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Fossil fuels: a reply from Operation Noah

03 January 2014


From Dr Isabel Carter

Sir, - I was particularly encouraged by the news that two-thirds of the respondents to your "Question of the Week" agreed that the Church should indeed disinvest from fossil fuels. Last week's challenging letter from the Revd Michael Roberts, however, calls for some clarification on Operation Noah's campaign asking the Churchto make this step.

Fossil fuels are one of God's many blessings. Their rich sources of energy drove the Industrial Revolution and led to so many of the technologies our Western world takes for granted. They also yield many other products, such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, antiseptics, and fertilisers, on which we depend. But, and it is a huge "but", our excessive consumption of fossil fuels is leading to potentially humanity's biggest crisis: a changing climate that threatens all our futures.

With Christmas in mind, chocolate is also a wonderful gift. But few of us over-indulge so much that we risk damaging our long-term health.

At present, we are still dependent on the fossil-fuel industry to continue driving our vehicles and heating our homes. Weaning us away from our dependence on fossil fuels will take time and creativity: although the need is urgent, we know it won't happen overnight.

When Operation Noah calls for disinvestment from fossil fuels, we are not saying "Stop using all fossil fuels immediately," but, rather, "Stop spending vast sums on future exploration of ever more inaccessible reserves - crazy, in our view, when the world already holds five times as many oil reserves as we can safely burn for our own future well-being. We have increasingly viable and varied alternatives, as renewable and sustainable energy sources continue to develop.

Poor and subsistence communities around the world are already paying the price of the Western world's enjoyment of fossil-fuel energy, with changing weather patterns, more frequent droughts and flooding, and the inundation of once fertile low-lying land with sea water.

The choices humankind makes in the next decade or two about its over-use of fossil fuels are immensely serious. That is why we are asking the Church to provide the moral and ethical leadership that our global community is seriously lacking.

Chair of Operation Noah
62 Ludlow Road
Church Stretton
Shropshire SY6 6AD

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