Environmental Matters

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policy in the Diocese in Europe 2022

August 2022 Newsletter

Planning for research, and plastic and other litter collection, on a local beach is now under way.


Message from Greenpeace

Greenwashing. Fossil fuel giants are expert at it. Since the 70s companies have used advertising to promote lies and delay climate action in order to protect their profits.




Ads legitimise their business. But there is nothing legitimate about opening up new fossil fuel projects in the midst of a climate emergency. We don’t want to hear any more of their dangerous lies.

We need all media companies to ban this spin. YouTube has already taken a lead and blocked people from making money on the platform if they spread lies about climate change. But to truly make a difference we need them to go further.

Ads from fossil fuel companies paint a pretty picture. Shell claims it is part of the “greatest push for renewable energy the world has ever seen.” But take a closer look, and it’s all hot air. In Shell’s 2020 budget, it allocated $17 billion for fossil fuels, and only $3bn for renewables - the same amount as it planned to spend on marketing.




Influential companies like YouTube, owned by Google, are still accepting ads from fossil fuel giants. Together we watch more than one billion hours of videos there every day. YouTube has a duty to tackle greenwashing on its platform.

Greenwashing is dangerous - it makes people complacent and lulls us into a false sense of security. Who wouldn’t want to believe that Shell and BP are on the case; doing their best?

It’s time to wake up from that dream and ban these falsehoods from the public domain. We need big companies like YouTube to take a stand for the good of people and planet.

Will you ask YouTube to join us in our fight for the climate - and ban fossil fuel ads from their platform?


Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

July 2022 Newsletter

Environmental Research

Form 8 students from the Science Club at the Oporto British School set up some experiments for the Form 5 students to test different soils from around the church grounds.

They first looked at what they knew about soil in general. The samples had previously been collected by some Form 2 students from the graveyard, the path in the graveyard and flower bed near the Well House.

The students carried out pH testing on the soil to indicate how acidic or alkaline it is. Soil sieving was done to separate different layers of soil, and identify any organisms that were present. They filtered the soil, passing water through it and comparing which samples the water passed through the quickest.

Finally they looked at the different layers in the soil.

Some small particles of plastic were found in some of the soil.

Earlier this year, scientists discovered the presence of microplastics in the lungs of living people for the first time ever.

Globally, plastic waste is set to treble by 2060.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

June 2022 Newsletter

This month we look outwards and cover a few stories in the UK.

We are also completing the A Rocha survey to see how St James can improve its environmental rating. Once analyzed, the survey will lead to advice on our policies. More information
News from Greenpeace

Peatland is the UK’s largest natural carbon store on land, locking in an estimated 3.2 billion tonnes of the stuff, as well as being vital habitats for birds, rare insects and plants. But landowners and grouse shooters are intentionally setting fires in these precious parts of our countryside.

UK Centre for Hydrology and Ecology

Despite the government banning this practice, gaping loopholes and weak enforcement mean it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Will you call out the government and demand a proper ban on this senseless burning of our natural land?

Last year, the government promised to protect what it called “England’s national rainforests” from grouse moor fires, stating that “there is a consensus that burning of vegetation on blanket bog is damaging to peatland formation and habitat condition” and introducing a partial ban.

UK Government

But using satellite technology (including NASA’s heat spot technology) we identified hundreds of fires set over the last year on peatlands that are used for grouse shooting.

Unearthed

If this government really thinks our peatland is “England’s national rainforests” that must be protected, then it’s time they matched their words with real action and properly banned the burning of these areas for things like grouse shooting.

Not only did our investigative unit Unearthed spot hundreds of fires using satellite technology, they went to witness it first hand and found that burning has still been happening on areas of deep peat covered by the government’s “ban”.

We’ve done the digging - now it’s time for the government to look at the facts and take action.




THE FIREWORK CAMPAIGN UK Campaigning to reform UK firework legislation since 2013 (Formally FAB firework campaign)

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

May 2022 Newsletter

picture of insect hotel The insect hotel that has been installed in the cemetery.

The next steps may be to complete the ARocha questionnaire to help determine how St James can be more environmentally friendly, and to publish the report from the Oporto British School when they have completed it.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

April 2022 Newsletter

Now that the summer time (daylight-saving time) has come into effect we look forward to spring and summer. The latest activity reflects this.

Bird nesting boxes

Thanks to Barry, who has installed these on trees in the cemetery.

picture of nesting box
picture of nesting box 2

Environmental Science Project

Primary Students from The Oporto British School (OBS) visited the churchyard on Wednesday 30th March. More details will be in May’s newsletter.
It was good to see them working on their environmental science project. They installed a bee and insect house/hotel as well as conducting research. It was a very happy group of children strengthening the links between St James and the school.
This capitalises on our conversation with St Vincent’s in the Algarve, who have already been conducting similar research. Thanks to Lesley for organising this.

cemetery flowers
Wild flowers in the cemetery [photo: Nick Holland]

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

March 2022 Newsletter

Transport

One of the themes of previous newsletters has been that each individual can make a small difference according to their own circumstances. Jonathan Ayerst, our organist, and I, Peter Blackburn, cycle to St James on most occasions.

cyclist at St James cyclist at St James

Cycling conditions have improved over recent years, with motorists more conscious that they need to give cyclists more space when overtaking, and cycle lanes on major streets. If you use these, be careful at junctions where motorists tend to turn right without checking whether the cyclist is continuing straight on; otherwise the obvious advice is to ensure you have good lights and some visible clothing.

is a link to Cycle UK’s advice page on a variety of topics.

Several people also walk and travel by bus and metro.

Bird Boxes

Barry has constructed two of these and they will be placed strategically in the churchyard any time now, ready for spring.

Saving Paper

St James’ Church is making an attempt to save paper in regular publications. The Sunday readings will be printed every two weeks on both sides of the A4 sheet. Vicky Field, our Church Council Secretary, sends regular emails with attachments, and these are also available on this web site. Attachments include this letter and monthly church notices. If you are reading this in the paper version you will see it is two-sided A5. Please try the online version to see if it suits you.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

February 2022 Newsletter

Wood for two nesting boxes has been donated by a local carpenter and Barry is putting these together to place in the church yard ready for spring.

This month has been relatively quiet, however ideas for the next weeks include insect hotels.

Over recent months we have seen very little rain, and remaining conscious of our usage is important. How we save water is dependent on individual circumstances, but the important thing is to keep it in mind.

St Albans Diocese has kindly allowed us ​​to use the environment logo at the head of the newsletter. We will maintain contact with them for ideas.

And finally the St James’ web site’s recent move to a new host is good news from an environmental point of view.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

January Newsletter

Around nine million tons of plastic litter enter the sea yearly, influencing coastal and marine life, just as human wellbeing. It is assessed that 3461 species are affected, and marine plastic contamination is perceived as a significant worldwide danger to the wellbeing of the sea, environments, biodiversity, wild creatures and government assistance. (Charitou, A., et al., 2021. Investigating the knowledge and attitude of the Greek public towards marine plastic pollution and the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive)

cloth bag
A simple idea: use a cloth bag for shopping

Many supermarkets now charge for plastic bags, and encourage shoppers to use their own reusable bags. When buying vegetables you can use lightweight cloth bags to put them in ready for weighing: both time-saving and environmentally sound. This idea is mentioned by Nation resources defence council inc. (NRDC) a US-based organisation as one of the effective ways to reduce plastic pollution.

Through our newsletter, we want to encourage the use of recyclable bags and bottles. This would help us to start the New year with the slogan “We can be the change we want to see”.

Sub-notice: Contact has been made with two local schools, who may agree to allow their Environmental Science students to conduct research in St James’ churchyard.

has some ideas. St Vincent’s Church in Praia de Luz has worked with them.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

December Newsletter

Here are a few ideas just before Christmas. Some of you may already have prepared presents, but those who still have that task to do might find these suggestions helpful.

At least 50,000 trees are chopped down each year to make our wrapping paper and bags. It's time to make a change, so:

Get into the habit of saving the packing paper from online purchases, and to that, add discarded flower-bouquet paper, old comics, sheet music, newspapers, magazines, and so on. Even old maps can be used if your mobile phone is your main navigation tool.

If you don’t have room to put your children’s artwork on the wall, use it to wrap the grandparents’ gifts.

Brown packing paper can be scrunched it up into a tight ball then smoothed out to give a textured finish. It also has a high content of already recycled paper.

Even cloth can be fun. Look up Furoshiki, the Japanese method of wrapping gifts in fabric.

Wrap, the sustainability charity that advises on waste and recycling, warns against ‘zero plastic’ clear tape: they describe it as a ‘greenwashing gimmick’. Use paper tape instead.

These ideas are adapted from a Telegraph article.

Since the last letter, Linda and her husband, Anthony, have planted bulbs around the war memorial. The next task is to build nesting boxes to put in the churchyard.

We wish you all a merry Christmas and happy new year.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
email

November newsletter

God’s earth has been entrusted to humanity, and it is our responsibility to look after it. While this may seem obvious, it is not always easy to see how to put it into practice. As Christians we feel it is our duty to do something. The aim of this newsletter is to let each other know what we can do, and are doing, and so to invite contributions from anyone who has an idea.

It is difficult to make suggestions without sounding patronising or bossy, and in any case most of us have heard or read about the issues facing the world. We have seen how COP26 unfurled, with some useful progress, but not enough to guarantee the crucial barrier of only 1.5°C.

The church as a community can monitor heat and light to ensure we are only using the necessary amount of energy. While not expecting people to worship in a crepuscular or freezing environment, we can experiment with reducing the electricity or gas that we use.

It is a standard saying in the UK that there is no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing. If you have lived through a tropical storm or witnessed the current disruption closer to home in Germany and Belgium, such extreme weather gives the lie to that. For the average Sunday in Porto, however, winter coats may go a long way towards mitigating winter temperatures.

Lighting in the Well House is already from low-energy bulbs. Other usage will be observed in the next month.

So, what suggestions have been made so far?

The churchyard can be a haven for wildlife, and with this aim we will plant more flowers and other plants to make it more attractive not only for people, but insect and bird species. It is surprising how many birds and other animals live in the centre of this city, and as they adapt to an urban environment we can help. Nesting boxes for small birds are another idea that could easily be taken up.

Please let us know if you have any thoughts. As a church community we can achieve much if we share ideas.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
email