Friday, 19 September 2014

"Applying renewable energy within a Christian environmental morality"

This was the title John Twidell chose for his talk to Christian Ecology Link in Cheltenham this evening. Two dozen of us gathered for an excellent presentation, and wide-ranging discussion to follow.

John's faith motivated him to look for work in Africa after completing his second degree - teaching physics in Khartoum University. He saw the waste of a major energy source there (solar) as a failure in stewardship of God's creation, and thus began his experimentation with renewable energy. Returning to the UK, he invented a course in the subject at Strathclyde University, and then obtained the post of Professor of Renewable Energy at de Montfort. He and his wife Mary (whom he met in the Sudan) still live in Leicestershire, where their home bristles with energy-saving measures: they are happy to demonstrate them to any who turn up.

In his presentation, John contrasted green energy - diverting natural flows - with brown energy - digging up in order to pollute. We shouldn't be surprised that renewables are only just becoming accepted: it takes 50 years for people in school to graduate to becoming decision-makers. But the technology for harnessing especially the sun and the wind is now well proven, sophisticated, available and increasingly affordable. Of course, Government help is needed to establish it - the same with any energy source. But Government can equally well scupper it: witness the harm Eric Pickles is doing by his arbitrary overturning of appeal decisions and so preventing new wind farms from being established.

The speaker ended by advocating that we each list possible "my changes" - lifestyle decisions, taking up the issues through lobbying, even career changes (standing for election). And as for leaving the EU, that would be a disaster energy-wise: UKIP want to reopen coal mines!

PS There's an open day to view a community wind turbine not far away, on Sunday 28th: details here.

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