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March 2002

  "Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."
- Job 12.7-10.

"Unlike God, nature is not infinite. The delicate balance that maintains life, while amazingly forgiving and adaptable, has its limits. Balance is maintained when the purpose of creation is maintained and God's creatures live in love and care for each other because they are living in love with God. But as soon as this balance is forgotten, then the balance is upset.
- Barbara Wood.

"Act as if everything depended on you; wait as if everything depended on God.
- St.Ignatius Loyola.

Thursday 1st March.

A year ago saw the beginning of the worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) yet seen in Britain. A Devon County Council report, an NFU report and the words of Nick Brown, the former Agriculture Minister, all agree that the risk of a new outbreak resulting from meat imported, whether legally or illegally, remains high. Considering that it cost the nation 1,723 billion in compensation and 12,400 lost jobs, the failure to impose controls on imported meat defies belief. On February 22nd it was announced that a sheep on Cumbria had tested positive for FMD antibodies and had been slaughtered.

Friday 2nd March.

The Policy Commission on Farming and Food chaired by Sir Donald Curry recommends the ending of production subsidies paid to farmers under the CAP. Even without much-needed reforms to the CAP, Britain could divert up to 20% of production subsidies into environmental and rural development schemes. "Farmers who deliver an attractive, healthy countryside should be rewarded, making the environment a selling point, not a sore point, for the industry. The guiding principle must be that public money should be used to pay for public goods that the public wants and needs." The NFU remains fiercely opposed to any such reform.

Sunday 3rd March

Please, Father, teach us
    A proper sensitivity towards your living creation,
    A proper simplicity in the way we live our lives,
    A proper appreciation of the connectedness of all things,
    A proper respect for the shalom of the universe.
Redeem us, loving Father, redeem your world, heal its wounds and dry its tears, for the sake of your dear Son, who died that we might live.

Monday 4th March

The Government's Performance & Innovation Unit (PIU) has published its Energy Review. It proposes increasing the amount of electricity generated from renewables, such as wind and wave, by 20% by 2020. However, as former Shell chairman Sir Mark Moody-Stuart points out, "Massive amounts of financial support are still going to conventional energy sources in the form of subsidies, export credits for fossil fuel power stations and support for nuclear energy programmes, as well as large sums raised in taxation of fossil fuel production and transportation fuels." A G8 report highlights these "perverse" subsidies, which amount to between $250 and $300 billion a year, for unsustainable energy sources which damage the environment. Pray about this issue.

Tuesday 5th March

The same G8 report, in advocating the spread of renewable energy projects in developing countries, highlights the high cost of installation. International agencies already provide support for conventional energy projects. If these funds could be made accessible for renewable energy projects, the dream of an electricity supply to rural communities in developing countries could become a reality. For information visit

Wednesday 6th March

At Baijigon coal mine, Ningxia, in north-west China, dozens of underground coal fires consume at least 10 million tons of anthracite a year, pumping out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than all the cars in Germany combined. Dr.Prakash of the Dutch-based International Institute for Geo-Information says: "We invest so much money to reduce car pollution by 1% or 2%, but it would cost a fraction of that to tackle China's coal fires. For details visit

Thursday 7th March

Ukraine has pulled out of a deal with the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) to finance the construction of two nuclear reactors to replace those destroyed at Chernobyl. Smaller loans from Euratom are now also in doubt. Greenpeace believes this provides the EBRD with an opportunity to promote and finance energy efficiency projects in Ukraine to help the country to create a sustainable energy sector.

Friday 8th March

BP has dropped plans to develop the Liberty oilfield in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea, which would have required an artificial drilling island 10 kilometres from Alaska's north coast, with an underwater pipeline to carry oil ashore to the Trans-Alaskan Piepline for transportation to Valdez and shipment to the expanding markets of East Asia. Pray that the money saved by the cancellation of this project will be used to develop renewable energy around the world.

Saturday 9th March

Less than an hour after a Court of Appeal ruling to permit the Sellafield Mixed Oxide (MOX) plant to go ahead, the Government announced the transfer of the whole Sellafield complex to a new state-owned "Liabilities Management Authority". The reason is thought to be that BNFL's liabilities now exceed its assets, is bankrupt.
A study commissioned by the European Parliament on the risks of nuclear fuel reprocessing has found that:
  • The European Commission has failed to verify the safety data produced by BNFL
  • Radioactive discharges from Sellafield violate the OSPAR convention on protecting the north-east Atlantic
  • Reprocessing cannot be ruled out as a cause of higher leukaemia incidence near the plant
  • "Great uncertainties" in assessment of the health effects means that reprocessing runs contrary to the precautionary principle

Sunday 10th March

Lord, we lift into your hands the witness of Christian thinkers, teachers, scientists and commentators on the environment and your created world. We thank you for those who have worked to create beauty, fruitfulness and order. We pray for our generation, that we may hand on to our successors a world better for our having lived in it.

Monday 11th March

Last December Brazil banned all uncertified logging of mahogany in the southern belt of the Amazonian rainforest. Devastation of huge areas of pristine forest had been caused not only by the logging but by the building of illegal roads which opened the forest to exploitation. Since October the Government has seized more than 22 billion cu.metres of illegal timber and fined loggers $10 million. Greenpeace has called on all governments to seize uncertified Brazilian mahogany. Pray for the extension of Brazil's ban to all unlicensed logging throughout the Amazon region.

Tuesday 12th March

A Greenpeace report, "The real green revolution", reveals the effects of globalisation on farmers and rural communities throughout the world. In India, with the ending of duties on imported soya beans, prices crashed by more than two-thirds, millions of oilseed-producers lost their markets and the entire edible oil production industry was destroyed. The land is being taken over at knock-down prices by big companies for cash crops such as flowers or shrimps. A similar story is told in many countries. Far from ending hunger, trade liberalization has created a food system to suit large agribusinesses and thrown millions of small farmers off the land and damaged food security around the world.

Wednesday 13th March

A study published by The Lancet has researched the surroundings of 23 European hazardous waste landfill sites (including 8 in Britain). It found that women living within 3 kilometres of these sites have a 40% greater risk of conceiving a child with a chromosomal birth defect, such as Down's syndrome. The Department of Health has responded by announcing "more research."

Thursday 14th March

Dioxins are persistent chemicals produced by incineration and chemical processes. They can damage the male reproductive system in fetuses and some are carcinogens. The Government's Committee on Toxicity has recommended that the tolerable daily intake be reduced by one-fifth to the limits prescribed by the EU Scientific Committee on Food. According to the Food Standards Agency, PCBs and dioxins can be detected in all foods. These contribute 95% of human exposure to these chemicals; the highest concentrations are found in fatty foods such as liver and oily fish. The FSA believes that about one-third of the UK population exceeds the tolerable daily dose in their diet and it supports further measures to reduce dioxins and PCBs in food through effective environmental controls. Damage from these chemicals has been in the public domain for over 20 years, yet little seems to have been done to protect the public. Pray for a real sense of urgency to regulate the food industry.

Friday 15th March

At today's EU summit in Barcelona it will be proposed, under US pressure, to lift the EU moratorium on new approvals of GMOs. Yet the latest EU-commissioned poll shows that 79.9% of people questioned simply do not want GM products. A US submission to the WTO condemns EU plans for compulsory labeling of GM foods on the grounds that they would "erode consumer confidence."

Saturday 16th March

Dr.Barry Commoner in a study published in Harper's Magazine argues that the biotech. Industry relies on an outdated theory that DNA genes are in total control of inheritance in all forms of life. Yet the Human Genome Project has established that there are too few genes to account for the vast differences between people and lower animals or plants, so indicating that agents other than DNA must contribute to genetic complexity. A single gene can give rise to a variety of proteins, resulting in more than a single inherited trait per gene. Thus, a gene's effect on inheritance cannot be predicted from its chemical composition alone. In short, "genetically-engineered crops represent a huge uncontrolled experiment whose outcome is inherently unpredictable, and whose results could be catastrophic."

Sunday 17th March

Father, we have not been good stewards of the world that you have given us for our home. We confess and repent of all the ways in which we have misused your creation. Teach us how to care for it with wisdom, integrity and compassion, and to pass on to our children something of what we have learnt.

Monday 18th March

"Discounted Casualties: the human cost of depleted uranium" is a new book by Akiro Tashiro. Depleted uranium is a by-product of the processing of crude uranium ore to extract the highly-radioactive uranium-235 used in the production of nuclear weapons. It was first used in the Gulf War when 950,000 DU rounds were fired. Besides the well-publicised health effects on British and US soldiers, the book describes the effects on Iraqi civilians who inhaled DU particles. Since the late 1980s cancer deaths in Basra hospitals have risen tenfold. Leukaemia, lymphoma, breast cancer and birth defects, formerly rare, are now common in southern Iraq. Cancer cases and congenital birth defects have increased 3-4 times since the end of the Gulf War, while radiation therapy and chemotherapy drugs are in short supply. Soil, water and plants have been contaminated. And then DU shells were used once again in Kosovo. Pray for a widespread international movement to ban these barbaric weapons for ever.

Tuesday 19th March

An application on behalf of an Avonmouth waste incinerator company to burn low-level nuclear waste from the Harwell site has been withdrawn following publication of a study commissioned by the Shut Oldbury Campaign showing an increase in breast cancer deaths between Avonmouth and the Oldbury nuclear power station along the Severn shore. Pray for all local groups campaigning to protect God's creation from the constant threats of industrial pollution.

Wednesday 20th March

Between 1990 and 2000, despite all the talk about "the paperless office", UK paper and board consumption increased from 9.4 million tonnes a year to 12.9 million tonnes. Plantations accounted for most of the increase in the supply of pulp. Thanks to campaigning groups, the destruction of old-growth forests has eased in Scandinavia, Russia and North America. Forests certified by the FSC as sustainably-managed now cover 34 million hectares or 3% of the world's productive forests, though other, less rigorous, schemes cover additional forests in Scandinavia. The demand for FSC-certified wood products now outstrips the supply. Give thanks for all these developments and pray for further protection for old-growth forests around the world.

Thursday 21st March

UK paper mills in 2000 used 25% less energy than in 1990 and reduced their sulphur emissions by over 80%. While paper-making still uses a lot of water , nearly every mill can now demonstrate that the water it returns to the river is purer than when it was abstracted. Chlorine is no longer used for bleaching: many mills generate their own power by incinerating waste products. Recycled paper now accounts for 60% of newsprint, though some virgin fibre will always be needed as paper can only be recycled 6-8 times before the fibres break down. Give thanks for this progress and pray for all who are working to minimize the impact of paper-making on the environment.

Friday 22nd March

Sales of over 5 million mobile phones last Christmas inevitably left millions of unwanted mobiles to be landfilled - or recycled? Tesco has formed a partnership with XS Tronix to launch a recycling scheme. Every mobile phone handed in for recycling generates 5 for one of three charities - Alzheimer's Society, NCH and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Most of the mobiles, apart from any containing dangerous metals, will be recycled for use in developing countries. Before Christmas the scheme was handling 1,000 mobiles a day. For details visit

Saturday 23rd March

Research at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Tokyo has shown that cloned mice die significantly earlier than mice conceived naturally, have weakened immune systems and suffer from pneumonia, tumours and liver failure. Of 12 cloned mice created in the same way as Dolly the sheep, 10 died before 800 days, of severe pneumonia, cancer or liver failure, while of a control group of 7 mice conceived naturally only one died before 800 days. Professor Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly, has called for a full enquiry into the health of all cloned animals.

Sunday 24th March

Lord, we praise you for the witness of Christian scientists, teachers, commentators and thinkers about our stewardship of your creation, and we pray that the voice of your people may be clearly heard wherever this issue comes up for debate and decision.

Monday 25th March

Higher standards of quality in our water supply require an increase in the use of energy - a projected 17% increase by 2010 - and yet at least a quarter of this high-quality is simply flushed down our toilets. At the Beddington Zero Emissions Development in South London a reedbed system housed in a greenhouse turns rain and wastewater into water safe enough for washing and cleaning, plus compost for the gardener or farmer. A 50 cu.metre machine cleans enough water for 90 homes.

Tuesday 26th March

The water industry has invested millions in sewage treatment plants, yet most of these effluents are simply discharged into the sea. The EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive states clearly: "Treated water shall be re-used wherever appropriate." By using membrane filtration and reverse osmosis, 1% of Peterborough's sewage effluent now supplies the water for a nearby gas-fuelled power plant run by TXU Europe. This saves 1 million litres of drinking water a year - enough for 6,000 homes - and removes the need for purified drinking water to feed the power station's boiler.

Wednesday 27th March

In Tokyo, buildings with a floor area of more than 30,000 sq.metres must be designed to use rainwater catchment and to have greywater recycling treatment before they can get planning permission. The Tokyo Dome - a sports and music centre - uses rainwater, greywater and mains supply in equal proportions. Professor Tom Stephenson, who led a British Water delegation to Japan, says: "The UK Government should set up demonstration schemes to encourage the recycling of water for non-potable uses. Local Authorities should offer incentives, perhaps through council tax relief, for buildings that incorporate greywater recycling and demand management techniques."

Thursday 28th March

The environmental impact of pouring waste oil down a drain can be disastrous. The oil from just one oil-change can spread a film over an entire 4-acre lake. Waste oil banks now exist

Friday 29th March. Good Friday

Lord Jesus, who showed your love for us by treading the path of the Cross for our sakes, make us more ready to take up our personal crosses and to follow you in faith, knowing that you will be with us to the end.

Saturday 30th March

Here are some of the known benefits of trees: "
  • Medicines from trees include aspirin from willow-bark, quinine from cinchona and the anti-cancer drug Taxol from yew
  • . "
  • Gall-bladder surgery patients in wards looking on trees did better than those overlooking walls (Professor Ulrich of Texas A & M University)
  • Motorists drive more calmly on tree-lined routes and often choose these routes even if longer
  • A 40-minute walk through a wood improved concentration, reduced feelings of anger and increased positive feelings (T.Hartig of Uppsala University)
  • A tree canopy reduces UV radiation by 90%, wind speeds by 80%, noise by 40% and air pollution by a variable amount
  • Anecdotal evidence indicates that being in the presence of trees reduces violence, drug abuse and depression. Praise God for the gift of trees.

Sunday 31st March. Easter Day

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the love of your Son Jesus Christ. We thank you that he gave his life for us on the Cross. We thank you that by his death he has destroyed the power of death and won everlasting life for all who believe in him. We thank you that he is with us always and that nothing in life or death can separate us from him. Amen.

Some sources:
The Ecologist
Green Futures
Greenpeace Business

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

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