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CHRISTIAN ECOLOGY LINK
"Where can I go from your Spirit?|
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast."
"Prayer is the deliberate and persevering action of the soul. It is true and enduring, and full of grace. Prayer fastens the soul to God and makes it one with his will, through the deep inward working of the Holy Spirit. Everything our good Lord makes us to pray for, he has ordained that we should have since before time began. When we come to heaven, our prayers shall be waiting for us as part of our delight, with endless joyful thanks from God."
(Mother Julian of Norwich)
Wednesday 1st May.As globalisation intensifies, divisions between rich and poor continue to grow. A series of church-based events at Wesley's Chapel, London, today from 10 to 6 include a rally chaired by Bishop John Gladwin with Vandana Shiva, Ann Pettifor and Timothy Gorringe. Pray for all who are working for global economic justice.
Thursday 2nd May.Pigs love to root in fields and wallow in mud. When denied this freedom in factory farms, they start gnawing their cages and biting each others' tails and ears. Operators of pig factories respond by chopping off the tails of piglets and removing eight teeth with wire-cutters. "Human society" writes Vandana Shiva, "is being caged and controlled through violent economic and political structures, their spaces enclosed through privatization, liberalization and globalisation. Could the violence being unleashed by humans against humans be similar to the violence that animals express when denied their freedom to roll in the mud and roam outside? Could the coercive imposition of a consumer culture worldwide, with its concomitant destruction of values, cultural diversity, livelihoods and the environment be the invisible cages against which people are rebelling? Could the lasting solution to violence for humans be the same as for other animals - to give them back their space for spiritual, ecological, psychological and economic freedom?"
Friday 3rd May.A school experiment in Norway called "Living School" aims to develop and use school grounds as "learning tools" in the curriculum and to involve neighbouring farms as educational resources. The children learn about the long process it takes for food to travel from earth to table. A sheep farmer involved with one of the pilot farms said: "The relation between effort and result becomes strikingly clear. If one has not prepared a field the year before one sows, the result will be poor. That is an important lesson for the children. On the other hand, to see the results of one's own efforts gives tremendous satisfaction. When the output depends on the animals and nature, one has to devote much attention to maintenance and care. In order to yield healthy and good products from nature, you have to treat nature with care. An ecological approach, in which one sees oneself as being part of the larger whole, ought to be expressed in everything you do on the farm." For information on Living Schools, visit www.levandeskule.nlh.no
Saturday 4th May.Privatisation of education, already a reality in the USA, is spreading to Britain. The government agency Scottish Enterprise last year distributed to schools 20,000 copies of a magazine called "Biotech and You" as a teacher's resource, but failed to warn teachers that the publishers, The Biotechnological Institute, were a lobby group funded by Monsanto, Novartis, Pfizer and Rhone-Poulenc. The magazine attacks organic farming, claims that Monsanto's Roundup is "less toxic than table salt" and suggests it would be immoral not to develop GM crops. A new agency called "Connexions" run by Capita plc. allows schoolchildren who register to trade points for discounts from consumer goods listed on its website. Capita explains that companies such as McDonalds and PlayStation Magazine will have the opportunity of "seeing what these young people take up."
Sunday 5th May.Lord, lead us into the darkness that we may find what lies concealed; That we may confess it towards the light; That we may carry our truth into the centre of our heart; ` That we may carry our cross wisely And bring harmony into our life and our world. (Leunig)
Monday 6th May.Nearly half the world's emerging markets are at risk of violent conflicts, sometimes attributed to ethnicity or religion, but often triggered by poverty or exploitation. The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) has published a report called "The Business of Peace: The Private Sector as a Partner in Conflict Prevention & Resolution", which gives examples of the role of IBLF in conflict-prevention, usually in collaboration with member companies and NGOs such as Amnesty International. "Peaceworks" for example is a New York-based company which has helped former combatants work together making gourmet food products in Israel, South Africa and Bosnia. Its founder, Daniel Lubetzky, believes that business can be a driving force for reconciliation and understanding.
Tuesday 7th May.IBLF refers in its report to Datu Paglas, a town in the Southern Philippines which, until the mid-90s, was riven by crime and violence between Muslims and Christians. Now children can cycle to school, the street is lined with busy shops and occasional lorries trundle past packed with bananas bound for Japan, China, Korea and the Middle East. In 1996 the newly-elected mayor, Ibrahim Paglas, persuaded local landowners to make available 1,300 hectares for investment in banana plantations. La Frutera Inc. was formed with commercial investment from Italy, Saudi Arabia and the USA. The local commander of the Muslim rebels promised not to target the plantations and this promise has held. State-of-the-art irrigation technology has been provided by an Israeli engineering firm and recently the plantation broke the world record for the heaviest bunch of bananas. Environmental certification has come from the Rainforest Action Network. Muslims and Christians work side by side at Datu Paglas, where civil strife once kept the communities segregated. For other examples of conflict resolution visit www.iblf.org or telephone 020 7467 3637.
Wednesday 8th May."If 11 September taught us one thing, it's that in this wildly inter-connected world, other people's vulnerabilities are ours as well. By reducing other people's insecurities - and the rage and hostility that flow from them - we reduce our own." (Carl Frankel in "Talking Ghosts: a conversation with the Past about the Future") Jane Nelson in the IBLF report "The Business of Peace" argues that "the potential and reality of violent conflict has become an unavoidable business issue" and that "business has a growing commercial rationale for engaging in conflict-resolution in order to avoid the business costs of conflict and to reap the business benefits of peace." Our Lord summed it all up in two words: "Be Peacemakers" (Matthew 5.9)
Thursday 9th May.The recent government Energy Review recommends that 20% of our electricity should come from renewables by 2020, yet since the Rio Summit in 1992 the Government's Export Credit Guarantee Department has supplied £15 billion for fossil fuel projects in developing countries, and nothing for renewable energy schemes, so effectively subsidizing extra greenhouse gas emissions around one-third the size of UK emissions. The Department for International Development is estimated to spend less than 0.7% of its assistance on renewable energy. Yet at least 2 billion people round the world live without electricity whose lives could be improved by the supply of solar panels to schools and hospitals. Pray for more "movers and shakers" seized with a determination to create change and prepared to combat the forces of inertia.
Friday 10th May.As long ago as 1982 the Pentagon found that a handful of people could cut off three-quarters of oil and gas supplies to America's Eastern States, shut off power to any major city and kill millions by crashing aircraft into a nuclear power station. Today America's energy supplies are just as centralized and just as vulnerable. According to Amory and Hunter Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute "Energy security starts with using less energy far more efficiently to do the same tasks. Then it gets that energy from sources that are inherently invulnerable because they are dispersed, diverse and increasingly renewable." Between 1979 and 1985, when America's GDP rose by 16%, total oil use fell by 15% and Middle Eastern imports fell by 87%. Sadly that trend was later reversed. "Saving energy is the fastest way to blunt OPEC's market power, beat down prices and expand the share of energy from invulnerable sources." It is also the best contribution we can all make towards protecting God's world.
Saturday 11th May.If (writes Amory Lovins) the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska holds economically-recoverable oil (an unlikely proposition), delivering it by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline system would make it the fattest energy-terrorist target in the country - akin to pinning a "Kick-Me" sign on Uncle Sam's backside. Give thanks for the US senate's decision to block the exploitation of oil in the Alaskan wilderness and pray for moves towards renewable energy and the planning of a decentralized supply network.
Sunday 12th May.Teach us, Father, to make you the centre of all our activities, in our thinking, in our work and in our rest, that we may do all for the greater glory of your Name. Amen.
Monday 13th May.A new "Energy & Biodiversity Initiative" brings together major energy companies including BP, Chevron Texaco, Shell and Statoil with conservation groups such as Fauna & Flora International, IUCN and the Smithsonian Institution "to develop and promote best practices for integrating biodiversity conservation into oil and gas development and transmission." But, as Sir John Browne of BP said last year, "There is proven and rising demand for fossil fuels and our job as a company is to sell people the energy products they want." In other words, only consumer pressure can persuade BP to do the right thing. That means us.
Tuesday 14th May."Technology - Taking the Good without the Bad" is the title of a New Science/Greenpeace debate this evening at The Royal Institution, London. Questions for debate include: " As the frontiers of biotech, nanotech and IT get weirder and wilder, are major risks emerging? " Should we ban some technologies because they are too easy to subvert? " Could we become slaves to the system without even noticing? Speakers include Robin Grove-White of the Institute for Environment, Lancaster University, Ian Pearson, BT futurologist, and Jon Turney, head of science & technology at University College, London. For details ring 020 7670 2985 or e-mail: email@example.com
Wednesday 15th May.Should extractive industries such as oil and mining keep out of internationally-protected areas? BP and Rio Tinto - both with advanced environmental policies - refuse to adopt a policy that would prevent them exploiting resources in such areas. BP argues that it is up to governments to determine whether to permit mining or oil-drilling in the light of national needs, and then it is up to BP to decide whether it can operate there while respecting its environmental standards. Adrian Philips of IUCN replies: "Strictly-protected areas cover at most 4% of the earth's surface: major extractive industries are simply not compatible with their protection. It is hard to see how a company can take biodiversity seriously while they are at the same prepared to industrialise these last refuges of wild nature."
Thursday 16th May.The regional government of Lombardy, Italy's most populous province, has announced a ban on all cars running on fossil fuels, to take effect in 2005. Its president hopes that gas/electric hybrid vehicles, and later hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, can relieve Lombardy of pollution from petrol and diesel. Professor David King, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, commented that fixing such a target date in the UK would force the car industry to switch to fuel-cell and electric vehicles. He added that the recent Energy Review had not done this "as clearly as I would have liked" - a thoroughly diplomatic understatement.
Friday 17th May.The Government's target of cutting CO2 emissions by 23% of 1990 levels by 2010 now looks unattainable. In 2000 the amount of coal burned in power stations rose 15% over 1999 figures while the gas used rose only 0.7%. In the 1st quarter of 2001 coal consumption rose by 17.4% as against 3.6% for gas. Coal produces twice as much CO2 per kWh of electricity as does gas. But gas prices have risen sharply while coal prices remain steady. According to Cambridge Econometrics, the New Electricity Trading Arrangement (NETA) has cut electricity prices and encouraged consumption, so that, far from falling below their 1990 levels, CO2 emissions from households will be 19% higher in 2010. Pray for rapid action to forestall this bizarre result of government intervention.
Saturday 18th May.The Isle of Lewis could become the site of the world's largest onshore wind farm if a plan to install 300 2-MW wind turbines near Stornoway gets planning permission. The farm would provide around 1% of Britain's electricity needs. The electricity generated would be "exported" via a 350-mile undersea cable to West Wales, with links to Merseyside and North Wales. The turbines and towers would be manufactured on Lewis. The income from the farm would exceed £3 million a year in an area of high unemployment.
Sunday 19th May.Entrusted with an earthly home
Our minds did not create or build,
We live as visitors and guests
Until our years have been fulfilled.
Through centuries, without concern
For all the grandeur and the grace,
We've taken beauty from the earth
And left it poor - a barren place.
Our carelessness has clogged the streams,
Which once were clear and sparkling strands,
Our industries have blacked the skies
And left a smog on all our lands.
O God, we've been ungrateful guests
Upon this earth, which you designed;
Within our time, help us restore
Our blighted world for all mankind.
Monday 20th May.Last month the magazine Nature disowned a paper it published in November claiming to prove that genes from GM maize grown in the USA had accidentally crossed into Mexico (see February 1st). Now scientists from Mexico's Environment Ministry have examined 1,876 seedlings from native varieties of maize grown by traditional farmers in Oaxaca and Puebla. In 95% of sites surveyed they found traces of a virus used to "switch on" the insecticidal or herbicidal properties of GM varieties of maize used in the USA. Jorge Soberon, Secretary of the National Commission on Biodiversity, said: "This is the world's worst case of contamination by genetically-modified material because it happened in the place of origin of a major crop species. There is no doubt about it. It is confirmed." Pray for an early assessment in Britain of the implications for our ongoing GM crop trials.
Tuesday 21st May.In March the EU Environment Agency concluded from an official study that GM crops will lead to the creation of weedkiller-resistant superweeds and drive wild plants to extinction, and that GM contamination of organic and traditional farms was inevitable. English Nature has published research into GM superweeds in Canada where several GM varieties of oilseed rape have cross-pollinated, creating new plants that are resistant to several widely-used weedkillers. NFU Insurance has declared it "impossible for any insurance company to provide against GM contamination of crops." Pray for a top Government decision to ban the growing of all GM crops until the implications of these disturbing reports have been examined.
Wednesday 22nd May.China, the largest importer of US soya in the world, has imposed tight restrictions over GM grain imports and mandatory labeling of GM foods. Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are all preparing or enforcing GM regulations and the labeling of GM food. In Europe, the seed company Advanta, having spent £10 million on GM research, has closed its testing laboratory for GM crops, while the Royal Society has called on the Government to investigate the potential health effects of GM foods before allowing them on the market.
Thursday 23rd May."The Real Green Revolution", a new report from the Greenpeace Environmental Trust, finds that 3% of all agricultural land in the South is now managed on ecological principles. Evidence from case studies of organic farms shows increased yields, benefits in soil quality, reductions in pests and diseases and an increase in food security, both through crop diversity and lack of dependence on external inputs such as chemicals and finance. The report calls for an end to chemical-dependent agriculture, support for organic farming, and security of land tenure to encourage people to develop long-term socially and ecologically-responsible management strategies.
Friday 24th May.City farms in Havana, Cuba's capital, produce 60% of Cuba's vegetables. Within the city 62,000 huertos - private urban plots of less than 800 sq.metres - are devoted to food production. In 1989, when imports of Soviet fertilizers and chemicals were cut off, Cuban agriculture became a laboratory for non-chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Land reforms switched 40% of farmland from state farms to incentive-based co-operatives, whose farmers could sell to farmers' markets offering better prices than the state. Urban agriculture created 200,000 new jobs last year, many of them for women. Family co-operatives pay their wages.
Saturday 25th May.The Israeli port of Eilat is built on an extensive salt marsh dominated by a plant (Suaeda monoica) which flowers and fruits in spring and autumn just in time for 1 billion migrating birds of over 230 species which use the marsh as a re-fuelling station after nearly 2,000 km. of flight over continuous deserts. But Eilat has become a haven for tourists, and a mass of hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and intensively-farmed agricultural fields now replace most of the salt marsh. Eight years ago, when Professor Yosef first came to Eilat, it was common to see exhausted birds wandering about in search of food, some dying after feeding on pesticide-laden farmlands. He acquired a 160-acre disused landfill site, buried the waste, covered it with topsoil and created a freshwater and a saltwater pond. He then irrigated the land with partially-treated sewage which revived the vegetation and insect life. The migrant birds are now offered food in an area which, though less than 5% of the original salt marsh, still helps them on their long migration to Europe and Asia. To angry would-be developers he points out that these birds play an important part in distributing seeds, pollinating flowers and controlling insect and rodent populations. For more information write to IBRCE, PO Box 774, 88106 Eilat, Israel, or visit: www.arava.org/birds-eilat
Sunday 26th May.Lord Christ, you have made us stewards and entrusted us with the wonders of your creation. Instil within our hearts a reverence for every living thing, lest in the hardness of our hearts we lose our reverence for life itself. (Frank Topping)
Monday 27th May.The Government has set up a National Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit to combat the illegal trade in endangered birds, animals and animal products such as ivory. Michael Meacher, in launching the Unit, said: "Crimes against wildlife continue, pushing some of our most endangered species ever closer to extinction. As the net closes on these criminals, they find ever more sophisticated ways of evading detection. We need equally sophisticated techniques to track down these criminals." More than 570 illegal wildlife items are seized by customs in Britain every day, but few arrests are made, even though the 1997 regulations attach a maximum sentence of two years to trafficking in endangered species. In cash terms, the wildlife trade comes second only to the trade in illegal drugs. Pray for a strengthening of the legislation needed to enforce the controls, and for adequate funding.
Tuesday 28th May."Can Science be directed?" is the title of this evening's New Science/Greenpeace debate at The Royal Institution, London. Questions to be addressed include: " Why do we spend billions on GM and only millions on understanding the Earth's ecology? " Are scientists powerful without being accountable? " Is most science funding really fuelling corporate agendas outside our control? " Do we need to make the forces that drive science explicit, so that we can make choices that benefit more people? The speakers include Vandana Shiva, physicist and environmental activist, Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, and Steve Fuller, Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. For details ring 020 7670 2985 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 29th May.UK spending on tuna fish is 15 times higher than it was eight years ago, while stocks of yellowfin and skipjack tuna are under serious threat. Sainsburys sell more than one can of tuna every second. They are now funding an officer from the Marine Stewardship Council to investigate the management of tuna fisheries round the world and to encourage them to apply for certification to the MSC standard of sustainability. MSC's chief executive said: "The battle for sustainable fisheries can only be won of retailers like Sainsburys show real vision and leadership.
Thursday 30th May.Canberra now recovers 66% of its waste, Edmonton in Canada recovers 70%. The EU landfill directive requires us to reduce our landfill usage to 35% of 1995 levels by 2020. The Bath & North-East Somerset Council has become the first UK local authority to adopt a zero-waste goal. Currently they recover only 28% on their waste, but they are running trials of kerbside collections of kitchen and garden waste in segregated wheelie bins and believe they can reach the EU target without resorting to incineration.
Friday 31st May.WaterAid has offered to collect old telephones, batteries and chargers free of charge for quantities of ten or more. A regenerated cast-off phone can make £30 for WaterAid's work in the South. Even if it is beyond repair, it is still worth recycling - and keeping the cadmium content out of landfill. For details ring WaterAid on 020 7793 4504 or e-mail: email@example.com or visit www.wateraid.org.uk
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