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"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do little."
Writing in the late eighteenth century, Edmund Burke can be forgiven for not anticipating the vexing challenge of climate change. Yet his words are a fitting accompaniment to Tearfund's Lenten Carbon Fast campaign.
The Tearfund promotion includes a quote from Romans 13:10 "Love does no harm to its neighbour" and goes on to point out some uncomfortable inequalities:
"The average annual CO2 emissions per person in the UK is 9.4 tonnes. In China the average is 3.2 tonnes, in India 1.2 tonnes and in Malawi less than 0.1. The poorest are hit hardest by climate change although they have contributed least to the problem. Reducing our carbon footprint is a matter of justice."
Now before we all die of guilt, none of us are single-handedly responsible for the birth of the Industrial Revolution, nor the unequal manner in which whole societies have developed. Neither will the enormity of global heating be solved in six weeks by a few thousand Christians changing their lightbulbs. So why bother? Well for two reasons. First, focussing on some changes of behaviour for these forty days and nights forces us to change our mental space, and to ask ourselves what we might do collectively in the long term.
But secondly, choosing to walk rather than drive, to "go slow" and "do without" is not only consisent with parts of a Christian tradition that extols temperance, it also frees up time for reflection. Every time we do something "different" in this period, we ask ourselves "why?" We examine ourselves, our wastefulness, and our casual use of cheap energy. Not one shred of creation belongs to us, ultimately. "The Earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof" says Psalm 24 v.1.
So this Lent, instead of, or maybe in addition to the usual abstinences on alcohol, chocolate and the like....add your carbon footprint.
And think of Edmund Burke's wise words.
Check your house for draughts with a ribbon or feather. If it flutters, buy a draught excluder.
Tread lightly - whether that's by foot, by bike, on to a bus or on the gas as you drive. Find a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions when you travel today.
Are you recycling everything possible? Really - everything? Look into it today.
Can you talk about your Carbon Fast at church today? Encourage others to join in.
Turn your central heating thermostat down by one degree.
Say au revoir to standby. Check that all electrical equipment is switched off when not in use. The TV alone will save a hefty 20kg of carbon dioxide per year.
Unplug your mobile phone charger: it uses electricity even when it's not charging.
Climate change isn't a distant threat - it's affecting poor communities now. Pray for Tearfund's work to help vulnerable communities adapt to the changing weather.
Give your dishwasher a day off or promote it to a Grade A energy efficient appliance.
Use local shops or farmers' markets (farmersmarkets.net) instead of driving to out-of-town shopping parks. They will thank you; supermarkets won't notice your absence.
Tell politicians to take action on climate change today. Check out Tearfund's campaign work at tearfund.org/climate.
Put the heat on your electricity or gas suppliers and ask them if they have a green plan. Make the switch and feel cosy.
Take a shower instead of a bath: you'll heat less water.
Snub plastic bags. Get into the habit of taking your rucksack to the supermarket or go retro with a trolley. Ask your supermarket to remove unnecessary packaging.
Switch off lights as you leave the room.
Only fill your kettle with as much water as you need.
Cut the air miles. Don't consume any food that you know has been imported by plane (apart from Fairtrade products).
Grace Maglasey and her husband Andrew struggle to grow enough food because their village in Malawi is caught in a cycle of floods and droughts. Join in with Grace's prayer today: "We pray that those of us who farm should harvest a lot of food so that this year we will not have hunger. In the name of Jesus, Amen."
Compost. Put the nutrients from food waste back into the soil - not into a methane-emitting landfill.
Only run your washing machine when you have a full load.
Find one way to save paper today: re-use an old envelope or print double-sided.
Turn the taps off. In one day a hot, dripping tap could fill a bath.
Counsel your local council. Thank them for their recycling facilities but ask them if they could provide any more.
Who works hardest in the house? Mum? Dad? No, the fridge. It's churning away 24/7. Treat it to a good de-icing to make sure it's running efficiently.
"Love does no harm to its neighbour" Romans 13:10. But while our lifestyles consume more and more energy, our poorer neighbours are suffering. Reflect on ways to love our neighbours in our increasingly connected world.
Pressure a car owner to check their tyre pressures. Low tyre pressure means high fuel consumption.
Do a home energy check at energysavingtrust.org.uk or call 0800 512 012 for a paper copy. You could save up to £250 a year on bills.
Run your washing machine at 30 degrees. This uses 40% less electricity than running at 40 degrees.
Find out a new fact about the impact of climate change today. Amaze your friends.
Fit aluminium foil behind your radiator - allowing you to turn the radiator down and save £10 a year per radiator.
Any old iron? If they're on their last legs replace old electrical appliances with energy-efficient models. They could save a third of the energy.
Have an embrace-the-silence Sunday. Turn off everything. No TV, no radio, no ringtones, no cars. It'll be good for the soul.
Put an insulation jacket on your hot-water tank. If everyone does, we'll cut enough carbon dioxide to fill 148,000 hot-air balloons.
Re-use an item you would have thrown away - such as a jam jar, an envelope or an ice-cream container.
Put a lid on it. That's pans when cooking; and use a kettle to boil water.
Draw the curtains to keep the heat in.
Could your church be greener? Talk to your church leaders. Tearfund can help - visit the site.
Replace your missing bulb with an energy-saving lightbulb. Over its lifetime, you will save 60kg of carbon dioxide per year and up to £60. Make a personal pledge to serve others by pursuing a more sustainable way of life.