Ten reasons for Christians to urgently save rainforest/wildlife habitat
- At a time when flooding at the Thames and in Somerset indicates what Climate Change can bring;
- At a time when elephants are being hunted almost to extinction in Africa for their ivory;
- At a time when when Orangutans are becoming extinct in the wild because there is little “wild” left, as all the forests are sold for investment and then cut down for palm oil, exported to places including the EU
Judith Allinson asks “Shouldn’t Christians be doing more to save God’s earth and creatures?” People in the UK on average have the top 20% of world incomes – so we have some disposable money to invest in protecting our world. Yet people in churches spend negligible money and interest on protecting threatened habitats.
Christians spend much money on church buildings, church heating, and on the poor, and on medical charities. Surely we should also think about future generations, and God’s wonderful gift of wildlife?
Let’s think about how Jesus’s two great commandments apply:
- Love God with all your heart and soul
- Love your neighbour.
Here are 10 urgent reasons to save the rainforest and other wildlife habitats:
1. Saving natural forest is the most cost effective, efficient way of reducing climate change,
Charities which protect rainforest and their soils… are keeping carbon in the trees and the ground and so reducing the rate of world CO2 increase.
So if you have £100 or 10,000 to invest –you can save more CO2 this way than by buying solar panels, or by buying organic produce. (from “How bad are Bananas? ) by Mike Berners-Lee.
2. **** CO2 from burning forests causes 1/5 of the global warming. ****
CO2 produced by burning the world’s forest makes up 1/5 of the human made CO2 going into the air each year and causing global warming. CO2 and methane from man drained peatbogs adds to the global warming effect.
We have very little forest left in Britain. Less than 4% of the land is forest and most of that is plantation. But we do have Peat bogs which need protecting.
3. Peat Bogs in the UK are the equivalent of tropical rainforests
When conifers are planted on peat, the peat is drained and dries out and decomposes – so the carbon is then released to the air.
When peat moors are drained, as they were in the recent past, they do not hold water so well. The water washes off quickly (causing erosion and removal of peat) and the water goes quickly to the valleys where it can cause flooding.
When wind turbines are planted on peat, concrete basis have to be built for them; access roads have to be built – so much carbon is lost to the air. Such wind turbines are not producing carbon free electricity. (Making cement causes a lot of CO2 to be produced)
World Peatlands are home to many threatened species and globally store at least 550 Gigatonnes of carbon in their organic soils. This is twice the amount of carbon stored in the world’s forests.
4. It is our western lifestyles (now spreading to other countries) that is driving deforestation:
Yes, that’s the lifestyle of you and me.
- Increase in use of meat: therefore forest is being cut down to grow soya to export to feed to UK cattle, and to make space for cattle ranches to grow cattle for export.
- Increase in import of biofuels. (due to EU laws to have a certain percent of our fuel form BioFuel) – Hence forest is cutdown to grow Palm Oil.
The total annual UK wood production (for everything) is 10 million tones. Drax import 16 million tons of wood pellet form Southern USA and Canada – that is 1.6 times as much as the total annual UK wood production. And other biomass power stations are being built in UK. Biofuelwatch has calculated that demand is set to increase to up to 6.9 times the annual UK wood production
I have been told that Drax imports from America each year – a volume of wood pellet that is three times as great as all the forest in the UK – need to check that. See also)
- Increase in investments – speculation – land grabbing – forest is bought up and people displaced so that crops can be grown
- Ten percent of the groceries we buy contain palm oil – just look at the food labels (sometimes recorded as vegetable oils)
5. Extinction rates are proceeding at 1000 to 10,000 times as fast as when there were no human beings.
Surely we – Christians and others -ought to be doing more to save species for future generations.
Many of us like to think we are leaving the world a better place. We give money to support big beautiful cathedrals. Think what good causes you have supported. Yet during my lifetime about 1% of the world’s species have disappeared.
6. We cannot rely on Zoos to keep our rare species
Look what happened to the zoo in Iraq when the Americans invaded. Or what happened to the botanical gardens during the siege of Leningrad – and the heroic efforts made to save the seeds.
7. It is necessary to have a decent sized gene pool to keep the species going –
Otherwise there can be inbreeding. There may be a hint of this in the bible. If you read Genesis carefully you will see that God asks Noah not just to take pairs of birds and certain animals but seven pairs of each species (Ch7 v 2) Actually a lot more than seven pairs would be needed to stop inbreeding.
8. Species could have uses we do not yet know about
My interest in tropical plants is strongly influenced by a visit I made to a friend in Cameroon. He was paid to collect samples of plants and trees to be pressed and sent back for testing for drugs that could be useful for cancer or aids treatment.
The two great commandments that Jesus gave us are:
- Love God with all your heart and soul
- Love your neighbour.
9. Love God with all your heart and soul
God gave us this beautiful world with all the species. If we love him, we should love his world and gifts and try to protect them.
10. Love your neighbour:
Our neighbour includes the people who will live on this earth in 50 and 100 years time. Please let us steward this earth so there are still wild elephants and other wild animals for people to enjoy, in a world where the climate still allows people to live and grow crops.
Please join the 10 churches that have so far in four years responded to Christian Ecology Link’s Rainforest Fund Appeal to each raise £100 to save an acre of rainforest? could we make it 100 churches? (The Fund supports charities including world Land Trust, Cool Earth and A Rocha Ghana – the third is a Christian charity)
e.g. St John’s Church Settle is holding a pancake coffee morning on 4 March.
e.g. buy a pack of greeting cards to give or to sell at your church – cards (centre left blank or your greeting) made by photographer/naturalists Judith Allinson and Mark Boulton of CEL
Christianity is driven (at least in part) by love.
I wish people could go out into the countryside more, go on Field Courses more, explore the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, the Scottish Highlands or Welsh Mountains or Irish bogs or Coast – or go to coast or parks near near them – and gain a love for nature and so be prepared to give something back.