29 November 2006

Interfaith environmental conference

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I've spent the last couple of days at a meeting of the management board of SAFCEI -- the South African Faith Communities Environmental Institute. Our Archbishop Seraphim (seen here with Anglican Bishop Geoff Davies, the Executive Director of the Institute) has been a member of the SAFCEI board since its inception, and invited the board to meet at St Cosmas and St Damian Orthodox Church in Sophiatown, Johannesburg.

You can read more about what happened at the conference itself in my LiveJournal.

But one of the things that became clear at the conference was the eagerness with which Canadians were destroying the environment. There are plenty of countries that have been pointed out as villains in the world, but Canada has not usually been among them. But the evidence has started piling up.

I had known for some time that Canadians seemed to have some strange ideas. They have had trolley buses in western towns like Vancouver, and that seems to be a good environment-friendly means of public transport, running it on locally-generated renewable hydro-electric power. But now they seem to want to run their buses on diesel fuel -- a non-renewable fossil fuel, most likely imported from the Middle East.

That's just odd, and anyway I'm prejudiced in favour of trolley buses.

But now, it appears, the Canadians are intending to bring aluminium ore here to South Africa, and refine it here using heavily-subsidised electricity generated in coal-fired plants, and export the ingots. So our electricity bills are inflated to make Canadian companies rich, our cities have to endure acid rain to make Canadian companies rich, and our non-renewable fossil fuels are being depleted to make Canadian companies rich.

And Canada is, apparently, one of the biggest pushers of genetically-modified foods.

That makes Canada a bigger threat to our life-support system than Al-Quaeda. Bush and Blair, move aside. Your villany has been superseded.

Now I'll have to Google to find out who the Prime Minister of Canada is.


Anonymous said...

Well, actually the US company of Monsanto is the great evil GMO pusher. And Canada is trying to reach Kyoto targets, while Bush subsidizes oil companies... and refuses to ratify Kyoto. Canada has a new pm, Stephen Harper (Conservative) - I don't know how "green" he is. Plus, internal opposition to GMO's is strong - after all, there have been organic farmers in Saskatchewan since the 60's. BTW, the SA government seems to be much in favour of GMO's.

Anonymous said...

Also, the biggest growing risk is China - and it has the makings of a huge disaster. Interesting, but there is a lot of opposition to environmentalism from certain Christian ranks in the US - especially of the Southern Baptist / Penticostal stripe.
I have often wondered if anabptist theology leads to modernist materialism ....

Steve Hayes said...

Our government seems to be in collusion with Canadian companies like Alcan and others, so no one has clean hands in this.

Steve Hayes said...

Depends which kind of anabaptists you are talking about. The Mennonites I'vew met seem to be quite environmentally aware. The danger seems to be dispensationalism -- if the world is going to end soon anyway, who cares if we destroy it? And the people who expect to be "raptured" soon don't care what sort of mess they leave behind, though I suspect they may have to answer some awkward questions when they reach the top floor.

Nathan said...

The Canadians are also really bad about logging. There are a lot of complaints about the US version of logging, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where I've spent some little time, but I've noticed that at least up there, the logging companies make an effort to harvest trees at a sustainable rate, and replant the area they've logged for the future. They also seem to cut trees in kind of a checkerboard pattern, avoiding clear cutting of an entire forest. The places in Canada I've seen that were logged looked like old pictures of the front in WWI, with no replanting, and no trees as far as you could see. Really sad.

And on the subject of Kyoto, the reason Canada is able to attempt to reach its strictures is because of efforts like the one you descibed in South Africa: they move their pollution elsewhere. The US may be snubbing Kyoto, but at least they are honest about why.

Steve Hayes said...

I think Brazil is pretty bad about logging too.

Stephen said...

Very interesting to read about this stuff about Canada. Being Canadian, but rarely living there I am afraid I didn't know most of this stuff.

But about the logging, where in Canada are you talking about? Personally, I don't log, but as a summer job I am a treeplanter in Canada, and in my experience replanting is the law and it has been a big business for a long time. I mean, my father, two uncles, and an aunt also planted while in university. Also, in British Columbia right now, and moving into Alberta, the Mountain Pine Beetle is killing all of the pine forests, and so everything has to be logged so it won't be wasted. Otherwise all the trees will rot, because it is either dead, or will be dead within the next couple of years. Tragic, and the gov't could have done a lot more to deal with it when I started, but it is too late now to stop it, so we have to salvage what we can and save up for went the logging industry crashes in BC.


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