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Christian Group Gives Coal-Loving Australian Prime Minister 'Clean Energy 4 Christmas'

Climate

In the last year, Australia has earned a lamentable reputation as a country going rapidly backward on addressing climate change. After Tony Abbott was elected prime minister in 2013, his huge man crush on coal impacted the country in numerous ways, as it repealed its carbon taxdumped its Renewable Energy Target and gave encouragement to big new environment-destroying, greenhouse gas-emitting coal projects. It dragged its feet on contributing to the Green Climate Fund, saying it wouldn't do so and then finally making a pledge during the recent climate summit in Peru.

Members of Common Grace deliver a green holiday gift to coal-loving Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo credit: Common Grace

But some Australians aren't taking this lying down. A group called Common Grace, who describe themselves as "thousands of Christians from various denominations who are passionate about Jesus and justice," have been collecting donations to buy solar panels for Kirribilli House, Australia's equivalent of the White House. And they announced last week that they have met their goal of $6,000, crowdfunding the 12 panels in just four days.

"The solar panels are a gift for the nation, from the nation, to symbolize public support for a clean energy future," said Common Grace participant the Rev. Dr. Michael Frost. "We know that 89 percent of Australians support a strong Renewable Energy Target. By giving solar panels to Kirribilli House, Christians are adding their voice to a chorus of Aussies who want to see a vibrant renewables industry. Our message to the Prime Minister is: don’t knock renewables until you've tried them."

A group of Christian leaders delivered the gift with a Christmas card to staff members who promised to pass it along to Abbott. And Solar Council, the association for Australia's solar industry, offered to install them for free.

“As we all know, solar panels need to be professionally installed," said Solar Council CEO John Grimes. "Therefore the Solar Council is adding to this gift. We will install the solar panels at Kirribilli House for free."

A Christmas card delivered to Prime Minister Tony Abbott hints at what needs to be done to protect the Earth. Photo credit: Common Grace

“We've just launched Common Grace and we’re learning what it looks like to live out the beauty, generosity and justice we see in Jesus as the earth heats up at an unprecedented rate," said Common Grace's climate justice campaigner Jody Lightfoot. "We’re learning what it means to love our neighbors who are at the front lines of climate change and how we can be stewards of the earth in the face of our ecological crisis,” he said.

Jacqui Remond, director of Catholic Earthcare Australia and part of the delegation that delivered the gift, added, “As Christians, we recognize that the Earth is a gift and I want to pass on a clean energy future to our children and grandchildren climate change isn't just an environmental issue—it’s a matter of justice. It’s about people in poverty, particularly indigenous populations, who are being hit first and hardest for what they've contributed to least. It’s also about Australians who are preparing to face more intense and frequent bushfires as we approach what could be the hottest summer on record."

What better Christmas gift could their be than protecting the planet? Photo credit: Common Grace

If the prime minister declines the panel, Common Grace said they'll be offered to the Davidson Brigade of the Rural Fire Service of which Prime Minister Abbott is a long time member.

"Fire fighters are on the front line of climate change fighting increasingly frequent and intense bushfires," the group said. "It’d be a small way we can say thank you for what they do."

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It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

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"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

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