A Course of Daily Theological Reflection on Christian Responsibility for the Care and Keeping of God’s Creation

Proclaiming the Ecological Mission of the Orthodox Church as the Reconciliation of all Things in Christ

The Vision and Spiritual Direction of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and All Orthodox Patriarchs.

Month Three March 1-31, 2020

Introduction The March edition of our Reading-a-Day program seeks to expand and embrace many more of our Orthodox Patriarchs and Hierarchs as they address concern for God’s creation.

The statements we select are usually simple and are presented to extend the breadth and depth of these Orthodox teachings that are not always highlighted in parish instruction. Our office has been asked, “Why don’t we present even more statements from smaller Orthodox jurisdictions?” The short answer is “we try.” The larger answer is complex. Their statements are not easy to find. Many jurisdictions do not write in English. Some don’t issue statements for public consumption. We use what is available in English and on the internet. Besides tracking down foreign language statements is not easy. But with this issue we will increase our listing of statements from smaller jurisdictions. The benefit of this process is that our patriarchs and bishops become our teachers in presenting the Orthodox Church’s theology of creation.

The values are several: The centralizing of Orthodox commentary from around the world declares that we are one Church with one theology despite a variety of social, political, cultural, ethnic, and language differences!

The focus on the environment helps to articulate a Christian way of life. The environment serves as a doorway. Through it we not only strive to live “on earth as it is in heaven,” but we begin to develop a genuine Orthodox Christian way of life, and therefore a distinctly Orthodox culture. This provides young people with direction on how to live in society which in turn aids their stability in their life in the Church.

The vision in these statements captures the practical meaning of discerning Christ and the Holy Spirit as “filling all things.” Thus the Orthodox vision of our Heavenly King as “everywhere present and filling all things” is put into daily life.

A further consideration is that unless parishioners live out the principles of Christian faith, we can’t offer either the world or our own youth, an example of how to remain steadfast in the life of the Church. An old principle says that we communicate more by our actions than by our words. Thus each day’s reading and reflection questions capture some small but distinct dimension of Orthodox Christian teaching on creation care as adapted to fit our modern context.

Yours in service to God’s good earth, The Reading-a-Day editorial team EM–MR–EC–FK


Monday Sacrificing Selfishness March 2, 2020 The natural environment was created by God to be friendly and of service to the needs of humankind. However, owing to Man’s original disobedience, the natural harmony and balance of the environment was disrupted and due to persistent disobeying of God’s commandments, it continues to disrupt, leading to total disarray and disharmony. Therefore, the prayer that we offer up to the Lord for the protection of the natural environment should first of all be a prayer for the repentance of humans, who through misjudged, thoughtless, and sometimes arrogant actions directly or indirectly provokes most, not to say all, natural catastrophes. Our Lord who taught us the Lord’s Prayer, includes in it a promise that accompanies a request “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This has a broader meaning. Our prayer should be accompanied by a corresponding sacrifice, mainly a sacrifice of selfish and arrogant pursuits, which demonstrate our insolent attitude towards the Creator and His wisely stipulated natural and spiritual laws. This attitude change is called repentance. Only if our prayer for the protection of the environment is accompanied by a corresponding repentance, will it be effective and welcomed by God. Therefore, beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, let us reconsider our lives and let us repent for everything we do mistakenly and against the wise laws of God, in order to be heard by Him, begging His kindness to maintain the natural environment, friendly and undamaged for humankind. HAH, The Phanar, September 1, 2003

Q What is repentance? How does it address our habitual behavior that involves earth and society? What happens to our behavior after we repent? Where does repentance lead? Reflection


Tuesday Reuniting the Universe Under Jesus Christ March 3, 2020 Cosmology is a form of knowledge which is given to us in Christ by the Holy Spirit. “The mystery of the Incarnation of the Word,” wrote St. Maximus the Confessor, “contains within itself the whole meaning of the created world. He who understands the mystery of the Cross and the Tomb knows the meaning of all things, and he who is initiated into the hidden meaning of the Resurrection understands the purpose for which God created everything from the very beginning.” If this is so, it means that everything has been created by and for the Word, as the Apostle says (Colossians 1:16-17), and that the meaning of this creation is revealed to us in the re-creation effected by the same Word taking flesh, by the Son of God becoming the son of the earth…. In this perspective the Fathers maintain that the historical Bible gives us the key to the cosmic Bible. In this they are faithful to the Hebrew notion of the Word, which not only speaks, but creates: God is “true” in the sense that his word is the source of all reality, not only historical, but also cosmic reality…. That is why, as St. Maximos says, we discover, or rather the Gospel discovers for us, that on the one hand, the Word “hides himself mysteriously in created things like so many letters,” and on the other hand, “he… expresses himself in the letters, symbols and sounds of Scripture.” HB Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch, Zurich, Switzerland, March 10, 1989

Q What is Christian cosmology? What is the ‘Logos,’ referring to what HB calls the Incarnation of the Word? How does this relate to the created world? Reflection


Wednesday For the Sanctification of the World March 4, 2020 The Church of Christ has had to cope with many problems which are prominent in our contemporary world. The crisis facing ecology is one such problem that has grave moral implications for all humankind. Orthodoxy watches with great anxiety the merciless trampling down and destruction of the natural environment caused by human beings with extremely dangerous consequences for the very survival of the natural world created by God. In view of the present situation the Church of Christ cannot remain unmoved…. The role of humanity as the priest of creation is clearly shown in liturgical theology. We are able to reshape and alter the world. The vocation of humanity, as shown in liturgical theology, is not to dominate and exploit nature, but to transfigure and hallow it. In a variety of ways – through the cultivation of the earth, through craftsmanship, through the writing of books and the painting of icons – humanity gives material things a voice and renders the creation articulate in praise of God. We must attempt to return to the proper relationship with the Creator and creation in order to ensure the survival of the natural world. We are called to bear some of the pain of creation as well as to enjoy and celebrate it. That means to perform Liturgia extra muros, the Liturgy beyond, or outside, the walls of the church, for the sanctification of the world. HG Bishop Irineu [Pop], Romanian Orthodox Church, Iraklion, Crete, 1991

Q Why is the Orthodox Church concerned about ecological problems? How is the world sanctified? What is the role of priests and parishioners in this task? Reflection


Thursday A Spirituality of Thanksgiving March 5, 2020 In order to achieve a sacramental vision of creation, human beings are called to practice a spirituality of thanksgiving and self-discipline. In theological terms, we are called to be “eucharistic” and “ascetic” beings. In this way, the Orthodox Church reminds us that creation is not simply our possession or property, but rather a gift from God, the Creator, a gift of wonder and beauty. From the moment of creation, this world was offered by God as a gift to be returned in gratitude and love. This is precisely how the Orthodox spiritual way avoids the problem of the world’s domination by humanity. For if this world is a sacred mystery, then this in itself precludes any attempt at mastery by human beings. Indeed, the mastery or exploitative control of the world’s resources is identified more with Adam’s “original sin” than with God’s wonderful gift. It is the result of selfishness and greed, which arise from alienation from God and an abandonment of the sacramental worldview. Sin separated the sacred from the secular, dismissing the latter to the domain of evil and surrendering it as prey to exploitation. HAH, Moscow, May 26, 2010

Q What is the purpose of being thankful? Why is it that the earth is never entirely one’s own private property? How do Orthodox reconcile secular laws about private property with our theology? Reflection


Friday Responsibility for Future Generations March 6, 2020 We should hand [the material world] … on to the generations that come after us… enhanced and with greater capacity for supporting life. – His Beatitude Patriarch +Maxim, Bulgarian Orth. Church, 1997 In the years ahead, more and more of our Orthodox faithful will recognize the importance of a crusade for our environment, which we have so selfishly ignored. This vision… will benefit future generation by leaving behind a cleaner, better world. We owe it to our Creator. And we owe it to our children. – HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Day of Prayers for Creation, 2004 Q Why should we today assume responsibility for future generations? What is different in the world today from the world of the past? What does this responsibility mean in practical terms? Reflection 6 Saturday March 7, 2020 The Whole World is a Living Sacrament Everything that lives and breathes is sacred and beautiful in the eyes of God. The whole world is a sacrament. The entire created cosmos is a burning bush of God’s uncreated energies. And humankind stands as a priest before the altar of creation, as microcosm and mediator. Such is the true nature of things, or, as an Orthodox hymn describes it, “the truth of things,” if only we have the eyes of faith to see it. We know that this vision has been blurred; the image has been marred by our sin. For we have presumed to control the order of things, and have therefore destroyed the hierarchy of creation. We have lost the dimension of beauty and have come to a spiritual impasse where everything that we touch is invariably distorted or even destroyed. Nevertheless, through the divine Incarnation our sight is once again restored and we are once more enabled to discern the beauty of Christ’s countenance “in all places of His dominion,” and “in the least of our brothers and sisters” (Gen. 25:40). HAH, Santa Barbara, California, November 8, 1997

Q Why should we today assume responsibility for future generations?
What is different in the world today from the world of the past?
What does this responsibility mean in practical terms? Reflection


Saturday The Whole World is a Living Sacrament March 7, 2020

Everything that lives and breathes is sacred and beautiful in the eyes of God. The whole world is a sacrament. The entire created cosmos is a burning bush of God’s uncreated energies. And humankind stands as a priest before the altar of creation, as microcosm and mediator. Such is the true nature of things, or, as an Orthodox hymn describes it, “the truth of things,” if only we have the eyes of faith to see it. We know that this vision has been blurred; the image has been marred by our sin. For we have presumed to control the order of things, and have therefore destroyed the hierarchy of creation. We have lost the dimension of beauty and have come to a spiritual impasse where everything that we touch is invariably distorted or even destroyed. Nevertheless, through the divine Incarnation our sight is once again restored and we are once more enabled to discern the beauty of Christ’s countenance “in all places of His dominion,” and “in the least of our brothers and sisters” (Gen. 25:40).
HAH, Santa Barbara, California, November 8, 1997

Q What is beauty?
Why does HAH call the world “a living sacrament”?
If the divine vision of creation is blurred, what is human responsibility for this?


Monday An Ecological Ethic is Necessary for Christians March 9, 2020 There certainly is an Orthodox Christian ecological ethic. It is an ethic that is not an option for Orthodox faithful. It is not a mere theological “specialty” for those who have academic and professional reasons to be interested. The Orthodox ecological ethic proceeds directly from our doctrine. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem said, “the method of godliness consists of two things – pious doctrines and virtuous practice.” Without any doubt, virtuous practice demands right attitude and action toward the environment, for our Holy Tradition demands nothing else. As such, the Orthodox Christian ecological ethic is ecclesial: it proceeds from our life in the Church, the Body of Christ … and it is ultimately comprehensible only within the context of the Church. Here is where the main distinctions exist between our ecclesial ethic and the ecological ethics we find in secular society. HE Metropolitan Nicholas of Amisso, Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, Antiochian Village, June 15, 2002

Q What is our Orthodox ecological ethic? How would you summarize it? What is the Orthodox doctrine of creation? What sort of lifestyle should emerge from our Orthodox theology? Reflection


Tuesday An Ethic of the Environment March 10, 2020 We have reached a point in technological development where we must learn to say “No!” to technologies with destructive side effects. We are in dire need of an ethic of technology. In the Orthodox Church, we profess and confess that God’s spirit is “everywhere present and fills all things” (From a Prayer to the Holy Spirit). However, we must also begin to embrace a worldview that declares and demonstrates the biblical conviction that “the earth is God’s and everything in it” (Psalm 23.1), so that we may refrain from harming the earth or destroying the life on it. We have been gifted with unique resources of a beautiful planet. However, these resources of underground carbon are not unlimited—whether they are the oil of the Arctic or the tar sands of Canada, whether they are the coal of Australia or the gas in Eastern Europe. Moreover, with regard to nuclear energy specifically, we cannot assess success or sustainability purely in terms of financial profit—the disasters at Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986), and Fukushima (2011) have amply demonstrated the human, financial, and ecological cost. Nor, indeed, can we ignore the other problems of nuclear power, such as waste disposal and vulnerability to terrorist attacks. HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, April 26, 2016

Q What is an ethic of the environment? What is the ethic and message in this passage? How might this ethic be applied? Reflection


Wednesday Our First Task March 11, 2020 We paternally urge all the faithful of the world to admonish themselves and their children to respect and protect the natural environment. HAH Ecumenical Patriarch +Dimitrios, September 1, 1989 Our first task is to raise the consciousness of adults who most use the resources of the planet. Ultimately, it is for our children that we must perceive our every action… as having a direct effect on the future of the environment…. As individuals, we live not only in vertical relationships to God, and horizontal relationships to one another, but also in a complex web of relationships that extend throughout our lives, our cultures and the material world. Human beings and the environment form a seamless garment of existence; a complex fabric that we believe is fashioned by God…. In the bread and wine of the Eucharist, as priests standing before the altar of the world, we offer the creation back to the Creator in relationship to Him and to each other. Indeed, in our liturgical life…, we celebrate the beauty of creation, and consecrate the life of the world, returning it to God with thanks. We share the world in joy as a living mystical communion with the Divine. Thus it is that we offer the fullness of creation at the Eucharist, and receive it back as a blessing, as the living presence of God. … We are called to work in humble harmony with creation and not in arrogant supremacy against it…. We lovingly suggest to all the people… that they help one another understand the myriad ways in which we are related to the earth and to one another. In this way, we may begin to repair the dislocation many people experience in relation to creation. HAH, Santa Barbara, California, Nov 8, 1997

Q How do we work in humble harmony with creation? In what ways can you help others understand how we are to relate to the earth? Why do you think our first task is to raise the awareness of adults? Reflection


Thursday Man: A Curse or a Blessing on God’s Creation? March 12, 2020 How should Orthodox view the environment? Is it a great reservoir of untapped riches, waiting to be exploited for profit? Or is it an untouchable sanctuary, where nothing should be used? Should we view the environment as a living, almost divine being? Or is the environment God’s Creation, where man is set with a profound, symbiotic relationship, and a definite, holy purpose? It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of creation as a foundational concept. It means that we must accept the reality of every creature as meaningful. Nothing exists as a chance encounter. Each creature is created by God to exist, conceptualized from eternity and realized in time. God alone gives meaning to His Creation. In our Orthodox ecological ethic, we insist that man adopt a humbler, more honest and scientific outlook, in which he seeks to discern meaning in Creation. HE Metropolitan Nicholas of Amisso, Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, Antiochian Village, June 15, 2002

Q What is the Orthodox vision of creation? How important is our understanding of creation in Orthodox theology? What is the role of humility in our Orthodox worldview? Reflection


Friday Every Person a Priest of God’s Creation March 13, 2020 In the Orthodox Church, behind whose tradition lie long battles against ancient Greco-Roman paganism, a spirituality involving a deep respect for nature is strongly conditioned by the view that nature acquires sacredness only in and through the human person. This gives humanity decisive importance and responsibility. A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a vehicle of communion with God and fellow human beings. This means that material creation is not treated as a means of obtaining pleasure and happiness for the individual, but as a sacred gift from God which is meant to foster and promote communion with God and with others. Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature by human beings leads to forms of culture which are deeply respectful of the material world while keeping the human person at the center. HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Production and Consumption,” April, 1996 Q Why do Orthodox Christians respect nature? How is the human person a Priest of Creation? In practice what does this mean? How may creation serve as a means of communion with God? Reflection 12 Saturday March 14, 2020 The Care of Creation is Our Spiritual Task The human is on Earth, not as a stranger who came to receive a monetary profit, but as a careful owner who cultivates the earth for future generations and takes care not only of his own profit, but also of the good of his neighbors and those far off. Moreover, the care and protection of the Creation of God in all its beauty and harmony is not only our practical task, but also a spiritual and religious duty, a fulfillment of the commandment of God and a trail of moral feeling. The Black Sea region has suffered from many sad consequences through an unreasonable selfish use of nature and this has been especially dramatic in our century. Today we must understand the need to work together for the transfiguration of this wonderful piece of land, for the improvement of the condition of the Black Sea, the pearl of our planet…. HB Patriarch +Alexiy of Moscow and All Russia, Yalta, Crimea, September 24, 1997

Q How is theor creation our spiritual task on earth? What is necessary for a right caring of the earth? How do we correct wrong habits from the past? Reflection


Saturday The Care of Creation is Our Spiritual Task March 14
The human is on Earth, not as a stranger who came to receive a monetary
profit, but as a careful owner who cultivates the earth for future
generations and takes care not only of his own profit, but also of the good
of his neighbors and those far off. Moreover, the care and protection of the Creation of God in all its beauty and harmony is not only our practical task, but also a spiritual and religious duty, a fulfillment of the commandment of God and a trail of moral feeling. The Black Sea region has suffered from many sad consequences through an unreasonable selfish use of nature and this has been especially dramatic in our century. Today we must understand the need to work together for the transfiguration of this wonderful piece of land, for the improvement of the condition of the Black Sea, the pearl of our planet….HB Patriarch +Alexiy of Moscow and All Russia, Yalta, Crimea, September 24, 1997
Q How is the care for creation our spiritual task on earth?
What is necessary for a right caring of the earth?
How do we correct wrong habits from the past?


Monday Programs of Practical Action are Needed March 16, 2020 Our attention must be given to developing programs of practical application. – HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, 1994 Tree-planting initiatives must be undertaken…. Groups of students can cultivate gardens, while others can care and tend to forest regions. Along with lectures, seminars should be organized intended on enlightening students concerning planting procedures, gardening and similar activities. Groups of children in secular, parochial and catechetical schools may adopt vegetable or flower gardens, forested regions, church compounds, abandoned properties, farm regions cultivated for the common good, or areas with natural beauty which they will care for on a voluntary basis. Their example can sensitize their parents and elders who can then be motivated to do likewise. – HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, 1994 Let us begin here and now to plant trees, both material and noetic, which will perhaps require many decades before they grow to full maturity – trees beneath whose shelter in the future, not only we, but also our children, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, will be able to sit with security and eucharistic joy. – HE Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, 2002

Q Why should the faithful plant trees? What are some practical activities that you might recommend for action? How is care of creation best taught through practical programs? Reflection


Tuesday Sin Against the Environment March 17, 2020 The ecological crisis is a spiritual problem. The proper relationship between humanity and the earth or its natural environment has been broken with the Fall both outwardly and within us, and this rupture is sin. The Church must now introduce in its teaching about sin the sin against the environment, the ecological sin. Repentance must be extended to cover also the damage we do to nature both as individuals and as societies. This must be brought to the conscience of every Christian who cares for his or her salvation. The rupture of the proper relationship between humanity and nature is due to the rise of individualism in our culture. The pursuit of individual happiness has been made into an ideal in our time. Ecological sin is due to human greed which blinds men and women to the point of ignoring and disregarding the basic truth that the happiness of the individual depends on its relationship with the rest of human beings. There is a social dimension in ecology which the Encyclical [Laudato Si!] brings out with clarity. The ecological crisis goes hand in hand with the spread of social injustice. We cannot face successfully the one without dealing with the other. Ecological sin is a sin not only against God, but also against our neighbor. And it is a sin not only against the other of our own time but also – and this is serious – against future generations. By destroying our planet in order to satisfy our greed for happiness, we bequeath to future generations a world damaged beyond repair with all the negative consequences that this will have for their lives. We must act, therefore, responsibly towards our children and those who will succeed us in this life. HE Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, June 18, 2015

Q What is individualism? What is environmental sin? Can you name some examples? Why should Christians care about the future? Reflections


Wednesday Love God’s Creation March 18, 2020 Regard yourselves as being responsible before God for every creature and treat every thing with love and care. HAH Ecumenical Patriarch +Dimitrios, 1990 The Orthodox Church proposes two central concepts, namely compassion and community. An essential element of caretaking is compassion, which is the very experience and expression of caretaking. To be cared for by God and to care for God’s creation entail showing compassion for every living being and for every living thing. “A compassionate heart,” writes a seventh-century mystic, St. Isaac the Syrian, “Burns with love for the whole of creation – for human beings, for birds and beasts, for all of God’s creatures.” HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, June 30, 2004 Let us proceed with much love toward the natural world that surrounds us… In the end, people protect only that which they truly love. HB Archbishop Anastasios, Albanian Orthodox Church, 2002

Q Why should we treat everything with ‘love and care’? How does one acquire a compassionate heart? What inhibits the heart? What benefits derive from a loving heart? Reflection


Thursday Our Spiritual and Religious Duty March 19, 2020 The human being is on earth, not as a stranger who came to receive a monetary profit, but as a careful owner who cultivates the earth for future generations and takes care not only of his own profit, but also of the good of his neighbors and those far off. Moreover, the care of protecting the Creation of God in all its beauty and harmony is not only our practical task but also a spiritual and religious duty, a fulfillment of the commandment of God and a trail of moral feeling. The Black Sea region has suffered from many sad consequences of an unreasonable selfish use of nature and this has been especially dramatic in our century. Today we must understand the need to work together for the transfiguration of this wonderful piece of land, for the improvement of the condition of the Black Sea, the pearl of our planet…. HB Patriarch +Alexey II, Russian Orthodox Church, Yalta, Russia, September 24, 1997

Q What is our human purpose on earth? How do we achieve success in our sojourn on earth? What does the Orthodox Church say is our spiritual and religious duty? Reflection


Friday Proceed into Stronger and More Effective Actions Mar 20. We wish to add one simple observation which is already known to everyone, namely that the destructive deterioration of the environment is taking on multiple and threatening dimensions. Therefore, we must not be content with verbal protests, but instead we proceed to continuously stronger and more effective actions, each from their own part and position. For, pollution is dangerously spreading and rapidly increasing. Indeed, quite possibly, and God forbid, according to the calculations of the experts, quite probably, pollution will become impossible to control. We cannot remain idle. May the enlightenment of the Paraclete always shine in your steps and in your actions within the course of your research and study, for your own benefit and for that of all your fellow human beings and the whole natural world. HAH, The First International Symposium, Island of Patmos, September 22, 1995

Q Why does pollution of God’s creation continue to spread? What is our responsibility to address this social form of sin? Why are we spiritually and morally responsible for this development? Reflection


Saturday A Moral and Spiritual Perspective March 21, 2020 Environmental protection is a profoundly moral and spiritual problem that concerns us all. The initial and crucial response to the environmental crisis is for each of us to bear personal responsibility for the way we live and for the values that we treasure and the priorities that we pursue. To persist in the current path of ecological destruction is not only folly. It is a sin against God and creation. HAH, Ecum Patriarch Bartholomew, Manaus, Brazil, July 16, 2006 The care of protecting the Creation of God in all its beauty and harmony is not only our practical task but also a spiritual and religious duty, a fulfillment of the commandment of God and a trail of moral feeling. Today we must understand the need to work together for the transfiguration of this wonderful piece of land, for the improvement of the condition of the Black Sea, the pearl of our planet…. HB Patriarch +ALEXEY II, Russian Orth. Church Yalta, Crimea, September 24, 1997 Theological reflection on anthropology and cosmology is even more important now because the problems of man and the environment with which we are confronted, are increasingly taking on a global dimension. In the Church of Antioch, we currently experience these particular problems in a very urgent manner…. Following the example of St. Maximos the Confessor, the prophet of the relationship between man and the cosmos, and the defender of the full humanity of the Word, we persist in proclaiming and living the love of Christ, which is capable of transforming every human endeavor. We do so within the effervescence of the Arabic and Islamic world, in spite of many wounds which have not yet healed. HB Patriarch +Ignatius IV of Antioch, September 8, 2012

Q Why should Christians care for the earth and its future? How do we accomplish this? What is our goal in this activity? Reflections


Monday Excess Consumption as a Cause of Climate Change Mar 23. Global Climate Change has been on the Eastern Orthodox Christian agenda for over twenty five years. In 1989 Ecumenical Patriarch +Dimitrios began to raise the alarm when he observed “scientists… warn us of the danger of the phenomena of the greenhouse whose first indications have already been noted….” In a letter to the 2013 Warsaw Climate Summit, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew brought a further cause of climate change into focus: “Excess consumption.” Humanity’s reckless consumption of earth’s resources threatens us with irreversible climate change. Burning more fuel than we need, we contribute to droughts or floods thousands of miles away. To restore the planet we need a spiritual worldview which cultivates frugality and simplicity, humility and respect. We must constantly be aware of the impact of our actions on creation. We must direct our focus away from what we want to what the planet needs. We must care for creation. Otherwise, we do not really care about anything at all. In our efforts to contain global warming, we are demonstrating how prepared we are to sacrifice our selfish and greedy lifestyles. When will we learn to say: “Enough!”? When will we understand how important it is to leave as light a footprint as possible for the sake of future generations? HE Archbishop Seraphim of Zimbabwe, Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, June 18, 2014

Q Why is excess consumption harmful to the world? What is required to restrain consumption? What is our individual responsibility in restraining consumption? Reflection


Tuesday A Good God Gives Us a Good World March 24, 2020 The world was created “very good” in order to serve the mind of God and the life of humanity. However, it does not replace God; it cannot be worshiped in the place of God; it cannot offer more than God appointed it to offer. The Orthodox Church prays that God may bless this creation in order to offer seasonable weather and an abundance of fruits from the earth. It prays that God may free the earth from earthquakes, floods, fires, and every other harm. In recent times, it has also offered supplications to God for the protection of the world from destruction caused by humanity itself, such as pollution, war, over exploitation, exhaustion of waters, changes in environmental conditions, devastation, and stagnation. The Ecumenical Patriarchate does not however rely only on supplication to God to improve the situation. Starting from God, as it is always proper to do, the Ecumenical Patriarchate works intensely in every possible way to alert everyone to the fact that the greed of our generation constitutes a sin. This greed leads to the deprivation of our children’s generation, in spite of our desire to bequeath to them a better future. HAH, Kathmandu, Nepal, November 15, 2000

Q In what ways can we see and know that the world is good? Why do people corrupt and pollute the world? What is the solution to our human tendency to corrupt and pollute the world? Reflection


Wednesday The Earth Is the Lord’s and the Fullness Thereof March 25 (Part One) During the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, there developed a notion and then a theology of man’s dominance over and ownership of the earth. Even the creation narrative was re-interpreted as giving man a purely utilitarian ownership of the earth. While this desire to dominate the earth predates these two extraordinary developments in human society, it had previously been necessary only to accommodate oneself to a certain amount of self-control, such as irrigation. It was these two events, one on the level of the mind and the other on the level of our action, that made it possible for us to carry out such domination. Nevertheless, in the [Mosaic] Law we are taught that all the land belonged to God and that portions were divided among the tribes to be held in trust and used for their needs. And as the embodiment of their responsibility to cultivate an ability to respond, like the Lord, with care, God even went so far as to give a sabbath to the land, so that it might be rested and resuscitated. From this it is clear that God cares for the earth and desires that it be sustained. It is equally clear that the earth does not belong to us, rather we belong to it. Not only are we an integral part of the ecosystem, but at the end of our lives the earth will reclaim us and return us to her bosom. God made us from the dust of the earth and He also breathed into us the spirit of life. We are, therefore, both of heaven and of earth. In a manner of speaking, we share in the image of the two natures of Jesus Christ, and so are invited to cultivate the sanctification of our incarnate way of being. HE Archbishop LAZAR, Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada, Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, July 18, 2007

Q How do you think we acquired a utilitarian view of the world? What is the purpose of the call to take dominion of the earth? How might we participate is sustaining the earth? Reflection


Thursday The Earth Is the Lord’s and the Fullness Thereof March 26 (Part Two) The Apostle Paul tells us that all of creation fell together with man, and that it has been redeemed together with man…. The purpose of man is not simply to worship God, but to serve as a point of unity for all that exists. Man alone consists in the spiritual, the material and the intellectual, and he is therefore a microcosm of the whole universe, both the visible and the invisible. We have the capacity through our worship to serve creation as God loves creation. “Ortho-doxa” is more than “right worship”; it also indicates the correct understanding of worship. Such ortho-doxa, or right worship with a correct understanding, makes it possible for us to serve creation with blessing and healing. There is no relationship with our Lord and Saviour where there is not blessing…. There is no cultivation, but only a stripping away (a kind of spiritual strip mining), no healing but only harm. Man should have fulfilled this vocation as a unifying element in nature, for he is not only its crown, but also the microcosm of creation. This vocation could only be fulfilled through unselfish love and the absence of egotism. This would have constituted a proper use of his energies. The fall constitutes a proclivity to habitually misuse our energies, not the loss of them. Christ healed this misuse through His perfect humanity, in whom perfect human nature is expressed, making unity with God and the cosmos again possible for human beings – a unity which Christ realized for us in His perfect humanity with complete divinity. Human nature, restored in Him, now has the ability to make proper use of its energies. This proper use is manifested in the Church, His Body, even if Church members often fall short of it. Understanding this is necessary for us to understand the complexities of the Incarnation of God. Jesus Christ as Incarnate Word recapitulated our nature and became the new Adam in order to correct our failures, complete our calling, fulfil our purpose and therefore deliver not only us, but the whole cosmos from bondage to corruption. HE Archbishop LAZAR, Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada, Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, July 18, 2007

Q How much can you identify that humans lost because of the Fall? What in the concept of Ortho-doxy allows us to serve creation? How might we restore a right use of our human energies? Reflection


Friday The Earth Is the Lord’s and the Fullness Thereof March 27 (Part Three) In the beginning – in the creation – man fit into the ecosystem in perfect balance. Had he truly acquired the knowledge of good and evil as a gift from God in the fullness of time, he could have maintained that balance. However, having accepted from Satan a counterfeit of that knowledge, man’s relationship with the cosmos became counterfeit. The fact that the human race has come so close to destroying the ecosystem upon which its life depends makes it clear that humanity has misunderstood not only its own Being, but its relationship with the earth, with the universe, with God, and even with itself. These misunderstandings, not forming ourselves on that which is foundational to creation – the Creator’s love and affection – always come hand in hand. We misunderstand both our own being and creation, including the whole of the universe and God, in one and the same act. This set of misunderstandings, born of selfcentered egotism, is a major aspect of what Christ came to earth to heal. It is important to remember that self-centered egotism is not something most people are able to see and understand about themselves, but it is deeply embedded in their whole way of putting their understanding of the world together. It is a fundamental misrepresentation of self, world and God and the only way we can untie this knot is by coming to know how it began and shedding the light of Christ on this unconscious orientation… HE Archbishop LAZAR, Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada, Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, July 18, 2007

Q How much can you name of what humans lost because of the Fall? What in the concept of Ortho-doxy causes us to serve creation? What does it take to restore a right use of our human energies? Reflection


Saturday The Earth Is the Lord’s and the Fullness Thereof March 28 (Part Four) “Thou shalt love [cherish and nourish] thy neighbor as thyself” … and he, wishing to justify himself, replied, “and who is my neighbor?” This is the second half of Christ’s great “moral imperative.” It is often described as a “command,” but I would like to think of it as the truest form of morality. What is shocking to me is that so many people, many of them in positions of political and economic power, so callously disregard the welfare of their own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, in their reticence to make a little lower profits or adjust our over-heated lifestyle, our so called “standard of living.” Yet, surely, our own children and grandchildren are our neighbors. Even if we turned to a radical ecologically sound lifestyle today, we would still leave the next several generations with a depleted agriculture, an insufficient supply of fresh water and large areas of formerly food producing land in a state of desiccation and ruin. The earth came to us as a sacred trust, and we will pass it on in such a condition. As a whole, our generation will not respond to the current crises in an appropriate manner because our entire socio-economic structure is based on harsh competition for short term profits. Our current “standard of living” in North America is based on a self-centered and egoistic measure. It does not reflect the lifestyle of the lower middle class and the poor, but that of the upper income levels in Canada and America. We ask what can we few Orthodox Christians do in the face of such huge problems. Aside from our prayers and our struggle for salvation, we can offer spiritual and social leadership in a sound process of education and action which is based in Scripture and the moral imperative of Jesus Christ, rather than the dreamy new-age romanticism that has dominated much of the ecology movement…. Glory to Jesus Christ! HE Archbishop LAZAR, Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada, Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, July 18, 2007

Q Who may we count as our neighbor? What is deficient in the secular ecological vision? What can single individuals do to be part of the solution to ecological problems? Reflection


Monday A Universal Human Responsibility March 30, 2020 In our time, more than ever before, there is an undeniable obligation for all to understand that environmental concern for our planet does not comprise a romantic notion of the few. The ecological crisis, and particularly the reality of climate change, constitutes the greatest threat for every form of life in our world. Moreover, there is an immediate correlation between protection of the environment and every expression of economic and social life. For our Orthodox Church, the protection of the environment as God’s creation is the supreme responsibility of human beings, quite apart from any material or other financial benefits that it may bring. The almighty God bequeathed this “very beautiful” world (Gen. 1.26) to humanity together with the commandment to “serve and preserve” it…. According to the theological understanding of the Orthodox Christian Church, the natural environment is part of Creation and is characterized by sacredness…. Thus we call everyone to a more acute sense of vigilance for the preservation of nature and all creation. HAH Ecum. Patriarch Bartholomew, The Phanar, June 5, 2009 In our [Bulgarian] community the harmful exploitation of nature, the creation of God, is no longer tolerated. It is incumbent on us to use the material world which God has entrusted to us in a beneficial way [and] not to exploit it mercilessly. We should hand it on to the generations that come after us, not as a wasteland, but enhanced and with a greater capacity for supporting life. HB PATRIARCH +MAXIM, Primate, Bulgarian Orth. Church Varna, Bulgaria, September 26, 1997

Q Why should humans should take good care of the earth? How do we develop a vigilance for the preservation of nature? What are some specific ways that we can do this? Reflection


Tuesday The Meaning of Christian Asceticism March 31, 2020 Asceticism has been associated with a devaluation of matter for the sake of ‘higher’ and more ‘spiritual’ things. This implies a Platonic view of matter and the body, which is not compatible with the Christian tradition…. Such types of asceticism, involving a devaluation or contempt of the material world, aggravates instead of solves the ecological crisis. An ‘ecological asceticism’ begins with deep respect for the material creation, including the human body. It builds upon the view that we are not possessors of creation, but are called to turn it into a vehicle of communion, always respecting its possibilities and limitations. Human beings must realize that natural resources are not unlimited. Creation is finite and so are the resources that nature can provide. The consumerist philosophy seems to ignore this truth. We encourage growth and consumption by making ‘necessary’ things which previous generations could easily live without. We need to reconsider our concept of quality of life. Quality does not need quantity to exist. A restriction in our use of natural resources can lead to a life that is happier than the endless competition of spending and acquiring more and more. Qualitative growth must replace the prevailing conception of economic development…. Asceticism must become synonymous with qualitative instead of quantitative progress in society. All this would involve major redefinitions in political, economic and social institutions. Such a reorientation of our culture requires the involvement and cooperation of all the factors responsible for forming it. It would require a change in people’s deeper convictions and motivations, since no human being can sacrifice anything without a reason or motive. HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Production and Consumption, April, 1996

Q What is Christian asceticism? Can you explain it? Why is ascesis beneficial and preferable to the consumerist way of life? What is the example that we receive from the life of Jesus Christ? Reflection


Wednesday The Great Challenge of Our Generation April 1. As Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has written: “Climate change affects everyone. Unless we take radical and immediate measures to reduce emissions stemming from unsustainable excesses in the demands of our lifestyle, the impact will be both immediate and alarming.” Therefore, each parish and every individual should seek out ways of practicing prayer and care for God’s creation by applying the fundamental principles of scripture, theology and tradition with regard to our relationship with the natural environment by considering changes in our attitudes and habits with regard to food and travel, by reducing consumption of fossil fuels and choosing alternative sources of energy with regard to lighting and heating, as well as by raising and promoting awareness with regard to the divine gifts of water and air. Every parish and community is invited and encouraged to open a fruitful dialogue on this challenge of our generation. HE Archbishop Elpidophorus, Protocol No. 22/19, September 1, 2019

Q What is global climate change? Why is climate change a significant issue for Orthodox Christians? How might members of a parish address climate change? Reflection


Program Announcements The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration is offering a series of tools and programs to help you and those in your to parish develop awareness of creation care in your parish and in members.

Film: The Face of God film: An Orthodox film on theology and climate change. If you would like a showing of this film in your parish, please send a note to our office. This should be ready for viewing by late Spring. Send an e-mail to: Fred@Ecostewards.org

Books: The Greening of the Orthodox Parish This is a comprehensive guide that provides vision, commentary from the saints, and recommendations for what parishes and individuals can do to fulfill our Orthodox obligation to care for God’s good earth.

Transfiguring the World: Orthodox Patriarchs and Hierarchs The Orthodox patriarchs and bishops have been eloquent in articulating a healing ethic of the environment. Study of their writings provides an education on the vision…

Programs Christ in the Wilderness Watch for program announcement for this summer by late April. 2020 Reading-a-day program Available by e-mail at no charge, or in hard copy form by U.S. Mail.

Websites www.Orth-Transfiguration.org https://www.facebook.com/christinthewildernessprogram/ https://faceofgodfilm.com/

The OFT is endorsed by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States

The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration Publication Department P.O. Box 7348 Santa Rosa, CA 95407 (707) 573-3161



We offer hymns of thanks to the God of love as once again we enter Holy and Great Lent, the arena of ascetic struggle, fasting and abstinence, of vigilance and spiritual awareness, of guarding our senses and prayer, of humility and self-knowledge. We are commencing a new and blessed pilgrimage toward Holy Pascha, which has “opened for us the gates of paradise.” In Church and as Church, as we behold the Risen Lord of glory, we all journey together along the way of deification by grace that leads to the heavenly goods “prepared by God for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). In the Church, where “the eternal mystery” of divine Economy is realized, all things have their unwavering theological foundation and pure soteriological reference. The incarnation of God and the deification of man are the pillars of the Orthodox faith. We move toward our eternal destination in the love of Christ. Our God, Who is “always for us,” can never be reduced to some “higher power” enclosed in transcendence and the grandeur of almightiness or its holiness. Instead, He is the pre-eternal Word of God, Who “assumed our form” in order to invite humankind to the communion of His holiness, of the genuine freedom. Man, who from the beginning “has been honored with freedom,” is invited to freely accept this divine gift. In the divine-human mystery of salvation, our synergy also functions as a witness in the world of the blessing that we have experienced—“what do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7)— through the love for the ‘brother.” Holy and Great Lent is par excellence a period of experiencing this freedom bestowed by Christ. Fasting and ascesis do not comprise a discipline imposed externally, but a voluntary respect of ecclesiastical practice, obedience to Church Tradition that is not a sterile letter but a living and life-giving presence, a permanent expression of the unity, sanctity, catholicity and apostolicity of the 2 Church. The language of theology and hymnography speaks of “joyful sorrow” and “the spring of fasting.” This is because authentic asceticism is always joyful, springful and bright. It knows no dualism or division; it does not undermine life or the world. “Depressive ascesis” that leads to an “aridity of human nature” has nothing to do with the spirit of Orthodoxy, where the ascetic life and spirituality are nurtured by resurrectional joy. In this sense, fasting and ascesis contain an alternative proposal for life before the promised false paradise of eudemonism and nihilistic pessimism. Another essential element of Orthodox ascetic spirituality is its social character. The God of our faith is “the most social God,” “a God of relations.” It has rightly been said that the Holy Trinity is “the negation of loneliness.” The individualization of salvation and piety, the transformation of ascesis into an individual achievement, overlook the Trinity-centered essence of the ecclesial event. When we fast for ourselves and according to our whim, then fasting does not express the spirit of the Orthodox tradition. Spirituality is the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit, Which is always “a spirit of communion.” The genuine Orthodox spiritual life always refers to the ecclesial dimension of our existence and not to some “spiritual self-realization.” In adhering to the dedication of this year by the Holy Great Church of Christ to “the pastoral renewal and due concern for our youth,” we call upon our Orthodox young men and women to participate in the spiritual struggle of Great Lent in order to experience its anthropological depth and liberating spirit, to understand that Orthodox asceticism is a way of freedom and existential fulfilment in the context of the blessed life in the Church, whose core is to “speak the truth in love.” Our Orthodox youth is called to discover the holistic character of fasting, which is praised in the Triodion as “the commencement of spiritual struggles,” as “food for the soul,” as “mother of all good things and all virtues.” It is not simply an abstinence from certain foods, but a struggle against self-love and self-sufficiency, a sensitivity toward our suffering neighbor, and a tangible response of support. It is a Eucharistic use of creation, existential fulfilment, communion of life and solidarity. Ascesis, fasting, prayer and humility convey the fragrance and light of the Resurrection, from which they receive meaning and direction. As the quintessence of ecclesial life and its eschatological orientation, the Resurrection inseparably links the ascetic life with the Divine Eucharist, the sacrament of foretaste of the ineffable joy of the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The fact that the Divine Eucharist is preserved as the center of the life in the Orthodox Church is associated with the fact that the Resurrection is the foundation of our faith and the bright horizon of our ascetic spirituality as well as of our good witness in the world. With these thoughts, we humbly invoke upon all of you the mercy and blessing of the God of love, so that we may pursue the race of Holy and Great Lent with devout heart, reach the saving Passion of Christ our God and, glorifying 3 His ineffable forbearance, shine brightly for the feast of His splendid Resurrection that leads us from death to endless life.

Holy and Great Lent 2020

BARTHOLOMEW of Constantinople Fervent supplicant for all before God

Government extends consultation on hunting trophy ban

  • 24 January 2020

If you haven’t written/emailed Defra expressing your views on banning trophy hunting please do. Remember, St Cyril of Jerusalem taught us that hunting was one example of the ‘Pomp of the Devil’ and Canon Law informs us that even attending hunts was enough for priests to lose their position:

A government consultation on banning the importing and exporting of hunting trophies has been extended by one month in order to get more responses.The consultation, launched in November, was due to close on Saturday but the deadline has now been pushed back by one month.The government says this is for those who could not contribute as a result of the pre-election and Christmas periods.

The options include introducing a ban for certain species, stricter requirements for moving certain species, banning hunting trophies altogether, or do nothing.

Minister Lord Goldsmith has said he is “repulsed” by trophy hunting.However, some conservationists argue money made from trophy hunting goes towards protecting endangered animals – an income source that could be lost if it was banned.There are also fears that ending the practice would mean areas of habitat end up being converted for other uses.And in May then-Environment Secretary Michael Gove sounded a note of caution.”If particular communities have got used to deriving income from hunting, you don’t want to seem as though you’re basically saying, we’re taking your livelihood away,” he told the BBC Radio 5 Live podcast Beast of Man.”We’ve got to make sure that there is a clear alternative, that they know that their livelihoods and their lifestyle are going to be respected and not patronised, before they will feel comfortable about moving.”

Speaking at an event in Westminster on Tuesday, Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith acknowledged there were people who believe trophy hunting was an important source of funding for conservation.However, he added, the argument was “predicated mostly on the idea of best practice, that all trophy hunting is highly and well-regulated, and that the money makes it to local communities and conservation”.”If that was true then we would genuinely have to weigh up the arguments, the moral argument against the apparent conservation benefits.

“The purpose of this consultation is to unpick those arguments.”How can it be good for an endangered species when the healthiest and most magnificent among them are the first to be shot?” he asked.

Also attending the event, Labour’s shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard said: “I think banning trophy hunting would send a very strong signal to the world that this is not an acceptable practise in the 21st century.”The consultation is specifically seeking views on options for importing and exporting hunting trophies to the UK.

Climate change food calculator: What’s your diet’s carbon footprint?

By Nassos Stylianou, Clara Guibourg and Helen BriggsBBC News

  • First published on 9 August 2019
Illustration for calculator on environmental impact of different foods

Avoiding meat and dairy products is one of the biggest ways to reduce your environmental impact, according to recent scientific studies.

Switching to a plant-based diet can help fight climate change, according to a major report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which says the West’s high consumption of meat and dairy is fuelling global warming.

But what is the difference between beef and chicken? Does a bowl of rice produce more climate warming greenhouse gases than a plate of chips? Is wine more environmentally friendly than beer?

To find out the climate impact of what you eat and drink, choose from one of the 34 items in our calculator and pick how often you have it.

How do your food choices impact on the environment?

Which food would you like?- Select a food or drink -ApplesAvocadosBananasBeansBeefBeerBerries and grapesBreadCheeseChickenChocolate (dark)Chocolate (milk)Citrus fruitCoffeeEggsFish (farmed)LambMilk (almond)Milk (dairy)Milk (oat)Milk (rice)Milk (soy)NutsOatmealPastaPeasPorkPotatoesPrawns (farmed)RiceTeaTofuTomatoesWineHow often do you have it?- Select how often -1-2 times a week3-5 times a weekOnce a dayTwice a day or moreNeverFind out

All figures for each food in the calculator are global averages. If you cannot view the food calculator, click to launch the interactive content.

Design by Prina Shah, development by Felix Stephenson and Becky Rush.

Presentational grey line

Food production is responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming, according to a University of Oxford study.

However, the researchers found that the environmental impact of different foods varies hugely.

Their findings showed that meat and other animal products are responsible for more than half of food-related greenhouse gas emissions, despite providing only a fifth of the calories we eat and drink.

Of all the products analysed in the study, beef and lamb were found to have by far the most damaging effect on the environment.

Chart: A quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food

The findings echo recommendations on how individuals can lessen climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

When it comes to our diets, the IPCC says we need to buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter – but also eat more locally sourced seasonal food, and throw less of it away.

The IPCC also recommends that we insulate homes, take trains and buses instead of planes, and use video conferencing instead of business travel.

Cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by two-thirds, according to the Oxford study, published in the journal Science.

“What we eat is one of the most powerful drivers behind most of the world’s major environmental issues, whether it’s climate change or biodiversity loss,” study researcher Joseph Poore told BBC News.

Changing your diet can make a big difference to your personal environmental footprint, from saving water to reducing pollution and the loss of forests, he said.

“It reduces the amount of land required to produce your food by about 75% – that’s a huge reduction, particularly if you scale that up globally,” Poore explained.

If you fly regularly, replacing flying with other forms of transport may have a bigger impact on your carbon footprint than changing your diet. A passenger’s carbon footprint from a one-way flight from London to New York is just under half a tonne of greenhouse gases. Switching from a regular petrol vehicle to an electric car could save more than double that over a year.

Chart showing the climate impacts of different foods: Beef has the highest carbon footprint, but the same food can have very different impacts

Knowing how and where your food is produced is also important, as the same food can have huge differences in environmental impact.

For example, beef cattle raised on deforested land is responsible for 12 times more greenhouse gas emissions than cows reared on natural pastures.

The average beef from South America results in three times the amount of greenhouse gases as beef produced in Europe – and uses 10 times as much land.

Chart: The climate impact of beef production is highest in Latin America

Meat and dairy are not the only foods where the choices you make can make a big difference.

Chocolate and coffee originating from deforested rainforest produce relatively high greenhouse gases.

For climate-friendly tomatoes, choose those grown outdoors or in high-tech greenhouses, instead of in greenhouses heated by gas or oil. Environmentally-minded beer-drinkers may be interested to know that draught beer is responsible for fewer emissions than recyclable cans, or worse, glass bottles.

Even the most climate-friendly meat options still produce more greenhouse gases than vegetarian protein sources, like beans or nuts.

How did we make the calculator?

How is the environmental impact calculated?

University of Oxford researcher Joseph Poore, and Thomas Nemecek of the Agroecology and Environment Research Division in Zurich, Switzerland, looked at the environmental impact of 40 major food products that represent the vast majority of what is eaten globally.

They assessed the effect of these foods on climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of land and fresh water used across all stages of their production, including processing, packaging, and transportation, but excluding the cooking process.

By analysing data from nearly 40,000 farms, 1,600 processors, packaging types and retailers, Poore and Nemecek were able to assess how different production practices and geographies have very different consequences on the planet.

What about serving sizes?

The data in the study looked at the environmental impact for 1kg of each of the different food products.

For this story, these were converted to impact per serving sizes based on serving sizes from the British Dietetic Association (BDA) and healthy diet portion sizes from BUPA.

The figures for serving sizes based on the BDA and BUPA suggestions are often lower than portion sizes commonly found in restaurants and what people normally expect, so the figures returned by the calculator on the impact of individuals’ consumption are likely to be higher in reality.

Protein-rich foods were calculated using the impact per 100g of protein from Poore and Nemecek’s research and data on protein per serving from the BDA, to avoid differences between cooked and uncooked foods.

What are greenhouse gases?

The figures for greenhouse gas emissions are in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq). This is a unit that converts the impact of different kinds of greenhouse gases, like methane and nitrous oxide, to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.

How do you know what my diet is equal to in miles driven?

The annual impact from eating a specific food is calculated by multiplying the impact of one serving of that food by the times it is eaten in a year, based on the weekly estimates submitted by the user.

These are then compared with the emissions of other daily habits. The European Environment Agency estimates that driving a regular petrol car produces 392g of CO2eq/mile over its entire lifecycle, including emissions from the vehicle’s production, fuel production and exhaust emissions per mile.

Heating the average UK home produces 2.34 tonnes of CO2eq annually, according to data from the Committee on Climate Change, and a passenger’s carbon footprint for a return flight from London to Malaga is 320kg CO2eq, based on figures from the Carbon Neutral calculator.

The land used to produce the annual consumption of each food is compared with the size of a double tennis court, 261 metres squared.

The annual amount of water used is compared with a shower, based on figures suggesting the average shower lasts eight minutes and uses up 65 litres. Only “blue water”, i.e. water taken out of rivers or the ground, is included in the data.

Seeing the Forest For the Trees: The Meaning and Message of Forests and Trees in the Christian Tradition

As many know, we are involved in the Holy Garden of Patmos project. This article by Vincent Rossi (RELIGION and the FORESTS magazine June, 1999) discusses St Amphilochios of Patmos and the theological importance of trees and our Christian duty to protect them.

“Whoever does not love trees, does not love God.” This was the teaching of the renowned Greek Orthodox monk, Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (1888-1970). According to Orthodox scholar Bishop Kallistos Ware, Fr. Amphilochios was an ecologist long before environmental concern became fashionable. “Do you know,” the elder said, “that God gave us one more commandment, which is not recorded in Scripture? It is the commandment, “Love the trees.” When you plant a tree, you plant hope, you plant peace, you plant love, and you will receive God’s blessing.” It is recounted that when the elder heard the confessions of local farmers, he would regularly give as a penance the task of planting a tree, while he himself would go about the island watering young trees during times of drought. His Christian love for trees transformed Patmos, the island where St. John the Evangelist lived for many years. Where photographs taken around the turn of the century reveal barren countryside, a thick and healthy forest now grows.

Many other examples could be found of people who, from religious conviction, combined a deep love of God and a love of trees. The story of John Chapman (1774- 1845), better known as Johnny Appleseed, who wandered the American frontier, a Bible in one hand, a bag of seeds in the other, planting trees and herbs, who was considered a healer and something of a saint by Indian and settler alike, comes to mind. Are these just unusual examples of religious piety that one can admire but dismiss as irrelevant to one’s own spiritual life as a Christian? After all, so the reasoning goes, trees are not people, but plants, put here on earth by God for human use. Or is there truth to the teaching of Elder Amphilochios that there is an implicit “eleventh commandment” in the Bible that enjoins human beings to love the trees? Is it possible that there is a spiritual link between the way we treat God’s creation and the state of our relationship to God? Should Christians recognize that, just as the First Epistle of John teaches that anyone who says he loves God but hates his brother is a liar, it is equally if implicitly true to say that anyone who says he loves God, but willingly participates or acquiesces in the wanton destruction of forests and trees is also deceiving himself?

Is there Scriptural evidence that God actually cares how we treat trees and forests and the rest of His creation? I believe the Elder from Patmos is right: there is a link between love of trees and love of God. In the first place, it is clear from Scripture that respecting, protecting and honoring nature as the creation of God is a fundamental spiritual duty of all Christians.

The principal text outlining human responsibility for stewardship of the earth, including the forests, is Genesis 2:15, with its two key verbs, “to cultivate” and “to keep,” describing how we are to exercise our stewardship in creation. Supporting this principal text are a number of other key texts, including Rom. 8:19-20 and 2 Cor.5:17-21 which indicate our God-given vocation to reconcile and restore creation to its God-ordained natural order. To be Christian is truly to be ecologist in a Biblical sense. More specifically, within human responsibility of creation-care and earth stewardship, the care of forests and trees possesses a special place in Biblical ecology.

Let us now turn to the witness of Scripture. Scripture is rich with references to trees and forests. The words “tree” and “trees,” “forest” and “forests,” occur hundreds of times throughout the Bible. These occurrences may be grouped into general categories and contexts. Among them are references to trees and forests as: 1) a species created by God and of intrinsic value: (Gen.1:11-12, 2:9). 2) a source of food; a natural resource, or a source of wealth: (Gen.1:29, 2 Kgs.19:23; Ezek.39:10) 3) a natural part of the local or planetary ecosystem: (1Sam.22:5; 1 Kgs.7:2; Isa.57:5; Mt.21:19-21; Mk.11:13; Rev. 7:3. 9:4) 4) a sign of and/or response to God’s blessing or punishment: (Isa.41:19-20, Rev. 7:1) 5) a simile or metaphor modeled on the tree’s natural properties: (Ps.1:3; Isa.56:3; Mt.7:17-19,12:33; Mk.13:28; Lk.13:6-7,17:6; Rev. 6:13). A great many tree references are of this category. 6) a sign of the natural world in harmony with itself: (Gen.2:9; Ps.104:16-17; Song 2:10-13) 7) paradigm of the cosmic world tree; primordial living symbol of human knowledge and life: (Gen.2:9, 17; 3: 1-24; Rev.2:7, 22:2) 8) symbol of the Cross of Christ: (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29; Gal.3:13; 1 Pt.2:24)

This represents only a small sample of the hundreds of references to forests and trees in the Bible. Human beings excepted, no other living organism appears as often as trees in Scripture. On the basis of textual prominence alone, the tree is the most important nonhuman living organism in Scripture.

But is there a larger and deeper significance to trees and forests in the Bible? The importance of the images of trees and forests in Scripture cannot be attributed merely to numerical frequency alone. There must be a deeper meaning, a meaning both literal and spiritual, that delineates the revelation of the Holy Spirit as it relates to forests and trees, and that reveals the attitude that God expects human beings to take to the trees and forests He has created. There is.

This deeper meaning emerges out of the differences and the relationships between the kinds of references to forests and trees. I refer especially to the ways that Scripture uses the image of the tree.

The eight categories above, which are not exhaustive, give us a clue. Characteristically, Scripture uses the image of trees and forests in three basic ways, plus a subsuming fourth, which represent respectively three kinds of the Scriptural tree, corresponding roughly to the Pauline trichotomy of body, soul and spirit, plus a transcending fourth, representing the presence of the Holy Spirit that is “everywhere present and fillest all things.” We may call these three types of tree usages the Natural Tree, the Metaphoric Tree and the Symbolic Tree. Subsuming the functions of the previous kinds of tree while transcending them is the fourth kind of tree in Scripture, which we may call the Iconic Tree.

1. The Natural Tree We meet the “natural tree” as part of the integrated order of the natural world. Throughout Scripture there is a warm and loving quality to the references to trees, almost as though they were “relatives” of the Biblical writer or familiar members of his community. And that, precisely, is what they were. The trees mentioned by name in the Bible— species such as hazel, chestnut, poplar, vine tree, olive, wild olive, palm, fig, bramble, cedar, pomegranate, hyssop, fir, juniper, bay, almond, apple, oak, acacia, myrtle, cypress, pine, brier, willow, mustard, sycamore, almug, lotus, frankincense, holly, galgal—were part of an ecological community called the Land of Israel, a community acutely aware of the interdependence of all the elements of life on earth, including human culture.

Forests and trees are also often mentioned in Scripture as a source of food, shelter, fuel, commerce and artistic expression. This approximates the way human societies from time immemorial have used trees. What is especially significant is how Scripture deals with trees and forests as they are used by people. The Bible does not forbid the cutting and harvesting of trees for human use. The cedars of Lebanon were used in the construction and adornment of the Temple of Jerusalem (1Kgs. 5:1-10). However this is not the end of the story of the natural tree.

Following the injunction of “cultivating” and “keeping,” Scripture indicates a strong preference for Godly stewardship. This is strikingly shown in the injunction against cutting down the trees of an enemy in time of war (Deut.21:19). This principle of restraint is especially remarkable, given the context of warfare, when it is characteristic of human nature to abandon ordinary ethical rules to conquer the enemy. The Bible emphatically tells us that all is not “fair in love and war” when it comes to the natural world, and specifically when it comes to trees. The verse following, which seems at first glance to mitigate the law against destroying trees in time of war, upon close reading actually confirms the law of restraint. “Only the trees which are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, to build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it is subdued” (Deut.21:20). The Torah of God makes it clear that only the trees that are not “trees for food” may be cut down, for the “tree of the field is man’s food.”

God tells his people that under no circumstances, not even during war, may you endanger the food supply. More than this, the destruction of non fruit-bearing trees even of an enemy is also prohibited, for Deuteronomy specifies that the cutting down of non fruit-bearing trees is allowed only for the purpose of building siegeworks. There is no indication whatsoever that Scripture justifies a scorched-earth policy. The first part of verse nineteen states without qualification: “you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them.” By the principle of restraint, remarkably enjoined even in time of war, and by the specification that trees must be spared, the Bible clearly implies and points to that “eleventh commandment” insisted upon by the holy Elder Amphilochios of Patmos: trees are to be protected, nurtured and, yes, loved, not only for their benefit to humanity as food, but for their role in the harmony of the earth environment, and for their own sake as a creation of God.

2. The Metaphoric Tree By the “metaphoric tree” I mean the Scriptural use of the image of forests and trees in simile, metaphor, allegory, analogy or parable for teaching basic moral and spiritual principles. The metaphorical use of the tree-image is the largest category of references to 4 trees and forests in the New Testament. Just as natural references to trees are on the physical-natural level of existence, or the level of the body, so the metaphoric tree in Scripture relates to the level of soul. To say soul is to say the moral-ethical and therapeutic-spiritual. This is the pre-eminent level of Scriptural teaching and admonishment concerned with and focused upon the way to salvation.

The Book of Psalms offers many examples, none better than the first lines of Psalm 1:

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful….

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in season….

Another example, this time in the form of an allegory in which the children of Israel are warned of the hidden dangers of monarchy, comes from Judges 9:8-15:

8 The trees went forth to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. 9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come and reign over us. 11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? … 14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. 15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth you anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.

All the books attributed to Solomon contain tree references, some of which are acute observations of trees in nature, others are metaphoric. It is noteworthy that when the Bible wishes to demonstrate that Solomon is the wisest of all men, it speaks in terms of his knowledge of the natural world, in particular, of trees: The metaphoric tree is prominent in the parables of Jesus. The parable of the fig tree (Mt. 24:32; Mk. 13:29; Lk. 21:29) and the parable of the mustard seed (Mt.13:31; Lk.13:19) are two of the most outstanding of these.

3. The Symbolic Tree What we are calling “the natural tree” represents the Scriptural expression of Biblical culture’s awareness of the intrinsic value of trees and of the central role played by trees in ecological balance, as well as the human use of trees for food, shelter, trade and commerce to satisfy the needs of the body. The “metaphoric tree” represents the figurative use of trees for the purpose of education, moral instruction, and the inculcation of the teachings necessary for salvation to satisfy the needs of the soul. Beyond these two levels or types of tree, a third tree-image occurs in the Bible, which we are calling the “symbolic tree.” The Holy Spirit in Scripture employs the image of the tree to reveal and communicate truths about the cosmos, about humanity, about God’s will in creation, and thus, about the deepest principles of the order of nature and life. It is this symbolic, anagogic (that is, uplifting) function of trees in Scripture that we call The Symbolic Tree.

The most important context in which the symbolic tree appears is the story of God creating the Edenic Paradise in the center of which He planted two trees, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life (Genesis 2:8-17). This passage is part of the “second creation story” of Genesis Two, which scholars agree is older than that of the creation story of Genesis One. We Christians must not let the familiarity of this story blind us to some of its remarkable features, especially as they relate to our theme. Aside from man, trees are the first living thing mentioned. It is highly significant that of all the plants and growing things that could have been mentioned, only trees are actually mentioned. This is a strong indication that Scripture singles out the tree as representative of the biosphere as a whole. This corresponds with an ecological view which recognizes trees as the organic center around which all the other parts of the ecosystem are organized. Without directly pointing it out, Scripture is bearing witness to the pre-eminent value of trees in the organic world or biosphere.

Two categories of trees are distinguished in Genesis 2: those “pleasant to the sight” and those “good for food.” Both categories link trees to human physical and psychological well-being and represent the gift-nature of trees to humanity. Trees are shown to be a gift and blessing of God to man, as Elder Amphilochios taught, bearing in themselves elements of hope, peace, beauty and love. Without introduction or the slightest bit of explanation, the Sacred Narrative reveals the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the midst of the Garden. Here we confront the primordial symbol of the sacred World Tree, which is a universal symbol in human consciousness. In the Genesis Two creation story, our primary concern is the image of the tree. Why the tree? Why does the Holy Spirit use the tree to symbolize life? Why is human consciousness, across the spectrum of cultures and times so congenial to, so accepting of, the tree as the universal symbol of life?

To answer this question we must ask and attempt to answer another: What is a symbol? Commonly, this word is used as a synonym for “figure” or “sign” and is opposed to what is “real,” such as when someone says that something is “only a symbol” or that such and such “symbolizes” or “represents” so and so. But symbol can mean more than this. A symbol may be distinguished from a metaphor in that the latter is a figure of speech in which we speak of one thing in terms of another; whereas a symbol is not specifically linguistic and may represent physical objects and visual representations. One may speak metaphorically about a tree, but one cannot say, for example, that the tree is a metaphor of the cross, because a tree, as a physical object, is not a metaphor. One might properly say that the tree is a symbol of the cross. Because symbols are not figures of speech, but signifying objects, the representational definition of symbol—symbol as “only” a sign—does not exhaust either the meaning or the function of symbol. Because the nature of a symbol is rooted in real objects, its meaning is not exhausted by convention and, as it were, on the “horizontal” plane.

A symbol is also capable of “vertical” significance by making visible a higher meaning. Further, a symbol, by the meaning of its form, its “transparency,” may itself be in the physical world the manifestation of a higher, invisible reality. Such was the view of the Fathers of the Church. The very physical presence of the symbol re-presents the higher reality it points to and reveals. Thus “symbol” and “reality” may not be opposites, but may coincide. As an example of this kind of “living” symbolism, Bishop Kallistos Ware cites Edward Carpenter’s (1844-1929) vision of a tree:

‘Has any one of us ever seen a Tree? I certainly do not think that I have — except most superficially… Once the present writer seemed to have a partial vision of a tree. It was a beech, standing isolated and still leafless in early Spring. Suddenly I was aware of its skyward-reaching arms and up-turned finger-tips, as if some vivid life (or electricity) was streaming through them far into the spaces of heaven, and of its roots plunged in the earth and drawing the same energies from below. The day was quite still and there was no movement in the branches, but in that moment the tree was no longer a separate organism, but a vast being ramifying far into space, sharing and uniting the life of Earth and Sky, and full of most amazing activity.’

Bishop Ware comments, “Here is a vision of joyful wonder, inspired by an underlying sense of mystery. The tree has become a symbol pointing beyond itself, a sacrament that embodies some deep secret at the heart of the universe.”

Carpenter’s experience, plus the bishop’s comment, provide insight into the tree as symbol. Something in the nature of the tree makes it a symbol of life itself. The tree’s upright form; its three-fold structure of roots-trunk-branches; its intimate connection with the four elements—roots deep in the earth, branches high in the air, its power to draw down sunlight and draw up water; its longevity and stability; its silent generosity, offering shade, shelter and sustenance to all other living things; its created capacity to “unite the life of Earth and Sky,” all these qualities of the tree-nature created by God make it a powerful, central and universal symbol of life. Yet this capacity in the tree to be a symbol only hints at the depths of that “deep secret at the heart of the universe” embodied by the symbolic tree and glimpsed by those blessed with even a “partial vision” similar to Edward Carpenter’s. For the life we have been speaking of is created life. But the Tree of Life in Paradise confers eternal life. The tragic consequence of Adam’s sin reveals the luminous reality of the Tree of Life just at the moment that he loses all contact with it.

‘Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever,” therefore the LORD God sent him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen.3:22-24).’

The loss of access to the Tree of Life meant death and expulsion from paradise, and the way back blocked. The “deep secret at the heart of the universe” still lies beyond the flaming sword of the cherubim. Nevertheless its presence may yet be intuited and felt, as did Edward Carpenter, in the transparent symbol of a living tree, truly seen.

If a symbol is, in its highest meaning, the reflection of a higher reality, then the sin of Adam can be seen as becoming attached to the symbol instead of the higher reality. The symbol had become an idol. Choosing the created symbol over the uncreated Life it symbolized, Adam’s vision was darkened. He lost not only the Tree of Life, but the tree as the symbol of life. The fatal descent had begun, from the paradisal vision of trees “pleasant to the sight,” as transparent symbols of life, to the infernal sight of “clearcutting”: the brutal stripping of entire mountainsides of their forests to feed the world’s appetite for wood. Nevertheless, natural things have not lost their inner nature; they still praise God their Creator. The trees along with all else in creation wait with earnest expectation for the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19), that is, human beings redeemed by Christ and members of His body, so that they once again may see both the forest and the trees. Restoring this Christian unitive vision of creation as a cosmic sacrament points us to the Iconic Tree.

4. The Iconic Tree The mystery of life is that even the life of fallen nature partakes somehow of the Life beyond life, even though without redemption access to the Tree of Life remains blocked by separation, sin and death. As a great saint of the early Church, Dionysios the Areopagite wrote in his enormously influential work, The Divine Names, “Life” is one of the names of God: ‘The Divine Life beyond life is the giver and creator of life itself. All life and living movement comes from a Life which is above every life and beyond the source of life. From this Life souls have their indestructibility, and every living being and plant, down to the last echo of life, has life.’

St. Maximos the Confessor (580-662), a profound student of Dionysios and a great theologian in his own right, sums up the whole tradition in a few words: ‘Death in the true sense is separation from God, and ‘the sting of death is sin’ (1 Cor. 15:56). Adam, who received the sting, became at the same time an exile from the tree of life, from paradise and from God; and this was necessarily followed by the body’s death. Life, in the true sense, is He who said, ‘I am the Life’ (Jn 11:25), and who, having entered into death, led back to life him who had died.’

With his allusion to John 11:25 (“Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die”), St. Maximos gives us the link to the Iconic Tree to which the symbol of the tree is finally pointing. For with the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and glorious Ascension of Christ, the glory of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14) has transformed the image of the tree from symbol to icon. In order to understand how the symbol of the tree becomes an icon, we need to touch on the meaning of icons in the Orthodox Church. The icon is not merely religious “art” or pious decoration. Iconography is sacred art with a primarily liturgical function, which is to manifest the unity of creation with heaven in the liturgy.

According to the Orthodox understanding of icons, icons make present that which they re-present. Therefore, the icon is a “symbol” as we have tried to present it, but a symbol in the highest possible sense. An icon is the apex of symbolism in which the visible reveals the invisible in an essentially sacramental manner. As we have seen, a symbol, contrary to a widely held opinion, both popular and scholarly, is not necessarily opposed to “reality,” and can signify much more than mere “representation.” In fact, the essence of the symbol is precisely to make known by reflecting or manifesting a reality beyond itself. According to the Bible, the natural world was created by God so that He might be made known: because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead (Rom.1:19-20).

As Orthodox theologian Fr. Alexander Schmemann writes: “the world is symbolical in virtue of its being created by God”; to be “symbolical” thus belongs to its ontology, the symbol being not only the way to perceive and understand reality, but also a means of participation. It is this natural symbolism of the world that is reflected in the understanding of the early Church that the universe is itself a Book, the Liber Mundi, or “Book of Nature” through which the wisdom, power and glory of God might be known.

Philip Sherrard, one of the foremost theologians of this century and a contemporary exponent of the sacred cosmology of the Greek Fathers of the Church, says that it is crucial that we learn to: ‘Read the book of nature, the Liber Mundi, in a way totally different from that in which we have been taught to read it. It demands that we read it in a way similar to that in which the great spiritual expositors tell that we should read the Bible—we have to learn to look on the world of natural forms as the apparent, exterior expression of a hidden, interior world, a spiritual world: all the phenomena of the world of nature represent or symbolize with things celestial and divine.’

Or as the same author says in another place:

‘a true reading of the book of nature, the Liber Mundi, leads to the recognition that these realities constitute the immaterial, spiritual and uncreated realities of the forms of the natural and physical world; they embrace the archetypes of which these forms are the exterior, apparent expression. This in turn means that we are able to perceive through our physical eyes the symbolic function that natural things possess by virtue of their correspondence and interpenetration with spiritual things.’

The Book of Job says the same thing more directly:

‘But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air and they will tell you. Or speak to the earth and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind? (Job 12: 7-10).’

To perceive the living symbolism of natural things—to read the Book of Nature—is to perceive the spiritual presence of which each natural form is the image—or icon. There is an inherent “sacramentality” to creation because the Divine presence in and through and beyond each created thing gives each its uniqueness, immediacy, transparency and meaning. Thus to learn to read the Book of Nature is to move from creation to symbol to sacrament. That movement from symbol to sacrament is, as it were, an “iconic” movement. For the tree, its iconic movement came as the God-Man Christ Jesus was crucified on the cross at Golgotha. At that moment, and irreversibly, the image of the tree, source of the wood that formed the instrument upon which our salvation was wrought, became forever a symbol of the cross.

There are five instances in the New Testament in which “tree” is used for the cross on which Jesus was crucified: three in Acts (5:30, 10:39, 13:29), one in Galatians (3:13) and one in First Peter (2:24). Remarkably, each of these texts is a kerygmatic paradigm—that is to say, each is a unique divine moment filled by the Holy Spirit in which the Spirit-directed and empowered preaching of the Good News revealed the form and contours and scope of the Christian faith.

1) The Witness to the Religious Authorities—the Power of the Gospel: Acts 5:30 shows Peter, standing before the high priest and the chief priests of the temple after his miraculous escape from prison at the hand of an angel of the Lord, fearlessly bearing witness to the Good News: ‘The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.’

2) The Witness to the Gentiles—the Universal Scope of the Gospel: Acts 10:39 shows St. Peter again, this time teaching the pagan centurian Cornelius at Caesarea, after his threefold vision of the great sheet filled with all manner of creatures and after refusing to eat being instructed of God that “what God hath cleansed, that call thou not common”: ‘And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree.’

3) The Witness to the Jewish People—the Gospel as the Fulfillment of Salvation History in Christ: Acts 13:29 shows St. Paul in the synagogue at Antioch on the Sabbath day, preaching to the assembled congregation a magnificent sermon in which he shows through the Law and the prophets that the entire history of salvation is fulfilled in Christ Jesus: ‘And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.’

4) The Witness to the Early Church—the Gospel as the Transformation of the Covenant in Christ: Galatians 3:13: Here Paul teaches the doctrine of faith in Christ how we cannot be justified by the Law, but only by faith in God and in Christ, who redeemed us by becoming answerable to the Law on our behalf, who died for us and rose again: ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.’

5) The Witness to all Christians—the Gospel Command to Follow Christ on the Path of Suffering: This epistle evokes the suffering of Christ on the tree of the cross as an example for all Christians of all times: ‘Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.’ (1Peter 2:24).

In each of these primordial moments of the revelation of the Gospel through preaching of the mission and message of the Church of Christ, the image of the tree as the cross was invoked as the very heart of the Gospel. This cannot be mere coincidence.

Liturgy and the Liturgical Ethos We have seen that Holy Scripture bears witness to the singular importance of trees, not as objects of worship, but as one of the most complete manifestations in the created order of the wisdom, goodness and mercy of God. We have seen that awareness of the interdependence of all life is prominent in the Bible, and that the Bible knows trees to be of central importance to the balance and harmony of all the aspects of the living community of beings on earth. We have seen that Scripture utilizes the figurative value of the nature, growth and function of trees in the biosphere or “soil community” to teach moral lessons and spiritual wisdom. Finally we have seen that the Christian Revelation draws upon the inherent symbolism of the tree and the natural sacramentality of creation to reveal that Christ Himself is the “deep secret at the heart of the universe.” But what are we as Christians and as human beings to do with this knowledge?

Scripture tells us that the proper response to the revelation of God’s truth, goodness, beauty, wisdom, life and mercy is praise and thanksgiving. The Church, as Body of Christ, calls us to the Eucharist: communion in the Kingdom in thanksgiving. Putting the two together means that the truly human task on earth, combining the healing of disorder, the manifestation of the Gospel and the perfecting of praise, is to develop a liturgical ethos, to liturgize the world. What does this mean? And how do trees relate to liturgy and the development of a liturgical ethos? Liturgy, leitourgia in Greek, means, literally, the “work of the people” [leit-people, ergonwork].

Scripture tells us the work of the people of God is thanksgiving and praise. The Gospel Revelation of Christ—”ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32) and “This is eternal life, that they know thee, the only true God” (John 17:3) first fully manifested at the Baptism of Jesus (Theophany) and accomplished for all creation on Golgotha, culminates in the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the establishment of the Church in which all are called to “give thanks for all things” (1 Thess. 5:18). When we know who Christ is and what He has accomplished, when we experience the freedom inherent in that knowledge, we will be naturally filled with thanksgiving. It flows from the impulse in the heart to give thanks to Him who made us free from bondage to sin and death, an impulse rooted in heart-knowledge.

We have seen that from the beginning of Revelation and the history of our salvation God used trees to teach humanity. We have seen the amazing emphasis upon trees in the Bible and in the teaching of the early Church. The liturgical ethos—the heart of a Christian response to the creation–is centered around the acts of praise and thanksgiving which are the chief responses of human beings to the presence of God. As the earth, including all living creatures, from microbes to the human microcosm, and the macrocosmic universe as well, are created by God with a symbolic ontology and a sacramental potentiality, they fulfill their existence also in praise. Indeed, the greater degree of transparency in the creature, the greater its symbolism, the more it praises God. The Christian mind and heart must truly reflect a liturgical ethos, which is to give voice to the song of praise for all creation. Of all plants the tree most fully symbolizes the blessings that God has bestowed upon us through creation. The presence of the tree in the natural environment and also in Scripture is a sign of health, hope, goodness, fertility, abundance and order. The destruction of trees in Scripture is a sign of God’s wrath and punishment for all transgressions of the order of nature and of spirit.

Presently trees and the forests of the world are being wantonly destroyed to an unprecedented degree by the hand of man. How long will the four angels holding the full retributive power of nature be stayed by the mercy of God?

Clearly the entire witness of the Christian Revelation calls all Christians to protect the trees. Christians should be at the forefront of any campaign to restore the forests of the world.

Growing trees are a sign of hope, peace and love, as the Elder from Patmos has said. Landscapes wantonly stripped of their forest cover, hillsides ravaged to feed the insatiable greed of the market, can such sins against nature be anything but signs of an inevitable day of judgement? Good deeds may not forestall this day. Nevertheless it is a universal Christian duty to protect the forests. Love the trees. Love the trees.

Appetite for ‘warm meat’ drives risk of disease in Hong Kong and China

Article by Michael Standaert The Guardian

Thu 23 Jan 2020 08.30 GMTLast modified on Mon 3 Feb 2020 11.24 GMT

This article has a slightly different angle and looks at the monopoly of China in the Hong Kong meat industry. It includes some of the more disturbing animal welfare issues which is something we need to be monitoring when it comes to Trade deals with China.

A wet market, where animals are freshly slaughtered rather than chilled was identified as the source of the coronavirus outbreak. But experts have long warned of dangers.

Each evening, under cover of darkness, hundreds of live pigs from farms across China are trucked through the rusting gates of a cluster of mildew-stained quarantine and inspection buildings in the Qingshuihe logistics zone in Shenzhen.

Overnight they are checked for illness, primarily the African swine fever (ASF) that is expected to kill off a quarter of the world’s pigs, and reloaded on to ventilated trucks with dual mainland China and Hong Kong licence plates.

Before sunrise the caravan makes its way five-and-a-half miles south to the border at Man Kam To, a small customs and immigration checkpoint, where the pigs go through further visual health checks before crossing into Hong Kong.

They are bound for Sheung Shui slaughterhouse, the largest of three abattoirs in the territory. Once there they will be checked again before being dispatched in less than 24 hours under new rules meant to prevent the spread of ASF.

It’s a lot of effort to get fresh meat from the 1,400 pigs that cross the border each day.

The appetite for freshly slaughtered ‘warm meat’

For various reasons, the Chinese prefer freshly slaughtered pig, chicken and beef over chilled or frozen meat that has been slaughtered before being shipped.

That desire is at the heart of why diseases such as avian flu in poultry and ASF have been so difficult to eradicate, with huge movements of live animals from all over the country – from farm to slaughterhouse to market – on a daily basis making controlling the spread of disease incredibly difficult.

A recent coronavirus outbreak in China has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan, eastern China. Like other respiratory illnesses, the disease was initially transmitted from animal to human, but is now being passed human to human.

But despite awareness of the issues, the markets are a huge part of Chinese life. On a busy morning at a so-called “wet market” in the Shajing area, the oldest inhabited and very Cantonese part of Shenzhen, hundreds of shoppers arrive soon after daybreak. Slabs of pork hang from the stalls and various cuts are piled on the counters amid lights with a reddish glare and the occasional buzzing of flies.

Just a few minutes away at the nearby Walmart, where there are also options for fresh, chilled and frozen meat, the customer flow at this time of day is only a trickle compared to the wet market. It has your average western supermarket vibe – white daylight lighting, sterile and clean.

Staff at the meat counter in Walmart and at the stalls in the wet market both say the meat comes in from the same slaughterhouse around 2am. So why the huge difference in foot traffic?

Molly Maj, a corporate communications representative for Walmart, says “the average customer in China still prefers fresh meat” over other options.

One reason for the demand for wet markets is that widespread refrigeration only came to China in recent years. While most urban homes now have refrigerators, many in rural areas and low income urban renters still do not own one, or only a mini-fridge if they do.

Food for sale at a food market in Sichuan.
 ‘Wet’ markets are a huge part of life in China but have been linked to disease outbreaks. Photograph: Alamy

The habit of buying perishable food for daily use is still prevalent in many consumers, particularly older shoppers who grew up without refrigerators. They say they can tell the quality of fresh meat by its smell, colour and how it feels to the touch.

“When I’m talking with my students I say: ‘The term warm meat, fresh meat, sounds disgusting to me, I grew up [in Germany] with chilled meat, that’s all I know,” Dirk Pfeiffer, a professor of veterinary medicine at City University in Hong Kong and an expert on diseases related to animal husbandry, says.

“So I ask them why and they come up with all sorts of vague things like the soup tastes better or that it is a trust issue, knowing it is a live animal at the other end and not some diseased animal,” he says. “It’s all very subjective.”

An ‘utter disaster’ for disease

Wet markets are central to the perception that fresh meat is better, says Pfeiffer. They evoke nostalgia among shoppers, many of whom come from rural areas where all they knew were wet markets and no refrigeration.

Where a wet market feels familiar a supermarket can seem alien and out of place.

“I actually believe that it is an important thing for the older generation to go to the wet market and chat,” says Pfeiffer. However, the way the animal trade operates in China is “an utter disaster”, for animal disease and welfare, he adds.

A poulterer carries chicken at the market, in Xizhou, Yunnan, China.
 ‘It is an important thing for the older generation to go to the wet market and chat’ – Prof Dirk Pfeiffer. Photograph: Alamy

A year ago, before rising concerns about the spread of ASF, nearly 4,000 pigs crossed daily with less scrutiny. Pigs were held in dismal conditions for as long as five days before being slaughtered on the Hong Kong side, greatly enhancing the possibility of disease transmission, says Pfeiffer.

The recent shortages due to the ASF outbreak have doubled and tripled prices for fresh pork at wet markets across Hong Kong. Farms in Hong Kong itself can usually supply about 300 pigs a day. Land use and environmental restrictions prevent any increase in production. The result is further worries about Hong Kong’s reliance on mainland China beyond its water and energy dependence.

“Many years ago, we had imports from all over Asia of live animals, but eventually the entire supply was monopolised by mainland China,” said Helena Wong, a member of Hong Kong’s legislative council panel on food safety and environmental hygiene. “They killed all their competitors and monopolised the supply of live pig and chicken.”

More than 6,000 pigs at the Sheung Shui slaughterhouse were culled in May 2019 after ASF was found among animals brought in from China. Hong Kong’s legislative council is now trying to figure out how much it owes traders and farmers in compensation.

Massive culls of poultry due to avian flu in imported mainland chickens in the last decade also led to large compensation bills and, eventually, to ending live chicken imports in early 2016.

Pigs about to be buried alive in a pit after an outbreak of African swine fever in Guangxi, in February 2019.
 Pigs about to be buried alive in a pit after an outbreak of African swine fever in Guangxi in February 2019. Photograph: Reuters

“We as taxpayers have to give that money,” said Wong. “So now we are in a big crisis because in the past few years we have experienced avian flu and now African swine fever.”

A future beyond ‘warm meat’ for Hong Kong

Disease outbreaks have raised wider questions about the sustainability of Chinese consumers’ appetite – both on the mainland and in Hong Kong – for what is often called “warm” meat.

For Deborah Cao, a professor at Griffith University in Australia and an expert on animal protection in China, a deeper issue driving the live animal trade is a cultural disconnect about animal welfare.

“The main problem is the indifference or perception of people who simply regard animals as food, tools, or as things that people can do anything they want to,” she said.

“In particular, there is no perception of farm animals as having feelings, or being capable of feeling pain or suffering.”

Hong Kong may find it difficult to switch to a different model. There is almost no chance of farm expansion to support larger scale production within Hong Kong and, although the government is looking at possibilities of live imports from other Asian countries, the ports do not have adequate facilities to cope with large numbers.

“To a large extent, if we insist on fresh food, we have to rely on China,” said Wong. “If we can change and make certain concessions, Hong Kong has always been an open market for importing food items from many parts of the world. It is only for the provision of live animals that we are monopolised by the mainland farms.”

Reporting assistance from Zhong Yunfan.

What should we do about zoos?

Is it time to shut down the zoos?

by Robin McKie Sun 2 Feb 2020 08.30 GMT

Concluding with a comment by Dr Christina Nellist of Pan Orthodox Concern For Animals.

Cruel or kind? Education and conservation are cited as reasons for keeping wild animals in captivity, but many critics say zoos are outdated relics of a less enlightened era. We hear what both sides say

In a few days, a pair of two-year-old cheetahs, Saba and Nairo, will depart from the UK on a remarkable journey. The brothers will be taken from Howletts Wild Animal Park, in Kent, and flown to South Africa to begin a new life – in the wild.

It will be the first time that cheetahs born in captivity have left the UK for rewilding in Africa, says Damian Aspinall, who runs Howletts. “There are only about 7,000 cheetahs left on the planet and they are listed as vulnerable,” he says. “This reintroduction – to a reserve in Mount Camdeboo, in south of the country – is important because it will help to support the small population of cheetahs we have left in the wild.”

And the process of releasing animals from his wildlife parks is likely to continue unabated, adds Aspinall. He now campaigns vigorously for a sharp acceleration in the return of all captive animals to the wild and, ultimately, the closure of all zoos and wildlife parks in the UK – including his own.

“We have no moral right as a species to let animals suffer just because we are curious about them,” he says.

The day of the zoo is over, he claims – and his views are reflected by other critics who view wildlife parks andanimalcollections as anachronisms that should be phased out of existence over the coming 25 years.

Yet zoos are a major part of British culture. About 30 million visits are made to animal collections every year, according to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Some of these outfits are small and isolated – and occasionally fall foul of local authorities for their mistreatment of animals. On the other hand, some larger institutions, such as London or Chester zoos – are well-run and, according to supporters, justify their existence for three clear reasons: education, research and conservation.

According to this argument, revealing the wonders of our planet’s wildlife to the public, and investigating the biology of these animals in order to help them return to nature provide zoos with valid reason to exist. In a world beset by climate change, habitat loss and soaring human numbers, zoos provide protection for the world’s endangered species.

Aquarium in Dubai
 David Attenborough argues that aquariums, such as this one in Dubai, are more successful than zoos at conserving species in captivity. Photograph: John Kellerman/Alamy Stock Photo

So who is right? Is there any justification, today, for keeping wild animals in captivity? Are zoos good for the planet’s threatened creatures – or are they relics of past cruel attitudes to wildlife?

One argument is that zoos educate visitors, particularly younger ones, about the wonders of the planet’s wildlife. But Chris Draper of Born Free, the international charity that campaigns against keeping wild animals in captivity, disagrees. “Today, people get more from a TV nature documentary than they will ever get from seeing animals in zoos. In captivity, an elephant or a giraffe is out of its natural environment and probably in an unnatural social grouping. Television or the internet are much better resources for understanding animals than a zoo.”

Aspinall agrees. “David Attenborough’s programmes are far more educational than a day trip to a zoo,” he says. And you can see their point. Attenborough’s last series, Seven Worlds, One Planet, was made up of typically stunning material – dramatic close-ups of gentoo penguins fleeing leopard seals, pumas in pursuit of guanacos, and Barbary macaques in high-level chases after infant kidnappers. It was exhilarating, informative – and surely ideal for getting people hooked on animals.

But Attenborough flatly disagrees and is emphatic that his documentaries cannot compare to seeing the real thing. Only the sight of a creature in the flesh can give us a true understanding of its nature, he says.

“There is no way you can appreciate the quiddity of an elephant except by seeing one at close quarters,” he told the Observer. “People ought to be able to see what an animal looks like. And smells like. And sounds like. I think that is quite important. Actually, very important.”

Education certainly justifies a well-run zoo’s existence, he insists. On the other hand, Attenborough acknowledges that some animals fare better than others in zoos. “Modern aquariums are particularly successful, with their vast ceiling-high tanks in which you can see whole communities of different species of fish living together. They are absolutely fabulous.”

By contrast, polar bears, big raptors and large hunting mammals like lions are not suitable for being kept in zoos, says Attenborough. “I certainly agree with Mr Aspinall in saying you should not have lions in zoos – unless they were becoming endangered in the wild, which, of course is now becoming a real risk.”

Damian Aspinall
 Damian Aspinall, chairman of the Aspinall Foundation, plans to close the charity’s zoos. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

And the same goes for conservation, he adds. “Breeding programmes for animals that are on the verge of extinction are of incredible importance. If it was not for zoos, there would be no Arabian oryx left in the world, for example.”

The Arabian oryx was hunted to extinction in the wild by 1972 but was later reintroduced – originally with animals from San Diego safari park – to Oman. Further reintroductions have since taken place in Saudi Arabia and Israel. It is estimated that there are now more than 1,000 Arabian Oryx in the wild.

Other species reintroduced to the wild using zoo-bred animals include the European bison and Przewalski’s horse. But that is about it, argues Aspinall. “Only a very small number of animals held by European zoos have been the subject of release projects, and third of those species were not rated as threatened,” he says. Instead, zoos are cluttered with unthreatened species put there purely to entertain the public: otters and meerkats are common examples.

However, zoo officials reject the idea that their rewilding successes are limited and point to other examples of successfully returning zoo-bred animals to the wild – for example, the Mauritius kestrel. In 1974 only four of these beautiful raptors were known to exist in the wild. It had become the world’s rarest bird thanks to habitat loss, introduction of non-native predators, and widespread use of DDT and other pesticides on the island.

A rescue plan was launched by a number of organisations, including the Durrell wildlife park and London Zoo, in a bid to save the Mauritius kestrel from extinction in the wild. “The invasive crab-eating macaque was a particular problem,” says Gary Ward, curator of birds at London Zoo. “It had arrived in Mauritius from Asia and was stealing eggs from kestrel nests. So we designed nesting boxes that were longer than a macaque’s arm, so they couldn’t reach in to snatch eggs. The birds then had a safe place to bring up their young.”

Nesting boxes, in combination with other conservation measures, allowed numbers of Mauritius kestrels to rise to about 800 – although these have dipped slightly in recent years.

Other zoo-led rewilding successes have ranged from the spectacular, such as the Californian condor which was restored to the skies above the western US last century, thanks to the release of young birds bred in San Diego – to the minuscule, such as the return of the tiny partula snail, native to Huahine and Moorea in the Society Islands, French Polynesia, from populations bred in London, Edinburgh, Chester and Amsterdam zoos.

However, zoo opponents argue that these reintroductions remain infrequent and do not justify the keeping of other, unthreatened wild animals, a point taken up by Sam Threadgill of Freedom for Animals, which has campaigned for the abolition of zoos for several decades.

Together with Born Free, Freedom for Animals has studied zoos in England and Wales and concluded that only a small percentage of their animals are endangered species, and only about 15% are threatened.

“It is a simple fact that the vast majority of animals kept in zoos are not endangered or threatened and are there simply to provide public entertainment,” he says.

Aspinall goes further. He maintains that many large mammals kept in zoos – lions, elephants, and rhinos, for example – are inbred or diseased or have the wrong genetic profiles to reintroduce to the wild, where they could further weaken wild populations already struggling to survive. “So why are they being ‘arked’ in the first place?” he asks.

The infrequency of releases of zoo-bred animals into the wild is acknowledged by Dominic Jermey, director general of the Zoological Society of London, but interpreted in a different way: “The truth is that many ‘wild’ areas are no longer viable habitats for animals – and reintroduction is much more complicated than people might realise. Many of the world’s most threatened species are living in habitats degraded by agriculture, threatened by disease or hemmed into tiny areas with no way of reaching potential mates without coming into conflict with humans.”

For his part, Aspinall points to conservation successes that he believes can be achieved with key endangered species without any input from zoos. First, he plans to gradually empty his two zoos – at Howletts and at Port Lympne, near Folkestone – and use these to help set up large groups of animals – gorillas, rhinos, lions and others – in protected reserves in Africa. “A particular animal would be given homes at several reserves so that if one got into trouble for some reason – civil war, for example – there would be other sources that could resupply the reserve once those troubles had been sorted.”

The majority of animals in zoos are not endangered or threatened and are there simply to provide public entertainment.Sam Threadgill, Freedom for Animals

Aspinall points to the example of the mountain gorilla. Their numbers had fallen to under 250 by the early 1980s. Today the population stands at 1,000. “This is in the country of Gabon, surrounded by aggressive habitat destruction, civil war and poaching – and all done without any captive breeding.”

The crucial point of this plan is that animals would not be kept behind bars but left to roam in their homeland. And instead of money being spent on zoos, funds would go directly to conservation.

But the idea of closing zoos to boost funds for conservation is challenged by Mark Pilgrim, chief executive of Chester Zoo. His organisation has a total annual budget of £47m.

“That money is raised virtually entirely from people paying at our doors to get in,” he says. “After you deduct our running costs and cash for new development, we have around £1.5m and that goes on conservation in the field – work that includes studies of chimpanzees in Nigeria and sun bears in Asia and a programme to reintroduce eastern black rhinos to Uganda. If we simply closed our doors, as some people have suggested, our funding of these conservation projects would come to an immediate halt.”

He quotes as an example Nigeria’s Gashaka Gumti national park, which houses the last reserve of the highly endangered Nigerian-Cameroon chimpanzee. “Chimpanzees here live in forests that are less dense and drier than where other members of the species live in other parts of Africa,” says Andrew Moss, a lead conservation scientist at Chester. “Their diets are rich in insects, and we have found they are amazingly adept at making tools that are just right for getting a different type of insect.

“The crucial point is that if we had closed our gates at Chester, the research camp we support at Gashaka Gumti would have been badly hit and this crucial field work threatened.”

Nor is it merely money for conservation work that makes zoos important, say supporters. Expertise built up in zoos is also crucial. Over the past few years, wild vulture populations in India and Nepal have crashed from about 40 million to a few thousand because of the use of diclofenac, a livestock anti-inflammatory drug that is highly poisonous to vultures who eat their carcasses.

“We have been closely involved in conservation work, and our expertise in building aviaries on site to protect the last few vultures – and in treating sick animals – has been tremendously useful,” says Nic Masters, assistant director of wildlife health at London Zoo.

In the end, these efforts and other attempts at conservation may prove futile in a world challenged by climate change, habitat loss and swelling numbers of humans, as Draper argues. “Keeping alive a handful of the last of a sub-species starts to look like fool’s errand because this tiny population is destined either to a life in captivity in perpetuity or to extinction. Neither of those two options is particularly attractive in anyone’s book, I would say. The damage has been done.”

This view is contested by scientists who still believe there is time to save species and who argue, strenuously, that zoos have a role to play as arks for threatened wildlife. This idea is backed by primatologist Jane Goodall, whose pioneering studies of chimpanzees in the wild have revealed the complex lives led by humanity’s closest biological relatives.

“Groups who believe all zoos should be closed have not spent the time I have out in the wild,” she once said. “They haven’t seen the threats destroying chimpanzee habitat; they don’t understand what it’s like to watch a chimp struggle, wounded and lame from a wire snare. But I do.”

The first zoo

Until the early 19th century, collections of exotic animals were usually owned by kings and queens and were symbols of royal power. This changed with the establishment of the Zoological Society of London in Regent’s Park in 1828. This was the world’s first scientific zoo and was intended to be a collection of unusual beasts for scientific study.

The camel enclosure at Regent’s Park Zoological Gardens in 1835.
 The camel enclosure at Regent’s Park Zoological Gardens in 1835. Photograph: Heritage Images/Getty Images

The collection was eventually opened to the public in 1847. A couple of decades later, the music hall song Walking in the Zoo was made popular by Alfred Vance and is notable for first popularising, in Britain, the word “zoo” as a short form of “zoological gardens” in addition to the Americanism “O.K.” in the song’s chorus: “Walking in the Zoo, walking in the Zoo/The O.K. thing on Sunday is walking in the Zoo.”………………………..

Pan Orthodox Comment: What then is the answer? There are a few – very few- internationally renowned zoos that have a place in conservation but even their figures show that this is a minor part of their business. And that is the point – they are businesses. Animals are kept in unnatural settings and zoos open to the public in order to make money for their owners.

Anyone who has lived and travelled in other parts of the world will know that the type of zoo exemplified by London, is far from the norm. The majority of zoos have no conservation programs and many keep animals in appalling conditions. See this recent post on our website of a wolf in Turkey. https://www.facebook.com/panorthodoxconfernforanimals.org/posts/635430197226225comment_id=635455320557046&notif_id=1580668600972722&notif_t=feed_comment

Even in the UK, the majority of zoos are merely entertainment institutions for the masses – somewhere to entertain the children. We have observed over the past decades that many have fallen short on animal welfare/public protection standards, which only come to light by whistle-blowers or concerned members of the public contacting authorities.

We believe that it is time for the local zoo to follow wild-animal circuses into oblivion, leaving a few specialist zoos to continue with endangered species conservation programs with the caveat that they must a) prove the need for their work and b) includes a program for returning animals into the wild.

Could your church join the Global Divestment Announcement?

This is an initiative from the Operation Noah group:
Operation Noah, the World Council of Churches, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Green Anglicans and Green Faith are inviting religious and spiritual institutions from around the world to join a multi-faith global divestment announcement on 26-28 March 2020.In this crucial time for urgent climate action, could your church join the movement for fossil free churches, as a practical step to care for God’s creation?Divestment is a powerful action that your church or Christian organisation can take in response to the climate emergency, shifting investments out of the problem and into the solution. It involves making a commitment to divest (disinvest) any investments in fossil fuel companies within a five-
year time frame. Even if your church doesn’t currently hold investments, it can make a strong statement by pledging to not invest in fossil fuels in the future.
The year ahead is a pivotal year for climate action, as the devastating impacts of the climate emergency become increasingly evident. By divesting from fossil fuels, churches can demonstrate moral leadership and emphasise the need for urgent action from the UK Government, especially with the UN climate talks (COP26) set to take place in Glasgow in November 2020.Churches have been at the forefront of the global divestment movement. Earlier this month, 20 UK Christian organisations committed to divest from fossil fuels – including the first two Catholic dioceses in England and the first local Methodist church to divest. If you would be interested in getting your local church or regional Church structures (dioceses and equivalents) to make a commitment to divest from fossil fuels and join the Global Divestment Announcement, we would be delighted to hear from you!For more information or to register your commitment, please get in touch with Helena Ritter on helena.ritter@operationnoah.org by 19 March 2020. Could you spread the word among your contacts? Please forward this email to anyone you think would be interested and share our blog on social media. Together in hope, Helena, James and all at Operation Noah

A Christian Case for Farmed Animal Welfare

Many of you will know that Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals, is a partner in the ‘Christian Ethics of Farmed Animal Welfare’ research project. Below is the project’s first article.

Published on 11 December 2019 in the journal Animals. www.mdpi.com/journal/animals Authors: Margaret B. Adam, David L. Clough and David Grumett

Simple Summary: It is now common to blame Christianity for broader society’s general inattention to the needs and comfort of animals in general, and farmed animals in particular. Critics claim that certain biblical themes and biblical passages form the foundation for an anti-animal position that has influenced Christians and wider Western society. This article concedes that Christianity has often been used to justify exploitation of animals, but argues that it is a mistake to consider Christianity inevitably opposed to concern for animals. It shows that Christians have been advocates for animals, notably in relation to the first legislation against animal cruelty in the early nineteenth century and the formation of the RSPCA. Finally, it proposes a framework for a Christian ethics of farmed animal welfare that could provide the basis for Christian action to reduce consumption of animals and shift to higher welfare sources of animal products.

Abstract: It is now common to blame Christianity for broader society’s general inattention to the needs and comfort of animals in general, and farmed animals in particular. This critique of Christianity claims that certain biblical themes and particular biblical passages form the foundation for an anti-animal position that Christianity has imposed on Christians and on wider Western society. This article concedes that Christianity has often been used to justify exploitation of animals, but argues that it is a mistake to consider Christianity inevitably opposed to concern for animals. After reviewing the views of critics such as Lynn White Jr., Peter Singer, and Tom Regan, the article demonstrates the complexity of interpreting biblical passages and the possibility of readings that affirm the importance of treating animals well. It shows that Christians have indeed been advocates for animals, notably in relation to the first legislation against animal cruelty in the early nineteenth century and the formation of the RSPCA. Finally, it proposes a constructive framework for a Christian ethics of farmed animal
welfare that could provide the basis for Christian action to reduce consumption of animals and shift to higher welfare sources of animal products.
Keywords: Christian ethics; animal ethics; farmed animals; Adam; Genesis; Noah; RSPCA;Singer, Peter; Regan, Tom; White, Lynn Jr.

It is now common to blame Christianity for broader society’s general inattention to the needs and comfort of animals in general, and farmed animals in particular. Christianity, according to this presumption, teaches that humans should use animals for human satisfaction, that humans are more like God than animals, and that the needs and desires of humans supersede those of animals. This critique of Christianity claims that certain biblical themes and particular biblical passages form the foundation for an anti-animal position that Christianity has imposed on Christians and on wider Western society.

The authors of this article readily accept Christianity’s participation in the ill-treatment of farmed animals through the ages. Christians and others have granted authority to biblical interpretations in order to support their use and abuse of animals. However, we reject the simplistic account of Christianity as necessarily anti-animal; and we refute the presumption that Christians are bound to the exploitative domination of animals by one interpretation of a static text, across time and place, peoples and circumstances. This is patently false, as abundant evidence of Christian biblical interpretation, historical performances of interpretation, and current Christian support for farmed animal flourishing demonstrates. A more accurate account of Christianity and animal welfare notes the complex processes by which Christians engage with the Bible, each other, animals, and the world, by way of a multiplicity of interpretations, across a multiplicity of circumstances. Interpretations of Christianity are always accountable to the particular methods of interpretation, teaching, and ethical actions that their communities and traditions claim as authoritative. Interpretations always reflect contemporary scientific knowledge, socio-political-economic locations, cultural imaginations, and farming and eating practices. Christian biblical and doctrinal interpretation is always marked by continuity and difference.

The charge that Christianity is bad for animals neglects these resources and examples of Christian dedication to improving animal welfare. This essay shares some resources and some examples of what Christian support for animals looks like. Section 2 considers the current popular orthodoxy that
Christianity is responsible for the poor treatment of farmed animals. Section 3 presents scriptural interpretations that demonstrate powerful Christian commitments to animal welfare. Section 4 describes historical lived interpretations of faith and a nineteenth century example of Christian
animal advocacy. Section 5 sets out a contemporary assessment of farmed animal welfare in terms of flourishing, a Christian account of the best life possible for animals. Christian ethical engagement with farmed animal welfare illustrates the long-term Christian practices of interpreting scripture and engaging with doctrine for the benefit of animals.

2.Critics of Christian Understandings of Animals
The claim that Christianity is bad news for farmed animals has gained enough credibility amongst today’s animal advocates that it functions as a kind of orthodoxy: Christians only care about humans,and they think they have divine permission to exploit animals. Adherents to this critique note both the lack of Christian doctrine explicitly supporting farmed animal welfare and the negative influence that the writings of some Christian theologians have had on care for animals.

Lynn White, Jr., a 20th century medieval historian, offers a classic example of the charge that Western Christianity is responsible for the domination and exploitation of the natural world, including the animal world. White describes Christianity as ‘the most anthropocentric religion the world has
seen’ [1] (p. 1205), and he supports this claim with his interpretation of Genesis 2, in which ‘a loving and all-powerful God’ creates all things, ending with Adam, who ‘named all the animals, thus establishing his dominance over them’ [1] (p. 1205). White, making uncritical use of ‘man’, understands this to mean that God ‘planned all of this explicitly for man’s benefit and rule: no item in the physical creation had any purpose save to serve man’s purposes’ [1] (p. 1205). According to White, Christianity justifies valuing nature solely in terms of its usefulness to ‘man’ by identifying ‘man’ as ‘not simply part of nature: he is made in God’s image’ [1] (p. 1205). White explains that, in Christianity, ‘man’s’ overriding purpose is to dominate nature, due to the foreshadowing in Adam of the image of Christ, and ‘man’s’ sharing in God’s transcendence.

The utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer has consistently made a similar, although more critical, case to White’s. The real significance of God making humans in his image, Singer suggests, is that humans make God in their own image [2] (pp. 186–208). Prominent in his argumentative arsenal
is the critique of speciesism, which is the notion that the human species is intrinsically superior to all other species [3]. Singer thinks that Genesis presents humans as godlike, and as exercising a dominion of benevolent yet despotic rule over other species. He states that killing animals was
permitted after the Fall, with God clothing Adam and Eve in animal skins on their expulsion from Eden, their son Abel killing sheep to offer to God, and God’s covenant with Noah after the flood, in which humans are given formal permission to consume animals as meat (Genesis 3:21, 4:1, 9:3).
While acknowledging the scattered references in later Old Testament books to the harmony of humans and animals, Singer protests that there has been ‘no serious challenge to the overall view, laid down in Genesis, that the human species is the pinnacle of creation’ [2]. Further, Singer notes, the authority of Genesis as divinely revealed scripture justifies (to Christians) the irrational mistreatment of animals. He observes that the farm is a key location where such mistreatment may occur, detailing at length his concerns with United States chicken, egg, pig, dairy, and beef production systems [4] (pp. 21–67).

Like White and Singer, the animal rights philosopher Tom Regan connects the view that animals do not enjoy moral equality with humans and are not members of the moral community to the Genesis accounts of humans being made in God’s image and exercising dominion over all animals, and the
story of all animals being given to Noah as food after the flood (Gen 1:24–28, 9:1–4) [5] (pp. 7–8, 127–128). Regan also describes how the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas brings the Bible and Aristotle together. Regan recognizes, more than White or Singer, the diversity of the teaching on
animals that Christian scripture contains, although he states that he is insufficiently expert to adjudicate within this area [6]. He does present alternative readings of key passages and themes, suggesting
that human dominion, far from justifying animal exploitation, mandates humans to treat animals responsibly. He argues that Christ, following his resurrection and ascension, is related to the whole created order and not just to humans. However, Regan concurs with White and Singer in maintaining that, in practice, Christianity has promoted and sustained the human exploitation of animals, and that the dominant way in which Christians have treated animals has been exploitative [7].

White, Singer, and Regan have thus promoted the view that Christianity has created an intellectual and cultural climate that accepts and encourages the exploitation of animals. They argue that changing that climate requires resisting Christianity. We argue that Christianity provides a wealth of resources for supporting animal welfare. Sections 3 and 4 offer examples of Christian textual and performative interpretations of scripture. Section 5 proposes a Christian ethical framework for improving farmed animal welfare.

3.Interpreting the Bible as Christian Animal Advocates
White, Singer, and Regan are correct that Christians—and others—have used Christian scripture and theology to justify animal exploitation, but it is incorrect to judge that this is the necessary or only legitimate interpretation of Christian belief. The representation of Christianity as anti-animal neglects Christianity’s resources of biblical interpretation, teaching, and action that greatly value all creatures.

The charge that Christianity is anti-animal relies on one interpretation of a few select biblical passages, while neglecting others. That narrow reading limits biblical interpretation to a clumsy literalism. It simply is not the case that all Christians, all people, make sense of the Bible in the same way. Ideology, imagination, information, experience, era, and cultural systems all influence communities’ interpretations; and a host of distinctly Christian interpretations, arguments, and actions support and promote the health and well-being of animals.

The book of Genesis begins with two accounts of creation. These are not histories as history is now conceived; there is no claim of verifiable accuracy or documentary evidence. They are stories for receiving and making meaning, in faithful communities. In each account, God creates and orders the cosmos, the earth, all creatures—human and animal. In each account, humans and animals share creatureliness and habitat. In the first, God gives all green things as food for all creatures (no human or animal is to eat any other human or animal). In the second, God gives humans a garden for food (and it is not clear what animals should eat). In each account, God establishes a relationship between humans and other animals that, in some way, reflects God’s care for creatures. In Genesis Chapter 1, God grants humans dominion over all living things in the sea, in the air, and on the earth. In Genesis Chapter 2, God instructs Adam to name each of the animals. Christians make sense of dominion, the ramifications
of naming, and the creation diet in multiple ways [8]. In the biblical narratives of ancient monarchies, a good and faithful king improved the welfare of the people; good human dominion might improve the
welfare of animals. One interpretation that takes dominion as human leadership into shared creaturely peaceful existence supports vegetarian diets as ideal [9]. Dominion that reflects Jesus’ servant–king status rather than domination supports humble duty to animals’ wellbeing [8] (pp. 222–224). Still other understandings of dominion highlight humanity’s responsibility to reflect God’s compassion [10] and the exercise of God’s love through neighbourly love for animals [11].

In the second creation story, God presents the animals and birds to Adam as potential helpers and partners, and directs Adam to name them. Adam does, but the story continues by noting that none of these animals makes a suitable helper or partner (Gen 2:18–20), and God creates Eve from Adam’s
rib. Many scholars have focused on the inadequacy of the animals and birds as helpers and partners, applying to this second story the human dominion over animals of the first creation account (1:26), which is from a different source [12,13]. Some champions of human superiority read Adam’s naming of the animals as the origin of language, in which human action designates and classifies animals and the wider physical world [14,15]. Alternatively, the naming can be compared to the way parents
name their children: Adam identifies the animals as, in some sense, family members [16] (p. 1006). Indeed, Adam’s naming of the animals can be interpreted as a lens for reading the whole of Genesis 1–3 in relational terms: Chapter 1, humans are created as part of the same process in which animals are created; Chapter 2, a human is formed as a living being out of the dust of the ground (2:7) and then names the animals; Chapter 3, both humans and animals are held responsible for disobeying God’s intrusions and eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Accordingly, a relationship between humans and animals founded on shared creatureliness and mutual recognition better characterizes the image of God in humanity (1:27) than the estrangement of humans from
animals [16] (p. 1006).

Along these lines, the creation stories’ vegan dietary directives cohere with the shared, non-violent, creatureliness of humans and animals [17]. The imagination of a non-violent coexistence contrasts sharply with the apparently natural existence of conflict and the evolutionary survival-of-the-fittest species-development. This should not be surprising: biblical stories of creation differ in genre from philosophical discourse and from evolutionary science; but difference in genre does not require competition for truth. In this case, Christian animal advocates can draw on the creation stories’ plant-based diets as an expression of God’s will for non-violent relationships between humans and other creatures. Christian ethics is attentive and responsive to theological assessments of God’s will, however implausible it may seem for humans to achieve that will.

Later in the Old Testament, there are direct requirements in relation to animal welfare. Sabbath regulations protect animals used for draught labour alongside human beings (Exodus 20:8–11, 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:14) and even affirm the importance of providing for wild animals (Leviticus 25:6–7). First-born male livestock must remain with their mothers for seven days before being sacrificed (Exod 22:30), and mothers and cows or ewes should not be slaughtered with their young on the same day (Lev. 22:28). Donkeys must be released from being trapped under their burdens (Exod 23:4–5; Deut 22: 1–4), kids may not be boiled in their mothers’ milk (Exod 23:19; Deut 14:21), a mother bird should not be taken with her fledglings or eggs (Deut 22:6–7), and oxen should not be muzzled when treading the
grain (Deut 25:4). These texts have been interpreted by Jews and Christians as requiring concern for animal welfare.

Christians who promote animal welfare often look to the prophecies of Isaiah that describe a peaceable kingdom in which God’s ordering of creation is fulfilled (Isaiah 11:1–9; 65:17–25). Isaiah announces that the end, the goal, of creation, will be characterized by the harmonious co-existence
of all creatures. Animals we know as carnivores will live and share straw with herbivores; a human child will play safely by an asp; harmony—not interspecies violence—will abide. Christians who challenge human reliance on killing animals for survival use these passages to stretch imaginations.
If it is possible to imagine a prophetic vision of God’s reconciled creation, perhaps it is possible to reconsider conventional approaches to farming animals, or modify one’s diet, as small gestures in the direction of that vision. Paul, writing to the community of early Christians in Rome, recognizes the difficulty of living between peaceable kingdom hope and the decidedly non-peaceful world we know (Romans 8: 18–25). He describes that hope as the labour pains of the entire cosmos, longing together
for creation’s ultimate reconciliation. Christian ethics of farmed animal welfare addresses how to live now, in between, while hoping for God’s kingdom to come [21].

Jesus addresses the priorities of human daily life, here and now, with a reminder of God’s constant care of all creatures (Matthew 6:26–34): worrying about the future, about having enough food and clothing, distracts people from faithfulness. Jesus points to the birds who do not grow, harvest, or store crops, and they still do not worry, because God provides for them in every way. ‘Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?’ (Matt 6:26–27, New Revised Standard Version). Those determined to underscore human superiority over animals may read this passage as affirming the higher and lower positions of humans and animals. Those who understand Jesus to be talking to human creatures less faithful and more self-absorbed than birds may read the passage as chastising humans and commending the example of the birds who never fail to give glory to God by their very existence [22] (pp. 43–44).

These are but a few of the ways Christians understand scripture in terms of animal welfare. Interpretive imaginations will continue to shift as more people learn about animal sentience and cognition, about what happens on farms and in slaughterhouses, and about how the market for inexpensive meat affects farmers and farmed animals. Christian communities hold the responsibility of interpreting scripture in the light of both earlier interpretations and present circumstances.

4.Examples of Christian Advocacy for Animals
Beyond the realm of variant textual interpretations, Christianity’s heritage of animal advocacy offers a steady stream of faithful people whose lives exhibit their scriptural interpretation about relationships with animals. The church tells and retells stories about biblical characters and pre-modern
saints, often with extravagant embellishment, the better to illustrate the exceptional holiness of the figures. While there may be scant historical evidence about some of these saints themselves, vast numbers of people across centuries celebrate them and the faithfulness their stories illustrate.
Many of the saints had special relationships with animals and were able to communicate with them, share home and food with them, heal them, protect and rescue them. Others were protected and rescued by friendly animals. Many did not eat meat; some only ate herbs and honey. Together,
these stories and their popularity present a body of evidence that, across centuries, Christianity has recognized as exceedingly holy Christians who lived closely with animals in ways that reflect the creation stories and anticipate images of the peaceable kingdom.

Two examples from the Old Testament show people receiving God’s care through the agency of helpful animals. Ravens feed Elijah food when he passes through an area suffering a drought that he had prophesied (I Kings 17:2–6). Balaam’s donkey speaks necessary (and intelligible) words of
chastisement and redirection so that his owner might notice the angel of the Lord in front of him (Numbers 22). In early Christianity, St Chrysostom advocated abstinence from meat and preached, ‘The Saints are exceedingly loving and gentle to mankind, and even to brute beasts…surely we ought
to show them [animals] great kindness and gentleness for many reasons, but, above all, because they are of the same origin as ourselves’ [23]. St Anthony rescued from satanic possession a pig, who then accompanied Anthony everywhere (as recounted in an eighteenth century ballad) [24]. St Modestos healed a poor woman’s ailing oxen [25]. St Cuthbert protected birds from hunters and otters warmed his feet [26]. St Melangell persuaded a hunter prince to establish a sanctuary for people and animals, after the hunts’ hares found refuge with her, and the dogs retreated, awed by her presence. [27]. St Francis [28], perhaps the best known saint to have friendships with animals, followed in the footsteps of a host of predecessors, and was followed by many more.

Abstinence from meat has been a normative practice of devotion throughout the church from its beginning: weekly and in penitential seasons for lay people, more frequently and more severely for monks and nuns in religious orders, and sometimes to the extreme for saintly hermits. Versions of these practices continue today. Where an explicit reason is given for abstinence from food, usually it is an ascetic concern to turn away from distracting pleasures and turn toward God. It can also reflect a desire to live in accordance with the peaceable creaturely existence envisioned in Genesis and Isaiah (discussed in Section 3). These examples might serve as a reminder that Christians have long embodied their faith commitments in what, when, and how much they eat. The early Reformers moved away
from some traditional practices of piety as they critically assessed and established alternatives to Catholic marks of piety. A number of animal-appreciative Nonconformists declared the goodness of animals, contradicting both the established church and fellow Nonconformists. John Calvin and the Westminster Confession presented animals as members of creation through which God’s glory is revealed. The Puritans, John Trapp, Thomas Watson, and Stephen Charnock, all celebrated animals for
fulfilling their creaturely purpose, to glorify God [29].

The eighteenth century’s rise in vegetarianism was fueled by the appeal of Romanticism and Nature to the wealthy, by the poor’s inability to afford much meat, and by new theories about vegetarianism’s potential health benefits. In the following century, a Christian movement in the UK
made headlines and a lasting contribution to animal advocacy. The Christian origins of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) are not well known now, among animal advocacy critics of Christianity or among most Christian communities. This example of socio-political activism, grounded in biblical interpretation and Christian teaching, serves both as evidence of effective Christian animal advocacy and as inspiration for contemporary Christian support for animal welfare.

In the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century, Christians played a key role in putting animal welfare on the moral, social, legal, and political agendas by founding what became the RSPCA. They were motivated by earlier theological accounts of the Christian significance of animals and
by the belief that Christian faith should inform the way society was ordered. The latter informed Christian campaigns on other social issues in the same period, such as for the abolition of the slave trade. First, the 1822 Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act empowered magistrates to fine anyone found
to have beaten, abused, or mistreated cattle or sheep, and if they could not pay, or refused to pay, to imprison them [30] (pp. 285–288). The support of clergy and evangelical MPs helped pass this and other legislation [31] (pp. 27–29) while evangelicalism’s political power was reaching its height in the
1830s and 1840s [32] (pp. 203–205) [33] (pp. 204–209). In 1824, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) came into being. Among the Society’s founding members were three Anglican clergy, including the Revd Arthur Broome, who became the Society’s first chair. Five of the ten founder members of an allied organization—the Association for Promoting Rational Humanity towards the Animal Creation (APRHAC)—were also clergy, with Anglicans predominating [34] (p. 29).

Broome resigned from his parish to focus on his SPCA work, which had become his primary Christian ministry, even spending time in a debtor’s prison as his position was unpaid and he had used his own money to fund the organization. Chien-hui Li writes of the constellation of British animal welfare organizations in this period that the ‘Christian tradition quite overwhelmingly prevailed over other possible sources of influence and became its principal source of identification, legitimation, and inspiration’ [34] (pp. 30–31). Sermons were a key means of influencing public opinion, along with Christian educational and publicity materials. Annual meeting statements, exhortations, and resolutions displayed clear Christian content. Prayers and hymns were part of meetings. The SPCA’s Christian principles contrasted with secular radicalism’s use of ancient Greek thought to support veganism and reforms to farming and slaughtering.

Farmed animal welfare was a key concern of the SPCA from its inception, as the 1822 Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act indicates. The Society campaigned or prosecuted on issues including calf bleeding for veal, livestock transport by rail and steamers (including unloading), inhumane slaughter methods, long travel distances to London markets, the overstocking of cattle markets to reduce prices, leaving unmilked cows in market to increase their price, the dehorning of cattle, and the nose-branding of sheep [31] (pp. 133–134, 146–147, 173–190). In 1840, after gaining the support of Queen Victoria,
the SPCA became the RSPCA. In its early decades, its promotion of farmed animal welfare was motivated by a Christian ethics of mercy, kindness, and compassion [34] (pp. 31–36) that formed part of a wider project of civilizing the working class and raising its moral standards [35] (pp. 125–57) [36]
(pp. 20–24). The detail of the Christian justifications given for its work, and their biblical grounding, may be seen in three published entries for the SPCA’s 1837 essay prize. A sum of £100 (about £11,000 in today’s money) was o ered for the best essay on the religious basis for human obligation towards animals. Each submission includes a chapter on the biblical basis for protecting animal welfare, and the approaches are similar. There had been minority pro-welfare readings of the Bible in the 18th century and the competition may have revived these [37]. The competition entries demonstrate how the Bible can be read and presented to promote animal welfare in a particular context.

Essay themes include God’s watchful care for all creatures, and the correlation between human righteousness and merciful treatment of animals. Each author supports his arguments that God values and attends to each and every creature with interpretations of biblical passages: work animals need rest and nourishment (Exod 20:8–11, 23:12; Luke 13:15); even little sparrows and lambs receive God’s protection (Matt 10:29, Luke 12:6, 2 Samuel 12:1–6); God’s post-flood covenant includes all of creation (Gen 9:9–12). Further, they assert that merciful care of animals marks a person’s righteous character: know your animals’ needs (Proverbs 12:10); rescue animals in need (Deut 22:1–4); show mercy to all people and animals (Luke 6:36, Matt 5:7).

Most descriptions of the passing of legislation against cruelty towards animals in the early- to mid-nineteenth century exaggerate the contributions of Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism and ignore the
roles of Christian arguments and evangelical Christians in Parliament [38] (pp. 4–9). The origins of the RSPCA demonstrate that utilitarianism was not the only intellectual or practical impetus for farmed animal welfare concern and that Christian ethics may even have been more important. During the second half of the nineteenth century, as acceptance of the RSPCA spread, its underpinning Christian ethos became gradually more secularized, but the framework of mercy, kindness, and compassion
remain today.

The early RSPCA grounded responsibility for animals in the belief that humans are distinct from and superior to animals. Much of recent animal advocacy resists hierarchical accounts of humans and other animals, preferring an egalitarian understanding and a focus on what humans and animals have in common. The Christian belief that the primary distinction is between God (creator of all creation) and creatures (including all humans and animals) supports an emphasis on the shared creaturely status of all creatures, rather than on human superiority. At the same time, ethics addresses human action. Nobody is suggesting that farmed animals should fight for reform in farming systems; humans bear the responsibility to improve farmed animal welfare. A Christian account of creaturely relationships places the agency for animal care in human hands. The presumption of human superiority may lead to human use and abuse of animals; but the claim that all fellow creatures are equal risks relieving humans of their agency to assist those in need. Christian ethics of farmed animal welfare identifies human distinctiveness as the agency to reflect, with humility, God’s mercy, kindness, and compassion in caring for farmed animals.

5.A Proposed Framework for the Christian Ethics of Farmed Animal Welfare
In the previous section, we have argued that there are reasons to reconsider simplistic and negative assessments of the contribution Christianity has made to understandings of animal welfare. In this section, we turn to the constructive task of setting out a Christian framework for considering farmed animal welfare. Our focus is on farmed animal welfare because this is an obvious priority in relation to other human uses of animals on the basis of scale and impacts, though the framework we set out is applicable to contexts beyond animal farming [39]. Such a framework could be used to guide the policy and practice of churches and other organizations seeking to reflect their Christian commitments.

The starting point for the Christian ethics of farmed animal welfare we propose picks up strands from the tradition noted in the previous section to affirm that, for Christians, the lives of all creatures have value because they are created by God as ends in themselves and to glorify God in their flourishing. Christians recognize that all creatures exist in utter dependence on God and on one another. No creature exists merely as the means to the wellbeing of another. God delights in the flourishing of a universe of
diverse creatures, and Christians are given the high calling of being images of this loving God in their relationships with fellow creatures. Christians, therefore, have strong reasons to seek to enable the flourishing of fellow creatures where possible. The particular modes of life, capacities for happiness and suffering, and other vulnerabilities of fellow animal creatures give Christians especial reasons for being concerned about their wellbeing. The theological basis for this understanding of animals is
developed in Clough [40]. This Christian understanding of creaturely flourishing has common features with other teleological approaches that are attentive to the goal of creaturely life, such as Aristotelian ethics, but departs from them by identifying the goal of creatures in relationship to their Creator.

Concern for the flourishing of farmed animal creatures requires attention to the question of what constitutes a good life for particular species. Answering this question depends on detailed knowledge concerning the modes of life and preferred behaviours of farmed animals. It encourages appreciation of the whole of the life of animals, raising issues neglected in narrower understandings of animal welfare, such as whether farmed animals are able to experience maternal care, life in family groups, and growth to maturity. An assessment of whether farmed animals are living lives in which they are flourishing will include regard for negative experiences such as hunger or distress but also recognizes the importance of positive dimensions of flourishing, such as the ability to forage, graze, or exercise choice between areas with different characteristics. Promoting flourishing in this sense will mean opting for a mode of life providing positive dimensions of flourishing even at increased risk of some
distressing experiences, such as in well-designed free-range environments.

It would be of interest to explore both common ground and differences between this proposed Christian foundation for the ethics of farmed animal welfare and other frameworks for animal ethics such as animal rights, utilitarianism, social contract, virtue ethics, feminist ethics of care, or those
drawing on Aristotle. We are not pursuing that task here because our primary concern is to open a space for a constructive engagement between Christian ethics and farmed animal welfare. Our argument here is not that this Christian framework is preferable to other approaches to animal ethics, but that it may contribute additional perspectives to the field of approaches and that it is helpful in encouraging and enabling Christians to make connections between their faith commitments and practice in relation
to farmed animals. Many of the most pressing actions that follow from the Christian framework we propose will encourage Christians to make common cause with animal advocates who have different starting points.

A useful next step after setting out the foundation of a concern for the flourishing of farmed animals is to recognize the major shifts in the ways animals have been used for food in the UK. Hundreds of years ago, there was a gradual shift from nomadic herding to enclosed farming. The Industrial Age of the eighteenth century altered animal farming with new equipment and breeding techniques. Since the Second World War, the pace and scope of technological innovation and intensification of animal
agriculture has developed rapidly. Today, a confluence of socio-economic developments motivate and sustain the development of unprecedentedly large intensive farming systems. Most intensively farmed animals have been selectively bred for effcient production at the cost of their capacity to flourish more generally and are kept indoors in impoverished monotonous environments that do not allow many preferred species-specific behaviours. Chickens and most dairy calves do not meet their mothers,
depriving both mother and offspring of a very significant component of a good life. Broiler chickens, most dairy calves, and most pigs and lambs live short lives and do not reach maturity. The high levels of production enabled by these systems of farming primarily benefit higher level corporate managers and retailers. This unprecedented increase in farmed animal productivity correlates with current consumer expectations of inexpensive meat products for daily meals. Many individuals and households eat
predominantly meat-based prepared food, at home, from take-aways, and at restaurants, several times a week. Fewer and fewer consumers have seen farmed animals as they are raised, and the idyllic image of the small family farm with freely roaming animals persists, long after it ceased to represent
the norm. Advertisements encourage irresistible desires for farmed animal products, often associating consumption of meat with masculinity [41].

The juxtaposition of a Christian rationale for being concerned about the flourishing of farmed animals with a recognition that modern industrial animal agriculture fails to allow such flourishing leads directly to the judgement that Christians have strong reasons for reconsidering their involvement with this practice as producers, retailers, and consumers. The ethical concerns raised by animal agriculture in the early twenty-first century are far greater than those that gave Christians cause for concern in the early nineteenth century. It is striking, therefore, that to date, Christians have not mustered a comparable response. This is in spite of some attempts to raise concern for animals as an issue for Christians, such as the work of Linzey and Clark [42,43]. Most Christians promoting farmed animal welfare engage in their advocacy with secular organisations outside the church. Farmed animals are rarely mentioned in church contexts, and meat still dominates church community meals without regard to the conditions of the animals before or during slaughter.

There are straightforward practical actions that follow from the acceptance of the analysis generated by the Christian framework for the ethics of farmed animal welfare we propose. First, steps should be taken to reduce overall consumption of farmed animals. This is necessary because it is not possible to raise animals in ways that give them more opportunities to flourish at anything like current production levels. A recent report calculates moving to pasture-fed beef cattle in the US would reduce production by 73% [44]. Bringing an end to the intensive rearing of pigs, broiler chickens, and dairy cows in indoor sheds is likely to require similar reductions. It is notable that reducing overall consumption of farmed animals would also bring benefits of reducing the contribution of animal agriculture to habitat loss causing wild animal extinctions, improving human food and water security, improving human dietary health, and bringing environmental benefits of reducing deforestation, greenhouse
gas emissions, and pollution [39] (pp. 54–59). Christians can take action to reduce consumption of animal products at individual and corporate level, through shifts towards more plant-based foods domestically, in considering food served by churches, and in catering policies of organizations with
Christian foundations.

The second straightforward practical action that follows from the Christian ethical analysis we present is to source remaining animal products from producers who allow farmed animals more opportunities to flourish. This can be an incremental approach, beginning with more simple changes,
such as not using eggs from caged hens, attending to the various certification and grading schemes that assess farmed animal welfare, and then looking for opportunities to source animal products from suppliers using heritage or rare-breed animals that have not been subjected to modern selective breeding. Again, action can be taken to improve sourcing domestically, within church communities, and in organizational-level decisions about catering.

One reason some Christians are cautious about the reduced consumption and higher welfare sourcing of farmed animal products we propose is their acute awareness of the situation of farmers. Most livestock farmers are doing their best to care for their animals in the context of very challenging
economic circumstances and uncertainty about the future of their business. For many, these external factors cause social isolation and high levels of stress. Understandably, farmers and those who support them can feel threatened by and resistant to claims that there need to be significant changes in the ways animals are raised for food. A Christian engagement with farmed animal welfare must attend to the wider context of the flourishing of farmers and farm workers alongside the flourishing of animals. At the same time, this does not weaken the case for a transition towards raising fewer animals and giving the remaining animals more opportunities to flourish. There is a broad and widening consensus of the need for this transition (see, for example, the recent RSA report [45]). The industry must undergo a transition, with the cooperation of retailers and consumers. During this transition, we must attend to the well-being of farmers alongside farmed animals. Churches should listen to and support farmers as they determine how to make a living from producing food in this changing context.

Another concern Christians raise is that producing fewer and better animal products will raise the prices of animal products, which will negatively affect food access for those on low incomes. There are three key reasons that this important concern does not weaken the case for rethinking
animal agriculture. First, on a global level, current patterns of raising animals exacerbate human food insecurity and raise food prices by feeding food that humans could consume to farmed animals. Over one-third of global grain output is fed to livestock, rather than consumed directly by humans. This is a grossly wasteful practice, with a calorific efficiency of less than 10% [46]. Second, while it is true that subsidies for animal agriculture mean that in some urban contexts highly processed animal products are the cheapest food available, that food constitutes an unhealthy diet with high
disease risks for populations that are disproportionately poor and non-white. A growing literature interrogating the intersection between poverty, racial inequality, and food justice makes clear that the products of industrial animal agriculture are part of the problem here, not part of the solution (see, for example, Harper [47]). Third, current practice in animal agriculture subjects workers on farms and in meat-processing plants—who are disproportionately female, migrant, non-white, and poor—to unsafe working conditions with negative impacts on their physical and mental health [39] (pp. 54–56). A transition towards fewer and better animal products must ensure access to these products for those on lower incomes, but the overall impacts of the current system are at least as problematic for the poor as for the more wealthy.

In this section, we have outlined a Christian framework for the ethics of farmed animal welfare that provides motivation and guidance for Christians to rethink their involvement with the current practice of industrialized animal agriculture and to recognize faith-based reasons for reducing overall consumption of animals and moving to higher welfare sources for remaining animal products. We have identified a concern for the flourishing of fellow animal creatures as the starting point for this framework. This focus might be applicable to human uses of animals for research, labour, textiles, sport and entertainment, and for companion animals [39]. We argue that attention to farmed animals should be the primary concern, on grounds of scale and impact.

After summarizing the positions of Christianity’s critics in Section 2, we developed the Christian case for farmed animal welfare in three stages. Section 3 demonstrated the complexities involved in the Christian interpretation of biblical texts, which give reasons to be very cautious about taking particular texts out of context to justify a particular view of how animals should be treated. It also demonstrated the potential for readings of biblical texts that celebrate God’s love for animals and human responsibility for caring for them. Section 4 showed that Christians have, in fact, interpreted biblical texts to affirm the importance of concern for animals, with a particular focus on the Christian arguments used for the first UK legislation against cruelty towards animals in the early nineteenth
century, and the significance of Christianity in the formation of the organization that became the RSPCA. Section 5 set out a particular way of drawing on this scriptural and historical inheritance to make the case that Christians have strong faith-based reasons to be concerned about industrialized animal agriculture. Christians should act to reduce consumption of animal products and source animal products from higher welfare sources

We have conceded with regret that critics such as Lynn White Jr., Peter Singer, and Tom Regan are right in claiming that Christianity has been used to support the human exploitation of animals without adequate regard for their well being. We have argued that it is wrong to jump from that claim to the judgement that Christianity is inevitably an enemy of concern for animals. This latter judgement is problematic for two reasons. First, it is inaccurate, because it fails to recognize that Christianity has often been used to promote concern for animals. Second, it is unhelpful, because it
suggests to both Christians and non-Christians that faith commitments give Christians no reason for being concerned about animal welfare. In this article, we have made the case that Christianity can be a strong ally in efforts to promote farmed animal welfare. We hope the argument will be persuasive both among Christians and among non-Christian animal advocates in order to make possible new coalitions working for advances in animal welfare generally, and farmed animal welfare in particular.


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© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Posted here with permission.

Russian Church Will Bless Cats and Dogs on Homeless Animals Day

This is an Orthodox Tradition:Blessings for animals

A Russian Orthodox Church in Lemeshovo, not far from Moscow, has promised to consecrate cats and dogs on International Homeless Animals Day, adding the furry creatures to its ever-expanding roster of blessed items.

The church has performed religious rites over satellites and launch pads, a habit that inspired a dedicated Twitter account collecting photographs of Orthodox priests apparently blessing objects that include rifles, a crosswalk and computers.

The priest in Lemeshovo, a small town south of Moscow, said he will perform a prayer service for the International Homeless Animals Day.

Pet owners will be invited to have their beloved animals sprinkled with holy water, Interfax reported Friday.

“Each of us can now create a small ark to save God’s creatures,” said Pyotr Dynnikov, archpriest of the Iliynsky temple that will host the blessing ceremony.

Dynnikov said the church will also say a prayer for those who provide shelter to homeless animals.

The International Society for Animal Rights said international animal observance days have been held in 50 countries and on 6 continents since International Homeless Animals’ Day began in 1992.

– http://www.lemeshevo-hram.ru/veterinarnyj-punkt


An unusual inclusion but an important one:

International Conference organised by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies Liverpool Hope University, Hope Park Campus, 29th June 2020

Rising sea levels, droughts, bushfires, and other extreme weather events are exacerbating existing environmental stresses, and provoking unprecedented challenges to states and communities. These growing environmental challenges multiply the risk of social deprivation, political instability and war. As the international community struggles to find consensus on limiting carbon emissions, the challenges to peace and security that will arise in a warming world are only beginning to be understood. The aim of this conference is to explore the relationship between climate change and challenges to peace. To that aim, we are calling for papers from scholars, practitioners and activists on all the dimensions of environment and conflict including, among others: • Security, intelligence and governance
• Human rights, justice and law
• Interlinked global challenges (displacement, food scarcity, etc.)
• Urban settings
• Management
• Role of religious traditions and communities in the action for environmental protection
• Civil society mobilization
• Education
• Expression and representation in literature and arts
• Media and communication

Please send abstracts of maximum 300 words (word format) for presentations lasting no more than 20 minutes, together with a maximum of 5 keywords and a biography of 150 words including name, title, institutional affiliation, contact information and technical requirements where applicable to tutu@hope.ac.uk by April 1, 2020.
For more information, visit http://tutu.hope.ac.uk/events/annualinternationalconference/  or email  tutu@hope.ac.uk

Register for the Conference at: https://store.hope.ac.uk/conferences-and-events/school-of-humanities/archbishop-desmond-tutu-centre-for-war-and-peace-studies

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace StudiesLiverpool Hope University,Hope Park,Liverpool,L16 9JD,United Kingdomtutu@hope.ac.uk

Harmful chemicals/social & global sins – one man’s reflection.

The first section of this post is a Guardian article, which informs us of water contamination in the US. If this is the case, this is likely to be replicated in other countries. The second part is from a Christian colleague in the US and his reflection on how the church might respond to such challenges.

“US drinking water contamination with ‘forever chemicals’ far worse than scientists thought”

     PFAS, resistant to breaking down in the environment, have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight & other health problems.  The contamination of US      drinking water with man-made “forever chemicals” is far worse than previously estimated with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia & New Orleans, said a report on Wednesday by an environmental watchdog group. The chemicals, resistant to breaking down in the environment, are known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS (containing fluoride.)  Some have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight & other health problems. The findings here by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show the group’s previous estimate in 2018, based on unpublished US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, that 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low.

     “It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG & co-author of the report.The chemicals were used in products like Teflon & Scotchguard & in firefighting foam.  Some are used in a variety of other products & industrial processes, & their replacements also pose risks. Of tap water samples taken by EWG from 44 sites in 31 states & Washington DC, only one location, Meridian, Mississippi, which relies on 700ft (215m) deep wells, had no detectable PFAS.  Only Seattle & Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had levels below 1 part per trillion (PPT), the limit EWG recommends. EWG found that on average 6 to 7 PFAS compounds were found at the tested sites, & the effects on health of the mixtures are little understood. “Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals,” Andrews said.  

     In 34 places EWG’s tests found PFAS contamination had not been publicly reported by the EPA or state environmental agencies.  The EPA has known since at least 2001 about the problem of PFAS in drinking water but has so far failed to set an enforceable, nationwide legal limit. The EPA said early last year it would begin the process to set limits on 2 of the chemicals, PFOA & PFOS.    The EPA said it has helped states & communities address PFAS & that it is working to put limits on the 2 main chemicals but did not give a timeline. In 2018 a draft report from an office of US Department of Health & Human Services said the risk level for exposure to the chemicals should be up to 10 times lower than the 70 PPT threshold the EPA recommends. The White House &  EPA had tried to stop the report being published.………………………………….


Thank you, Christina, for sharing this important alert about the danger of perflouroalkys (PFAS) chemicals in American drinking water. This is genuinely an important issue as it affects every parish in America.

Chemicals such as these PFAS are so lethally toxic that they should be banned forever. If one part per trillion in drinking water is carcinogenic, there is no capability to contain or restrain the toxicity, either now or over centuries of time. See an independent report: https://draxe.com/health/pfas-contamination/Chemists tell us that the flood of toxic substances in the food chain will in slow motion and over decades produce a mortality equal to nuclear war. Nobel Prize winning physician Eric Chivian MD issues the following statement (from his book CRITICAL CONDITION: Human Health and the Environment, p. 9):

“We know that the world (and human civilization) cannot survive nuclear war….

“The world now faces a similar threat to human health and survival from changes to the global environment – stratospheric ozone depletion, habitat destruction, species extinction, global warming, and the poisoning of air, water, and soil by toxic and radioactive substances. And there is a similar lack of understanding about the consequences of these environmental dangers for human beings.” 

The issue for the Orthodox Church is that science and religion should discern similar sets of issues. In the Church we promote the “March for Life” this coming Saturday over the issue of abortion. Yes, that is a genuine pro-life issue, but far more serious are the lethal dangers from nuclear war, global climate change, toxic chemicals in drinking water and the food chain, and the long term consequences of nuclear wastes. The causes for these issues should also be protested. The irony is that alongside the highly personal and emotional issue of abortion, we give far less attention to these more deadly global issues that exert much more impact on the life of the world.

Somehow when we examine these issues from the perspective of sin and repentance, we should distinguish between personal sins and what might be called social sins (sins in the structure of society) and even larger global or planetary sins. We don’t discuss these different levels or types of sin mostly because our taxonomy of sin is deficient. Yet these distinctions exist and to meet the challenge of the modern world our theology should differentiate between personal sins, social sins (sins embedded in the structure of society – think of air pollution), and what might be called global sins, which in terms of pain and suffering, impact huge sectors of life on earth.

Part of the problem is that we still see the world with a 19th century mentality in which all issues are personal, but in fact we are living amidst 21st century technology in which communication is instantaneous, travel is intercontinental, and our view of the world increasingly global. The principles of the Church may be stable and timeless, but how we translate those principles into modern conditions is where we have an urgent need to catch up. If we fail to engage these issues, then we have little ability to critique the media, modern medicine, genetic engineering designed to avoid diseases, new genres of music, the many issues of food and water, the symphonia that should exist with government, and a dozen other issues. If we fail to critique the world of the present, we will also fail to live with integrity “…on earth as it is in heaven” in the present. And if we can’t do that, then we cannot provide adequate direction on how to obey God and live with reverence amidst present world conditions. 

Think back to the problem of the deadly consequences of PFAS chemicals. This article reports that the EPA’s assessment that “110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low.” Cancers are already at epidemic levels. (The American Cancer Society estimates 60% to 90% of all cancers are due to toxics in the food chain and the environment.) We need to provide direction on how to avoid these dangerous chemicals as without that far more parish members are in danger of avoidable disease and sometimes premature death. 

PFAS are just one chemical on a growing list of dangerous substances. To avoid PFAS, avoid at least non-stick cookware, like teflon; instead use old-fashioned iron frying pans. Avoid fast foods and fast food wrappers; avoid stain resistant carpets and furniture polish; avoid outdoor foul weather gear with Gore-tex or scotchgard or some of the other “durable water repellent” coating. Sorry to suggest avoiding these so-called “convenient” products, but this inconvenience is preferable to the larger inconvenience of the sickness which they sometimes trigger.

Chemical pollution, a key driver of the biodiversity crisis

January 23, 2020 By Julie Schneider of CHEM Trust:

Chemical pollution, a key driver of the biodiversity crisis

In December 2019, the European Commission launched a “European Green Deal” as a response to climate and environmental-related challenges defining our generation. The European Commission has started consulting on the roadmap of some of the strategies listed in the green deal, including the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy.

This week CHEM Trust submitted comments to the European Commission to emphasize the urgent need to deal with one of the drivers of the biodiversity crisis: pollution, and more specifically, chemical pollution.

Biodiversity losses due to chemical pollution

Chemical pollution does not only involve pollution from direct sources such as industrial accidents or large-scale pollution from the widespread use of synthetic pesticides, but also diffuse pollution from synthetic chemicals leaching from consumer products such as flame retardantsplasticizerswater and grease repellents and pharmaceuticals. CHEM Trust has published many reports over the years highlighting the impacts of chemicals on biodiversity.

Recent scientific findings provide very concerning evidence of chemical pollution as a driver of ecosystem losses, as much for terrestrial ecosystems as for aquatic ecosystems. To mention just a few:

  • on land: bird populations in Europe are highly impacted by the extensive use of synthetic pesticides;
  • in freshwater: in the EU, on average 20 % of aquatic species are disappearing due to exposure to chemical mixtures;
  • in marine waters: legacy pollution from banned PCBs is threatening the survival of orca populations.

Healthy ecosystems provide many services to society, such as carbon storage, water regulation or pollinator services. A conservative estimate suggests that in terms of economic value at least 27% of total ecosystem service losses are due to chemical pollution.

Moreover, chronic exposure to chemical pollution, such as from endocrine disrupters, is impacting wildlife’s welfare and resilience by weakening their reproduction, immune, hormonal and neurological systems as well as their mating, migration and feeding behaviours. This makes wildlife populations and entire ecosystems more vulnerable and less resilient in a context where they are also affected by many other external stressors such as climate change or habitat loss.

The burden of synthetic chemicals in the air, water and soil has reached critical levels. To cite one example, 42% of European freshwater sites have levels of organic pollutants likely to lead to long-term effects on sensitive freshwater species.

State of the European environment

In December last year, the European Environment Agency released its landmark report on the state of the European environment. Regarding chemical pollution, the report concluded that “Europe is not on track to minimise the significant adverse effects of chemicals on the environment by 2020”. It noted that 62 % of Europe’s water bodies are not in good chemical status, and that the objectives on contaminants in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive will not be achieved.

Tragically, the situation is set to get worse as the current outlook for 2030 is that “The projected increase in chemical production and continued emissions of persistent and hazardous chemicals suggests that the total chemical burden on health and the environment is unlikely to decrease”.

Moreover, the report states that the risks from chemical pollution on the environment are “likely [to be] greatly underestimated” as:

  • Only a fraction of chemicals are monitored and assessed. Pointing out that over 2,500 persistent and mobile chemicals are not currently monitored.
  • Mixture effects and multiple stressors are not included in risk assessments.

Chemical Strategy for sustainability

Stricter risk management measures to better control and reduce the overall use of chemicals of very high concern is crucial to reduce the impact of chemical pollution on ecosystems.

In CHEM Trust’s view the success of the Biodiversity Strategy is therefore bound to the ambition and delivery of several other strategies developed in the context of the European Green Deal, especially the zero-pollution ambition for a non-toxic environment including the Chemical Strategy for sustainability.

Dr Julie Schneider, CHEM Trust campaigner said:

“The biodiversity crisis has many drivers and one of them is chemical pollution. But issues should not be addressed in silos. An integrated approach between all the strategies listed in the European Green Deal will be critical to restore the natural environment on a path to recovery.”


Wonderful animated video from Greenpeace.

Turtle Journey: the crisis in our ocean

In less than 2 minutes, this heartbreaking video tells the story of a turtle family trying to get home in an ocean that desperately needs protection 💔 Turn the sound on to hear special guests Dame Helen Mirren and Olivia Colman. Share and sign to help protect the oceans >> act.gp/2TkjEdx#TurtleJourney #ProtectTheOceans

Posted by Greenpeace UK on Monday, 13 January 2020

Greenpeace worked with the creators of Wallace and Gromit to create a really powerful short film that tells the story of a turtle family trying to get home in an ocean that desperately needs protection. Please share and sign their petition on their website.

Urgent new ‘roadmap to recovery’ could reverse insect apocalypse

This article is by Patrick Greenfield and published in The Guardian newspaper.

Mon 6 Jan 2020 16.00 GMT

Phasing out synthetic pesticides and fertilisers and aggressive emission reductions among series of solutions outlined by scientists.

There is a strong scientific consensus that the decline of insects and global biodiversity is a serious threat that must be addressed.
 There is a strong scientific consensus that the decline of insects and global biodiversity is a serious threat that must be addressed. Photograph: Rebecca Cole/The Guardian

The world must eradicate pesticide use, prioritise nature-based farming methods and urgently reduce water, light and noise pollution to save plummeting insect populations, according to a new “roadmap to insect recovery” compiled by experts.

The call to action by more than 70 scientists from across the planet advocates immediate action on human stress factors to insects which include habitat loss and fragmentation, the climate crisis, pollution, over-harvesting and invasive species.

Phasing out synthetic pesticides and fertilisers used in industrial farming and aggressive greenhouse gas emission reductions are among a series of urgent “no-regret” solutions to reverse what conservationists have called the “unnoticed insect apocalypse”.Q&A

Why do insects matter to humans?

Alongside these measures, scientists must urgently establish which herbivores, detritivores, parasitoids, predators and pollinators are priority species for conservation, according to a new paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. The animals are crucial to the healthy functioning of ecosystems by recycling nutrients, serving as pollinators and acting as food for other wildlife.

The paper comes amid repeated warnings about the threat of human-driven insect extinction causing a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, with more than 40% of insect species declining and a third endangered, according to the first worldwide scientific review, published in February 2019.

Suggested solutions include phasing out synthetic pesticides and fertilisers used in industrial farming.
 Suggested solutions include phasing out synthetic pesticides and fertilisers used in industrial farming. Photograph: Jean-François Monier/AFP via Getty Images

In July 2017, researchers warned human overpopulation and overconsumption were driving the sixth mass extinction event in world history, pointing to the “biological annihilation” of wildlife.Advertisement

Lead author Prof Jeff Harvey of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, said: “As scientists, we want to gather all available knowledge and put it to action together with land managers, policymakers and everyone else involved.

“Essentially, we are thinking strategically and this is novel. Now and down the road, all to reverse insect declines.

“Most importantly, we hope that end-users and land managers now can use this roadmap in, for instance, farming, habitat management and urban development as a template for true insect recovery.”

The scientists have called on governments to follow the example of Germany, which announced a €100m action plan for insect protection in September 2019, adding that there is a strong consensus among experts that the decline of insects, other arthropods and global biodiversity is a serious threat that society must address.

 Read more

In the short term, the roadmap advocates immediate action on rewilding and conservation programmes, avoiding and mitigating the impact of alien species and prioritising imports that are not produced at the cost of species-rich ecosystems. Enhancing citizen science projects to improve data quality and inform academic study was also deemed a priority.

“Most importantly, we should not wait to act until we have addressed every key knowledge gap. We currently have enough information on some key causes of insect decline to formulate no-regret solutions whilst more data are compiled for lesser known taxa and regions and long-term data are aggregated and assessed,” the roadmap states.

“Implementation should be accompanied by research that examines impacts, the results of which can be used to modify and improve the implementation of effective measures. Furthermore, such a ‘learning-by-doing’ approach ensures that these conservation strategies are robust to newly emerging pressures and threats. We must act now.”

Moths swarm around lights. Light pollution has emerged as an overlooked driver of plummeting insect populations.
 Moths swarm around lights. Light pollution has emerged as an overlooked driver of plummeting insect populations. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images

In the long term, the scientists are calling for the establishment of an international body to document and monitor the effects of the roadmap on insect biodiversity under the auspices of existing bodies such as the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Public-private partnerships to restore, protect and create new insect habitats and manage threats are also advocated by the roadmap.

Coauthors on the roadmap for insect conservation recovery originate from Europe, North America, South and Central America, Asia, Africa, Oceania and Asia. They include biology professor Dave Goulson, known for his books on the ecology of bees and other insects, and scientist Hans de Kroon, renowned for his work on insect biomass decline.

In February 2019, analysis published in the journal Biological Conservation found that the total mass of insects had fallen by 2.5% a year for the last 25-30 years, with intensive agriculture the primary driver of falling populations.

Light pollution has also emerged as an overlooked driver of plummeting insect populations by luring them to predators, affecting the development of juvenile insects and disrupting light and dark cycles, according to a study published in November 2019. Scientists said insect deaths could be reduced by switching off unnecessary lights.

Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against

This article is from the scientific journal ‘Nature’.

Timothy M. Lenton, Johan Rockström, Owen Gaffney, Stefan Rahmstorf, Katherine Richardson, Will Steffen & Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions.

A plane flying over a river of meltwater on glacier in Alaska
An aeroplane flies over a glacier in the Wrangell St Elias National Park in Alaska. Credit: Frans Lanting/Nat Geo Image Collection

PDF version

Politicians, economists and even some natural scientists have tended to assume that tipping points1 in the Earth system — such as the loss of the Amazon rainforest or the West Antarctic ice sheet — are of low probability and little understood. Yet evidence is mounting that these events could be more likely than was thought, have high impacts and are interconnected across different biophysical systems, potentially committing the world to long-term irreversible changes.

Here we summarize evidence on the threat of exceeding tipping points, identify knowledge gaps and suggest how these should be plugged. We explore the effects of such large-scale changes, how quickly they might unfold and whether we still have any control over them.

In our view, the consideration of tipping points helps to define that we are in a climate emergency and strengthens this year’s chorus of calls for urgent climate action — from schoolchildren to scientists, cities and countries.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) introduced the idea of tipping points two decades ago. At that time, these ‘large-scale discontinuities’ in the climate system were considered likely only if global warming exceeded 5 °C above pre-industrial levels. Information summarized in the two most recent IPCC Special Reports (published in 2018 and in September this year)2,3 suggests that tipping points could be exceeded even between 1 and 2 °C of warming (see ‘Too close for comfort’).

Source: IPCC

If current national pledges to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are implemented — and that’s a big ‘if’ — they are likely to result in at least 3 °C of global warming. This is despite the goal of the 2015 Paris agreement to limit warming to well below 2 °C. Some economists, assuming that climate tipping points are of very low probability (even if they would be catastrophic), have suggested that 3 °C warming is optimal from a cost–benefit perspective. However, if tipping points are looking more likely, then the ‘optimal policy’ recommendation of simple cost–benefit climate-economy models4 aligns with those of the recent IPCC report2. In other words, warming must be limited to 1.5 °C. This requires an emergency response.

Ice collapse

We think that several cryosphere tipping points are dangerously close, but mitigating greenhouse-gas emissions could still slow down the inevitable accumulation of impacts and help us to adapt.

Research in the past decade has shown that the Amundsen Sea embayment of West Antarctica might have passed a tipping point3: the ‘grounding line’ where ice, ocean and bedrock meet is retreating irreversibly. A model study shows5 that when this sector collapses, it could destabilize the rest of the West Antarctic ice sheet like toppling dominoes — leading to about 3 metres of sea-level rise on a timescale of centuries to millennia. Palaeo-evidence shows that such widespread collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet has occurred repeatedly in the past.

The latest data show that part of the East Antarctic ice sheet — the Wilkes Basin — might be similarly unstable3. Modelling work suggests that it could add another 3–4 m to sea level on timescales beyond a century.

The Greenland ice sheet is melting at an accelerating rate3. It could add a further 7 m to sea level over thousands of years if it passes a particular threshold. Beyond that, as the elevation of the ice sheet lowers, it melts further, exposing the surface to ever-warmer air. Models suggest that the Greenland ice sheet could be doomed at 1.5 °C of warming3, which could happen as soon as 2030.

Thus, we might already have committed future generations to living with sea-level rises of around 10 m over thousands of years3. But that timescale is still under our control. The rate of melting depends on the magnitude of warming above the tipping point. At 1.5 °C, it could take 10,000 years to unfold3; above 2 °C it could take less than 1,000 years6. Researchers need more observational data to establish whether ice sheets are reaching a tipping point, and require better models constrained by past and present data to resolve how soon and how fast the ice sheets could collapse.

Whatever those data show, action must be taken to slow sea-level rise. This will aid adaptation, including the eventual resettling of large, low-lying population centres.

A further key impetus to limit warming to 1.5 °C is that other tipping points could be triggered at low levels of global warming. The latest IPCC models projected a cluster of abrupt shifts7 between 1.5 °C and 2 °C, several of which involve sea ice. This ice is already shrinking rapidly in the Arctic, indicating that, at 2 °C of warming, the region has a 10–35% chance3 of becoming largely ice-free in summer.

Biosphere boundaries

Climate change and other human activities risk triggering biosphere tipping points across a range of ecosystems and scales (see ‘Raising the alarm’).

Source: T. M. Lenton et al.

Ocean heatwaves have led to mass coral bleaching and to the loss of half of the shallow-water corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. A staggering 99% of tropical corals are projected2 to be lost if global average temperature rises by 2 °C, owing to interactions between warming, ocean acidification and pollution. This would represent a profound loss of marine biodiversity and human livelihoods.

As well as undermining our life-support system, biosphere tipping points can trigger abrupt carbon release back to the atmosphere. This can amplify climate change and reduce remaining emission budgets.

Deforestation and climate change are destabilizing the Amazon — the world’s largest rainforest, which is home to one in ten known species. Estimates of where an Amazon tipping point could lie range from 40% deforestation to just 20% forest-cover loss8. About 17% has been lost since 1970. The rate of deforestation varies with changes in policy. Finding the tipping point requires models that include deforestation and climate change as interacting drivers, and that incorporate fire and climate feedbacks as interacting tipping mechanisms across scales.

With the Arctic warming at least twice as quickly as the global average, the boreal forest in the subarctic is increasingly vulnerable. Already, warming has triggered large-scale insect disturbances and an increase in fires that have led to dieback of North American boreal forests, potentially turning some regions from a carbon sink to a carbon source9. Permafrost across the Arctic is beginning to irreversibly thaw and release carbon dioxide and methane — a greenhouse gas that is around 30 times more potent than CO2 over a 100-year period.

Researchers need to improve their understanding of these observed changes in major ecosystems, as well as where future tipping points might lie. Existing carbon stores and potential releases of CO2 and methane need better quantification.

The world’s remaining emissions budget for a 50:50 chance of staying within 1.5 °C of warming is only about 500 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2. Permafrost emissions could take an estimated 20% (100 Gt CO2) off this budget10, and that’s without including methane from deep permafrost or undersea hydrates. If forests are close to tipping points, Amazon dieback could release another 90 Gt CO2 and boreal forests a further 110 Gt CO211. With global total CO2 emissions still at more than 40 Gt per year, the remaining budget could be all but erased already.

A diver observes major bleaching on the coral reefs of Society Islands, French Polynesia.
Bleached corals on a reef near the island of Moorea in French Polynesia in the South Pacific.Credit: Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty

Global cascade

In our view, the clearest emergency would be if we were approaching a global cascade of tipping points that led to a new, less habitable, ‘hothouse’ climate state11. Interactions could happen through ocean and atmospheric circulation or through feedbacks that increase greenhouse-gas levels and global temperature. Alternatively, strong cloud feedbacks could cause a global tipping point12,13.

We argue that cascading effects might be common. Research last year14 analysed 30 types of regime shift spanning physical climate and ecological systems, from collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet to a switch from rainforest to savanna. This indicated that exceeding tipping points in one system can increase the risk of crossing them in others. Such links were found for 45% of possible interactions14.

In our view, examples are starting to be observed. For example, Arctic sea-ice loss is amplifying regional warming, and Arctic warming and Greenland melting are driving an influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic. This could have contributed to a 15% slowdown15 since the mid-twentieth century of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) , a key part of global heat and salt transport by the ocean3. Rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet and further slowdown of the AMOC could destabilize the West African monsoon, triggering drought in Africa’s Sahel region. A slowdown in the AMOC could also dry the Amazon, disrupt the East Asian monsoon and cause heat to build up in the Southern Ocean, which could accelerate Antarctic ice loss.

The palaeo-record shows global tipping, such as the entry into ice-age cycles 2.6 million years ago and their switch in amplitude and frequency around one million years ago, which models are only just capable of simulating. Regional tipping occurred repeatedly within and at the end of the last ice age, between 80,000 and 10,000 years ago (the Dansgaard–Oeschger and Heinrich events). Although this is not directly applicable to the present interglacial period, it highlights that the Earth system has been unstable across multiple timescales before, under relatively weak forcing caused by changes in Earth’s orbit. Now we are strongly forcing the system, with atmospheric CO2 concentration and global temperature increasing at rates that are an order of magnitude higher than those during the most recent deglaciation.

Atmospheric CO2 is already at levels last seen around four million years ago, in the Pliocene epoch. It is rapidly heading towards levels last seen some 50 million years ago — in the Eocene — when temperatures were up to 14 °C higher than they were in pre-industrial times. It is challenging for climate models to simulate such past ‘hothouse’ Earth states. One possible explanation is that the models have been missing a key tipping point: a cloud-resolving model published this year suggests that the abrupt break-up of stratocumulus cloud above about 1,200 parts per million of CO2 could have resulted in roughly 8 °C of global warming12.

Some early results from the latest climate models — run for the IPCC’s sixth assessment report, due in 2021 — indicate a much larger climate sensitivity (defined as the temperature response to doubling of atmospheric CO2) than in previous models. Many more results are pending and further investigation is required, but to us, these preliminary results hint that a global tipping point is possible.

To address these issues, we need models that capture a richer suite of couplings and feedbacks in the Earth system, and we need more data — present and past — and better ways to use them. Improving the ability of models to capture known past abrupt climate changes and ‘hothouse’ climate states should increase confidence in their ability to forecast these.

Some scientists counter that the possibility of global tipping remains highly speculative. It is our position that, given its huge impact and irreversible nature, any serious risk assessment must consider the evidence, however limited our understanding might still be. To err on the side of danger is not a responsible option.

If damaging tipping cascades can occur and a global tipping point cannot be ruled out, then this is an existential threat to civilization. No amount of economic cost–benefit analysis is going to help us. We need to change our approach to the climate problem.

Act now

In our view, the evidence from tipping points alone suggests that we are in a state of planetary emergency: both the risk and urgency of the situation are acute (see ‘Emergency: do the maths’).


We define emergency (E) as the product of risk and urgency. Risk (R) is defined by insurers as probability (p) multiplied by damage (D). Urgency (U) is defined in emergency situations as reaction time to an alert (τ) divided by the intervention time left to avoid a bad outcome (T). Thus:

E = R × U = p × D × τ / T

The situation is an emergency if both risk and urgency are high. If reaction time is longer than the intervention time left (τ / T > 1), we have lost control.

We argue that the intervention time left to prevent tipping could already have shrunk towards zero, whereas the reaction time to achieve net zero emissions is 30 years at best. Hence we might already have lost control of whether tipping happens. A saving grace is that the rate at which damage accumulates from tipping — and hence the risk posed — could still be under our control to some extent.

The stability and resilience of our planet is in peril. International action — not just words — must reflect this.

Nature 575, 592-595 (2019)doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-03595-0


  1. Lenton, T. M. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 1786–1793 (2008).
  2. IPCC. Global Warming of 1.5°C (IPCC, 2018).
  3. IPCC. IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (IPCC, 2019).
  4. Cai, Y., Lenton, T. M., & Lontzek, T. S. Nature Clim. Change 6,
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Examining the animal suffering and environmental damage of the animal-based diet through the intensive farming system.

In light of the ever increasing climate crisis and a number of television programs being aired this week on the UK television on aspects of the animal-based diet, I have decided to include a section of Chapter Nine of my 2018/2020 book on “Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Animal Suffering: Ancient Voices in Modern Theology”. This section examines the unsustainability, the human/non-human suffering and environmental costs of the animal based diet.

Implications and Application


This chapter is perhaps the most challenging, for it examines the implications of our categorisation of animals as beings who do not possess the right to an eternal life with God. I do so through the examination of two areas, which cause immense suffering and arise from the commonly held view that animals are resources, units of production or disposable life, rather than individual beings with needs who are loved by God.  I advance the opinion that the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox Church have significant roles to play in altering this negative perception of animals and offer several examples of how to achieve this. It continues to ask challenging questions on the soteriological implications for humans of animal abuse and exploitation and reaches the conclusion that neither system is compatible with the tenets of Christianity. 

The Living Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church

Some might argue that the topics covered in this chapter are outside the sphere of Eastern Orthodox theological discourse. This is not the case. In his address to Eastern Orthodox Scholars, H. A. H. Bartholomew gives us the authority to do so:

“…Orthodoxy is a faith at once rooted in the past, yet at the same time a Church looking toward the future. It is characterized by a profound sense of continuity with the times and teachings of the Apostolic Church and the Church of the Fathers; but it is also a Church that draws from its rich heritage in order to respond to modern challenges and dilemmas. It is precisely this dual nature that permits Orthodoxy to speak boldly about critical contemporary issues-precisely because it is a “living tradition.”[1]

This chapter enacts this “living tradition” by examining two challenging contemporary issues: animal food production and the animal testing model. Both are important subjects for millions of humans across the globe not only because of the animal suffering involved, but also because of the significant impact upon our environment and human health. An exhaustive investigation of either subject is not possible, as each would require its own monograph. I have tried instead to balance the need for facts and realism rather than platitudes, whilst limiting the material used and being mindful of the need to be compassionate to the reader. I begin with an exploration of the animal food industries.

I have previously discussed ancient teachings on aspects of our diet in Chapter Two and touched upon contemporary animal suffering in the animal food production industry in relation to Met. Kallistos’s comment on “evil profit” in Chapter Six. Here the discussion examines the practical implications and animal suffering involved in our choices, together with the implications for our salvation.

An Inconvenient Truth-Sacrifice and Spiritual Revolution

The continuing challenge before us is how we are to apply both ancient and contemporary teachings on compassionate care for “all things” in creation and extending our understanding of community, justice, mercy and rights, to the animals within these two systems. Eastern Orthodox theologians have repeatedly called for humanity to change its ethos from one based upon a theory of continual consumption, to one with a Eucharistic and aesthetic ethos of love, virtue, sacrifice, abstinence and purification of sin.[2] In essence, they remind us of patristic teachings to restrict and control our desires. H. A. H. Bartholomew confirms Met. Kallistos’s teaching on the damaging and continuing mind-set of domination rather than loving dominion:

“Unfortunately, humanity has lost the liturgical relationship between the Creator God and the creation; instead of priests and stewards, human beings have been reduced to tyrants and abusers of nature.”[3]

His use of the word ‘nature’ indicates that his teaching incorporates animals and corroborates the argument that the abuse and exploitation of animals has negative consequences for not only the abused animals in the form of physical pain, suffering and psychological fear but also negative soteriological implications for humankind. I submit that in addition to those who perpetrate acts of cruelty and exploitation, those who know of such acts but are indifferent to them and those who know but shy away from trying in some way to alleviate the abuse, are in a sense giving tacit approval to that process and are accessories after the fact.[4]

He states that for Orthodox Christians this ascetic ethos “is not negation, but a reasonable and tempered use of the world.”[5] He also draws our attention to the inconvenient truth of the missing dimension and need for sacrifice:

“This need for an ascetic spirit can be summed up in a single key word: sacrifice. This is the missing dimension of our environmental ethos and ecological action.”[6]

He clarifies this point with teachings on self-limitation in consumption and interprets self-restraint in terms of love, humility, self-control, simplicity and social justice, all of which are important teachings for our choice of diet and the products we choose to purchase. [7] Crucially, he acknowledges the fundamental problem of inaction and the difficulties in effecting change:

“We are all painfully aware of the fundamental obstacle that confronts us in our work for the environment. It is precisely this: how to move from the theory to action, from word to deeds.” [8]

“For this spiritual revolution to occur, we must experience radical metanoia, a conversion of attitudes, habits and practices, for ways that we have misused or abused God’s Word, God’s gifts, and God’s creation.”[9]

These are profound teachings and reminiscent of the warnings from the prophets of old. This spiritual revolution is also required for a conversion in the way we view animals and thus the way we treat them.

Many of his teachings urge us to reflect the asceticism of the early Fathers and of the urgent need for changes in human behaviour. In our greed and lust for ever increasing profit, we “violently and cunningly subordinate and exploit creation.” This not only destroys creation but also “undermines the foundations and conditions necessary for the survival of future generations.”[10] This aligns with Met. Kallistos’s comment on “evil profit” and St. Irenaeus’s teaching that we must not use our freedom as a “cloak of maliciousness.”[11] It also hints at the environmental crisis, which is beginning to evidence the devastating results of our continued abuse and misuse of animals. Our inability to move from theory to practice indicates that our weaknesses make it difficult for us to attain the Christian ideals.[12]

Animal Food Production Industries and Dietary Choices

Keselopoulos (2001) addresses some of the human and environmental problems associated with the animal-based diet and food industry.[13] He explains that famines in Africa, caused by drought and desertification, are due to the monoculture of commodities to supply food for the animals of the North. The result is the:

“cynical phenomenon of reserves of dried milk being sent to dying children in Africa, while their own land, instead of producing traditional foodstuffs for local use, “is made barren by the monoculture of animal foodstuffs destined to feed Europe’s cattle.” [14]

This is a crucial point. Our misuse of the land and water in order to meet our ever-increasing desire for animal food products has created an imbalance in the natural world, which results in harm to both humans and animals. One question arising here is, is it a sin to continue to use this system and its products once we become aware of its devastating effects? Keselopoulos speaks to the point by specifically linking our use of animals as food with the practice of aestheticism, compassion and pity for the natural world:

“Thus, aestheticism prophetically throws into high relief the prerequisite of compassion and pity for both nature and the beauty of the world. This is what can impede the downward spiral into barbarism that murders the animal kingdom by genetically mutating animals raised for beef or dairy products into freaks of nature and makes the land infertile.”[15]

Keselopoulos not only illustrates the tension between economic interests and animal suffering, particularly in the animal food production industries, but also that fasting limits the number of deaths. In so doing, he affirms the teachings of H. A. H. Bartholomew and others on greed and evil profits; St. Gregory’s teachings on use not misuse[16] and of the need for sacrifice. I condense his comments:

“If the motives for all these human activities is insatiable greed and the desire for easy profits, then fasting, as a voluntary self-restriction of human needs, can enable man to free himself, at least to a certain degree, from his desires. He can again discover his pristine character, which is to turn toward God, his neighbour and creation, with a genuinely loving disposition. Abstinence from meat, observed by monks all year long limits the amount of death we provoke in our relationship to the world. Abstinence from certain foods simultaneously aims at protecting, even for a short period of time animals that in great numbers are so cruelly devoured by man. The spirit of fasting that we are obliged to preserve today throughout our culture requires that we change course in our relationship to nature from a predatory thirst for blood to that state of gratitude, which is the distinctive mark of the Eucharist.” [17]

I concur with his analysis, which arises from sound scientific research. Met. John provides a similar argument:

“Restraint in the consumption of natural resources is a realistic attitude and ways must be found to put a limit to the immense waste of natural materials.”[18]

If this argument is apposite for wastage of ‘resources’, then it is equally apposite for the wastage of animal life. I interpret his use of ‘resource’ as referring to the inanimate creation but as there is room for confusion on its meaning, I remind the reader of the need for greater mindfulness in our choice of language.

Despite Met. John’s belief that it would be unrealistic to expect our societies to follow an asceticism that echoes the lives of the saints, many of whom were vegetarian, millions of people choose this non-violent diet. They understand that whilst they as individuals may not be able to change the abusive practices of the animal food industries, they have the freedom to choose the non-violent diet advocated by God and do so out of compassion and mercy for the animals and the environment. Met. Anthony of Sourozh indicates that the vegan diet is one to emulate and the tragedy of not doing so:

“It is frightening to imagine that Man, who was called to lead every being along the road to transfiguration, to the fullness of life, came to the point that he could no longer ascend to God, and was compelled to obtain his food by the killing of those, which he should have led to perfection. This is where the tragic circle closes. We find ourselves inside this circle. All of us are still incapable of living only for eternal life and according to the word of God, although the saints have in a large measure returned to God’s original conception of Man. The saints show us that we can through prayer and spiritual endeavour gradually free ourselves from the need to feed on the flesh of animals, and, becoming more and more assimilated to God, require less and less of it.” [19]

This is important recognition from Met. Anthony. He links the eating of animals with a loss of human freedom and our inability to transfigure our fallen lives and ascend to God.[20] Keselopoulos argues that vegan/vegetarianism breaks this circle. The fact that many ascetics were and are vegetarian ought to remind us of God’s original dietary choice and thus the most appropriate dietary path to follow.[21] It is important to remember that whilst God gave us the dispensation to eat meat, He does not command or force us to do so; we retain the freedom to return to God’s choice. Perhaps if Met. Anthony had known more about the cruelty involved in animal food production he may also have chosen to become vegan/vegetarian. Met. Kallistos recognizes this possibility:

“Methods such as factory farming are rather new and I feel that if more people knew what happened they may well give up eating meat…People who live in towns like me eat the products but don’t know too much about the background and I think if I knew more about the background I might feel I might have to become a vegetarian.”[22]

It is interesting to note that he also acknowledges that it is easy to find information available on the web, in reports and research and makes the obvious point:

“So perhaps it is more that people do not want to know, rather than not being able to access the information.”[23]

Here we see a trace of Kahneman and St. Paul; we know but choose not to act in the right ways. If we as individuals or as leaders of our Church advocated the non-violent diet of vegan/vegetarianism, this would not only reduce the number of animals who suffer but also reduce the many environmental problems associated with animal food production. Our increasing desire to consume animal products has resulted in the breeding of such vast numbers of animals that serious negative impacts have arisen for our environments. Knight (2013)[24] provides us with the following important scientific information.

  • In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (Steinfeld et al,) calculated that when measured as carbon dioxide (CO2), 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gases (GHGs) – totaling 7.5 billion tons annually, result from the production of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs and poultry.  These emissions result from land-clearing for feed crop production and grazing, from the animals themselves, and from the transportation and processing of animal products.  In contrast, all forms of transportation combined were estimated to produce around 13.5 percent of global GHGs.
  • The GHGs produced by animal production are composed of CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and ammonia. Steinfeld and colleagues calculated that the livestock sector is responsible for 9 percent of anthropogenic CO2 emissions-that is, those attributable to human activity-which mostly arise from deforestation caused by the encroachment of feed crops and pastures.  Animal production occupies some 30 percent of the Earth’s land surface and is increasingly driving deforestation, particularly in Latin America.  [Circa] seventy percent of previously forested Amazonian land has now been converted to pastures, with feed crops covering a large part of the remainder.
  • Animals kept for production emit 37 percent of anthropogenic methane, which has been calculated as exerting seventy-two times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2, over a twenty year time frame, mostly from gastrointestinal fermentation by ruminants (particularly, cows and sheep). They also emit 65 percent of anthropogenic nitrous oxide with 296 times the GWP of CO2, the great majority of which is released from manure. They also emit 64 percent of anthropogenic ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain and ecosystem acidification.
  • In 2009 Goodland and Anhang calculated that at least 22 billion tons of CO2 emissions attributable to animal production were not counted and at least 3 billion tons were misallocated by Steinfeld and colleagues.  Uncounted sources included livestock respiration, deforestation and methane underestimates. They concluded that animal production actually accounts for at least 51 percent of worldwide GHGs and probably significantly more. Although the precise figures remain under study, it is nevertheless clear that the GHGs resulting from animal production are one of the largest contributors to modern climate change.

Despite these facts, the impact of the animal-based diet on global warming continues to be underestimated and underreported.[25] This is in addition to the grave situation described by Keselopoulos above.

Using the argument of self-interest as a motivating factor, we can see how abstinence from an animal-based diet could have immediate beneficial results for our water sources, climate change and thus our future survival. We do not need to wait for world/government agreements in order to effect change.

This partially addresses the human and environmental aspect of this theme but what about the animals, what do we know of their suffering in these industries? If we as individuals or as leaders of our Church are to engage with the subject of animal suffering we need to acquaint ourselves with the available knowledge not only on the environmental impact of an animal-based diet but also on the suffering involved in the systems used. There is a huge amount of research in this area and here I condense some of that research whilst referencing others:

In order to meet the requirements of industrial production and high-density housing, animals are routinely branded with hot irons, dehorned, de-beaked, de-tailed and castrated without any sedation or painkillers…piglets have tails cut off and males are castrated by crushing or pulling off their testicles without analgesics, even though these procedures cause “considerable pain” (Broom and Fraser 1997). The same happens to lambs…The price for the mutilation is high for individual animals. Piglets show signs of pain for up to a week afterwards (including trembling, lethargy, vomiting and leg shaking). In lambs, stress hormone levels take a huge leap and they show signs of significant pain for four hours or more. Dairy calves who are dehorned show pain for six or more hours afterwards (Turner 2006). Birds too are mutilated without analgesics; beaks are trimmed and at times inside toes are also cut. After debeaking the animals will experience acute pain for circa two days and chronic pain lasts for up to six weeks (Duncan 2001). As stock numbers are vast, illness and injuries are likely to go undetected and result from high density, lack of space, lack of mental stimulation and physical exhaustion; physical and mental health problems quickly arise (Broom & Fraser 2007). Veal calves are often kept in tiny enclosures and tied down by their necks and quickly succumb to “abnormal behaviour and ill health” (Turner 2006; European Commission 1995). Intensive egg production weakens bones and leads to lameness, osteoporosis and painful fractures as all calcium and minerals are used for eggs causing “both acute and chronic pain”…it can also lead to internal haemorrhages, starvation and ultimately death which will be painful and “lingering” (Webster 2004:184). Cows suffer from mastitis and lameness (Stokka et al, 1997) and kept pregnant to keep milk yields high, (Vernelli 2005; Turner 2006).[26]

There is no other reason for these practices other than the desire for increased profit; the “evil profit” that Met. Kallistos describes in Chapter Six. One question arising here is whether the required “spiritual revolution” should apply to the animals within these industries. If the answer is no, we ought to examine why we have made the choice to exclude billions of animals from receiving compassion, mercy and justice. If we conclude that they are simply for that use, then I believe we are in danger of continuing the mind-set of domination, which in turn, indicates that only human suffering is relevant to God. I submit that this mind-set is against the teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Having given a small indication of the suffering endured during the rearing of animals, we should also consider their death. Most people no doubt believe that the killing of animals is ‘humane’ and undertaken close to home. Research provides evidence that even in countries with strict animal welfare laws, many millions are likely to suffer in the process of transportation and slaughter. Live animals are routinely transported by road, rail, sea or air across continents. All animal welfare charities agree that long distance transport causes enormous suffering through overcrowding, exhaustion, dehydration, pain and stress. For example, in the EU, up to 35 million chickens are dead by the time they reach the slaughterhouse.[27] Australia exports around four million live sheep every year, mostly to the Middle East. These animals can travel up to 50 hours by road before they start the three weeks journey by sea and a further journey by road in the importing country. It is estimated that tens of thousands of sheep die before reaching their destination.[28] Despite the Australian government’s implementation of an export supply-chain assurance scheme, investigations by animal welfare groups have documented terrible suffering at slaughter after export.[29]

Canada transports farm animals thousands of miles within its borders and to America. The animals experience exceptionally harsh conditions as the climate changes from freezing cold to scorching sun. The trucks used are often without air conditioning. In India, cattle travel vast areas as only two states are legally allowed to slaughter cows. Animals are often brutally treated and overcrowded during transport, resulting in severe injuries and fatalities. Thousands of animals travel from South America and reared for beef production in Asia and Africa. These journeys often involve the animals spending weeks at sea and result in inhumane slaughter. In addition to the problems of transportation when delays, errors or accidents occur, thousands of animals die in tragic circumstances.[30]

The spread of diseases is another worrying factor. Diseases such as bluetongue virus, foot and mouth disease, avian influenza and swine fever can be directly attributable to the live transportation of farm animals. Moving livestock long distances to markets and slaughterhouses can spread infectious diseases between animals around a country. Animals can travel from country to country with few medical checks, which can result in the spread of disease. In 2007, a number of cattle imported from continental Europe arrived with bluetongue virus because they had not been tested before their journeys began.

The suffering often does not end when the journey is over. Duncan informs us that:

“Of all the things we do to our animals on the farm the things we do to them in the 24 hours before they are slaughtered reduce their welfare the most.”[31]

In many countries animals are brutally loaded, unloaded and moved using electric goads, sticks, ropes, chains and sharp objects. Standards of slaughter vary. Some animals are inadequately stunned or not stunned at all before slaughter:

Birds such as broiler chickens and turkeys are pulled and dragged by their feet and shoved into crates with great haste (up to thousands per hour). Dislocations and broken bones are common, as are internal injuries and death. Due to problems with stunning, birds face greater risk of missing the stunning machine and of entering the scalding tank alive and conscious.[32]

 Bleeding techniques can be poor, which means the pigs may regain consciousness whilst hanging upside down from the slaughter line shackles with a puncture wound in their chest. These animals will desperately try to right themselves, unable to comprehend what is happening to them (Grandin 2003).[33]

Fish placed on ice take up to 15 minutes to lose consciousness, eventually dying through suffocation, and means that fish may be conscious when their gills are cut off.[34]

Gross informs us that pigs are not the only animals to regain consciousness during the slaughter process.[35] When we become aware of the harmful realities of consuming animal food products, we understand why Met. Kallistos describes his experience of intensive farming as unchristian and the financial gains as “evil profit.”[36]

One question that begs asking here is where is the compassion, justice, mercy and inclusion into our community called for by senior Orthodox theologians, for the animals used in these systems? Having previously outlined an Eastern Orthodox theory of love and compassion to all creatures, including fish, are we to apply it to animals in the food production industry. If the answer is no, we ought to examine why we have made the choice to exclude billions of animals from inclusion in our spiritual revolution. If the answer is yes, we have the challenge of how we are to apply teachings on extending our community, justice and rights to the animals within these systems. This will not be easy, for those who use such practices or consume its products need to accept that changes are necessary.

In the context of this part of the discussion, there appear to be only two solutions: a) the animal food production industries stop reproducing vast numbers of animals. b) Consumers reduce or refrain from animal products, thus reducing the demand, the number of animals reared, the environmental damage they cause and the overall suffering incurred. The first seems unlikely since the industry meets the demands of the consumer and makes huge profits in the process. The solution therefore appears to lie with the consumer. This is where the leaders of our Church can play a significant role. If individuals were encouraged to refrain or reduce their consumption of animal-based food products this would be both an effective and immediate way of decreasing the demand, the animal suffering involved and the damage to the environment and human health.

Basing the argument upon the likelihood that people will choose self-interest over altruism, Christians may be more accepting of this teaching if they knew of the health problems associated with an animal-based diet. Whilst this information is normally available via the health professions and the media there is also an important role for the Church. We have noted patristic teachings on the destruction of God’s creation because of human passion[37] and one frequent example is the self-centred love of gluttony. Russell (1980) informs us that:

“The control of the appetite was never over; it is instructive that it is gluttony as much as sexuality which was their continuous field of battle.”[38]

As noted earlier, St. Gregory offers further guidance:

“Use, do not misuse…Do not indulge in a frenzy of pleasures. Don’t make yourself a destroyer of absolutely all living things, whether they be four-footed and large or four-footed and small, birds, fish, exotic or common, a good bargain or expensive. The sweat of the hunter ought not to fill your stomach like a bottomless well that many men digging cannot fill.” [39]

A question arising here is if gluttony is a sin, is the killing of animals to feed this gluttony also a sin? St. Gregory’s use of negative language to describe the process, pillages, eradicates, artful hedonists, may indicate that this is so.[40] Whilst St. John Chrysostom does not identify the food in the following, he does acknowledge the link between food and ill health:

“Don’t you daily observe thousands of disorders stemming from laden tables and immoderate eating?” [41]

Many people are ignorant of the detrimental health effects of consuming animal products. This, in part, is due to the large sums of money used to market animal products as healthy, yet when we examine the research into diet and ill health we see a direct correlation between adopting the animal-based diets in developing countries with an increase in Western health problems, which includes obesity. In the UK, obesity has more than trebled in the last 25 years with nearly a third of adults and a quarter of children diagnosed as obese. Health experts believe that obesity is linked to a wide range of health problems, including some cancers ; diabetes; heart disease; high blood pressure; arthritis; infertility; indigestion; gallstones; stress, anxiety, depression; snoring and sleep apnoea.[42] I have noted how consuming animal products is the norm for many cultures and despite numerous health warnings associated with animal food products, huge numbers of people continue to eat themselves into ill health. Again, we see the importance of Kahneman’s work. Attitudes to dietwill not be easy to change without education. Certainly, such education should be ongoing in schools and colleges. However, this is another area where the leaders of the Church can play a significant role.[43] 

Moving to the soteriological implications of our actions H. A. H. Bartholomew offers some clarity. He begins with listing environmental calamities such as nuclear explosions, radioactive waste, toxic rain and polluting oil-spills then unusually, he adds a form of animal abuse to the list:

“We may also think of the force-feeding of animals so that they will provide more food for us. All this constitutes an insolent overthrow of natural order.”[44]

This is a rare and important teaching for the animal food production aspect of animal suffering. His acknowledgement of the violence and inhumane production processes involved is clear recognition that force-feeding animals is an example of the exploitation of ‘nature’. His language reminds us of St Gregory’s negative language in his teaching on “Use; do not misuse!” He also acknowledges the ill effects of this insolent overthrowing of the natural order to human health:

“Indeed, it is becoming generally accepted that the disruption of the natural order has negative effects on the health and well-being of human beings, such as the contemporary plagues of humanity, cancer, the syndrome of post virus fatigue, heart diseases, anxieties and a multitude of other diseases.”[45]

His acknowledgement of the link between exploitative food production practices and harm to animal and human health is also critically important, for it highlights the interconnectedness of the created world. [46] The question arising here is whether he has identified these processes as sins.

A related and equally challenging question is whether it is right to kill innocent animals in medical research to treat disorders that have arisen from this form of human self-indulgence. H. A. H. Bartholomew’s teaching on humanity’s exploitation of nature in “greedy and unnatural ways” may help us to answer that question. I argue that these practices indicate not only the desire for evil profit but also continuing human arrogance and the sinful misuse of our freedom.[47]

The teaching on the overthrowing of the natural order is equally applicable to the restrictions on another aspect of animal suffering, i.e. their loss of freedom. Animals kept in pens or cages are restricted in both their movements and natural behaviours. Examples would include gestation and veal crates; ‘battery’ and crush-cages; small cages or enclosures for animals with fur, or wild animals kept for human curiosity and entertainment. Keeping animals in these conditions causes physiological and psychological distress and ill health.[48] It seems reasonable therefore to include his specific example of force-feeding animals and my additions to it, as further examples of sins against animals.

H. A. H. Bartholomew also speaks to the point on the negative soteriological implications for those who by their inaction and/or use of the products are part of the problem:

“We all share the responsibility for such tragedies, since we tolerate those immediately responsible for them and accept a portion of the fruit that results from such an abuse of nature.”[49]

In applying his teaching to our theme, we can state that whilst we may not be killing or rearing the animals in inhumane ways, by our demand for animal food products we are part of the reason why such practices and processes exist. Essentially, we create the demand and the market.

The challenge before us remains. We teach on the need for a spiritual revolution and on the extension of justice, rights, mercy, compassion, non-violence and inclusion of nature into our community. We are also to be a ‘voice’ for the ‘voiceless’ which indicates that we ought to act in ways that reduce animal suffering. What then are we as Eastern Orthodox Christians and Church to say when we learn of the animal suffering involved in both the rearing and death of animals within these systems? Limouris speaks to the point when linking our Christian duty to identify injustices, which brings us back to personal sacrifice:

“Christian men and women must also have the courage to spell out the injustices, which they see, even though this might require them to make personal sacrifices. These sacrifices will include costly involvement and action.”[50]

“We must repent for the abuses which we have imposed upon the natural world…We must work and lobby in every way possible…For ourselves, this means a recommitment to the simple life which is content with necessities and…a new affirmation of self-discipline, a renewal of the spirit of asceticism.” [51]

“Words, however–even changed attitudes-will no longer suffice.  Wherever we find ourselves, as Christians we need to act in order to restore the integrity of creation. A creative, cooperative, active and determined plan of action is required for implementation.”[52]

If it is our individual Christian duty to identify injustices and act to prevent them, it seems reasonable to conclude that it ought to be the responsibility of the leaders of the Church.

What then are the possibilities for us as individuals and leaders of our Church? Changing the attitudes of those who run these industrial processes will be difficult if not impossible without intervention from outside. This is one area where the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox Church could play a significant role just as they have done in their engagement with environmental issues. Examples here are H. A. H. Bartholomew’s Religion and Science environmental symposiums; his visit to the World Economic Forum at Davos and his recent coordinated action with Pope Francis where each convened business, scientific and academic leaders in Rome and Athens respectively, to hasten the transition from fossil fuels to safe renewable energy.[53] It is also possible therefore, to have this type of coordinated action for discussions on the environmental impact of an animal-based diet.

In Chapters Six and Seven we see that those in authority are beginning to define cruelty, abuse and exploitation of animals within the animal food industries as a sin and an abuse of human freedom. We also have the following teaching from Abbot Khalil:

“Christians need to avoid eating meat wherever possible out of mercy for the animals and care for creation.”[54]

I have argued that abstinence from animal food products is a key element of effectively reducing animal suffering, environmental degradation and global warming. In defining the sin of exploitation and abuse in contemporary animal food production practices, the leaders of our Church would also be reaffirming Christ’s teaching in Luke 14:5 and the early Church tradition that we should act to prevent the suffering of God’s non-human beings. I argue that it will also be effective in moving our spiritual journey towards the likeness of an all-loving and compassionate God. 

I am encouraged that those with authority urge us to be a voice for the voiceless and I am encouraged that the Eastern Orthodox environmental debate urges actions rather than words. This process has begun via Eastern Orthodox discussions on environmental issues and I respectfully submit that these discussions must now extend into the areas of animal suffering that arise from the same mind-set of domination over the natural world. I am also encouraged by teachings on the negative soteriological implications for those who inflict abuse, those who are indifferent to it and those who are complicit in some way. H. A. H. Bartholomew speaks to the point:

“We are all painfully aware of the fundamental obstacle that confronts us in our work for the environment. It is precisely this: how to move from the theory to action, from word to deeds.” [55]

Part of this process requires us to be mindful of our language. If we continually refer to animals as ‘the environment’, ‘nature’ or ‘resources’, it is unlikely that we will ever view them as part of our community, worthy of justice, rights and mercy and, unlikely to consider them as worthy of our love and compassion. Let us instead, begin to refer to them as animals or better still cows, sheep, chickens, etc., so that we facilitate the process of seeing them as individual beings loved by God, rather than as units of production or disposable life.

Our continuing walk to the abyss indicates that we as individuals have not sufficiently understood Eastern Orthodox teachings and the leaders of our Church and our academics must address this failure. Part of this process will be to ensure that our priests and laity understand the Eastern Orthodox teachings related to animal suffering. For this to occur we need our leaders to engage with the subject.

I note why it is difficult for our leaders to advocate a vegan/vegetarian diet but there is another element to discuss. This form of diet is almost the equivalent of a permanent strict fast, which requires daily sacrifice. The concept of sacrifice is alien to many in contemporary societies but this is precisely where the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox Church have a vital role to play. Eastern Orthodoxy has the ascetic tradition and thus the authority to promote this diet, unlike other Christian faiths, secular ethicists or environmentalists. 

In order to facilitate this possibility, I end my discussion on the animal food industry by presenting some practical proposals:

  • Our leaders could urge Orthodox Christians to give up animal-food based diets entirely or, as a first step, abstain from foods produced in intensive farming practices. In so doing, the impact on animal suffering, human health and environmental damage would be enormous.
  • If our Patriarchs and Bishops were to declare their intention not to consume or provide animal products at their meetings this would send a strong message to both clergy and laity. 
  • Our leaders could affirm the sin of inflicting harm upon God’s animal creation in order to achieve ever-increasing profits.
  • An essential part of this process requires educating our priests on the many problems associated with the animal food production industries. Seminary modules can be adapted from the module outlined in Appendix B. Training would enable our priests to teach a coherent message that will result in the reduction of animal suffering, improvements in our health and the environment and in advancing our spiritual journeys. [56]

As a way of further facilitating the above, the Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals charity is working in an ecumenical context, to produce a framework to guide the policy and practice of Churches and other Christian institutions in relation to farmed animal welfare. This initiative aims to develop resources and work with institutions to support the development and implementation of policy in this area.[57] The endorsement of Eastern Orthodox Church involvement in such initiatives will also send a clear message to the manufacturers that it is time to change their practices. The Catholic group, Catholic Concern for Animals, is producing education material for its parishes in the UK. Its chief executive is happy for Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals to use/adapt this material, if necessary and I am grateful to him for his generosity of spirit and cooperation.[58]

Finally, to be clear, I do not state that all those working within this industry are cruel or evil people, though there are many recorded instances of people exhibiting such tendencies. What I do say, is that the system itself is a form of legalized violence to animals. It is also incompatible with the ancient and contemporary teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It ought therefore, to be rejected.

[1] Bartholomew, “Address by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew To the Scholars’ Meeting at the Phanar.”

[2] E.g. Bartholomew, “Message of His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew for the day of prayer for the protection of the Environment,” 1st Sept 2015.

[3] Bartholomew, “The Orthodox Church and the Environment.” In Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 364.

[4] A useful analogy here is the judgement and guilt of those who accept stolen goods.

[5] Bartholomew, “A Rich Heritage.”In Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 189.

[6] Bartholomew, “Sacrifice: The Missing Dimension,”275; also, “The Ascetic Corrective.” In Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 295-9.

[7] Bartholomew, “The Ascetic Way.” In Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 188; also, Speaking the Truth, 89-91, 352-3.

[8] Bartholomew, “Sacrifice: The Missing Dimension,” in Cosmic Grace, p. 275.

[9] Bartholomew, “Address before the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly.” In Chryssavgis, Speaking the Truth, 283; also, Limouris, Justice, Peace, 11-12; St Cyril, Catechetical Homilies, Homily 2:5.

[10] Bartholomew, “Foretaste of the Resurrection.” In Chryssavgis, Speaking the Truth, 41; also, “Creator and Creation.” In Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 176. For similar sentiments, see Dimitrios 1, “Message on Environmental Protection Day.”

[11] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.37.4; 4.16.5.

[12] E.g., Bishop Isaias, Chapter Seven and Limouris, Justice, Peace, 23.28.

[13] Keselopoulos, Man and the Environment.

[14] Keselopoulos, 93.

[15] Keselopoulos, “The Prophetic Charisma in Pastoral Theology: Asceticism, Fasting and the Ecological Crisis.” In Chryssavgis & Foltz, 361. I develop this presently.

[16] Gregory of Nyssa, On Love for the Poor 1st Homily; also, Holman, The Hungry are Dying, 198.

[17] Keselopoulos, “The Prophetic Charisma.” In Chryssavgis & Foltz, 361-2.

[18] Met. John, “A Comment on Pope Francis.”

[19] Met. Anthony (Bloom) Encounter, 135.

[20] This links to the earlier points on Noah’s failure to grasp the potential for humankind to re-establish a pre-lapsarian violence-free existence. Met. Anthony was not a vegetarian.

[21] Roberts informs us of the lives of one hundred and fifty saints who chose this non-violent diet. Vegetarian Christian Saints; mystics, ascetics and monks; also, The Ark Summer 2008.

[22] Chapter Six.

[23] Chapter Six.

[24] Knight, A, “Animal Agriculture and Climate Change.” In The Global Guide to Animal Protection, ed. A. Linzey, 254-256. Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2013.

[25] The carbon footprint produced by animals is as follows: cow 16Kg CO2 per 1Kg of meat; sheep 13Kg CO2; pig 5Kg CO2; chicken 4.4Kg CO2 as compared to mussels, which hardly register on the scale, Horizon, “Should I Eat Meat?” Also, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Report (2006) “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues & Options.” UNFA Report (2013) “Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock.” European Commission, (2010) “Roadmap for Moving to a Low-Carbon Economy in 2050.” International Food Policy Research Institute, (2009) “Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation.” Organic Centre State of Science Review, “Impacts of Organic Farming on the Efficiency of Energy Use in Agriculture.”The Royal Society, (2010) “Energy and the Food System.”United Nations Environmental Programme Convention on Biodiversity(2007)Biodiversity and Climate Change.”World Bank Agriculture & Rural Development Department, Report (2009) “Minding The Stock: Bringing Public Policy to Bear on Livestock Sector Development.” International Panel on Climate ChangeFourth Assessment Report: Climate Change.”

[26] Aaltola, Animal Suffering, 34-45. Aaltola provides many other reports and scientific studies, which outline numerous examples of suffering. Also, Broom & Nimon, 1999, 2001; European Commission, 1995, 2001, 2012; Mench, 2002, 2008; Sanotra, Berg and Lund, 2003; Julain, 2004; Appleby 2007. For other references to misuse and cruelty, see the European Commission Reports (1995, 2001, and 2012)and the Compassion in World Farming website


[27] Duncan, “Animal Welfare Issues in the Poultry Industry: Is There a Lesson to Be Learned,” 211.

[28] https://www.ciwf.org.uk/news/2012/09/Live-export-tragedies-continue-as-70000-sheep-suffer

[29] https://www.ciwf.org.uk/news/2012/06/Slaughter-footage-reveals-horrifying-suffering.

[30] In 2003, the Corm Express carried 58,000 sheep from Australia to Saudi Arabia. The sheep remained on board for three months in appalling and deteriorating conditions resulting in over 5,000 deaths. Fire, delays or sinking of livestock ships result in the suffering and death of large numbers of animals. In December 2009, more than 17,000 cattle and 10,500 sheep drowned when the ship transporting them from Uruguay to Syria capsized in a storm off the coast of Tripoli, with the loss of the Captain and several crew.

[31] Duncan, “Animal Welfare Issues in the Poultry Industry: Is There a Lesson to Be Learned,” 216.

[32] Duncan, 211; also 11, 13. See also Gregory and Wilkins, “Broken Bones in Domestic Fowl: Handling and Processing Damage in End-of-Lay Battery Hens.” Weeks & Nicol, “Poultry Handling and Transport”; Webster, “Welfare Implications of Avian Osteoporosis.”

[33] http://www.ciwf.org.uk/news/2013/05/illegal-slaughter-of-animals-in-cyprus/.


[34] Lymbery, “In Too Deep: The Welfare of Intensively Farmed Fish.” Those who follow Judaism and Islam still slaughter animals in the biblical tradition. A recent undercover investigation highlights the inhumane actions and immense suffering of animals, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5456263/Men-chanted-tribal-style-dance-killed-sheep-spared-jail.html.

[35] Cows also regain consciousness. Lecture notes, Winchester 2016.

[36] His arguments are equally relevant to other problem areas such as vivisection and animal testing; the wearing of fur; aspects of the pet and zoo trade and the killing of animals for fun in the promotion of ‘sport’ and ‘recreational’ hunting. See, Marcus, Meat Market: Animals, Ethics and Money.

[37] Chrysostom, On Repentance and Almsgiving 10.5, 130; also, Gschwandtner The Role of Non-Human Creation, 87, note 185; Gregory, On the Love of the Poor, 94.

[38] Russell, The Lives of the Desert Fathers, 37.

[39] Gregory of Nyssa, On Love for the Poor.

[40] Gregory of Nyssa, 57.

[41] Chrysostom, On Repentance and Almsgiving, 10.5, 130.

[42] In addition, a recent government report estimated that obesity would cost the NHS £6.4 billion per year by 2015, which has implications for human health provision, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/295149/07-1662-obesity-modelling-trends.pdf. Also,


[43] I develop the topic of education presently.

[44] “Message by H. A. H. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew upon the Day of Prayer for the Protection of Creation,” 1st September 2001. In Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 56.

[45]  Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 56.

[46] See Fig. 1-3 and details of liver dysfunction, over expansion of the abdomen, walking problems, scarring of the oesophagus and death.

[47] I address the animal testing model presently.

[48] See examples of these in Figs. 1-2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 3-3.

[49] The acceptance of stolen goods makes the point. “Message by H. A. H. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew upon the Day of Prayer for the Protection of Creation” 1st September 2001. In Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, 57.

[50] Limouris, Justice, Peace, 24, no. 30.

[51] Limouris, 12, no 37.

[52] Limouris, 12, no 38.

[53] For an interesting commentary see Sachs article “Energy for the Common Good.”


[54] Private conversation 15th April 2018. Used with permission.

[55] Bartholomew, “Sacrifice: The Missing Dimension,” in Cosmic Grace, p. 275.

[56] See www.ciwf.org.uk for details on the misuse of antibiotics in farming and the link with antibiotic resistance in humans.

[57] This is an initiative by Prof Clough.

[58] A video announcing this initiative was shown at the Catholic Concern for Animals conference “Animal Advocacy in the Era of Laudato Si’.” 23rd June 2018, University of East Anglia. I attended and asked permission to use this material from the C. C. A.’s executive Chris Fegan and without hesitation was given an immediate yes.


This list is taken from the State of California website and sent to us from the Green Christian Network.

  1. Academia Chilena de Ciencias, Chile
  2. Academia das Ciencias de Lisboa, Portugal
  3. Academia de Ciencias de la República Dominicana
  4. Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales de Venezuela
  5. Academia de Ciencias Medicas, Fisicas y Naturales de Guatemala
  6. Academia Mexicana de Ciencias,Mexico
  7. Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Bolivia
  8. Academia Nacional de Ciencias del Peru
  9. Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
  10. Académie des Sciences, France
  11. Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada
  12. Academy of Athens
  13. Academy of Science of Mozambique
  14. Academy of Science of South Africa
  15. Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS)
  16. Academy of Sciences Malaysia
  17. Academy of Sciences of Moldova
  18. Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
  19. Academy of Sciences of the Islamic Republic of Iran
  20. Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
  21. Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand
  22. Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy
  23. Africa Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science
  24. African Academy of Sciences
  25. Albanian Academy of Sciences
  26. Amazon Environmental Research Institute
  27. American Academy of Pediatrics
  28. American Anthropological Association
  29. American Association for the Advancement of Science
  30. American Association of State Climatologists (AASC)
  31. American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians
  32. American Astronomical Society
  33. American Chemical Society
  34. American College of Preventive Medicine
  35. American Fisheries Society
  36. American Geophysical Union
  37. American Institute of Biological Sciences
  38. American Institute of Physics
  39. American Meteorological Society
  40. American Physical Society
  41. American Public Health Association
  42. American Quaternary Association
  43. American Society for Microbiology
  44. American Society of Agronomy
  45. American Society of Civil Engineers
  46. American Society of Plant Biologists
  47. American Statistical Association
  48. Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
  49. Australian Academy of Science
  50. Australian Bureau of Meteorology
  51. Australian Coral Reef Society
  52. Australian Institute of Marine Science
  53. Australian Institute of Physics
  54. Australian Marine Sciences Association
  55. Australian Medical Association
  56. Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society  
  57. Bangladesh Academy of Sciences
  58. Botanical Society of America
  59. Brazilian Academy of Sciences
  60. British Antarctic Survey
  61. Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
  62. California Academy of Sciences
  63. Cameroon Academy of Sciences
  64. Canadian Association of Physicists
  65. Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
  66. Canadian Geophysical Union
  67. Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
  68. Canadian Society of Soil Science
  69. Canadian Society of Zoologists
  70. Caribbean Academy of Sciences views
  71. Center for International Forestry Research
  72. Chinese Academy of Sciences
  73. Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences
  74. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (Australia)
  75. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
  76. Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences
  77. Crop Science Society of America
  78. Cuban Academy of Sciences
  79. Delegation of the Finnish Academies of Science and Letters
  80. Ecological Society of America
  81. Ecological Society of Australia
  82. Environmental Protection Agency
  83. European Academy of Sciences and Arts
  84. European Federation of Geologists
  85. European Geosciences Union
  86. European Physical Society
  87. European Science Foundation
  88. Federation of American Scientists
  89. French Academy of Sciences
  90. Geological Society of America
  91. Geological Society of Australia
  92. Geological Society of London
  93. Georgian Academy of Sciences
  94. German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina  
  95. Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences
  96. Indian National Science Academy
  97. Indonesian Academy of Sciences  
  98. Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
  99. Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology
  100. Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand
  101. Institution of Mechanical Engineers, UK
  102. InterAcademy Council
  103. International Alliance of Research Universities
  104. International Arctic Science Committee
  105. International Association for Great Lakes Research
  106. International Council for Science
  107. International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences
  108. International Research Institute for Climate and Society
  109. International Union for Quaternary Research
  110. International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
  111. International Union of Pure and Applied Physics
  112. Islamic World Academy of Sciences
  113. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  114. Kenya National Academy of Sciences
  115. Korean Academy of Science and Technology
  116. Kosovo Academy of Sciences and Arts
  117. l’Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
  118. Latin American Academy of Sciences
  119. Latvian Academy of Sciences
  120. Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
  121. Madagascar National Academy of Arts, Letters, and Sciences
  122. Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology
  123. Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts
  124. National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, Argentina
  125. National Academy of Sciences of Armenia
  126. National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic
  127. National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka
  128. National Academy of Sciences, United States of America
  129. National Aeronautics and Space Administration  
  130. National Association of Geoscience Teachers
  131. National Association of State Foresters
  132. National Center for Atmospheric Research  
  133. National Council of Engineers Australia
  134. National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, New Zealand
  135. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  136. National Research Council
  137. National Science Foundation
  138. Natural England
  139. Natural Environment Research Council, UK
  140. Natural Science Collections Alliance
  141. Network of African Science Academies
  142. New York Academy of Sciences
  143. Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences
  144. Nigerian Academy of Sciences
  145. Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters
  146. Oklahoma Climatological Survey
  147. Organization of Biological Field Stations
  148. Pakistan Academy of Sciences
  149. Palestine Academy for Science and Technology
  150. Pew Center on Global Climate Change
  151. Polish Academy of Sciences
  152. Romanian Academy
  153. Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium
  154. Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Spain
  155. Royal Astronomical Society, UK
  156. Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
  157. Royal Irish Academy
  158. Royal Meteorological Society (UK)
  159. Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
  160. Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
  161. Royal Scientific Society of Jordan
  162. Royal Society of Canada
  163. Royal Society of Chemistry, UK
  164. Royal Society of the United Kingdom
  165. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
  166. Russian Academy of Sciences
  167. Science and Technology, Australia  
  168. Science Council of Japan
  169. Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
  170. Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics
  171. Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  172. Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  173. Slovak Academy of Sciences
  174. Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  175. Society for Ecological Restoration International
  176. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
  177. Society of American Foresters   
  178. Society of Biology (UK)   
  179. Society of Systematic Biologists
  180. Soil Science Society of America
  181. Sudan Academy of Sciences
  182. Sudanese National Academy of Science
  183. Tanzania Academy of Sciences
  184. The Wildlife Society (international)
  185. Turkish Academy of Sciences
  186. Uganda National Academy of Sciences
  187. Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities
  188. United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  189. University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
  190. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  191. Woods Hole Research Center
  192. World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  193. World Federation of Public Health Associations
  194. World Forestry Congress
  195. World Health Organization
  196. World Meteorological Organization
  197. Zambia Academy of Sciences
  198. Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences

Convert half of UK farmland to nature, urges top scientist

We at Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals are promoting the idea of Citizen Forests. This is land given by the Church and local/national government to convert to Forests – where communities can plant trees in an organised and controlled manner.

The answers to Climate Change are in our hands – its not rocket science – eat less meat, eat local or better still become veggie/vegan. This will have immediate and long-lasting impact for us and for future generations.

We see what is happening around the world and it will only get worse if we do not act and act now.

See the latest from the former chief scientific advisor to the government below, in this short article from the Guardian newspaper. Sadly, the NFU, like so many other vested interests groups, continue to refute the science.

Yes, as Boyd states, our farmers are great but this is not the issue. They can be great at other projects if they get the right support. Ignoring the science will only push us off the cliff:

Convert half of UK farmland to nature, urges top scientist

New woodlands and wild places are needed to fight climate crisis and improve people’s health. Half of the nation’s farmland needs to be transformed into woodlands and natural habitat to fight the climate crisis and restore wildlife, according to a former chief scientific adviser to the UK government.
Prof Sir Ian Boyd said such a change could mean the amount of cattle and sheep would fall by 90%, with farmers instead being paid for storing carbon dioxide, helping prevent floods and providing beautiful landscapes where people could boost their health and wellbeing.
Boyd said the public were subsidising the livestock industry to produce huge environmental damage. The professor spent seven years at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs before stepping down in August. Half of farmland, mostly uplands and pasture, produces just 20% of the UK’s food and would be better for used other public goods, he said.
Boyd, who became vegetarian during his time in Defra, said farmers were potentially “sitting on a goldmine” in terms of the payments they could receive for growing trees and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
He said: “We need a large, radical transformation and we need to do it quickly, in the next decade. You can tick an immense number of boxes simultaneously.”
Farmers argue that uplands and pasture where livestock are reared cannot be used to grow crops. But Boyd said: “It would be much better to store carbon and water, grow trees and make the land available for people to improve their health and well. He said the 20% of food production lost by converting half of farmland could be made up by the development of vertical farms, where food is produced indoors in controlled and more efficient conditions. Boyd said: “I know there are big companies looking at how to really scale this up.”
A series of studies have concluded that people in rich nations need to eat much less meat to tackle the climate emergency and improve their health. “Most of the livestock production in the UK is unprofitable without public subsidy,” said Boyd. “The public are subsidising the production of livestock to produce huge environmental damages, all the way from greenhouse gas emissions to water pollution. Why should we continue to do that? It’s not sensible.
“If anybody asked me: ‘If there is one thing I can do to help save the planet, what would it be?’ I would say just eat a lot less meat. It’s the easiest thing to do. I’ve done it.”
People could reduce the meat they eat by 90% and have a perfectly balanced diet, Boyd said: “Freeing up 50% of the land would probably result in a reduction in the amount of livestock by about that amount, because it would be mostly livestock land we would be taking out of production.”
Farmers should be paid for changing the way land is used, he said. Current subsidies are largely based on the amount of land owned, but the government has pledged it will “move to a system based on public money for public goods” after the UK leaves the EU’s subsidy regime.
Farmland covers 70% of the UK, meaning that converting half to woodlands and parks would create new landscapes across a third of the country. In May, a report from Rewilding Britain called for a quarter of the nation to be returned to natural habitat.
The National Farmers Union recently published its plan to end the climate-heating emissions from agriculture by 2040. It said this could be done without cutting beef production or converting large areas of farmland into forest. Instead, the NFU said 75% of the UK’s agricultural emissions could be offset by growing plant fuel for power stations and then capturing and burying the carbon dioxide.
Responding to Boyd’s proposal, Guy Smith, the NFU’s deputy president, said: “Urgent action is needed to tackle the climate emergency. British farmers are already some of the most sustainable in the world. For example, the beef produced in Britain is already 2.5 times more efficient than the global average. And they are committed to doing even more.
“However, we will not halt climate change by curbing sustainable, British production and exporting it to countries which may not have the same climate ambition as we do here.”
Boyd said: “This proposal is not about being negative about farmers. It’s about being positive about their futures and helping them to adapt and continue providing support for society, but in a different way from in the past.”

Wood Pellets & Climate Change: Grave Concerns.

I have received this mail from a very reliable source in the US and as we are concerned about preserving God’s Creation – it is right to make you aware of the grave realities of using this type of fuel. Please share this post.

Hello Christina in London, Judith at the UK’s Green Christians organization, Katerina at the Conference of European Churches, and Lindsey at the U.N. office in Bonn, Germany.

I need your help in addressing a European dimension of climate change that is impacting the forests of the United States and Canada. 

We need your assistance in exposing a great fraud.

The Drax Energy Company in North Yorkshire, UK, is shifting from coal as a fuel for electrical generation to wood pellets obtained from the hardwood forests of the U.S. and Canada. They claim that wood pellets are a carbon neutral source of energy. This is a big fat lie. It is based upon the supposition among EU regulators that biomass (i.e., wood pellets) are a carbon neutral renewable alternative. This claim is made on the supposition that the growth of new trees will absorb as much carbon as wood pellets release when they are burned to generate electricity. But the trees which are being cut are hundreds of years old and this is clearly not renewable.

Please see the news article appended below.

Many climate and forestry scientists have emphasized that converting coal plants to biomass will increase carbon emissions for decades, if not centuries.

Prof Michael Norton, a director at the European Academies Science Advisory Council, said large-scale forest removal to meet the demand for biomass would be “horrifying from a climate perspective” and already risks overshooting the Paris agreement targets.

A representative of Drax Energy makes the following misleading and false statement:

‘these pellets are sustainable biomass sourced from managed forests that are replanted and stay as forests, absorbing carbon as the trees grow. Drax will not use biomass that drives harvesting decisions which would adversely affect the long-term potential of forests to store carbon. These commitments are central to our new biomass sustainability policy, launched in October.

This is corporate nonsense. In fact these wood pellets are taken from old growth forests that will not and could not be replaced for hundreds of years.


This photo shows a logged forest that once stood in the Urahaw Swamp in northeastern North Carolina. This forest was logged to make wood pellets. The rapidly growing wood pellet industry is logging bottomland hardwood forests across Southeastern U.S. forests to produce fuel pellets that are shipped overseas, primarily to Europe.

While the world tries to shift away from fossil fuels, the energy industry is calling wood pellets a renewable source of energy. This is false. Forests should be a source of carbon sequestration, but logging forests does serious damage to the world’s ability to reduce carbon dioxide levels. Burning trees as fuel in power plants is heating the atmosphere more quickly than coal.

Please help us expose the fraud that wood pellets are carbon neutral. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every little bit helps in this global effort to reduce carbon emissions, and telling the truth about our carbon predicament is one more way to address this problem. 

Thank you for helping in this effort to address global climate change.

Fred Krueger

Converting coal plants to biomass could fuel climate crisis, scientists warn

Experts horrified at large-scale forest removal to meet wood pellet demand

Jillian Ambrose

Mon 16 Dec 2019 01.01 ESTLast modified on Mon 16 Dec 2019 11.51 EST

Biomass fuel at Drax power station in North Yorkshire

 Biomass fuel at Drax power station in North Yorkshire. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

Plans to shift Europe’s coal plants to burning wood pellets instead could accelerate rather than combat the climate crisis and lay waste to woodland equal to half the size of Germany’s Black Forest a year, according to campaigners.

The climate thinktank Sandbag said the heavily subsidised plans to cut carbon emissions would result in a “staggering” amount of tree cutting, potentially destroying forests faster than they can regrow.

Sandbag found that Europe’s planned biomass conversion projects would require 36 million tonnes of wood pellets every year, equal to the entire current global wood pellet production. This would require forests covering 2,700 sq km to be cut down annually, the equivalent of half the Black Forest in Germany.

EU carbon target threatened by biomass ‘insanity’

The majority of wood pellets are imported from the US and Canada, “meaning that there’s a huge added environmental cost in transporting the wood from the other side of the Atlantic”, said the report’s author, Charles Moore.

The planned biomass conversions – with Finland, Germany and the Netherlands leading the way – would emit 67m tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, which would be unlikely to be reabsorbed by growing trees over the timescales relevant to meeting the targets set by Paris climate agreement, warned Sandbag.

In return, the forest-hungry power plants would produce less than 2% of the EU’s electricity needs – the same generation capacity built in Europe every year by wind and solar farm developers.

“It’s impossible to believe coal companies when they argue that the switch to burning forests could be good for the climate,” Moore said.EU regulators consider biomass as a carbon neutral renewable alternative, saying that the growth of new trees can absorb as much carbon as wood pellets release when they are burned to generate electricity.

The Drax energy complex in North Yorkshire has used this logic to underpin its plan to become the world’s first “carbon negative” company within 10 years by burning biomass in conjunction with technology that can capture carbon from its power plant flues. 

Drax robustly defends the sustainability record of its biomass supply chain. Its wood pellets, shipped from the US, are made mostly from sawmill residue and forest overgrowth, which is carefully cleared to improve the quality of forests. Drax has pledged never to source biomass from farming practices that lead to deforestation.

Burning wood for power is ‘misguided’ say climate experts

But Alex Mason, from WWF’s EU office, said burning forests was “literally the opposite of what we should be doing” to help tackle the climate crisis.

“As 800 scientists pointed out last year, converting coal plants to biomass will increase emissions for decades, if not centuries. This new report is yet more evidence that the EU must use the new EU Green Deal to fix EU bioenergy rules before this ticking time-bomb of a policy does any more damage,” he said.

Prof Michael Norton, a director at the European Academies Science Advisory Council, said large-scale forest removal to meet the demand for biomass would be “horrifying from a climate perspective” and already risks overshooting the Paris agreement targets.

He said European countries were moving ahead with plans for giant biomass plants despite reports showing “the counter-productive nature of biomass” and the urgent need to stop deforestation.

A Drax spokesperson said: “Drax only uses sustainable biomass sourced from managed forests that are replanted and stay as forests, absorbing carbon as the trees grow. Drax will not use biomass that drives harvesting decisions which would adversely affect the long-term potential of forests to store carbon. These commitments are central to our new biomass sustainability policy, launched in October. We also have a new advisory board – an independent group of scientists, academics and forestry experts, which will ensure our biomass sourcing meets the highest standards using the latest science and best practice.”


It has been clear to many that the use of such methods is unsustainable and should therefore, not be used. We add our voice to those trying to prevent energy companies from continuing to use practises that will in effect, push us all off the cliff. Please share this post with your friends. Dr Christina