BAN Waste Select Committee evidence
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|Phase 1 Day 8
||Bishop Ambrose Griffiths (Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle)
written evidence submitted in advance
Evidence for BAN Waste Select Committee, for 29.10.01, from Bishop Ambrose
Theological and Moral Reasons for the Minimization and Reuse of Waste
- Our starting point is the creation of the world and indeed the whole universe by God. It is a gift to the human race and not only to this generation, but to past, present and all future generations.
- The summit of creation is the human race. We have the intelligence and will, which enables us to make responsible decisions about the world in which we all live. We are called to be not just consumers but responsible stewards of creation.
- All men and women of whatever race, colour or ability have equal rights to life and to the enjoyment of all that is required for a healthy and fruitful life because all are called to the same eternal destiny.
- All social and economic activity must aim to provide for the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of human beings, both individually and as part of the entire human community. In other words all such activity must bear in mind the common good. Economic or industrial activity, which aims solely to multiply goods produced and to increase profit and power, is unacceptable.
- At present there is a very serious and unjust balance in the world. 30% of the world's population consumes 80% of the resources used each year. I.e. less that a third of all people consume more than 9 times as much per head as do the large majority of people in the world.
- Non-renewable resources should be used with the greatest prudence and care and every effort should be made to recycle what is used. Anything less shows disrespect and indeed callous disregard of future generations. E.g. coal, gas, oil, metallic ores.
- Every effort should be made to produce energy from renewable sources and to reduce demand for it by use of proper insulation and avoidance of unnecessary transport and travel. Again for the sake of the common good.
- We must educate ourselves to be more aware of the effect of our actions on others. E.g. massive smoke pollution was largely ignored in the 19th century because people enjoyed the fruits of steam power. Today we are so attracted by a vast variety of food from all over the world and insist both on its uniform quality and its elaborate and colourful packaging that we largely ignore the huge waste involved and the other harmful effects such as non-degradable plastic. This implies a lack of respect and indeed reverence for the totality of our environment and the people who live in it.
- Many resources are readily renewable but we have to limit and manage their use so that renewal does in fact take place. E.g. animals, fish, timber. Failure to do so is to impoverish our environment and seriously to harm the common good.
- Some waste is unavoidable, but greater reverence for creation and concern for the common good would greatly reduce the present level of waste. Remember what happened during the Second World War and what happens today in poor and developing countries and contrast our throw-away society today and the many people who regularly buy some 20% more food than they actually eat.
- Much initial waste can be effectively recycled and this should be efficiently organised and taken for granted as already happens in other countries. But we must take an overall view and realise that some recycling may do more harm than good because of the demands it makes on energy consumption.
- Waste disposal involves hazards and the greatest care should be taken out of respect for our fellow human beings and the environment in which we live.