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February 2002

  "By him (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

"He (God) made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."

"We can say today that man is far too clever to be able to survive without wisdom. The exclusion of wisdom from economics, science and technology was something we could perhaps get away with for a little, as long as we were relatively unsuccessful. But now that we have become very successful, the problem of spiritual and moral truth moves into the central position."

Monday 1st February.

The Government has accepted the case for greater separation distances between GM and conventional crops and for a maximum of 0.1% cross-pollination. The European Commission proposes a 5,000 metre separation distance, which could still result in 0.3% cross-pollination. GM-contaminated oilseed rape has been found flowering at a former trials site of Aventis (now Bayer) in Lincolnshire, so risking the spread of contaminated pollen to other fields. The official consent for the trials clearly stated "All volunteer plants or related weeds found in the area will be removed before flowering." Now Mexico, which has for three years imposed a moratorium on GM crops, has reported GM contamination of wild maize, possibly from illegal imports, pollination or animal movements. The genie is truly out of  the bottle.

Tuesday 2nd February

Last year Percy Schmeiser of Canada of Canada was found guilty of infringing Monsanto's patent on GM canola even though he never bought any GM seed or signed an agreement with Monsanto. TomWiley, a farmer from Jamestown, N.Dakota, claims that he lost his market for conventional soybeans because of accidental contamination by GM crops. He comments: "Until now, when a farmer harms his neighbour's crops, as with chemical spray drift or escaped livestock, the offending farmer is liable to his neighbour. But with GM crops, the farmer who is the victim of gene contamination is the one liable to the corporation that created the GM crop." Pray for international agreement on the need for strict liability for patent-holders of GM crops where pollen from a GM crop contaminates nearby land.

Sunday 3rd February.

Heavenly Father, we pray for all in authority, for heads of state, ministers, judges, civil servants and local government officers, that they may please you:
* In the justice they administer,
* In the mercy they display,
* In the wisdom of their policies
* In the integrity of their decisions. This we pray in the name of your dear Son, Jesus Christ.

Monday 4th February.

Tuavalu, a group of nine Pacific islands, is the first state to pay the ultimate price of global warming. Its 9,000 inhabitants have applied for evacuation, first to Australia (which refused) then to New Zealand , which is accepting the first group of evacuees this year. A 1-metre rise in sea levels this century (a worst-case scenario) would cause Bangladesh to lose half its rice production, 70 million Chinese would lose their homes and the USA would lose 14,000 square miles of coastlands, incurring losses in value of up to $150 billion. Pray that the eyes of the developed world will be opened to this prospect, for which they bear much responsibility in their profligate use of fossil fuels.

Tuesday 5th February.

On August 9th 2000 an icebreaker cruise ship was intending to disembark its passengers at the North Pole for a photo opportunity on the ice. There was no ice: it had melted. Global average temperatures have risen from 1967-71 to 14.430C. in 1998-2000, a rise of nearly half a degree in 30 years. If this process continues, there will be a further rise this century of 1.50C. or more. Rising temperatures lead to more extreme climate - record heatwaves, melting of ice, rising of sea levels and more destructive storms. Pray that God will turn us from our profligate ways before we end by destroying both ourselves and His world.

Wednesday 6th February.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, all the world's glaciers are shrinking at an accelerating rate. If the massive ice-sheet in the Himalayas continues to melt, it will affect the flow of the Indus, Ganges, Mekong, Yangtse and Yellow Rivers, all of which rise there and water the plains of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and China. Likely result: more flooding during the rainy season, a shrinking snow/ice mass and less snowmelt to feed rivers in the dry season. Yet there is an abundance of wind and solar energy capable of being harnessed as a substitute for fossil fuels. Carbon taxes worldwide could quickly shift investment from fossil fuels to climate-stabilising energy sources. Pray for the political will to achieve this.

Thursday 7th February.

Snow and ice reflect back most of the sunlight reaching it. When they melt, the sunlight is largely absorbed by the earth or water, so raising its temperature and leading to further melting of snow and ice. It is a self-feeding process. Likewise, healthy forests seldom burn, but logged forests are vulnerable to fires. These emit more CO2 into the atmosphere, so raising the temperature further. This causes further drying-out of forests, leading to more fires. It is another self-feeding process.

Friday 8th February.

The rise in atmospheric CO2 comes primarily from the burning of fossil fuels. Since 1997 China's economy has grown by 7% a year, yet it has reduced its use of coal by 14%, largely by market incentives and conservation initiatives. Elsewhere, the use of wind-power has grown nearly fourfold in 5 years. In the USA an advanced wind turbine in a quarter-acre field can yield a farmer $2,000 in royalties while providing the community with $100,000 of electricity. Wind-generated capacity in the USA is expected to leap by 60% this year alone.

Saturday 9th February.

Advances in wind turbine technology continue to lower the cost of wind-power which, in some areas, is now cheaper than oil or gas-fired power. Cheap electricity from wind-power can be used to electrolyse water, splitting it into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen, being carbon-free, is the fuel of choice for the new fuel-cell car engines on which every major car manufacturer is setting its sights. For the first time in years, developed countries have the technology to shake off their dependence on Middle Eastern oil - and to benefit their farmers and rural communities generally.

Sunday 10th February.

"God cannot be used as a stop-gap. We must not wait until we are at the end of our tether. He must be found in the centre of life: in life and not in death; in health and vigour, and not only in suffering; in activity, and not only in sin. Christ is the centre of life, and in no sense did he come to answer our unsolved problems." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men, grant unto thy people that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, amid the sundry and manifold changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (BCP)

Monday 11th February.

Over huge areas of the world, the loss of topsoil through erosion is reducing the land available for crops. Half the cropland in Kazakhstan has been abandoned since 1980 as soil erosion lowered its productivity, reducing its wheat harvest from 13 million tons in 1980 to 8 million tons in 2000. However, since 1985 the US Conservation Program has paid farmers to retire 15 million hectares of cropland (one-tenth of the total), and to convert it back to grassland or forest in order to restore its fertility. This, coupled with the adoption of conservation tillage on 37% of all cropped land, has reduced soil erosion from 3.1 billion tons in 1982 to 1.9 billion in 1997. Perhaps even more could be achieved if the US Administration encouraged the growing of perennial crops which required little or no cultivations.

Tuesday 12th February.

The productivity of croplands can be improved by three methods: by raising the yield per crop, by increasing the number of crops per year, and by processing crop residues through cattle and sheep to produce meat and milk. From 1950 to 2000 the world's farmers nearly tripled crop productivity by growing new varieties (the Green Revolution) and by application of fertilizers. That era has ended. Now even biotechnology, despite 20 years of effort, has failed to produce a single variety of wheat, rice or corn that shows any markedly improved yield. Similarly, increasing the number of crops per year is limited by soil and climate conditions: there is little scope for improvement here.

Wednesday 13th February.

Raising crop productivity is the key to saving the world's remaining forests, for if we cannot supply increased food demands from existing croplands, further clearance of forests for agriculture is inevitable.

Yet in India crop residues such as the stalks of wheat and rice are increasingly given to cattle and water buffalo. As a result, Indian milk production has grown from 20 million tons in 1961 to 79 million in 1997. India has now overtaken the USA as the world's leading milk producer. When grain scarcity begins to bite, many countries could follow India's example of using ruminants to convert crop residues into milk.

Thursday 14th February.

A quarter of China's grain harvest comes from the North China Plain where the water table is falling by 1.5 metres each year. The same is happening in the Punjab, India's breadbasket, and in the southern Great Plains of the USA. The main cause is the overpumping of aquifers. A further factor is that in China, as elsewhere, industry can pay 50-100 times more for scarce water than can rural farmers. Wherever, as in China, economic growth and the creation of jobs are central to government policies, scarce water goes to industrial uses rather than to agriculture. Pray about this.

Friday 15th February.

70% of water pumped from aquifers is used for irrigation, but most irrigation systems waste much of the water available. Israel has pioneered drip irrigation technology, using plastic hoses with small holes laid several inches below ground so that the supply can be geared to crop needs and there is little evaporation. Use of drip irrigation has raised crop yields by 20-90% and has reduced the use of water by 30-70%. Pray for more widespread adoption of these methods.

Saturday 16th February.

As the world's fisheries fall further and further behind the soaring growth in demand for seafood, aquaculture or fish farming has shown an increase of 11% a year between 1990 and 1998. Salmon and shrimp farms - both damaging to the environment - account for only 1.5 million tons of the 31 million ton annual production. World aquaculture is dominated by herbivorous species, especially carp in China and India, but also catfish in the USA and tilapia in several countries. China devotes 5 million hectares to fish farming, plus 1.7 million where rice and fish are produced together. The social and environmental benefits of aquaculture, when compared with agriculture, are becoming more evident as time passes.

Sunday 17th February.

Lord, help us to realize a vision of your world which husbands its God-given resources, so that we may enjoy the natural and spiritual gifts which you have given us; a world where all life may exist together in peace, without harm to the environment which we all enjoy.

Monday 18th February.

In China, India and the USA, the world's biggest sources of grain, the overpumping of aquifers, and consequent fall in water tables, is increasingly forcing the abandonment of irrigated agriculture. It is calculated that the annual overpumping of aquifers amounts to 160 billion tons a year. If it takes 1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain, this deficit is equal to 160 million tons of grain - half the annual US grain harvest. In other words, as a UN report puts it:" We are feeding ourselves with water that belongs to our children."

Tuesday 19th February.

Nearly every Middle Eastern country is experiencing water shortages and rapid population growth, necessitating increased grain imports. The water required to produce the grain imported to the Middle East in 2000 alone was equal to the annual flow of the River Nile. If every country decided now to halt the overpumping of aquifers and to stabilize water tables, the world grain harvest would fall by 8% and prices would hit the roof. Yet the longer we take to face this issue, the wider becomes the water deficit and the harsher will be the eventual adjustment.

Wednesday 20th February.

Of all the countries facing water scarcity, China, with its 1.3 billion people and $80 billion annual trade surplus with the USA, has the greatest potential to disrupt the markets in world grain. Yet, unless the Chinese government reverses its priorities of industry first and agriculture a poor second, falling water tables there must soon mean rising food prices everywhere else. Pray for recognition by the leaders in every country that humankind cannot eat money.

Thursday 21st February.

China's paper consumption is rising fast. If China's current paper usage of 35 kg.per person a year ever rose to the US level of 342 kg.per person, China would consume more paper than the world now produces. Nearly half the world production of paper is used for packaging, which is notoriously wasteful. Most wood pulp is grown in plantations, which are set to expand at the expense of natural forests. Pray for more economical use of paper everywhere as people realize that it is the world's forests that suffer most from our wasteful habits.

Friday 22nd February.

By the end of the Korean War, South Korea had been almost entirely de-forested. It then launched a national re-forestation programme on a huge scale. Now, with ample forest cover, South Korea benefits from her forests' capacity to store water and re-charge aquifers. Serious droughts are now rare. In North Korea, by contrast, environmental degradation has contributed to chronic famine, while in the South environmental restoration has set the stage for economic success.

Saturday 23rd February.

Of the 100 million promised by the UK Government for the development of Renewable Energy, 15 million will help farmers and foresters to establish energy crops, such as short-rotation willow, while 18 million will support the development of energy crops technology for clean and efficient production of heat and electricity. Pray that this will prove a lifeline to farmers whose livelihoods are now so much at risk.

Sunday 24th February.

Give us, loving Father, the wisdom so to deal with the things we possess that they may never possess us. Deliver us from faithlessness and fear, and guide our feet into the ways of justice and peace, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Monday 25th February.

The world's attention has temporarily been focused on the destructive power of a volcano such as Mount Nyiragongo. Yet Nicaragua gets 28% of its electricity from geothermal energy and the Philippines gets 26%, while the USA generates 2,800 MW. from this source. Japan could meet 30% of its electricity needs from geothermal energy. Countries around the Mediterranean and along Africa's Great Rift have a huge potential for this cheap and environmentally-friendly source of energy. Pray that the world's scientists and engineers will rise to this challenge.

Tuesday 26th February.

Bangkok's city government once arranged for all TV stations at 9 p.m. to show a big dial with the city's current use of electricity, with a simultaneous request to turn off unnecessary lights and appliances. As viewers watched, the dial showed a drop in electricity use of 735 MW. - enough to shut down two coal-fired power stations. This reminded viewers that each one of them could make a difference and that together they could literally close power stations.

Wednesday 27th February.

Sales of photo-voltaic cells to generate electricity from the roofs of buildings averaged a 20% growth each year from 1990 to 2000, when they rocketed by 45%. Aerial photos have shown that, even in cloudy Britain, putting solar cells on the country's existing roofs could generate 68,000 MW. of power on a bright day - about half the peak demand. Japan aims to have 4,600 MW. of electricity generating capacity in place by 2010, providing electricity sufficient for a country of the population of Estonia.

Thursday 28th February.

The production of hydrogen from wind turbines comes a step nearer with a proposal from a German windfarm developer, GEO, to generate hydrogen from the wind turbines on its new Dan Tysk offshore wind farm. The hydrogen could be compressed or liquefied for transport by sea, and then be used for the new generation of hydrogen-powered cars. Pray for all who are working to develop a non-polluting hydrogen-based economy as an alternative to the continued use of fossil fuels.

"Eco-economy - Building an Economy for the Earth" By Lester R.Brown (Earthscan)
Living Earth (Soil Association)
Renew (NATTA)
Splice (The Genetics Forum)

For further information and prayer request please write to:
Philip Clarkson Webb
15 Valley View
Tunbridge Wells
Kent TN4 0SY

Copyright © 2002-2007 Philip Clarkson Webb and Christian Ecology Link     email: CEL
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