of a ‘commonwealth of virtue’, of striving to love one another and the planet as much as we love ourselves; in this vision evolution is described as ‘heaven’s performance’.
In reflecting on Flannery’s book, Chris Dalton has extended the Gaia metaphor as a way of giving a new insight into the Cosmic Christ and ‘God’s economy of salvation’. It portrays Gaia as the Suffering Servant, who absorbs into herself all environmental sin and its consequences, and then transforms into a New Heaven and a New Earth.
For the full reflection see
Help us to celebrate your birth in a meaningful way this Christmas. Make this Christmas about love and kindness, family and faith. Deliver us from the temptations of consumerism, envy and gluttony. Help us to think of those who are less fortunate, or for whom Christmas is not a happy time.
We also pray at this time for people in impoverished countries, especially those being forced out of their homes and countries by the rising sea levels caused by Climate Change. We pray for those who will suffer in the natural disasters exacerbated by Climate Change and we ask for your help in making the tough decisions and taking the actions needed to slow this crisis.
In the lead up to this time of hope and joy, which can so often become stressful with preparations, help our souls to draw near to you and find peace. Slow our hands as we buy food for the day, and help us to remember that our satisfaction comes from you. Please give us wisdom in choosing the presents for our friends and family and bring our families closer during the season’s celebrations.
We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen
Christmas Prayer for Creation
Help us also to remember our wider family; not only that of humanity, but all your creatures with whom we share this earth. Help us to reduce the suffering our celebration of Christmas causes them.
Lord God, at Christmas you gave the world hope through your Son; help us to remember this hope for all your creatures at this time and help us to act as your hands and body in bringing this hope to all. Help us to end the groaning of creation, and to reveal ourselves as your children by bringing love and hope as beacons in the darkness.
Help us also to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of our country on this day. So many of our Christmas traditions are based around the idea of a ‘White Christmas’ that we can become disappointed with this land in which we are privileged to live. Let us, instead, take joy in the hot summer sun, the smell of eucalypt trees and the cool refreshment of a pool or ocean. Let us give thanks for our bountiful beaches, our rugged bushland and our old, dry and majestic country.
Finally, Lord, help us to choose one of the greening Christmas challenges (in this resource) and to stick to it, that our celebration of Christmas might bring more joy to all.
We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen
Prayer for the Church Greening Movement in Australia
Lord of Heaven and Earth,
We ask your blessing on the church greening movement in Australia. We thank you for all those churches who have already taken actions to reduce the impact of their churches and congregations on your creation. We thank you for the ministers in these churches, for their green groups, for those who have led their greening and for all the individuals who took part in these changes. We ask you to bless and strengthen them that they might do even more for your glory. We thank you also for those who give their time to help churches become greener, and to help those beginning in this area to find the way forward.
We ask you Lord to speak to other churches through the power of the Holy Spirit and tell them also of Your love and concern for creation. Let the churches of Australia stand up and proclaim their love for you through their actions for the earth. Bless and grow your movement, as you have in the US and Europe, and raise up churches to lead the fight against climate change. Help us to show that by following your teachings we can create a greener and more sustainable world, one that has hope for the future. Let us be salt and light in your world,
We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen
Quotes of the Month
“To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.” Elwyn Brooks White
“Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.” Oren Arnold
“How to be green? Many people have asked us this important question. It’s really very simple and requires no expert knowledge or complex skills. Here’s the answer. Consume less. Share more. Enjoy life.” Derek Wall
Websites to Visit:
What Would Jesus Buy? : Christmas Links
Green SAHM: How do you limit your environmental impact at Christmas?
The Story of Stuff