From speaking out on climate change to prayer
Speaking out on climate change
Climate change is too doom-laden a topic to look square in the face for many Friends, as Sue Holden’s letter (3 March) implies. As an environmental scientist myself, I can face climate change and not despair. There are many things that we can all do, at no special cost or effort, to make a difference to future generations’ chances of living in this wonderfully diverse world.
Hold a simple audit of your own lifestyle and set about making the changes that make a world of difference. Here’s an example from my own life:
- Environmental problem: Commuting 250 miles by car per week for work.
- Solution: Move house to walking distance of work.
- Pros: Save three hours per day of stressful commuting; save £60 per week in fuel costs and all the associated emissions; and save £600 per month in mortgage costs. With my savings from making an environmentally sound move I can afford to support numerous environmental charities such as the Woodland Trust, the National Trust, the Royal Horticultural Society and Sustrans.
- Cons: None at all. I’m sure most Friends could think of a few positive changes that would also make a huge difference over a few years.
I think Paul Honigmann (3 March) misses the point about Jonathan Riddell’s letter (3 February), which uses the issue of Green Belt development to make a point about population growth. Jonathan states that we cannot be truly sustainable until we have responded to the challenge of overpopulation.
This is a point that Paul appears to agree with, in that he says he accepts that there should be ‘population control’ (the phrase ‘population control’ is seldom used now, because it suggests coercion and no organisation in this field practices or preaches coercion) and then asks how.
We know how. Look at the example, for instance, of Bangladesh. In the 1970s, one province was provided with services including home visits, choice of contraceptives and follow-up care. This produced such a rapid decline in fertility that the programme was extended to the whole country. Other countries have been similarly successful, including Iran, Rwanda, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Policies in the latter three countries have been, without coercion, more effective than China’s one child policy.
Why should Quakers be interested? Demographers think that the Earth could support a population of two billion long term consuming at the rate of the developed world, which means that the present poor of the world will never achieve equality with the developed world.
One demographer remarked that the world would never reach a population of ten billion: ‘either because we had done something about it, or because we had not.’ That is food for thought, isn’t it?
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