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November 2001


“Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods . . . Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.”                                                                                                                                                                                                               (Deuteronomy 11.15-17)


“The man who says ‘I know him’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”  (1 John 2.4-6)


“Coming before God in prayer is the central God-given human task, the one by which, whether spectacularly or quietly, everything is transformed.”                    (Canon Tom Wright)


Thursday 1st November.

            As the world’s media focus on the conflict in Afghanistan and the plight of its refugees, we should not forget Saudi Arabia, the guardian of Islam’s sacred places, the source of one-quarter of the world’s oil supplies, and the birthplace of Osama bin Laden. Ruled by the autocratic but ageing Al Saud family, the country wields vast influence through the respect in which it is held by the world’s 1.1 billion Muslims and its position as a major supplier of oil to Japan, the USA, Western Europe and many other nations. Pray for peace and stability in Saudi Arabia.


Friday 2nd November.

            The Saudi people largely reject Western values and lifestyles but, with its armed forces less than one-fifth those of Iraq and Iran, Saudi Arabia is dependent on the USA for its defence, and on the price of oil for its prosperity. The fact that similar conditions in Iran did not stop the Iranian Revolution should lead the West to question its dependence on oil and to seek urgently a simpler lifestyle based on renewable energy such as wind, water and solar.


Saturday 3rd November.

            A new report, “Solar Generation”, released by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association and Greenpeace shows that solar power could provide energy for more than 1 billion people, creating over 2 million jobs by 2020 and meeting 26% of global energy needs by 2040. A Greenpeace spokesman comments: “This report shows that solar power . . could supply the equivalent of 75 new coal or nuclear power stations. The solar industry is saying it will invest $75 billion a year in new manufacturing over the next 20 years. Sadly, the UK won’t get any of this unless the Government drops its obsession with nuclear power and gives solar a fair deal.”


Sunday 4th November.

                        Lord, make us instruments of your peace;

                        Where there is hatred, let us sow love;

                        Where there is injury, pardon;

                        Where there is discord, union;

                        Where there is doubt, faith;

                        Where there is despair, hope;

                        Where there is darkness, light;

                        Where there is sadness, joy;

                                                                                    For the sake of your dear Son, Jesus Christ.

Monday 5th November.

            “World Energy Assessment” is a joint report from the UN development Programme, the UN Department of Economics & Social Affairs and the World Energy Council. It claims that “there are no fundamental technological, economic or resource limits constraining the world from enjoying the benefits of high levels of energy services and a better environment.” Three fundamental changes needed to achieve this are:

1.      More efficient use of energy (about two-thirds of global energy is wasted in conversion processes from raw materials to useful energy)

2.      A greater reliance on modern renewable energy resources (which now account for just 2% of the global fuel mix)

3.      Accelerated development and diffusion of new energy technologies, including cleaner, safer ways of using fossil fuels.

Although, in its view, the private sector can play a powerful role in bringing energy services to the world’s poor, government guidance and regulations are crucial because without them the market will not meet the needs of the poor, nor will it protect the environment.


Tuesday 6th November.

            Since 1991 no nuclear reactor has been ordered in any EU country. Seven of its fifteen members are non-nuclear, while another four (Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Holland) are phasing-out nuclear power. Yet the European Council has just allocated 1.23 billion euros for nuclear research projects, 150 million for the treatment and storage of nuclear waste and 700 million for nuclear fusion. Patricia Lorenz of FoE comments: “The commercial use of nuclear fusion is pure fantasy. Already 25 years ago the same people predicted that in 50 years fusion would be a viable energy resource, but it seems we are always 50 years away from fusion becoming economic. The European Council has to stop this waste of millions of taxpayers’ money.” And who pays for the 1.23 billion euros allocated for nuclear research?


Wednesday 7th November.

            The USA’s 103 nuclear reactors provide 20% of US electricity, but no new nuclear plants have been ordered for more than 25 years and all but two will have passed their operational term by 2030. Now President Bush has launched a new energy plan relying heavily on the renewal and expansion of nuclear facilities. Currently, nuclear facilities are exempted from liability for accidents by the Price-Anderson Act which will shortly expire. The Nuclear Information & Resource Service comments: “No utility would build or operate a reactor if it were not shielded from the potential liability that could result from a nuclear accident (upwards of $300 billion in property damage and thousands of deaths and illnesses). No other hazardous industry enjoys such protection – an indication of just how dangerous nuclear power is. A mature industry with a good safety record would not need the Price-Anderson Act.”


Thursday 8th November.

            Seventeen German companies have formed The Club for Rural Electrification, an initiative for advancing solar power in the developing world and improving living conditions for the 2 billion people without electricity. (See for the full story) Meanwhile Australia’s Indigenous Communities Support Project has been awarded A$15 million of federal funds to expand the use of renewable energy in about 250 indigenous communities. Pray for all initiatives aimed at bringing renewable energy to poor communities throughout the world.


Friday 9th November.

            At the time of writing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is expected to meet in Qatar from today till the 13th. Its narrow pursuit of trade liberalization continues to threaten the world’s poorest people. Greenpeace lists some much-needed reforms that would support social and environmental justice for the world’s peoples:

·        Recognising that the protection of the environment through international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol must take preference over narrow trade interests;

·        Incorporating the precautionary principle into its decision-making;

·        Encouraging eco-labelling that protects the environment such as dolphin-friendly fishing practices and non-GM foods;

·        Outlawing patents on life, and reforming the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to protect indigenous communities and farmers from ‘biopiracy’ and allowing poorer countries access to new technologies;

·        Including NGOs and other stakeholders in negotiations and settlement procedures.

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Saturday 10th November.

            The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has licensed its “terminator technology” to its partner Delta Pine & Land. This technology allows seed to be sterilized, so forcing farmers to buy fresh seeds each year instead of saving their own seed. USDA and Delta have applied for patents in 87 countries, so giving them a monopoly in those countries under WTO rules. The royalties will no doubt help US companies to develop new technologies that will further destroy the independence of small farmers throughout the world.


Sunday 11th November.

            Father, we thank you for your great gifts of wisdom and ingenuity. Help us to place them wholly at your service in the quest for technologies to protect the world that you created, and all the creatures that live in it.


Monday 12th November.

            Both nuclear fuel reprocessing plants at Sellafield were shut down in September when, because of frequent plant breakdowns, the volume of high-level nuclear waste was increasing. BNFL had been warned in August that regulators would close the plants unless it reduced the amount of waste in the holding tanks. Meanwhile five Nordic countries have written to Tony Blair formally protesting over continuing radioactive emissions from the Sellafield plants.


Tuesday 13th November.

            The Government’s Energy Review is expected to recommend the building of new nuclear power stations, despite the ongoing problem of the disposal of nuclear waste and the fact that it takes many years to build a nuclear power station, whereas wind power can be quickly installed. Germany is building wind power capacity at a rate equivalent to one nuclear power plant each year as it phases out nuclear power. Yet Britain has the best wind resource in Europe and off-shore wind farms could generate up to three times Britain’s electricity needs.


Wednesday 14th November.

            The UN Food & Agriculture Organisation has calculated that two breeds of farm animals go extinct every week. Over the last 15 years 300 breeds out of a total of 6000 have been lost. The irony of the situation is that scientists are trying to create GM animals with a range of adaptations to disease and harsh environments while the same qualities are being lost from existing animals. Pray for all who are dedicated to maintaining the diversity of farm animals throughout the world.


Thursday 15th November.

            The European Commission has published two documents on the regulation of GM food and animal feed and the traceability and labeling of food produced from GMOs. Businesses would be obliged to transmit and retain for five years information on the origin and destination of GM foods. All foods and animal feed produced from GMOs would be labelled, with a maximum permitted contamination of 1%. The proposals are subject to co-decision with the European Parliament and the Council; they should become law in 2003 at the latest.


Friday 16th November.

            Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser was found guilty of infringing Monsanto’s patent on RoundupReady canola on the legal principle that he knew, or should have known, that the seeds he was growing were Roundup-tolerant. However, the producers of GM crops appear to have no corresponding set of obligations over GM pollution of surrounding crops, though this has never been tested in the courts. Moves are afoot to bring legal action in Canada or America to settle this important principle.


Saturday 17th November.

            A poll in Canada showed that 95% of Canadians favoured a bill now before Parliament that would impose mandatory labeling on GM products. The Danish Government has decided not to wait for EU labeling laws, but is introducing its own regulations for the mandatory labeling of milk, butter, cheese and meat from animals reared on GM feed. Will the UK government follow this lead?


Sunday 18th November.

            Father, we pray for a vision of your world as your love would make it:

            A world where the weak are protected and none go hungry or poor;

            A world where the benefits of life are shared;

            A world where nations, races, cultures and religions live with mutual respect;

            A world where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love;

            And that we may have the courage and inspiration to play our part in building it.


Monday 19th November.

            After six years of negotiations on a strengthened Biological Weapons Convention, the USA in July rejected the proposed protocol, citing “national security” and “confidential business information” as problem areas. A BWC review conference begins today. It remains to be seen whether recent events will alter the American position. A particular concern is the use of genetic engineering in the production of pathogens with new characteristics. Genetic modification of anthrax would be difficult and expensive, but not impossible. Pray about this.


Tuesday 20th November.

            A voluntary agreement between the Government and the insurance industry has imposed a 5-year ban on disclosure to insurance companies of the results of genetic tests – except for the 3% of life policies above £500,000. But the financial limits will be reviewed after 3 years. GeneWatch comments: “Without legislation, people taking tests today will not know whether they will be excluded from insurance and employment in future. The Government has backtracked from an important principle under pressure from insurers.”


Wednesday 21st November.

            Recent events have led many to take a closer look at Islam and its tenets. “The World of Islam – Tradition, Change & Conflict”, just published, is one of a series of booklets called “Understanding Global Issues” obtainable at £2-95 from The Runnings, Cheltenham GL51 9PQ tel.01242 245252. It states the “five pillars of Islam” thus:

1.      to accept that Allah is the only God and that Muhammad is his Prophet;

2.      to pray to God five times a day;

3.      to undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca (the hajj) at least once;

4.      to fast during daylight hours for one month a year (Ramadan);

5.      to give alms to the poor, typical rates being 2.5% of savings and 10% of farm produce each year.

The last “pillar” ensures that even the poorest families in the back streets of Cairo or Karachi get support from their richer neighbours. The “brotherhood of man” (ummah) is far more than a catchphrase and crosses barriers of race and colour. Historically, Islam has been tolerant of other religions. In the Islamic ideal, leadership depends on popular consensus, forgiveness is more desirable than punishment, women have equal rights and the pursuit of knowledge “even unto China” is to be encouraged. The reality, as with other religions, is very different.


Thursday 22nd November.

            In Jerusalem the Dome of the Rock shrine is sacred to Muslims as the place where Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven. It stands at the top of the Temple Mount, which has been sacred to Jews since the time of Abraham. It was the visit of Ariel Sharon to this site a year ago that sparked off the second intifada, which continues today. Yet Muslims too recognize parts of our Bible as sacred, namely the Torah, the Psalms and the Gospels, together with the seven great prophets – namely Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad.


Friday 23rd November.

            According to John Esposito in “The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?” (OUP 1992) “Many in the Muslim world view the history of dealings with the West as one of victimization and oppression at the hands of an expansive imperial power, They counter that it is “militant Christianity” and “militant Judaism” that are the root causes of failed Muslim societies: the aggression and intolerance of the Crusades and the Inquisition; European colonialism; the break-up of the Ottoman empire and the artificial creation of modern states; the establishment of Israel, its occupation of the West Bank and its invasion of Lebanon; and the extent to which oil interests have been the determining factor in support for autocratic regimes.”

Others might say that the causes of failed Muslim societies are their lack of democratic management, the restrictions placed on innovation, the high proportion of national budgets spent on arms and the tendency to rely on natural resources such as oil rather than investing in the education of their future citizens.


Saturday 24th November.

            The Muslim fellowship of ‘ummah’ – the brotherhood of man – cuts no ice when it comes to political rivalry and wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Sudan and hostility between Libya, Egypt and Sudan, all of which belie the Islamic ideal. Ruling elites in most Muslim countries are afraid to open the door of democracy too wide for fear of what might be unleashed. Islam, unlike Christianity, provides not just a religion, but a complete system of law and government. Some say that Islamic rule is bound to be authoritarian because it puts the unchangeable certainties of God’s law above the will of the people. Yet Muslim intellectuals are increasingly calling for a re-interpretation of the Qur’an that will make it more relevant to developments in the modern world.


Sunday 25th November.

            Give us, Father, we pray, a deeper understanding of your purpose, that we may be steadfast amid the turmoil of our times. May our faith never fail, nor our love grow cold, nor our hope become faint. May we look up and lift up our heads as we look for the redemption of your world, through Jesus Christ your Son and our Redeemer.


Monday 26th November.

            Western societies have long separated religion from government and economics, with negative results for the poor and marginalized. Muslims argue that Islamic notions of personal morality and human brotherhood offer the prospect of a better world order than either free market capitalism or socialism. However, because of the ban in the Qur’an on charging interest, Islamic banks can only invest directly in a business, and so must share in its profits and losses instead of simply charging interest on a loan. This makes banks naturally more cautious than their Western equivalents, therefore it is less easy to obtain capital for business start-ups.


Tuesday 27th November.

            Even remote Muslim households now have access to television programmes, many of them imported from Hollywood, showing values and lifestyles far removed from theirs. Crime, pornography, materialism, hedonism, alcoholism and drug addiction all undermine the appeal of Western democracy and convey a message that we in the West “know the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Yet all of us, whether Christian or Muslim, know that the pursuit of money and pleasure without morality simply turns life to ashes. Pray for ever more contact between Christians and Muslims that will lead to better understanding and agreement on the fundamentals of our life on God’s earth.


Wednesday 28th November.

            The Catholic church in Brazil, working with Greenpeace, has physically demarcated nearly 2 million hectares of Amazonian rainforest to protect the land of the Deni Indians from industrial exploitation. A Malaysian logging company, WTK, has bought a huge area of land bounding the Deni lands, but has agreed to respect their boundaries. Greenpeace has called on the Brazilian Government to meet its commitment to demarcate all Indian lands and to make them safe from illegal or destructive exploitation.


Thursday 29th November.

            A 36-year old Brazilian activist, Dema Federicci, was killed in August when a gunman invaded his house. He was a leader in the campaign against the construction of dams on the Xingu River in Para State and was involved in environmental protection issues in the Amazon, working closely with Greenpeace. Over 3,000 people attended his funeral. Pray for all who are working actively for the protection of the environment, that they may know the security of God’s presence with them in all dangers.


Friday 30th November

            A million tones of sand eels are caught each year in the North Sea for industrial use. Danish inspectors recently found on a sand eel trawler that almost 40% of its catch consisted of juvenile haddock and cod. The 114 tonnes of juvenile haddock consisted of 1,140,000 individual fish. It would take only 40 such landings to equal the entire UK haddock quota for a year. The vessel’s licence was suspended for one year, but this is unlikely to be an isolated case. Pray for a total ban on the industrial fishing of sand eels throughout the North Sea.


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For further information and prayer request please write to:

Philip Clarkson Webb

15 Valley View


Tunbridge  Wells

Kent TN4 0SY