‘We do not hate as our enemies want us to’: Justin Welby plays down Anglican conflicts

The Archbishop of Canterbury has used his keynote speech at the Lambeth Conference to dampen reports of division within the Anglican Communion claiming those gathered had “disagreed without hatred”.

Hundreds of bishops from across the world have gathered in Canterbury this week to pray and worship together but also to discuss the big issues facing the global Church.

While topics such as the environment saw widespread agreement, discussions around sexuality have continued to split opinion.

Earlier in the week, Justin Welby reaffirmed a commitment made in 1998 to reject same-sex marriage, but conservatives fear not enough is being done to prevent more liberal wings of the Church moving away from traditional Church teaching on the subject.

Speaking on Friday, he claimed the division wasn’t that bad.

“We do not hate as our enemies want us to,” he said. “And may I say, by God’s grace, this week we have disagreed without hatred, not as many in the press want us to.”

Referencing a conversation between one of his sons and a journalist friend, he suggested one editor was disappointed that the disagreement had been so civil.

“A friend of one of our children, one of our sons, a reporter who is a Christian said ‘I rejoice and I am sad, I rejoice because this week I have seen something new, people who disagree loving each other, but my news editor is very sad because there is nothing to say about that’.”

His comments came after TV star Sandi Toksvig wrote an open letter criticising the Church’s stance on sexuality, saying that the lives of LGBTQ+ people were “at stake”.

In a letter of response, the archbishop offered to meet with Toksvig for a coffee and added that the discrimination LGBTQ+ people “have experienced in the name of Jesus Christ are a sin”.

by Marcus Jones

SOURCE: PREMIER CHRISTIAN NEWS

UK heatwave: UK set for new heatwave as temperatures head to 35C

The UK is set for another heatwave this week with highs of up to 35C (95F) in some parts, forecasters have said.

The Met Office said while conditions would be below the 40.3C recorded last month, the hot weather could last for a longer period.

More parts of England are also facing hosepipe bans amid very dry conditions, as fire crews warn of wildfires.

A heat health-alert has been put in place for England by the UK Health Security Agency.

The warning, designed to help healthcare professionals manage periods of extreme heat, comes into force from midday on Tuesday until 18:00 BST on Saturday, the UKHSA said.

Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said a “fairly widespread heatwave” was developing across the UK this week with the peak of the temperatures likely to be on Friday or Saturday.

“It does look like a prolonged period of dry weather and obviously that’s bad news for southern England where some rain would really be useful now,” he said.

Temperatures will build from 28C or 29C on Tuesday and reach the low to mid-30s from Thursday, Mr Morgan said.

He said the West Midlands and West Country could see with highest temperatures with a maximum of around 35C, but this is uncertain.

A heatwave is defined as above average temperatures seen for three days or more.

England had its driest July since 1935, said the Met Office. For some parts – south-east and central southern England – last month was the driest since records began in 1836.

There have also been calls for more hosepipe bans to be brought in ,including from Environment Secretary George Eustice.

Southern Water already has in place a hosepipe ban for customers in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight, and from Friday South East Water will do the same in Kent and Sussex.

Welsh Water will bring in a ban for Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire later this month.

In France, the government has set up a crisis team to tackle a drought that has left more than 100 municipalities short of drinking water.

‘Wild fire risk increases’

Last month’s record temperatures saw a series of wildfires across the country and Riccardo la Torre, from the Fire Brigades Union, described them as “brutal”.

“They burn at extremely high temperatures, they spread faster than firefighters can move and they are very labour intensive,” he said.

He said fire services were under strain and claimed the reason blazes “spread with regularity is because we do not have resources to get there quickly enough”.

The government said spending for fire services had been increased by around £141m to £1.37bn over the last six years, “demonstrating our commitment to ensuring fire services have the resources they need”.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has urged people not to light bonfires or barbecues, or let off fireworks or sky lanterns, after a large blaze which damaged gardens, sheds and trees was started by a chiminea.

Mark Hardingham, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council said: “I have not seen a distinction between the two heatwaves – it has remained hot between then and now and equally there’s been no rainfall.”

He said crews were expecting the busiest time of day to be between 13:00 and 19:00 BST every day and said fire chiefs would aim to maximise on-call firefighters in rural areas to help cope with demand.

‘Relieve pressure on rivers’

Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said water companies who have not called for a hosepipe ban “will be keeping it under constant review”.

“The advantage of doing it [a hosepipe ban] right now would be that it relieves pressure on their rivers,” he said.

Speaking on the BBC’s The World at One programme he said there were simple steps people could take to help such as “reducing the number of minutes we spend in the shower”.

He said there was no doubt climate change was affecting our infrastructure and said water was something we took for granted.

‘Agriculture will be hit’

The National Farmers Union warned the heatwave was compounding problems already caused by months of dry weather – grass not growing and irrigation water running out are two.

Deputy president Tom Bradshaw told the BBC: “The biggest concern is always animal health and welfare and trying to make sure the animals are well looked after.

“There’s also an impact on crops, particularly some vegetable crops – once they get over the mid-20s in temperature they stop growing”.

Keith Stones, who farms in Swaledale, North Yorkshire, has been struggling to find grass to feed his livestock.

He told the BBC: “The ewes producing the milk for the lambs are thin because they’re not picking up enough nutrition from the forage.

“The lambs are becoming pot-bellied and thin because they’re not getting nutrition from the grass or from the milk because the mums aren’t supplying.”

The dry weather has also caused staff at Kew Gardens, in south-west London, to prioritise which plants that have high conservation value, historic importance or which are extinct in the wild.

Director of gardens Richard Barley said this included not irrigating wider lawns and natural habitats.

The heat-health alert also means care homes will be monitoring residents closely.

David Lewis, manager of Cwmbran House Care Home in Cwmbran, Wales, said they were encouraging drinking as “much as possible” and offering ice creams and lollies if residents get warm.

“We’re ventilating the rooms and have got fans in the lounges”, he said.

By Andre Rhoden-Paul & James Gregory
SOURCE: BBC News

Additional reporting by Charley Adams.

Paralympic growth could be ‘jeopardised’ by any Olympic merger

The International Paralympic Committee says Paralympic growth could be “jeopardised” if the Games was to be merged with the Olympics.

The Para-sport programme at the 2022 Commonwealth Games has been a big success and led to calls for greater integration.

But while the sports and athletes involved in Birmingham have benefited from the increased profile, IPC spokesman Craig Spence told the BBC’s Access All podcast that the current agreement for separate Olympics and Paralympics “serves us well”.

The current deal for the same city to host both Games was signed in 2018 and runs until the 2032 Games in Brisbane.

“Since 1988, we have seen exponential growth in Paralympic sport,” said Spence, the IPC’s chief brand and communications officer.

“We are on a strong ascendancy and growing the Games so combining both events would potentially stunt and jeopardise that growth, and we could potentially go backwards.

“This is a conversation that crops up regularly, but you have to look to see if it makes sense to bring both Games together and at the moment we believe it doesn’t.

“The current agreement works for us at the moment. It serves us well and we like it and are keen to keep it.”

Birmingham has featured a record 42 Para-sport events across eight sports, with over 350 athletes taking part in a fully-integrated programme.

Huge crowds cheered on the likes of swimmers Maisie Summers-Newton and Bethany Firth, athletes Hannah Cockroft and Olivia Breen and cyclists Neil Fachie and James Ball to gold medal glory as they represented the home nations.

However, the 2024 Paris Paralympics will have 549 medal events with around 4,400 athletes plus support staff in attendance.

And while Paralympic legend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson backs greater integration at Commonwealth as well as at European and world level, she told the podcast that the logistics of a combined Olympics and Paralympics were challenging

“On a practical level I don’t think there is a city in the world that could hold a combined Games,” she said.

“There are 10,000 athletes at an Olympics and about 4,500 at a Paralympics, and as well as the increased cost it would end up being a programme of about a month.

“So in reality, you would have to cut events and what would you cut?

“It would have to be a smaller Games and spectators wouldn’t be able to watch as many disabled people take part.

“People in Birmingham have loved watching disabled people competing [at the Commonwealth Games], so we have to keep building the profile of the Paralympics to get people coming and watching Para-athletes.”

Spence is also concerned that any merger could dilute the impact of the Paralympics.

“Britain leads the way when it comes to Paralympic sport and coverage but that’s not the same around the world,” he said.

“Maybe the equality we want is the same level of coverage from broadcasters around the world for Olympics and Paralympics – not just in Britain.

“Our fear is if you were to bring both events together you would hear much less about Paralympic performances and you would jeopardise the impact of the Games being the most transformational sporting event on earth.

“Our ambition is to continue growing the Paralympics and there is so much more potential there to make the Games even better.”

SOURCE: BBC NEWS

WORLD NEWS: Satellites give clues about the coming global harvest

As harvest time looms for the world’s main wheat producers, countries that import wheat are hoping for a bumper global crop so that record high prices might fall. But analysis on the health of crops around the world, shared with the BBC, suggests that’s unlikely, and that Russia could be the only big winner.

From his farm three hours south-east of Paris, Sébastien Neveux is worried. Here in France’s main wheat-producing region, the weather has been strange recently.

It was extremely dry in March, April and May, a crucial time for wheat crops in France which need moisture to pull minerals up from the ground. Then, in June, there was heavy rain and hail. It was too much, too late.

“I’ll have lost 40% of this field because of drought and intense heat,” says Mr Neveux. He estimates he’ll lose 25% of his wheat crop overall.

Working with two companies that analyse data on crop health, the BBC has found that some of the world’s main wheat producers could see weaker harvests than anticipated this year because of bad weather.

In the EU that could mean 4.7 million tonnes less wheat than last year, which is bad news for countries hoping to find alternatives to Ukrainian wheat.

The analysis looked at information from satellite images, which can determine how healthy a plant is by how much infrared light the plant reflects back at the satellites’ cameras. That information is then cross-referenced with data about weather and soil moisture to indicate the potential harvest.

Standing in his wheat field, Mr Neveux pulls two stalks from the ground. One is long and golden, the other short and blackened. Rolling each ear between his palms, he blows away the husks to reveal the grains inside. The healthy plant has many plump grains, the other one has just a couple of shrivelled ones. It’s disappointing.

“The grain won’t have the right quality for milling flour. It’ll have to go to cow or chicken feed. So I’ll sell it for less,” he says.

More than a third of the planet relies on wheat as a staple food. It provides more calories in the world’s diet than any other single crop. And as the global population is growing, every year we have to produce more.

At the beginning of 2021 wheat prices were at a record high, thanks to a spike in demand after the coronavirus pandemic and bad harvests in some major exporting countries. Then Russia invaded Ukraine – the world’s fifth biggest wheat exporter – and prices soared even higher, sparking concerns of a global hunger crisis.

According to analysis shared with the BBC by Kayrros and EarthDaily Analytics, three of the world’s five major wheat exporters (the US, France and Ukraine) could see lower than expected yields this year.

The US is the world’s third-biggest wheat exporter but severe drought in spring in two main wheat-producing states, Kansas and Oklahoma, could mean yields are 7-8% lower this year than the five-year average.

India also produces vast volumes of wheat, most of which is consumed within the country. This year India increased the amount of wheat planted, leading many to hope it could become a significant exporter and ease the strain on global supplies. But extreme heatwaves hit India just as the crop was at a crucial stage for developing grain.

In response, the Indian government put an export ban on wheat in early May. EarthDaily’s analysis suggests that India’s production this year has been 10 million tonnes lower than expected.

Not everywhere has seen disastrous weather though. Canada experienced very severe drought last year which led to historically low yields for wheat. This year the crop is looking much healthier, and EarthDaily estimates that the harvest will be above the five-year average.

In Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, the crop is looking particularly promising. Thanks to very favourable weather its yields could be 6% higher than average this year, leading to fears that Russia could use grain for political leverage.

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the Russian state-controlled news network Russia Today, joked at the St Petersburg Economic Forum in June about how Moscow could exploit the crop, commenting that she had heard people saying, “All hopes are pinned on the famine.”

“It means that a famine is about to start and now they will come to their senses and lift sanctions, and generally make friends with us,” she continued, “because they will realise that it’s impossible not to be friends with us.”

In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country had no plans to restrict access to its grain.

But Russia’s crop may not be enough to offset deficits elsewhere in the world, says Elena Neroba, a Ukrainian grains analyst with the trading firm, Maxigrain. And Russia could find it difficult to sell. Food is not subject to sanctions, but the restrictions make doing business with Russia complicated.

“Really big companies will avoid trading with Russia because it’s a huge risk. If you are a state reserve or a multinational company, it’s not just the risk of a volatile price, it’s a risk to your reputation,” Ms Neroba says.

It’s also unclear how much of Ukraine’s wheat will make it out of the country, as Russia has been attacking grain stores, dropping incendiary bombs on fields of dry crops, and blockading the main export route via ports in the Black Sea.

As wheat harvests get under way, prices are dropping slightly but they are still 48.5% higher than this time last year, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Price is determined by supply and demand and it is heavily influenced by expectation. Earlier this year expectations were high for the wheat crop in most regions, but war and bad weather dashed those hopes.

The FAO is more optimistic about the crop in the US than the satellite-based analysis from Kayrros and EarthDaily. But it predicts that global wheat production will decline by 0.8% or three million tonnes. That doesn’t mean a major shortage of wheat but it does ensure prices will remain high, hitting low-income countries that rely on wheat imports the hardest.

The FAO’s chief economist, Maximo Torero, is especially worried about next year, if the war continues and farmers can’t access fertiliser, much of which comes from Russia.

“If we continue to have increasing prices of fertilisers, there is potential risk that yields will reduce,” he says. “And that’s when we could be talking about a huge food crisis.”

The pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine have exposed just how vulnerable our global food system is to shocks. Climate change, which makes extreme and unpredictable weather more common, means more shocks are sure to come.

“Four or five countries control the major share of the wheat exports in the world,” says Mr Torero. “If something happens to any of these countries because of extreme weather conditions, it will immediately have an impact on world exports.”

Farmers like Sébastien Neveux have no choice but to try to adapt. He’s in his early 40s and inherited the farm from his father, but the way he must farm is different now.

“We need to find plants that are more resistant. And they have to become resistant more quickly to survive climate change. The natural cycle of selection is not going to adapt quickly enough.”

Marching through his wheat field he stops to pull another small, stunted stalk from the ground. Though this damaged plant won’t make him any profit, he turns it over in his hands admiringly. It’s sad, he says – but it also gives him hope.

“It does everything it can to fight, to produce, to make grain,” he says. “It has this extraordinary instinct to survive.”

By Stephanie Hegarty
Population correspondent

SOURCE: BBC NEWS