oil drone

Oil Drones

I was pondering the invasion of Iraq today, after reading the article above when it appeared in my Twitter feed. The invasion of Iraq kicked off when I was living in Dun Laoghaire so I watched in unfold from a different context.

But I was wondering how I would react if it had kicked off today with Thiepval Barracks nearby and me living here and armed forces being sent to fight in Iraq all in the name of ……well what exactly? The security of my family? Justice? ‘My country?’
Or lets face it, keeping the oil flowing.
Could I do anything about it? Should I do anything about it? Or would I just have to resign myself to these things happening and happening again.

All the churches here in Lisburn and what would we say about it? War is terrible but we just have to support the families and soldiers as best we can? Say that because we’re living in a different kingdom we don’t want people going over to another country fighting on our behalf.

I can’t think anymore, it’s depressing me.

a Christian response to the car?

Yesterday I was goaded by a 16yr old girl who recently passed her driving test and wanted to know if I had got mine my driving license yet.

This young lady was about 8 or 9 when she heard about my knocking a cyclist over on my driving test in Dublin, an incident which resulted in the test merely being cancelled and rescheduled for another day. The cyclist was meanwhile thrown into the back of a transit van with her crumpled bike and taken home by builders. My driving tester took the rest of the day off in shock resulting in three other people failing to sit their test.

My driving tester also refused to drive the car back to the test centre as he wasn’t insured and gave me the option of either  leaving it marooned on traffic junction in Rathgar to be picked up later or driving it back to the centre despite having minutes before just knocked a lady over on my driving test.
Not wishing to bother Jim (my driving instructor) I  drove his Nissan Micra back  and then drove it back to Dun Laoghaire while he spoke to his brother, (a traffic cop) about who would be held responsible insurance wise if someone ‘theoretically’ where to knock over a cyclist in a dual control Nissan Micra on a bicycle lane.

Which is my way of saying that I haven’t had a great experience with driving and haven’t got my test yet at the age of 33yrs old.

There is a certain amount of shame attached to not driving I guess, especially when you see 16yr old girls half your age getting theirs. There is also a certain degree of freedom that I haven’t experienced. For instance if I wanted to go up to Ballycastle tomorrow  it would involve waiting for a slow Ulsterbus service or working out some other way of doing it with lifts or hitch hiking perhaps.
I couldn’t load the car up  withpaints if I wanted to paint, or put the guitar in the back if I wanted to write songs looking out over the Atlantic and listen to cool CD’s (or cassettes if you’ve a aging Nissan Almera like us) on the way up to Ballycastle.
I can’t give lifts for people and have to rely sometimes on others, sometimes on long guilt laden trips back from some far off place wishing that I could drive and give H____ a break.
The biggest fear I suppose is what will happen when the dreaded call comes through that so and so has been rushed into hospital or if you need to get somewhere fast.
How will you cope if you have to get there and you can’t just hop into your car and get there?
But I guess that those calls won’t be easy even with a car and a driving license.

So the odds seem fairly well stacked that I should have learned to drive years ago and that it’s a serious handicap to a full and fulfilled life.

Cars seem to be woven into the fabric of our society as a vital part of that society. So much of our lives revolve around the convenience of the motor car.
I was just watching something on the BBC news about people gurning complaining about the price and tax of petrol and oil and how it was disgraceful. For these people the ability to get around the place in their cars and lorries is a fundamental human right.

But here is the thing.
Cars and mobility aren’t necessarily all they’re cracked up to be.  Maybe that’s a lie we’ve been sold by car manufacturers and oil companies over the years for them to keep the shareholders happy. I don’t know, I’m just throwing it out there or at least wanting to question why we’re so beholden to the car.

Here are some things from  ‘The Rough Guide to Ethical Living’ that we should at least take on board for consideration

– a typical car produces it’s own weight in carbon dioxide for every 6000miles driven
– exhaust emissions include a cocktail of carcinogens and fumes which according to the government are largely responsible for the airborne pollution that cause 25,000 premature death and as many hospitalizations each year in the UK
– more British people have died on roads since 1945 than were killed in World War II. In fact according to this website

‘By the year 2020 the World Health Organisation predicts that death and injury caused by the motor vehicle globally will increase by about 65% and become the third biggest cause of death.

the third biggest cause of death!

– new roads and cars consume huge amounts of resources  from countryside to oil.

Our thirst for oil is constantly putting us on a collision course with other countries and with the rest of creation. We have to drill more out of the way places and there are more people demanding oil so that they can live the lives that we have Westerners have been modelling for decades.

So more people, less and less oil.

Driving is going to get more expensive and become more and more an activity for the well off.

So yes, there is a burden of shame and stigma attached to me being unable to drive (at the moment) but should that be the case if we’re being loving to our neighbour, our global neighbour?

Perhaps we need to start thinking of ways to doing things.
Actually, we are going to have to start new ways of doing things because less and less of us are going to be able to afford driving a car in the future.

it can’t go on forever

‘Petroleum, perhaps the single most important input in modern food production (it serves both as a fuel for tractors and transportation and as the chemical base for fertilizers and pesticides), is gradually becoming so scarce and expensive that many of the assumptions underlying a global industrial food system are now in question. Nearly everything about the way our food system has developed over the last half century – from our ability to manufacture fertility to our capacity to move food to import-dependent nations – could not have occurred without cheap energy, and the degree to which that system can continue in a world of high energy prices is a frightening unknown.’
Paul Roberts, The End of Food

blowing a gasket

Proving myself to be a bit of a prophet the Punto decided to die today, just at the crossroads of Finaghy.
Mrs Canalways watching in horror as the water gauge shot up, and as we limped towards the garage we knew that it was the end. The mechanic phoned an hour later to report that it was something to do with the gasket, no water and quoted a price that was a bridge to far for a car that is clearly on its last legs.

Now begins the search for a new car on (very) limited finances.

There is a sense of futility when it comes to things like this.

Here we are on a planet that is choking on exhaust fumes and running out of oil, who people tell us may be at an irreversible tipping point of runaway global climate change and we seem to be totally enslaved to feeding those machines that are killing the planet.

With family spread out in Tyrone and Co Dublin, with public transport so inadequate for life (despite your best efforts to use it), with H___ doing a job that means she has to pastorally visit people in places that can only be reached in a car. Yet these machines are clearly not sustainable.

With the pressure on precious arable land from biofuel crops pushing up grain prices how is an individual (especially a married individual) supposed to navigate this all?
No worry about it?
Worry about it bow to the fact that we all need a car?
Try to live without a car an struggle to fit into society?

Perhaps it is time for Christians to start doing radical things again. If we all clubbed together and thought about stuff like this in a individual church how many cars would we find we really needed to go about our daily business? Would we need a couple of cars in a house or could we somehow share?

It just seems so mad that we’re enslaved to our individual cars with everything we know about how its damaging God’s creation. We maybe forced to think about this sort of thing over the coming years with the price of oil surely set to rise.When poorer families can’t afford to run their cars for instance.

This should be a time to dream about alternatives though, not blowing a gasket over the way things fall apart. We’re building for the New Earth and the church should be offering hopeful alternatives before anyone else instead of playing catch up, wondering if we can get Fairtrade coffee into the bowling club or if we should fit energy saving light bulbs in the hall. Let’s dream a little.

give us this day our daily energy.And forgive us our trespasses?

Can energy sources be counted as daily bread/essentials? And if so do we need to repent for being greedy with it?
The bit in this video where Rob Hopkins says that one bottle of oil has the energy equivalent of 35 men coming around to your house to do a day’s manual labour blow’s my mind.

gardening seasonal eating theology

To be honest I’m not really sure there is such a thing as a theology of seasonal eating. It just sounded cool in my head.

Perhaps the fact that all of us reading this can probably afford to not eat seasonally if  we so choose is a sign that we take more from the world than we need.
We live in an oil dependent 24-7  full on culture, and if we want asparagus we can dander out to our cars, drive to Tesco’s and buy asparagus from Peru, drive home again and eat it.

But do we need as a society need to consume so wildly or with so little regard to the natural resources we are using (such as oil), especially if we believe that the material world is created and ‘matter matters’?

As Wendell Berry writes in The Gift of Good Land

‘Atomic reactors and other big-technological solutions, on the other hand, convey an overwhelming suggestion of the poverty of the world and the scarcity of goods. Thats is because their actuating principle is excessive consumption. The obscure and destroy the vital distinction between abundance and extravagance. The ideal of  “unlimited economic growth” is based on the obsessive and fearful conviction that more is always needed. The growth is maintained by the consumers’ panic-stricken suspicion, since they always want more, that they will never have enough’

It seems to me that we have a responsibility to use things wisely and without waste, and that flying asparagus over from Peru is not a wise use of resources if we could eat carrots from Co Down or in season cauliflower.
Or why freight in strawberries from Spain if you could grow some rhubarb in your garden?

We’ve been so indoctrinated by corporations that it’s our right as a free, enlightened, economically strong society to consume when we like, what we like, and that it is fact good for the world and us to consume whatever we like.
We have accepted that it can’t be changed and this is the best way to proceed.
We in the West especially have been living like its an orgy,we like the comfort and we’re unwilling to change.

Like our total dependence on cars to get us from A to B. Or computers.

But perhaps the biggest problem is that we can’t imagine what change might look like, or how we would even go about changing things around for the better. Our imaginations are so tired that few people can hold up the possibilites of what a better, fairer world could actually look like in an actual real world.
The economic empires of our time, the systems and corporations have us completely wrapped up and believing that things can’t be different, we’re powerless to stop them and that if we don’t join the race we’ll be left behind and suffer.

And because we find it hard to imagine beautiful, real life possibilities that replace old bad habits and sins we are burdened and tired.
Lets dream!


The recent heavy snow and icy conditions has been making me realise how vulnerable we are to forces much bigger than our ability to control, despite our sophistication and technological advances.
In fact has our reliance on computers and technology made us more clueless in a crisis?

There was the same feeling way back in April when the volcano that I can’t pronounce the name off erupted in Iceland and grounded many flights around Europe. Suddenly we didn’t look so clever as we engaged in ‘Train, Planes and Automobiles’ type escapades to get home from our European destinations.

Then this last couple of weeks icy conditions have made our normal ways of transporting goods around the place not so clever. Various major retailers have refused to guarantee that online orders will be fulfilled by Christmas.
A man in Scotland bought a condenser microphone from me last Monday and I posted it that afternoon. Yesterday he emailed to say that it hadn’t arrived yet.
Which is all well and good when we’re talking about things that don’t really matter. But what happens if oil tankers can’t get to homes to fill up tanks with home heating oil, or what if lorries can’t zip up motorways as per normal and bring in deliveries of bread or milk?

There seems to be a reluctance among BBC Radio Ulster presenters in particular to believe that the forces of nature can’t be tamed. They can put a man on the moon but they can’t grit the pavements and that sort of thing.