Essential Oils?

Please use this Parish Magazine article for your local rag. You are welcome to modify, but please keep to the underlying message – that we must just stop burning oil. Please could you also credit Barbara Echlin, Green Christian Vice Chair.

Oils of various kinds are part of our lives. On a spiritual level anointing with oil is part of many religious ceremonies.  At Easter three oils were presented at the altar to be used for anointing the sick, baptising new members of the Church family and ordinands.

Oil is produced from various plants: olives, sunflowers, corn, rape seeds, mustard seeds, rice. We use it in our favourite food dishes from fried fish and chips to salad dressings. Painting in oils has produced masterpieces of Art. Lubricating oil keeps the wheels turning.

Two particular types of oil are causing huge problems: palm oil and fossil oil. Many processed foods contain palm oil. This is hugely problematic as many massive palm oil tree plantations have replaced virgin rain forest.

The other problem oil is petroleum, also called crude oil. It is a fossil fuel, formed from the remains of ancient marine organisms, such as plants, algae, and bacteria. These organisms fall to the bottom of the sea once they die and over time get trapped under multiple layers of sand and mud – a process that has been going on for millions of years.

The crucial point is that the carbon within this fossil oil has been safely locked away under the ground and the sea for millennia. By digging it up, pumping it out and burning it we are releasing that carbon into the atmosphere – a practice we need to stop. At the launch of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: “It’s time to stop burning our planet and investing in the abundant renewable energy all around us.” 

For over a century we have used these fossil oils to power our cars, our planes, our homes and our factories. A year ago, in May 2021, the head of the International Energy Agency said, “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.” 

We need a transition period to develop alternatives, but we have sufficient oil wells already in operation to get us through the next couple of decades.  Licensing new oil wells now makes no sense. By the time they come on stream 20 years from now we will have had plenty of time to get renewable alternatives in place.

The future for oil? Continue to use and enjoy oil products from plants growing now, but leave the fossil oil under the ground.

Barbara Echlin, Green Christian Vice Chair.



Author: Ruth Jarman | Date: 19 April, 2022 | Category: Church Magazine Climate Emergency | Comments: 0

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