Let Live by John Madeley

Let Live: A bike ride, climate change and the CIA is the new novel about climate change by local author John Madeley. Through the eyes of an environment journalist on a bike it deals with the impact of climate change and the powerful interests that don’t want people to know who is causing it.

Cycling through West and East Africa, the guy on a bike meets people who have been forced from their homes because of the climate change that Western countries are largely causing. He writes critical articles about the West’s failure to curb carbon emissions, and is especially damning of United States policy. The US, he points out, is invading the sovereignty of other countries. The CIA don’t like it, and a plot is hatched to remove him.

Drama and pathos combine with wit and humour to make this a powerful novel for our time. Set in 2007, in the dying stages of the George W Bush presidency, the book is a strong challenge to Western government policies on climate change.

“Let Live” is published by Longstone Books. ISBN: 078-0-9568344-1-6;
240 pages, price £8.99.

“Entertaining, sharp, penetrating, an incisive account of the damage that climate change is doing to the poor. A searing indictment of the policies of Western country governments. Read it….and demand action” – Caroline Lucas MP

“A fascinating read, bringing out many poignant issues and experiences, amidst a gripping story line” – Jeff Alderson

Buy online or at your local book shop

Website: www.johnmadeley.com

UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa

In December UN climate talks will continue in Durban, South Africa. The profile of the talks is lower than in the past, but the results will be even more important.

The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition has resources to help groups organise events between 26 November and 3 December, and can be anything from an African lunch to a photo exhibition, tailored to each area to build local connections and show MPs the strength of concern on climate change.

Plus they are organising an online debate with Chris Huhne, Energy & Climate Minister, just before he heads out to the UN climate talks to represent the UK.

Further details at: www.stopclimatechaos.org/african-climate-connection

Do you know of other resources and planned activities around the talks? Please share them in the comments section below.

Bearing Witness – 1st October 2011

In Manchester on Saturday 1 October, the eve of the Conservative Party Conference, Tearfund, CAFOD and Christian Aid are holding a ecumenical service followed by a procession and candlelit vigil to reflect on the Government’s ‘Greenest Government Ever’ promise. Those at the service and vigil will pray and speak up for the Government to take the lead internationally for action ahead of and during the G20 in November and UN climate talks in South Africa this December.

Everyone is invited to the service and vigil:

1:30pm Tearfund Climate Justice afternoon at Friends Meeting House, Manchester (6 Mount Street, M2 5NS): Learn, act and pray about climate change, and other issues of injustice – with tea and cake! Come with your lunch from 12.30pm to meet the Campaigns Team.

5pm Manchester Cathedral: Joint ecumenical service followed by a procession and candlelit vigil outside the Conservative Party conference venue.

7.30pm Finish

Please register your interest in attending this event by emailing campaigning@tearfund.org or calling 0845 355 8355. For further information visit www.tearfund.org/bearingwitness

HOME – a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Yann Arthus-Bertrand photography is breathtaking and inspirational – his Earth from the Air exhibition has been round the world and always has at its core a goal of inspiring people to act on what they see. HOME is a film that brings his distinctive style of photography to the big screen. Exploring the miracle and mystery of the earth the film looks at the beauty of the earth and all its creatures… and follows the story of humans short presence on the earth, both our creative use and mindless destruction. Just like the photograph exhibition the film weaves history and facts through story with a back drop of amazing photography. The film producers say:

We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate.

The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.

The film is 1 hour and 33 minutes long and available in full on YouTube for free. It is royalty-free and can be shown in public with no need for a license. It makes for a great  resource for groups to use and would work well being shown on a big screen in a community centre or church building as part of local projects and initiatives around environmental issues.

For more information visit: HOME Film website and the HOME YouTube Channel

Of Trees and Men

Looking for something shorter but along the same lines? Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s latest short film ‘Of Trees and Men’ was the official film for the launch of the International Year of Forests, 2011. You can view it and download it at www.offorestsandmen.org

Get support to start a Climate Change Action Group

Get help and support from Oxfordshire Rural Community Council and Climate-X-change to develop a climate action group with your church, youth group or community group and help fight climate change in your community.

Thanks to a grant from Oxfordshire County Council, this new project will help local residents meet the challenges of climate change, by supporting and encouraging community-led initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and promote more sustainable behaviour.

An impressive amount of climate action is taking place in Oxfordshire, including swap shops, the production of ‘buy local’ guides, home energy reduction clinics, community composting schemes, community orchards, eco-weeks, talks, film screenings… Could your community do something similar? Each additional group helps spread the carbon reduction message.

ORCC and Climate-X-change can offer guidance and ongoing support on setting up an action group, offering a toolkit to showcase the variety of approaches to helping stop climate change, providing facts and figures, and signposting to useful organisations and information sources- saving time in getting new groups off the ground.

As part of the new project, a Carbon Challenge shall be launched later in 2010. This competition shall measure carbon reductions in home energy and transport usage, and ask entrants to devise a climate action plan for their community. Watch this space for more information!

If you are interested in setting up a group we’d like to hear from you! You might be a church group, a youth club, or simply a group of concerned individuals. The main thing is that you want to help fight climate change in your community.

For more information on how we can help you get your group started, contact Tom McCulloch at ORCC (tom.mcculloch@oxonrcc.org.uk) or call 01865 883 488.

Tom McCulloch is a Community Development Worker with Oxfordshire Rural Community Council. He works with communities to help deliver rural affordable housing and undertake climate action strategies.

Grow Zones – reconnecting with the land

Guest Post by Chris Sunderland of EarthAbbey

It is not yet widely recognised that there are spiritual issues at stake over climate change. Many people seem to consider it all as a technical or political problem. They look anxiously into the future for a piece of geo-engineering that will save us, or campaign furiously to get politicians to act. Yet the environmental issues that we face are so serious and so multi-faceted that they demand nothing less than an inner transformation.

There are lots of paths in to the spirituality of climate change. We could talk about finding a proper humility about our abilities to manipulate and engineer the earth. We could consider the transformation of our wills so that we are truly able to live differently. But I would like to focus in this article on another problem, which is simply that we have lost touch with the creation.

More than 50% of humans in general and 80% of the people in the UK now live in towns or cities and, across the world, the great exodus from country to town continues. City living has great benefits in terms of easy communication, opportunity for development and change and some say that it is even ‘greener’ in terms of carbon footprint. But one thing it tends to lack. And that is a deep, heartfelt connection with nature.

I have recently been involved in the formation of a new Christian community known as EarthAbbey, whose members simply commit themselves to encourage one another to journey towards a life more in tune with the earth. It is a neo-monastic community, open to all people everywhere, with a strong focus on practical living. Here in Bristol, where it began, we have been trying to find meaningful ways to reconnect with the land and we came up with a very simple idea we have called Grow Zones. What we did was this.

A small group of us teamed up to turn each other’s gardens over to growing edible produce. Some of us were gardeners already. Many were not. We were particularly interested to learn something about Permaculture in the process. Permaculture is about designing growing systems so that they work in harmony with the local ecosystems rather than against them.  Permaculture has a strong fit with EarthAbbey’s aims. So, the way we did it was that each person spent some time thinking about what they would like to grow and then we met on a series of Saturday mornings, once at each garden, and did the business. The host would produce a list of jobs, we would choose what we wanted to do, and we then spent the morning working. The host then provided us all with a lunch based on fresh local produce.

Now at one level you could see this as a simple carbon reduction strategy. We each produce more of our own food, reducing fossil fuel use from industrial scale agriculture with its irrigation, fertiliser, pesticide and food miles. Yet strangely this was rather far from our minds. We found that we just loved doing this. There was something about working the land itself. A contact with reality, a stillness, the seasons, the hope of fruit. We found ourselves friends, somehow joined in a deep way through our work together. And I think we sensed something of God in it all, a sort of being blessed that is hard to describe, but very powerful to experience.

Last year saw an astonishing resurgence of interest in growing food across this country. Seed manufacturers were overwhelmed at the demand. I know that others have experienced that same sort of joy that we encountered and likewise discovered how powerful working land is as a means of creating community. David Hughes of Eco-Congregations sent us in a great story about a project on the land around  his home ( see the article here)

Receiving this and hearing other similar accounts has made me wonder whether it is right to call this a movement of the Spirit of God? The result of our surprising joy at Grow Zones is that EarthAbbey is now developing a whole range of projects on the land in Bristol and we are very keen to encourage others around the country to try Grow Zones. Our aim is to get 50 or more teams of people around the country turning their gardens over to edible produce and having great fun in the process.

If you would like to host a Grow Zones, please get in touch with us through www.earthabbey.com/growzones . It is all very easy and unburdensome.

If you would like to understand more of the biblical basis for EarthAbbey and what it is doing, try ‘The Dream that inspired the Bible’ by Chris Sunderland available from www.earthabbey.com/publishing for more on the experience of Grow Zones see ‘We have been grow zoned’ and ‘A short film_about_grow_zones.

Chris Sunderland Feb 2010

Contact Chris through www.earthabbey.com or phone 0117 9574652

Fast from carbon this Lent

Photo credit: Dushaun via Flickr

I’m signing up to the Carbon Fast for Lent this year. It is a 40-day journey towards a lighter carbon footprint, with simple energy saving actions each day, and this year it’s being organised jointly by the Church of England and Tearfund.

Lent is a time of year when it’s really good to pay attention to the way we live. During Lent many of us will be trying to do without some of our everyday luxuries. The Carbon Fast offers all sorts of practical ways of putting our extravagant carbon habits under the spotlight. One particular action this year includes trying a day with no iPod, computer or mobile phone. I use a blackberry, mobile phone and email everyday, so this is perhaps one of the actions I will struggle with the most.

My hope is that giving up technology will free us to look more seriously at the issues that face us as a global community, helping us think of others less fortunate than ourselves. This simple action could act as a statement of solidarity with a world that does not have the ability to communicate the way we can, and be a reminder that perhaps we have got beyond ourselves in terms of our own consumption of technology. We have galloped forward so fast – maybe we have out-run our global responsibility in doing that?

Other Carbon Fast actions this year include being a part-time vegetarian, and turning out the lights and enjoying the ambience of a candlelit dinner.

There will no doubt be some painful personal sacrifices during my Carbon Fast this Lent – but I’m ready to embrace the challenge because I’m painfully aware that we need to make radical changes to our privileged western lifestyles for the sake of the rest of the world. It’s often the poorest people who suffer most from our unrestrained carbon consumption.

Will you join me in the Carbon Fast during this time of Lent?

You can find out more and sign-up at www.tearfund.org/carbonfast.