Displaying items by tag: Environment
The UK's largest untapped oil field has been approved for development by regulators. It is estimated that Rosebank, 80 miles west of Shetland, could produce 300 million barrels of oil - but opponents say those could account for 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. The lead company Equinor puts the capacity at about 70,000 barrels per day, which the BBC calculates would be about 10% of the UK’s current daily production. At that rate it would take about twelve years to extract the recoverable oil, although other groups have made higher estimates of the amount that could be found. The Government has welcomed the decision, saying it will raise billions of pounds and ‘make us more secure against tyrants like Putin’. Rishi Sunak said, ‘As we make the transition to renewables, we will still need oil and gas: it makes sense to use our own’. But Scotland's first minister Humza Yousaf said he was ‘disappointed’, while the Green Party called the decision ‘morally obscene’.
Following last week’s article about Antarctica, a recent study has linked a world-record heatwave there to climate change. In March 2022 temperatures in an area of east Antarctica, known as ‘Dome C’, reached -10°C, 39°C above normal. It was the most intense heatwave ever recorded on the planet. The study identified a ‘highly unusual’ weather pattern that brought warm and moist air from Australia, intensifying the heatwave. Climate change made the heatwave 2°C worse. This event raises concerns that climate change is impacting Antarctica, which was once considered relatively shielded. Scientists say that these heatwaves, which occur naturally to some extent, will become even hotter due to climate change. They have also warned of rising sea levels and the potential for Antarctica to stop acting as a refrigerant for the planet and start ‘acting as a radiator’. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Last month we prayed for water quality to be improved and managed before protected areas are built upon. This week the House of Lords blocked the Government's plan to relax restrictions on water pollution to encourage house building in England. Governments often lose votes in the House of Lords, but what makes this one stand out is that ministers can't revive this plan easily. Because it is a new idea, parliamentary procedure means the only way to have another go would be attaching it to another proposed law, or bill. This is a row that gets to the heart of one of the biggest issues in contemporary domestic politics. Building more homes in England in places people want to live. Labour plans to solve environmental concerns by letting developers build but ensuring they have sorted out the environmental issues before anyone can move into the new homes.
Only 14% of river water bodies in England currently achieve ‘good ecological status’. Pollution is the biggest problem; a quarter of rivers are not in good ecological health due to sewage pollution from water companies, homes and businesses, costing £1.2bn per year. Wildlife is threatened by poor water quality as fish spawning grounds are lost to silt building up. Too many nutrients in rivers feed algae growth, leading to streams and rivers becoming choked up with vegetation and a decrease in plant and wildlife diversity. Sadly, government ministers have proposed scrapping the pollution rules to build more homes - which will worsen sewage pollution. They propose building 100,000 new homes by 2030, loosening the rules around building near waterways in protected areas. The Wildlife Trust accused the Government of disgusting behaviour, saying that change will lead to ‘lots more poo in our rivers’ and ‘not solve the root causes of housing problems’.
Every year countries pledge to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to curb the impacts of climate change. But still temperatures keep rising. Last month scientists announced that the average rise in global temperatures would likely pass the 1.5C threshold in the next five years. With temperatures rising we will see more heatwaves, wildfires and floods. From 5 to 15 June countries’ leaders are meeting at the Bonn climate conference to discuss, among other things, local communities and indigenous peoples, pre-2020 ambition and implementation, science, and oceans. They will review their pledges as they look ahead to November’s COP28. Even a small increase in average temperatures makes a big difference as the whole distribution of daily temperatures shifts to warmer levels, making hotter days more likely and more extreme. See
As of 17 May, 88 wildfires were still burning across Alberta, and dozens more across British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Weeks of uncontrolled blazes have made air quality dangerously poor, changing the bluebird sky to an eerie orange glow. Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a special air quality statement as ‘very high risk’. Air quality is so poor that even those without pre-existing health conditions could have difficulty breathing, especially if doing strenuous activity outside. An Environment Canada meteorologist said, ‘It is potentially a really dangerous situation that everyone must take seriously’. Pray for children, older adults, and those with lung or heart conditions to be sensible and cautious and stay inside if breathing becomes difficult. Pray for healthy people to be aware of tell-tale symptoms such as sore throat, coughing, or being very tired or lethargic. Not feeling very good can even be attributed to air quality.
In recent years the Government has formulated and implemented new policies and initiatives to change the way farming is conducted. Many focus on helping and encouraging farmers to restore overworked land and improve care of the environment. 'Catchment sensitive farming' aims to work with farmers to produce food in a way that protects water, air and soil, reducing flood risk on agricultural land. Meanwhile, a National Farmers Union campaign, with the slogan ‘Our shops should never be empty of any food that can be produced by farmers and growers in Britain’, seeks to promote British food production and security. Pray for wisdom, especially for Christians in agriculture and horticulture, to seek the Lord for direction and inspiration and to be able to witness His wisdom, grace and hope to those with whom they work.
Alberta announced a state of emergency after wildfires forced 30,000 people from their homes and their jobs, leaving behind all they own in an ‘unprecedented’ crisis. Thousands more must be prepared to leave on a moment’s notice as 110 fires, fanned by strong winds, raged. By 7 May over twenty communities had been evacuated and 301,000+ acres burned. Pray for Albertans, living in one of the world’s largest oil-producing regions, as they closely monitor dangers to facilities. Ottawa is providing federal assistance where needed. Pray for those who are trapped and need to be rescued by helicopters and boats. Pray for good communication between the various emergency agencies bringing aid and providing shelter. Pray for the firefighters battling over 25 fires that were still out of control on 11 May. Pray for God to give his peace to those fearfully watching smoke in the distance. Pray for those debating whether to flee or stay and firefight.
Tearfund is calling on the international community to act fast to save lives after flash floods killed over 400 and left thousands homeless in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Torrential rain triggered landslides and caused four rivers to flood, hindering access routes and making it harder for aid agencies to reach the region. The death toll will rise without urgent intervention. It took rescuers two days to find a way to reach a devastated area because landslides and collapsed bridges blocked the road they wanted to use. Finally, they had to use the lake and a boat. Churches, schools and over 2,000 homes are destroyed, and more than a thousand people are missing. The fear is that the number of missing people will turn into deaths. It is a time of mourning , and action is needed to bring clean water, toilets, sanitation facilities and food.
On 25 April, Labour accused the Tories of turning the green land into an 'open sewer' after they tabled an amendment to Labour’s sewage bill. The environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey, said that people are ‘rightly disgusted’ about the excessive sewage dumped into rivers, and the Government would be making sewage reduction targets legally binding. Pray for our government to agree to a reform of the water industry that is both successful and economically sound. Also, on the same day a hosepipe ban came into force across most of Devon to help replenish water supplies ahead of the summer. An earlier ban, covering Cornwall and a small part of Devon, is still in place. 390,000 homes are affected by the restriction.