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Bridging the Gap – Hope and Action


Published on: Published on: Friday 16 Nov 2018

Contributed by/From: Contributed by / From: Mike Watson

When: @
details:


BYM SUSTAINABILTY GATHERING 19 – 21 OCTOBER 2018
Theme was Making Connections


May Hasbrook, the ‘Gathering Artist’ from Kalamazoo meeting, Lake Erie, USA, helped to create an art installation during the weekend. She made an introduction, talking about Benjamin Lay and reading a statement made by Isaac Pennington in 1661 (QF&P 26.70). ‘Give over your own willing, give over thine own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee and breathe in thee and act in thee; and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to inheritance of Life, which is its portion.’

Anne Ullaborn, Clerk of Meeting for Sufferings, set the scene within BYM. 49 of the 70 Area Meetings were represented at the conference. The Sustainability Group was formed in 2014 after 2011, Min.36, the Canterbury Commitment to a low carbon community. 2017 – review and the creation of the Carbon Smart Award. 2018 – February report on the divestment from fossil fuel investments. Meetings are seeking Eco-Church awards (see that website as well as Green Christian). In 2019 the Friends House restaurant will be meat free. The target is ‘carbon neutral (zero)’. Guidance and advice are awaited from staff but read QFP 25.2 and 25.7.

Paul Hoggett, psychotherapist and co-founder of the Climate Psychology Alliance talked about making connections with the ‘other’ in ourselves. The politics of victimhood are seen with ‘perpetrators’ in Germany, Serbia and Israel, but liberal ‘resentement’ is within ourselves when we gain pleasure from ‘nursing a grievance’ or ‘being innocent in the right’ – a form of moral narcissism. This is in us as well as the ‘other’. In Sunderland and Cornwall many people voted for BREXIT yet benefit from the Nissan factory and European investment. Complacency, denial, greed and political correctness come into this in us. Connecting with the enemy within is called ‘exceptionalism’. There is incomprehension that the rules that apply to the ‘other’ should also apply to us. As a species we are exceptional in considering that the God-given earth is just a resource for us. As nations e.g. USA, may be considered as God chosen and what applies to others does not apply to us. Our own soldiers cannot commit war crimes. As individuals we have internal propaganda – ‘I’ve done my bit’, ‘I deserve a rest’,’ I’m entitled to be left money by parents’ and these reinforce our own sense of complacency. What we need is to give is respect and promote solidarity.

Susannah Mattingly is a Sustainability Communications Officer at Friends House. She talked about 80% of climate change deaths are children - this includes extremes from childhood starvation to obesity. According to FWCC, there are 400,000 Quakers in 87 countries. A film showed that some farmers in Kenya are experiencing changing weather patterns with unreliable rainfall – how can they eat, never mind pay school fees? In the Philippines food security is threatened because rice yields are uncertain. The summers are hotter and then there is excessive rainfall flooding land. An evangelical Quaker farmer talked of the joy of the scriptures and of fulfilling the will of God.

Jo-anne Veltman, a children’s doctor, mentioned Sylvia Earle’s TED talk mentioning ‘Earth Guardians’ taking governments to court. Jo-anne is one of the litigants in the organisation ‘PLAN B’ taking governments to court re targets and policies on climate change. Good work has been done by Professor James Hansen. We need to discern Quaker simplicity, listen to the still small voice within and let out lives speak to others. We need to connect high emissions with climate vulnerability, be conscious of our consumption and cut out excess. There is scientific data on human impact. QUNO highlights this to the UN. The 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December in Poland will state how even a rise of 1.5 degrees is too weak, never mind a rise of 2 degrees. The time is now – the IPCC says we only have 12 years (until 2030) to achieve 1.5 degrees, after that tipping point it may be too late. 2 degrees warming means we may lose 80% of tropical reefs, there will be 7 months drought periods in Africa and flooding of the usable area of land around the Nile will increase from 7% to 80%. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. The ‘Albedo Effect’ will mean there will be a smaller area to reflect heat. Melting permafrost will expose toxins and release methane

Laurie Michaelis – Workshop – Ecothrift; living on a planetary budget. It is easier to do things when we are privileged. Take back plastic packaging to supermarkets – customer services may respond positively. Reduce stuff as part of end of life arrangements. We will need to reduce our energy use by 2/3rds. There is a lack of eco town planning e.g. putting solar panels on building new houses. Check out the green leaflet ‘Your contribution to climate change’ (copy shown) and calculate the climate impact of your lifestyle. Available on www.livingwitness.org.uk

Chris Walker and Gill Wescott – Workshop – Climate Justice and the new economy. New economy project is in keeping with testimonies, supporting Friends e.g. fracking. Cautious sense of optimism with Clean Growth Strategy - new climate measures will improve 1 million homes and provide support for low emission vehicles, but will not achieve 2030 target. There is no support for wind power on land, no significant support for P.V. panels and fracking is being allowed with relaxed planning conditions.
U.S. fracking is not safe and there has been a reduction in local democracy. There has been ‘incumbancy’ i.e. commercial power/energy advisers influencing government departments. UK has much higher gas use compared to Europe – home heating. Need action on divestment with local authorities on their pension funds. 6 trillion £ so far. Fossil fuels will not be a good long-term investment.
See the leaflet (show copy), ‘Climate Justice Opportunities for action Autumn 2018’ (www.quaker.org/climatejustice) which includes engaging with your M.P., a training day for lobbying skills on 1st December in Manchester and ‘No Faith in Fracking days on the last Friday of every month, from 1.00 – 2.00 at the Cuadrilla Fracking Site, Preston New Road, Blackpool PR4 3PF (bus route).

Economic changes are needed in respect of the easy availability of money and credit, resulting in increasing debt.
There is a positive bias towards landlords in lettings.
We need to confront trade leveraging free trade agreements and Brexit free trade deals. See websites ‘Bad boys of Brexit’ and ‘The Brexit Syndicate’.
There have been bad mistakes – nuclear waste, carbon capture rather than planting forests and no zero-carbon requirement for new homes. Google ‘Predicting the Price of Carbon’.

We have lost sense of right relationship, alliances and goodwill. We need to be functional and learn again that life is sacred with a profound spiritual deepening. Spiritual transformation – healing and bringing back into harmony. We need to go deep to a place where we have never been. That is the disconnect and the challenge of climate change. Elephant in the room – population growth.

CONCLUSIONS
1. We may need to dive into the gap rather than bridge it – maybe by being broken in the gap can it can lead us to a better place. Connect to trees, water, wind, mountains, soil, air – be more caring as well as looking after ourselves. Is it our role to bridge the gap or inhabit it? We can embrace the uncertainty and go through the fear by sharing with others. Accept people for where they are, validate their position and share their concerns so that they do not feel alone.
2. Be joyful and look for opportunities for fun.
3. Envisage the world we want.
4. Share stories
5. Exceptionalism is not the ‘other’ but us.
6. Find a balance between being virtuous and miserable – no point in wearing a ‘hair shirt’.
7. Try to find a positive message rather than being critical and dwelling on the negative.
8. What would I say to someone finding it difficult to engage with sustainability issues?

ANECDOTES
Check out ‘the International Exchange’ – live the faith and embrace climate change rather than feel helpless and that it is imposed on us.
Read Paul Hawken’s book ‘Drawdown’.
Desmond Tutu said ‘little bits of good together can overwhelm the world’.
Look at website ‘TheyWorkForYou.com to see what questions your MP is asking?
Schools can be taxed (VAT?) on the value of electricity from solar panels but Eton is not as it is a charity.
The benches in the garden at the Hayes Conference centre were made of recycled plastic.
Making beauty is a duty.
A Yupik (Inuit) elder said ‘we are late but we are here’





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