S&L – Issue 23
Salt and Light
Issue Twenty Three (December 2011)
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 50 Things I learned in Durban
l Christmas and New Year Resources
l Take Action
l Church Conservation Action Survey
Letter from the Editor:
I’m back from Durban, South Africa and the Youth for Eco-Justice Training in conjunction with COP17 organised by the World Council of Churches and Lutheran World Federation.
Youth for Eco-Justice was great and I especially enjoyed meeting such incredible young people from around the world. We had participants from Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Burma, Canada, El Salvador, Georgia, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Palestine, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, UK, USA, Venezuela and Zambia. It was lovely to have such a great mix (around 2 people from each country) and to not have the group dominated by people from the western world.
In addition to our training, we participated in a COP related interfaith rally (see video here: http://assemblyonline.info/?p=15642&mid=5430), the Global Day of Action march (you may have seen this on TV, thousands attended. See: http://www.globalexchange.org/blogs/peopletopeople/2011/12/06/8000-strong-march-in-durban-at-the-global-day-of-action/), Africa Roars (school children on the beach making the shape of a lion roaring as a protest against the lack of action on climate change. See http://www.forabetterworld.net/projects/africa-roars) and attended a range of civil society and faith events around the negotiations. We also got to explore Durban and learn a little about the local culture and what local groups are doing for social and ecological justice in their contexts. It was my first trip to the African continent and I suffered a bit of a culture shock for the first few days but soon came to enjoy it. I can’t wait to go back.
To read my travelogue and see photos, please visit http://fiveleaf-crownofthorns.blogspot.com/
To read an article about the outcomes of Youth for Eco-Justice see http://www.lutheranworld.org/lwf/index.php/y4ej-projects.html?mid=55277
To be honest, having been there, I am surprised that anything at all came out of the negotiations (and it seems I’m not the only one, see: http://www.treehugger.com/climate-change/cop17-long-live-process-if-not-climate-or-future.html?campaign=daily_nl). The role of the Canadians, in particular, was deeply disappointing. I became close to the two girls from Canada on the trip and they were deeply uncomfortable with the direction their current conservative government is taking them. To get an idea of how they feel, see Kaitlin’s blog: http://kaitlinindurban.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/it-aint-easy-being-canadian/
And, as you probably know, Canada has just pulled out of Kyoto (See http://tcktcktck.org/2011/12/canada-withdraws-from-kyoto-protocol/). I am sure you all empathise with the shame concerned Canadian people feel, as we can just think back to the days before Australia signed on to the protocol. From my discussions with Kaitlin and Caroline, I think it would be a good idea if we all pray for Canada at the moment, and please keep the tar sands issue in your prayers in addition to their stand on Kyoto. For the perspective of the Canadian youth at COP17 see: http://canadianyouthdelegation.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/press-release-negotiators-celebrate-successful-cop/
So in terms of the agreement that has come out, basically:
Countries have now agreed to:
– A second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol
– A $100 billion Green Climate Fund for developing countries to adapt to climate change
– A mandate to get all countries in 2015 to sign a global deal to cut emissions by 2020, including China, India and the USA
– A workplan for 2012
For a bit more detail see the ABC summary at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-12-11/un-climate-talks3a-key-points/3724666?WT.svl=news3
There have been a range of responses to this. Climate Justice Now! (a broad coalition of social movements and civil society) have called the decisions ‘a crime against humanity’, while the Australian Conservation Foundation is a bit more hopeful, saying the decisions “will advance action on climate but require strengthening over time”. For more responses from various organisations see: http://tcktcktck.org/2011/12/22158/ According to the World Council of Churches it is not enough (See: Full text of the WCC statement to COP17, Statement on COP17 by the WCC general secretary, Video message by the WCC general secretary). I suppose I will say that I am deeply disappointed, but not surprised. I am grateful for the work and inspiration of my fellow participants in Youth for Eco-Justice which prevents me from slipping into depression over this repeated failure to act by our governments. No wonder multiple people told us we were the best part of COP17 they had seen!
Articles to explore further:
My deepest thanks to those who donated money towards my trip and made this wonderful experience possible.
Wishing you all a very safe, happy and green Christmas and New Year,
50 Things I learned in Africa:
- A ‘cab’ is a taxi and a ‘taxi’ is a small bus
- If your cab shows up only half an hour late you are doing well
- South African people are really nice
- African handicrafts are awesome
- Don’t get too close to the cute monkeys
- South Africa has really colourful birds
- Durban is hot
- African Christianity is often more conservative than Australian, for example drinking might be seen as a sin
- Slums are called shacks or townships
10. World AIDs Day – 1st December, feels entirely different in a country so affected by the disease
11. In some parts of South Africa 65% of the population has HIV/AIDs
12. A woman is raped every 15 seconds in South Africa
13. Having AIDs is still shameful enough that some people don’t come forward for treatment and others will travel to clinics miles from their homes for medicine to avoid being recognised.
14. When your culture doesn’t teach men how to look after themselves they may force young girls to look after their houses or marry early.
15. When women have to do all the chores they may encourage their husbands to take more women so they can share the workload.
16. You can’t go on safari near Durban L
17. If anything is broken or goes wrong don’t complain – TIA… this is Africa
18. Bathrooms don’t usually come with soap
19. KFC is the cheapest meal option for South Africans
20. South Africans eat way too much meat
21. Investing millions in university education before investing in primary or secondary education doesn’t work very well.
22. A stadium for 40,000 with a few hundred people in it looks strange (the Interfaith Rally sadly had somewhat lower attendance than expected)
23. On anyone else, Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s laugh would be kinda evil sounding
24. Churches can be great places to disseminate information
25. The Orthodox church has a Day of Creation liturgical feast on the 1st of September
26. Church is still a vibrant part of life and something you are supposed to do on Sundays in South Africa
27. Communities are willing to make sacrifices so their pastors can have good lives
28. This is sometimes taken advantage of.
29. Church greening organisations around the world can learn a lot from each other
30. SAFCEI is cool
Lessons for Australians
31. We should never take our garbage disposal for granted
32. Or our recycling collection
33. Or our wastewater disposal
34. Or our democracy
35. Being able to protest is a privilege
36. The Canadians made a very bad decision voting in their current Prime Minister (under his leadership so far they have pulled out of Kyoto, cut AID funding drastically and they are expanding tar sands oil mining).
37. Our self interest has become stronger than our instinct to protect ourselves
38. Illiterate people can understand climate change better than some sceptics
39. Reaching people is all about context
40. Sometimes one has to bend the rules a bit to campaign effectively
41. When we fail to act it is children who suffer
More General Stuff
42. Australians talk weird to everyone else
43. When people try vegemite they pull funny faces
44. It’s really hard to see what an aerial picture will look like from the ground
45. Youth are the future, and apparently really exciting
46. Having a professional photographer in your group makes a big difference
47. The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) is good at creating a presence (everyone asked me about them the moment they found out I was Australian and now South Africa is planning a youth coalition).
48. Botanic gardens rule!
49. If you can overcome Apartheid, what can’t you do, really?
50. Young people do care about the environment! J
New Year Resources
The Environmental Cost of Christmas
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 save 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, www.vegsoc.org, http://www.vegsoc.org/animals/VegSoc-TrueCostOfChristmas-2.pdf
 The Universityof York(7/12) Calculating the Carbon cost of Christmas – In Puddings! Communications Office, The University of Yorkhttp://www.york.ac.uk/admin/presspr/pressreleases/carbonpuddings.htm
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 inAustralia. 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 ofAustraliastand up and proclaim their love for you through their actions for the earth. Bless and grow your movement, as you have in theUSandEurope, 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,
These resources are taken from the ‘2009 Christmas Greening Resource’ written by Jessica Morthorpe for the Justice and International Mission Unit of the Uniting Church in Australia Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.
New Year’s Resolutions for You
When Shopping think about the real cost & Look for the Eco – Label
Don’t let the vampires get you! – Unplug your appliances when not in use
Many appliances draw power while on standby or even while turned off (these are called vampire appliances). It might not seem like a lot of energy but it can really add up. Unplug appliances when you are not using them and see the savings for both the planet and your wallet. If you want to check if an appliance is drawing power you can purchase a multifunction power meter relatively cheaply which will not only tell you the energy an appliance uses but can calculate the cost to you over a year.
Share a skill or possession
Don’t waste your skills! Hold a workshop at your church to teach sewing or cooking. Have a tool you don’t use all the time? Lawnmowers, cars, hammers and vacuums all make great things to share with your church community. Why have ten lying around dusty when you can share one?
Volunteer for the Five Leaf Eco-Awards
Want to make your church more environmentally friendly or help other churches to do so? We need your help!
If you think you can help with putting together resources for churches, writing articles for this newsletter, updating content for websites, or you have a particular skill you think might be useful to the Five Leaf Eco-Awards – or even if you just want to fill some time, why not contact Jessica Morthorpe to chat about it?
Encourage your friends to sign up for Salt and light
Help your friends keep up to date with the successes of the Five Leaf Eco-Awards, resources for their own congregation and the broader church greening movement in Australia by suggesting they email to sign up for Salt and Light: the newsletter of the Five Leaf Eco-Awards.
New Year’s Resolutions
for Your Church
Is your church doing something for the environment, or just thinking about it?
Get involved in the Five Leaf Eco-Awardsand make your church a community leader in environmental action. It’s easier than you think. Be empowered!
Contact Jessica for more information.
Make your church newsletter green today! Print all newsletters on 100% recycled paper or better yet, send them via email. Also, don’t forget to include an environmental tip each week. Not sure where to get the tips? Try websites like http://www.aboutmyplanet.com/category/daily-green-tips/ or http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/green-headquarters/green-tips.html
Does your congregation want to know more about the environment and how to help it? Why not start a library of books on environmental issues for your congregation. Why not start a book club as well to discuss what you learn? Start with this list: www.gmagazine.com.au/reviews If you would like more suggestions email. Also, consider getting subscriptions to the following magazines: G Mag, Ecos and ReNew
Green Action Book
Start a green book- a scrap book where your congregation can record the actions they have taken to help the environment and reduce their carbon footprint. Read out the entries once a month or get people to come up and talk to the congregation about what they have done. Soon everyone will realise it is not hard to make a difference!
Need some more pew Bibles? Why not buy these great environmentally friendly Bibles? Not only are they guilt free (they are printed on recycled paper with vegetable ink) but they have environmental verses underlined in green so now your whole congregation can see that there are over a thousand ‘green’ verses in the Bible. Give someone the Green News –Share a Green Bible http://www.freep.com/article/20081012/FEATURES05/810120334
Message from the Victorian National Parks Association:
Right now tiny pockets of urban habitat critical to the survival of vulnerable Melbourne wildlife such as the Growling Grass Frog and Southern Brown Bandicoot are coming under increasing pressure from property developers.
For the past two years the Victorian and federal governments have been developing plans for new urban growth corridors targeting thousands of hectares for housing and development in Melbourne’s north, west, south-east, and around Sunbury.
It’s now crunch time.
In the next few months the Federal Government must sign off on plans to protect several nationally threatened species in these areas, and the State Government is expected to sign off on growth plans and the future of Melbourne’s Green Wedges.
So your action and support now are critical! Let me explain why…
Draft conservation plans have been released for unusual and unique threatened species such as the Growling Grass Frog, Golden Sun Moth and Southern Brown Bandicoot.
While we expect thousands of hectares of habitat will be destroyed in the name of development, some critical habitat areas could be set aside to allow these and other native species to survive in the concrete jungle of urban Melbourne. But only with your help!
Please make a submission by 20 December following our submission guide and email Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke.
Politicians are coming under increasing pressure to reduce areas set aside for conservation. Some in the property development industry want this land for more houses and more profits, not nature. In recent news reports some have even questioned the conservation status of species such as the Growling Grass Frog:
GRASS FROG JEOPARDISES URBAN SPRAWL
Many of the proposed conservation areas will be multi-purpose. As well as being homes for native plants and animals, they will also provide recreation space for people, and protect creeks for water quality and flood control. It’s critical we get this planning right, for both people and nature.
Without strong conditions from the Federal Government that ensure a clear commitment from the State Government to implement the proposed conservation plans, the liveability of Melbourne could be put at risk.
How you can help!
- WRITE TO FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT MINISTER TONY BURKE
- MAKE A SUBMISSION BY DECEMBER 20
- MAKE A DONATION, AND SUPPORT OUR WORK
Your letter, submission or donation today will give us the best possible chance of creating conservation areas for Melbourne’s human and natural communities.
Church Conservation Action Survey
As part of the Youth for Eco-Justice Program, I have to complete an eco-justice related project of my choice in the coming year. I will be launching a new program called ‘Churches for Conservation’, challenging and encouraging churches to take action for the conservation of endangered species. If your church has already taken action in this area can you please let me know? I am looking for some inspiring stories to encourage those considering getting involved in the new program.