Sitzkrieg

The British Army in France 1939-40 Troops reading copies of the Army newspaper ‘Blighty’ outside their dugout, December 1939.

This week’s blog post is Sitzkrieg. It refers to the ‘Phoney War’ that took place at the beginning of World War II. The post refers to an article published this week by Leonard Pitts in which he suggests that we are not behaving as if we are at war, both with the COVID-19 pandemic and with climate change. In other words, we ourselves are behaving as if we are in a phoney war.

The situation highlights one of the theological suggestions of the site: Understand and tell the truth.

Alternative Energy Reality

This week’s post is Alternative Energy Reality.

One of the theological discussion points that forms the basis of what we write here is, “Understand and tell the truth”. But understanding the truth in complex systems is very difficult.

Many people who write and speak about climate change and related topics say that we need to transition from fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) to alternative energy sources (solar and wind). This is a goal that we can all support. But is it realistic? The project management and financial challenges are formidable, and we don’t have much time.

Understand and Tell the Truth

Pontius Pilate asking Jesus, “What is truth?”
Pontius Pilate asking Jesus, “What is truth?”

One of the themes of our posts is that we need to develop a theology for our times. I have suggested three topics that can be used when considering what that theology may look like. They are:

– Understand and tell the truth;
– Accept and adapt; and
– Live within the biosphere.

This week we look at the first of the above points: Understand and tell the truth.

Mission Statement

St. Wilfrids Church Calverley Yorkshire

For the last ten years or so I have been working on issues such as resource depletion, climate change, biosphere loss and population overshoot. I decided to pull the various strands of my work together in a new web site Faith in a Changing Climate at https://www.faithchangingclimate.com/.

Developing the site forced me to think about my goals for what I am trying to achieve, so I developed the following Mission Statement.

To work with people of faith and with churches to provide technically sound leadership in response to the predicaments of a finite world

At the home page of the site I offer the following discussion to do with the above statement. Here is a summary.

People of Faith

The materials at this site, blog and book are directed primarily to people of faith who are aware of the momentous changes that are taking place in the world, mostly to do with climate change. However, they hear so many conflicting messages that they are unsure as to how serious these changes may be and how they and their communities may be affected. They want to know the truth. They also want guidance as to how they can respond, and how they can best provide badly needed leadership.

Churches

The response to the predicaments we face can be either bottom-up (people working by themselves or in small groups), or it can be top-down. Both approaches are needed. The top-down approach often means working within existing large organizations, including the church.

Technically Sound

The issues we discuss at this site are technically very complex and difficult to understand. Most church leaders do not have a background in mathematics, science or technology. Therefore, there is a danger that they could promote programs that are unrealistic and that cannot work.

The article Episcopal Renewable Energy Proposal provides an example of this concern. In the year 2019 the Episcopal Church (USA) issued a policy statement to do with renewable energy. On its surface, the statement is something that we can all support. However, an analysis of the proposal with regard to energy and project management basics shows that it is not technically feasible.  Nor does it recognize project management realities.

Predicaments

A fundamental premise of the work at this site, the book and the blog is that we face predicaments, not problems. Problems have solutions, predicaments do not. When faced with a predicament we can respond and adapt, but we cannot make it go away.  It is this way of thinking that lies at the basis of the second theological point, Accept and Adapt.

Finite World / Age of Limits

We live in a finite world. We are using up the earth’s resources such as fresh water, crude oil and fish in the sea. We are also filling up the environment with our waste products. (Of these the most serious is carbon dioxide, CO2, in the atmosphere.) And we are degrading and destroying the biosphere — ranging from coral reefs, to the Amazon rain forest, to iconic animals such as polar bears.

Another term that is used at this site to describe this dilemma is ‘Age of Limits’. Moreover, these limits are linked to one another, often in difficult-to-identify ways. A more detailed description of these issues is provided in the article: Age of Limits.

One topic that is not discussed at this site is social justice. This is not because the subject is not important — indeed, it is of central importance, particularly to people of faith. Those at the lower end of the economic scale are affected the most severely by events such as climate change. Yet the changes that we discuss are going to affect everyone, regardless of their social or economic standing. Our response needs to be for society as a whole.

Further Information

Additional information to do with the Mission Statement and the goals of the site are provided at the home page. Please take a few moments to visit it and let us have your feedback. Thank you.