|Thursday, July 18, 2019
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All Saints’ Church update 

I am currently enjoying a very short visit back home in Oxford. Catching up with friends and family over a hectic long weekend has been a joy. Catching up with my dentist was less amusing.

My dentist is Swedish. He is the only dentist I have ever had (and I have had a few) who has never hurt me, so going to anyone else is unthinkable. He was of course hugely interested in my present job and our inevitably one-sided conversation focused very much on the Church of England and, unusually, religion in general. And he couldn’t resist saying “vamos!” with a wicked grin as he was poised to inject my poor gum.

There are other little changes. Recent rainfall in England has meant that the first sight of the country from the air is not the picture of endless brown fields that we saw on the TV news a few weeks ago. But what I found striking is a much more general admission, both in conversation and in the media, that the chaotic weather conditions of this summer are down to anthropogenic (man-made) climate change.

Ten years ago I was working on a climate change campaign which aimed to raise awareness of the issue, in particular among church leaders – bishops and archbishops – and their congregations. In 2008, I was responsible for a climate change programme at the Lambeth conference of bishops, and in preparation for that I travelled to parts of the world already suffering from extreme weather. Places like the Bangladesh delta, where rising sea levels had made the surrounding agricultural land unusable, and countries in Central America where unusually ferocious hurricanes destroyed the crops and animals of the poorest farmers. Because it is the world’s poorest people who feel the effects of climate change most and are least able to cope with them.

The response of the Anglican bishops from across the world was, frankly, disappointing. Those coming from North America and, bizarrely, Australia, where drought has long been a problem, just didn’t want to know. While our UK church leaders were, for the most part, concentrating their efforts on saving water and energy in the home, rather than pushing for the legislation which a few years later transformed the UK’s approach to the issue.

However, the feeling that anything we do now is too little too late has not gone away. I have always believed that legislation is a key factor and the prospect of the UK repealing EU environmental regulations post-Brexit is an alarming and dangerous one. The Earth is ours to look after and to pass on in good order to our children and grandchildren. How we behave now, whether it’s in our use of cars or planes or at the ballot box, can still make a difference for them.

Chaplain: The Revd Dr Paula Clifford

Tel: 922 38 40 38; Email: paulaclifford4@gmail.com