Saturday, 22 December 2012
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
I have been lucky in my ministry in becoming involved with people that have been on the edge of society, the suicidal, the depressed, the addicts, the abused, and the victims of society’s deliberate blindness.
The sad fact is that disaster can overtake anyone from any strata of society. I and my colleagues have worked to help concert pianists, builders, doctors, gardeners, engineers, those that left school unable to read or write and those that had university degrees. It made me realise just how fortunate I am, and just how close are the disasters that can overtake any one of us.
I will freely admit that there have been times when I, like my colleagues, have most certainly put my personal safety in great danger and when I have made myself more than vulnerable, but unless this is accepted, then it is not possible to reach out to those that need help most.
I work with those that have given up much, far more than I, in order to also help those I have mentioned. These are people that have left the security of their everyday lives in order to help those that have lost everything. It has been, and still is, a humbling experience to stand alongside those that could so easily be very wealthy in the eyes and standards of the world and yet these heroes have, as I have, endured the sarcasm and derision of some for not just the thought of helping others, but who for any act of kindness is seen as pathetically stupid. Yet the people that I work with have made the commitment to devote their lives in order to help those far less fortunate than they are.
When you live alongside those that need help, it is obvious that there is an unbridgeable difference between want and need. Those that I and my colleagues reached out to needed help of many differing kinds. Protection from physical violence and sexual and mental abuse, a safe house, medical assistance, shelter from the elements, a hot meal, financial advice, these needs seemed never ending, but more than anything else, they needed someone that cared enough for them, was prepared to listen to them and, after doing so, to offer them advice and help.
When a person’s uppermost thought is how best to commit suicide then there is nothing whatsoever in the world that they want, but much that they need.
“What do you want for Christmas?” This will be a question asked in millions of homes over the next weeks; perhaps the real question should be “what do you need for Christmas?”
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 04:58
Sunday, 4 November 2012
I don’t know where you live, but here, in the UK, we had the wettest summer for 30 years with flash floods in many areas. This followed the driest winters for years, near empty reservoirs and a hosepipe ban. There were record droughts across the grain belt in America, worldwide crop failures, worldwide floods, wild fires in Spain and the US, and record ice melt at the poles and Greenland. As I write this, in early November, it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale outside and our son has just phoned to tell us that there is a blizzard where they live in Dorset. I could go on but I am sure you get the picture.
Where we live the fields that surround us are so wet that any farmer taking a tractor out on them would, at the present rate, only be able to drive it back next April; any harvest that remains will rot in the fields and the UK has recently had an Environment Agency alert to be aware of flooding due to the saturated fields being unable to absorb more water. Time after time and month after month we are experiencing once in a century events. Floods, droughts, rainstorms, all coupled with rising sea levels, the changes in the Gulf Stream, (Atlantic Conveyor) the movements in the Jet Stream and the horror that the US has only just experienced with Hurricane Sandy.
Forget Star wars, let’s face the facts, the environment strikes back at our way of life.
There seems to be a mindset in the Western World that it is our God given right to consume, that the earth has no limits, that we can extract what we like, emit what we like, produce what we like, consume what we like and waste what we like. This mindset has been built by, and ruled by, and run in favour by many of the mega companies that have the financial power, and so the political power to rule in their favour. If you think that is an exaggeration then just remember the power that Rupert Murdoch and his News Organisation had over UK governments. What Murdoch said went, and it was only when his company finally stepped so far over the mark that the situation was blindingly obvious that the whole obscene operation came to light.
We live in a society that is addicted to consumption. In the UK we are regaled by the main political parties about the need to increase our national growth via consumption, the desire is, we are told, to increase national prosperity, but how do you measure prosperity? Is it the need to have what we are told we need in order to have a happy and fulfilled life? If so, why are so many unhappy and unfulfilled?
I know from my own work that many are addicted to prescription drugs, let alone the illegal ones. From the local recycling facilities it is blindingly obvious that local alcohol consumption has rocketed, and yet we are told what we need to do is to grow the economy by consuming more. So what is needed to cure our financial ills is another dose of what caused our financial ills... Really... is that what will make us all happy?
The dream of our Western life has now hit the realities of the environment. The earth has limits. Society cannot continue to pollute the atmosphere, plunder the earth and go to war for ever dwindling resources of fossilised sunlight. We cannot continue to mortgage our children’s and grandchildren’s future by ignoring these realities, as the American Indians knew, we did not inherit the world from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children and grandchildren.
The sad fact is that this Global Warming (Climate Chaos) environmental disaster has been forecast for many years and yet the population in general seems to be of the opinion that this is but a recent discovery.
In 1965, US scientist Roger Revelle forecasted that by the year 2000 there would be 25% more CO2 in the atmosphere and that this could lead to a modification of atmospheric heat balances and marked changes in climate. Revelle also forecast rising sea levels and melting polar ice. US economist William Nordhaus also wrote at this time about ‘the imponderable side effects on society – coastlines and agriculture, on life in high latitudes, on human health and simply the unforeseen’ if CO2 pollution was unchecked.
So, why was this knowledge not acted upon when there was time?
Much in the same way as the tobacco industry used doubt to counter the claims of doctors and scientists (“our weapon is doubt” was said in a leaked memo) the energy and political lobby groups also used doubt and the views and opinions of ‘doctors’ and ‘scientists’ to do the same. The problems were, so the merchants of doubt informed us, “due to sunspots, volcanic activity, were normal climatic events etc, etc”. Meanwhile the future grew ever closer.
In the UK an ex Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, has said that there is no such thing as Global Warming. In the US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has laughed at Obama’s climate concerns, meanwhile Stephen Hawking, the greatest brain that has ever existed, said that after a nuclear war, the biggest threat to the human race was Global Warming; I know who I would put my money on!
The fact is that the environmental future for our grandson of but a few months will be very different from the environmental life I have been lucky to enjoy, and my hope is that in the future years, when I am probably just an image in a photo, he will read this, because this entire post is for him.
You will wonder H, as will others, why no one did anything about the environmental situation you are now experiencing. The sad fact is that many tried their hardest, but were ignored, decried and laughed at until it was too late to halt it. I would just like you to know that I was one of those that tried their hardest and were ignored, decried and laughed at. I have tried to live as low an impact carbon neutral life as possible.
So when your fellows ask about the environmental situation “Why didn't someone try to do something about it” your answer is quite simple, “someone tried”.
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 04:04
Monday, 15 October 2012
A big difficulty is that when people are faced with what seems to be an insurmountable problem, the reaction is "But what can WE do about it?" The fact is though that WE can actually do a lot!
Please read my previous post and then sign the Oxfam Petition attached below, then WE can really make a difference to those who lives have been blighted; thank you.
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 07:25
Thursday, 11 October 2012
THE REAL COST OF BIO-FUELS "You've got two minutes to get your things and get out. Stop crying. There's nothing you can do. Say goodbye to your home. It's gone."
As banks and private investors scramble to buy land in the developing world, stories of poor farmers and communities driven from their homes, often at the barrel of a gun, left destitute and unable to feed their families have become all too familiar. We would not accept this happening in the developed world, and so should not accept it in the developing world and yet he global land rush is causing vulnerable people to lose their homes and livelihoods in the Third World
The scramble for land is vast and happening across the developing world. In poor countries, foreign investors have been buying an area of land twice the size of Mexico City every five days. In Liberia more than 30 per cent of land has been handed out in large-scale concessions in the past five years, often with disastrous results for local people. Alfred Brownell, community spokesperson in Liberia, says, "You don't need guns to kill people. When you take food from a village by destroying farm lands and cash crops, you are starving its people. These things must stop. Our people deserve the right to survive. They shouldn't be denied their land."
“Europe has helped spark a global rush for [land for] biofuels that is forcing poor families from their homes, while big business piles up the profits. Biofuels were meant to make transport greener, but European governments are pouring consumers' money down the drain, whilst depriving millions of people of food, land and water,” said Natalia Alonso, Head of Oxfam’s EU Office.
Land used to power European cars with biofuels for one year could produce enough wheat and maize to feed 127 million people, this with the world’s poorest at greater risk of hunger as a result of spiralling food prices.
In Europe, EU biofuel mandates could cost every adult about €30 each year by 2020. In 2008, about €3 billion were spent in tax exemptions and other incentives for biofuel production in the EU, comparable to the value of cuts agreed under the controversial Greek bail-out deal in February. Current EU law requires 10% of transport energy to come from renewable sources by 2020, with almost all of it expected to come from biofuels made from food crops.
Corn and soy prices reached record highs this summer, hitting poor people hardest as they can spend up to 75% of their income on food. By 2020, EU biofuel mandates alone could push up the price of some foods by as much as 36%. This would affect us all but would have a particularly severe impact on poor people who are already struggling to afford the food they need to survive.
Since 80% of EU biofuels is biodiesel, made mostly from rapeseed, soy and palm oil, EU mandates have a particular impact on the global price of vegetable oil and oilseeds. This drives up the retail price of cooking oil in importing countries such as Haiti and exporting countries such as Indonesia. The latter is one of the EU’s main sources of bio diesel By 2020, Europe could require a fifth of all the vegetable oil produced globally to meet its demand for fuel. When this happens the world’s poorest will be the ones to suffer, for proof, just watch this Oxfam video; this is happening now, as the rich countries feed their cars by taking the food from the mouths of those in the world's poorest countries.
Prov. 14:31 Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honour God.
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 09:50
Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Let's face facts, being ‘Green’ has nothing to do with lambs bouncing in a field, a combine cutting corn under a sunny sky or wearing wellingtons as one walks in dew soaked pastures.
Being ‘Green’ i.e. being sustainable, living today without losing sight of those as yet born is quite simply fundamental Christian belief and Christian economics.
We are totally addicted to growth, which is why the western World is in the state it is. Borrowing is seen by all major political parties as a necessity, a good thing, and yes we do need some form of economic stimulation and yet countless billions of pounds, dollars and euros have been printed or electronically created, via the quaintly named ‘quantitative easing', in order to stimulate growth in the West.
It has failed.
Constant growth is simply impossible. If you have a calculator handy start with 100 and add 5%, and continue doing this, this will represent the 5% year-on-year growth that economists are telling us is needed. By the 15th year the figure is 207.89%.
There is no way that within 15 years we will be producing more than twice the number of cars, building twice the number of houses and twice the number of runways and growing twice the amount of food to be sold by twice the number of supermarkets.
Those that have, like me, been privileged to live and work in a farming community know one thing for certain; there are limits. The world’s economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment; our world’s economy is limited to what can be produced from our planet.
Christian principles should be focused upon the unavoidable fact that total addictions are wrong, and yet the Western World is addicted to growth. The attempts to outgrow the limits of our planet are now ever obvious, climate change and the disaster with the world’s weather while frantically drilling for oil at the poles as the ice melts. Feeding a seemingly ever growing population while droughts and floods and famines increase. The evidence of the ever larger land raise waste sites, or as most people think of them ‘away’, and so it goes on, and yet most imagine that recycling the odd bottle or sheet of cardboard is all that is needed in order to keep the status quo.
They are wrong; the unavoidable fact is that for the sake of those just born or as yet to be born, there is such a thing as enough.
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 12:35
Monday, 2 July 2012
You might be amazed at some of the comments people have made about me and my views about Global warming, or, as I prefer to call it 'Climate Chaos'.
It seems that I am an 'Obama loving communist' who should 'go back to Russia'. I pointed out that it is actually impossible to go back to somewhere where one has never been and that I was actually in the UK. I am also, apparently, someone who is a 'bleeding hearted tree hugging anti-capitalist who takes full advantage of all that capitalism has to offer'. Yeah right...
Well over 20 years ago it was pointed out by climate scientists that the increase in global temperature would mean that the moisture in the air due to evaporation would become far greater, and this would lead to increased storms of far greater intensity. Scientists also said that the increase in global temperature would be far greater at the poles and that the melting of the ice caps would mean that the Gulf Stream / Atlantic Conveyor which relies on sea water salinity would become diluted by the fresh water from the melting ice. This, they said, would cause not only a lowering in temperature of that which keeps Europe's coastal areas warm, (Edinburgh is on the same line of latitude as Moscow and Madrid on the same line of latitude as New York) but also cause the Jet Stream to wobble and move.
So, HERE are some of the recent weather problems the US has.
And HERE are some of the recent problems the UK has regarding the Jet Stream.
HERE are some of the weather problems Taiwan has.
And HERE are the weather problems India has.
I could so easily go on... but you get the picture I am sure.
So then; the scientists were right, the proof is now with us... sadly....
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 10:18
Sunday, 6 May 2012
The US has now turned its fortunes around and become energy rich. In only a few short years the United States has become the world’s largest producer of natural gas; shale gas, produced by a process known as Fracking. In 2000, shale gas accounted for just 1 percent of U.S. natural gas supply. By 2011, it was 25 percent, and by 2030 it could be 50 percent or more. But this production has been bought, due to Fracking, at an environmental price that many in that country find utterly unacceptable.
Fracking, or to give it the full name, Hydraulic Fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. The controversial technique used to extract shale gas, has been widely used in the USA and been linked to contamination of water supplies, increased air pollution and small earthquakes. Whereas conventional drilling entails drilling straight down into a pocket of oil or gas, Fracking is a highly industrialised and lengthy process that drills down more than a mile into the earth, and then drills horizontally into the shale rock layer that holds the gas. Imagine the shale rock as being a deep underground layer of the planet that, like a sponge, holds gas between the spaces, with the drillings as an underground spider’s web radiating from the centre. These drillings then have their walls coated with a cement mixture, and, when set; these miles of walls have holes blown though the cement walls.
The Fracking Fluid, a chemical, water and sand mixture, is blasted into the pipes and out of the underground holes, often at the rate of 4,200 gallons a minute. This hydraulic shock creates millions of fractures throughout the shale rock, freeing free the trapped gas which then flows at high pressure into the casing and up to the surface. Some of the pumped in liquid mixture flows back to the surface with the gas, where it is separated and collected the rest remains underground to seep into the surrounding areas. The Fracking Fluid is mainly water a special sand and a cocktail of chemicals. The Fracking Companies claim that at a 1% to 2% ratio of the Fluid the 500 chemicals used are a very small proportion of the total, but as 1 to 2 million gallons of Fracking Fluid can be used per well, 1% to 2% will equal 10,000 to 20,000 gallons of many highly dangerous chemicals.
The problems really begin when the fluid that is not recovered spreads out and, now radioactive from the natural radiation in the shale layer, reaches aquifers in the area and pollute the areas water supply. In addition, due to the removal of the gas from such vast underground areas local ground settlement often occurs, with localised small, but damaging, earthquakes. When earthquakes occurred around the area of a Lancashire Fracking site in the summer of 2011, reports showed that fracking fluid disrupted a previously unknown fault which caused the earthquakes.
In the UK there are many projected Fracking Sites; one is in West Sussex, some 40 miles away from where I live so I know many facts about it. It is in Balcombe, in an area close to a railway line and Controversial US drilling company Cuadrilla has planning permission to drill & test Frack, just outside the village of Balcombe in West Sussex, five miles from Haywards Heath, 100 yards from the main London to Brighton railway line and less than a mile from both the reservoir and the river.
You might assume then that the Local MP and Parish Council would be up in arms against Cuadrilla to protect their voter’s interests, after all that is what they are there for; sadly the facts seem to indicate the exact opposite. Balcombe MP Francis Maude appointed Lord Browne, a director of Cuadrilla Resource Holdings Ltd, to the Cabinet Office in June 2010. The Cuadrilla executive works closely with the cabinet office board, chaired by Maude, in his role as ‘lead non-executive’. On appointing Browne, Maude said: “his experience will be a real benefit to make Whitehall work in a more businesslike manner”.
In January Maude visited Balcombe to talk to constituents’ concerned about hydraulic fracturing in the village. Those who attended described the MP as ‘non-committal’. At the meeting, Maude failed to disclose his association with a senior member of the Cuadrilla management team, nor their close working relationship. Lord Browne joined Cuadrilla four months before his appointment to government. In one of his many roles he acts as Managing Director of Riverstone LLC. In February 2010Riverstone invested 27m in Cuadrilla and Browne and two other Riverstone executives joined the Cuadrilla board. He was instrumental in hiring the current head of UK operations, Mark Miller.
Please see the US Video above. Those taking part are people that know from their first hand experience the dangers of Fracking. The professionals taking part are easy to check up on and deserve your attention.
I will leave the last word to Dr Paul Hetzler, a former technician responsible for investigating and managing groundwater contamination at the US Department for Environmental Conservation said: "I'm familiar with the fate and transport of contaminants in fractured media, and let me be clear: hydraulic fracturing as it's practised today will contaminate our aquifers. If you were looking for a way to poison the drinking water supply, you couldn't find a more chillingly effective and thorough method of doing so than with hydraulic fracturing."
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 10:28
Thursday, 19 April 2012
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Hi God, yes me again and yes, I have a problem. It’s the same one as I have been talking to you about for the last 25 years, but it is now getting very serious. I know you are concerned about it as well but I am getting very frustrated about the way people are ignoring the problems of the weather.
It’s March here in East Sussex... OK, it’s March everywhere else that uses the Gregorian Calendar, I know that, but what I mean is that it’s March and we are about to have a hosepipe ban, yes, a hosepipe ban in the South East of England in a few weeks time. The reservoirs here are as low as they were in the August drought of 1976 when the weather, like me, was really hot. I no longer am hot but the weather certainly is.
The farmers are getting worried; in parts of the SE they are not even planting fields as they can’t see the point when there isn’t going to be the water available for them. Rivers are drying up as are natural springs and the fish; insects and birds that rely on them are dying off.
I tried to explain the situation to someone who after listening looked at me as though I was speaking Swahili; they seemed totally incapable of taking in the problem. Then they said that the good thing with the hot weather was that we could now have really productive vineyards in the area. I did try to get the point across that the water shortage problem was not just ours but a French and Spanish water shortage as well but I got the impression that while (as they say) the lights were on there was nobody at home.
Crop production will be low this year in Europe, but the problems with the weather are not just here but world-wide. There are floods in Thailand, floods in Australia, heat waves in Russia, drought in Africa, catastrophic weather events in the US and a massive drought in Texas, and so it goes on.
The Church seems almost oblivious to the problem although there are a few of us that have been working hard to wake those that claim to be your Son's body on earth, and give Him our love please when you see him next.
Sorry to sound down but I feel rather down when I see the ice caps melting, the sea levels rising, the Gulf Stream problem and as for the Jet Stream, the future is particularly uncertain for Europe, as our climate is strongly influenced by the jet stream.
So what now? My wife and I have cut down our carbon footprint and live in a well insulated small home and grow lots of our own food because it was obvious to us that Global warming and Peak Oil were facts, so we are actually sort of OK, but what about the children of the future? It's them I worry about.
I remember only too well the world of fifty years ago and today's environmental disasters would have seemed like total science fiction to us then. What will the world be like in fifty years time if humanity does not wake up until it's too late? that's what concerns me, but that's what your giving us free will is all about isn't it?
Anyway, that's enough from me, I will keep trying to make a difference I promise, there are times when I think that enough is enough, then you send a sunrise through the mist over the field like there was this morning and I know I can't give up; but you knew that anyway, didn't you... ...
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 10:36
Friday, 3 February 2012
THE HIGH PRICE OF STEEL ‘SCRAP’, A SECRET BOMBING CAMPAIGN, THE STUPIDITY OF MANKIND AND THE COURAGE OF WOMANKIND.
It’s about nine o’clock in the morning. Villagers searching for scrap metal on a valley floor deep in the jungle of Laos hear a huge explosion. The sound reverberates around the towering mountains. Someone has been unlucky today.
Blinded by the blast in the jungle, 25-year-old Leng crawled out of the undergrowth to the roadside. He had managed to find his way up the mountainside through five kilometres of jungle. His two friends did not make it. Fifteen-year-old Ten and 30-year-old Talay were killed in the explosion. They were trying to chisel out the tail fuse on a 250 lb bomb. Talay had quite a reputation as an expert at this. Villagers said he had successfully done this dozens of times. He only needed to do four more and he would have enough money to pay for his wedding planned for the following month.
As the United States of America stepped up its efforts to halt the spread of communism across Indochina, Laos became caught up in a secret war that remains largely ignored in world history.
The US Air Force General Curtis LeMay reportedly said America would bomb the Vietnamese and Laotian communists “back to the stone-age” and so the might of the US Air-force, unleashed a phenomenal and sustained bombardment on that Laos. You can see some of that in the video above; can you imagine what it must have been like to have lived in one of those huts you can see?
Over two million tonnes of ordinance were dropped over the next nine years: more bombs than were dropped on Europe by both sides during the Second World War; an amount equal to ten tonnes per kilometre; or, one plane load of bombs every eight minutes, 24 hours per day, for nine years, please read that again, an amount equal to ten tonnes per kilometre; or, one plane load of bombs every eight minutes, 24 hours per day, for nine years.
Lao PDR is the most bombed country in the world per capita. More than two million tons of ordnance was dropped on the country during the Second Indochina War, but up to 30 per cent of some types of ordnance did not detonate.
But with the increased price of steel the impoverished inhabitants of Laos have become reliant on the scrap metal trade, and work to locate and defuse unexploded ordinance. Collecting scrap metal is a major cause of unexploded ordinance accidents; people risk their lives using primitive detectors to hunt for scrap.
Between 1999 and 2008, there were 2,184 casualties (including 834 deaths) from UXO incidents and more than 50,000 people have been killed or injured as a result of unexploded ordinance accidents since 1964. UXO contamination also remains a key cause of poverty and is one of the prime factors limiting the country's long-term development, preventing people from using land and denying access to basic services.
The Mine Advisory Group works to defuse the ordinance, and from April 2007 to May 2011, MAG cleared 23,778,512m2 of suspect land in Lao PDR, destroying 145,000 items of UXO. As a result, 330,000 beneficiaries gained more safe land for farming, clean drinking water, latrines, and irrigation for rice cropping, safe school compounds and tertiary roads. MAG has worked in more than 40 countries since 1989 and currently has operations in Angola, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Iraq, Lao P.D.R., Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Vietnam. Their website is HERE.
Posted by Fr. Peter Doodes at 10:21