Earth hour will kill us all! 1 – Lighting

In this series I’m adopting the language used by the global warming enthusiasts in an attempt to communicate on level ground.

This Saturday, we’re supposed to turn off all our lights for an hour to “join [WWF] in taking a step towards living more sustainably”.

But what is the real effect on the environment of switching off our lights and burning candles instead?

Modern candles are generally made from parrafin wax – ie, oil. They burn inefficiently, putting out most of their energy as heat, while producing a little bit of light as well. On the other hand, most of New Zealand’s electricity generation is from renewable sources (hydro), so produces very low carbon emissions.

So what are you doing if you huddle over candles this Saturday?

  • Depending on how many candles & lights you use, you may actually increase your carbon emissions (unless you make your own candles from tallow of course (a renewable biofuel), so the die-hard hippies are ok. But they probably have earth hour every night anyway).
  • Inhaling smoke, damaging your lungs (again no change for the die-hard hippies if they’re on the weed anyway). Smoke inhalation is a major health problem in the third world, and is one of the reasons we use electric light.
  • Wasting money. Electricity is far cheaper than candles – because it is more efficient.
  • Damaging local industry, sending money to China. Electricity is made by Kiwis, for Kiwis. Most of our candles are made in China (check your packet). Buy NZ made – use electricity this Earth Hour.
  • Creating a fire hazard. Candles are a major source of house fires. This week it could be you.

I’m sure there are more problems I’ve missed. If you don’t want your cemetary to be flooded by rising seawater in a hundred years, Buy NZ Made this earth hour, and use electric lights.

See also: Earth hour will kill us all! 2 – Appliances
Earth hour will kill us all! 3 – Entertainment

EDIT 1:
Although the Fire Service suggests torches as safer than candles, they’re at least as bad for the environment. Batteries are toxic and take a large amount of energy to produce relative to the amount of light you get out of them. And they’re probably made in China too. Don’t go there.

EDIT 2:
Rather than candles or torches, it would be far more sustainable to use some of New Zealand’s clean, eco-friendly renewable electricity, crank out the outdoor Christmas lights, and join MandM’s Earth Hour protest.

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Formula marketed as better than breastmilk in China

With the recent tainted formula scare in China I immediately became suspicious – why are so many Chinese using formula anyway? It is a poor country, surely they would be breastfeeding? Sure enough, just like in the West in the 40s and 50s, formula is being promoted in China as better than breastmilk.

The report concludes that an important reason for these statistics is aggressive advertising by infant formula companies. After hearing infant formula ads touting the product’s “nutritious matter beneficial to children’s brain development,” 57% of mothers were willing to buy formula.

According to the report, much of this advertising is illegal. Under Chinese consumer protection regulations, ads can’t claim or hint that a product is a replacement for breast milk. Nor are ads permitted to use images of breast feeding women and babies. Nonetheless, infant formula companies often flout these regulations and engage in other forms of “stealth” advertising and product placement, including promotional give-aways and sponsorship of health hot lines or baby feeding forums.

This is very worrying, for a number of reasons. We know very well now that breastmilk is far better than formula. The World Health Organisation recommends babies are exclusively breastfed till 6 months, then continue to be breastfed until at least 2 years, with no formula used at any stage. This knowledge is well established in Western medical circles now, and although some parents are forced to use formula for medical reasons, and others will choose to use formula, for example for convenience if the mother is returning to work, they at least have access to the best science.

The official Plunket recommendation in NZ is for babies to be “breastfed for at least the first 6 months”, which is far from the ideal WHO recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding as it allows topping up with formula, and this outdated practice appears to be commonly recommended by some Plunket nurses (Plunket probably doesn’t recommend it officially, but some nurses are still recommending this). However this is still a lot better than saying formula is better than breastmilk, as appears to be the case in China.

This is a serious concern for NZ, because dairy exports provide so much income to our country. Are our dairy exports being marketed honestly in China? Officially it is illegal for them not to be, but in practice, is this the case? It is illegal to contaminate milk, yet they do that too (and this isn’t the first instance, it happened in 2004 as well). This is a very serious issue for an agricultural nation such as ourselves.

Chinese Olympic performers treated inhumanely

I did wonder about the conditions the thousands of performers in the opening ceremony were working in while training. Now we know.

One more example of China’s disdain for human rights, following on from my previous comment on Christianity. Hat tip: Adam Smith

Christianity in China – Amity Press

We watched a video in church a week ago which claimed Christians were now able to worship freely in China. The video showed multi-million dollar churches built with government help, and a massive printing facility (Amity Press), producing bibles primarily for distribution within China.

This didn’t seem entirely correct, as it contradicts what we have been told for years regarding religious freedom within China.

It is hard to be sure about the accuracy of any information coming out of a communist country like China, but further investigation suggests:

  • Amity Press may be owned by the Communist government.
  • Amity Press only supplies bibles to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM, the official government-approved church of China, the big churches shown in the video).
  • House-church members who buy these bibles from TSPM bookstores may be tracked down and forced to join the TSPM. If they refuse they may be arrested, beaten or worse. I hear the house churches may call the Amity bibles poison-snake bibles.
  • TPSM pastors are only trained in government-approved seminaries, where they are taught Marxism and liberal theology.
  • The TPSM cannot teach some doctrines which the government considers unacceptable, including the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead (removing the heart of Christianity, see 1 Corinthians 15:12-14).
  • There appears to have been a crack-down on Christians in the lead-up to the Olympics.

It is hard to know the accuracy of the information I have just written. It is hard to know the accuracy of any information coming out of China. We need to be very careful not to just believe one source of information but actually read around and try to find the facts. This is extremely vital in this case as much of the money to set up Amity Press has been sent from the West.

If these accusations are correct, then the donations of Western Christians have been used to help persecute Christians in China. If these accusations are incorrect there is a lot of false information going around the place.

We know that China has no qualms about faking things in an Olympic opening ceremony (the singing young girl, the footprints, and the children from different ethnicities), and there are questions around their honesty in sport too. There is even more motivation for them to fake information about religious freedom. No Western Christian (like those producing the video we were shown) would be likely to deceive others about Christianity in China – all of us would be horrified about the way Christians are treated there. But the Communist party is perfectly capable of escorting visitors closely and ensuring they see just what the Party wishes them to see, and so fool both them and us.

We need to be very careful where we donate money, to be sure it is used for God’s work. But more importantly, we need to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in China and around the world. We are so free in this country that we become complacent, and forget how hard life is for Christians in other countries. We also need to pray for honesty in China.

For more information check out:

Billion Bibles

Voice of the Martyrs

Three Self Patriotic Movement on Wikipedia