Global Warming and The Widow’s Mite

Dreich and wet over St Andrews, this morning, so I thought I would wait a while to see if it gets any better before venturing out on my bike.

Whilst flicking through the television channels yesterday evening I caught the end of a programme on BBC 2. The programme was about the changes from global warming that are happening, before our eyes, in Norway. I wish I had found it sooner.

The first thing that strikes you, when ordinary people were asked for their opinion, their English was perfect, (much better than mine) the clarity of diction, they could all have made an improved, contribution to television presentation in the UK – If you closed your eyes when listening to them you would say they were Black television newsreaders. I do not know why this was such a surprise having travelled extensively in Europe. And not only in speech but the clarity of their thinking came over, as well informed speakers on the subject of global warming. These people were not well-versed academics trying to put forward their thesis, these were just everyday men and women.

The reporter spoke with some young activists that were taking their government to the Court of Human Rights, over issuing more oil and gas, exploration licences, they want the court to overrule the Norwegian Government on this issue. I had read a similar article in the Guardian newspaper some months back.

Climate activists taking Norway to human rights court over Arctic oil plans were the headlines in The Guardian newspaper.

Activists allege decision to grant oil exploration licences violated the right to a healthy environment

When the reporter spoke with the Prime Minister of Norway, out canvassing for a third term at the time, she said

“She believed in democracy, this is not a matter for the courts”

Sorry Prime Minister, you know as well as anyone that democracy goes out the window when your job is on the line.

 Norway is a small player in the global crude market with production covering about 2 per cent of the global demand. Norwegian production of natural gas covers approximately 3 per cent of global demand, however, as an exporter, Norway is a significant country. Norway is the third-largest exporter of natural gas in the world, behind Russia and Qatar only. Norway supplies between 20 and 25 per cent of the EU gas demand. Nearly all oil and gas produced on the Norwegian shelf is exported and combined, oil and gas equal about half of the total value of Norwegian exports of goods. This makes oil and gas, the most important export commodities in the Norwegian economy.

We saw the truth of this when a worker in the gas industry was asked about reducing exploration for oil and helping wean ourselves off oil and gas,

“If we stop, supplying gas, others will supply it,” he said.

Strange, I remember dad telling me when he was fishing for whales, that the way whaling was going could not be sustained. But when I suggested (in my naivety)

“Why don’t they stop the whaling if they are going to kill off all the whales?”

He told me  

“If the Scottish boats stopped the slaughter, Norwegian boats, would be the benefactors.”

For all the bloody savagery,

Nothing can compare,

With the big bite that the taxman takes,

When he gets hold of you’re share.

Like all countries across the world, Norway is on the horns of a dilemma. How do we cut back on greenhouse gasses, while at the same time, maintaining our standard of living when it comes from the revenue from oil and gas?

A couple of wee stories I heard at Sunday school may help us. The first:

As Jesus preached in the temple square a rich man approached and asked,

“How do I enter the kingdom of heaven?”

He did not like the answer for he was told to, give away all his wealth and follow me. Jesus then said,

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

To me it all comes down to how much you are willing to sacrifice, to enter (our) kingdom heaven.

The second, was the lesson of the widow’s mite, (widow’s offering) retold in the gospels of Mark (12:41-44) and Luke (21:1-4), again we have Jesus teaching at the Temple in Jerusalem

  “He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

The Gospel of Mark specifies that two mites (Greek lepta) are together worth a quadrant, the smallest Roman coin. A lepton was the smallest and least valuable coin in circulation in Judea, worth about six minutes of an average daily wage.

Years later, I was listening to a Salvation Army officer preaching and he was using the Widow’s Might as his sermon. He ended his lesson by telling his congregation, we must give until it hurts.  

The whale population is growing once more, since whaling ceased, not because man thought it was unethical or cruel but because it become uneconomical to fish for whales. We see how nature will return to right the wrongs of the past, but only when man changes his ways first.

Global warming is with us, we have choices to make if we are to enter into our (heaven here on earth). Will the world, have to relearn the teaching of the widow’s might? Will we have to give until it hurts, or like the rich man, forever be unable to enter……….

Stay safe.

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