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October 2002

              "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. Therefore put on the whole armour of God.

(Ephesians 6.12-13)

"The touch of Christ is on creation and his purpose is moulded into it. If you could split open creation, you would find imprinted into it like a watermark 'Made by Him and for Him.' If it doesn't work for Him, it works towards its own ruin."

(Selwyn Hughes)

Tuesday 1st October

The World Summit on Sustainable Development was more to do with Development than with Sustainability, yet the one without the other threatens the life-systems on which everyone - rich and poor - ultimately depends. The failure to act on climate change puts the onus firmly on individuals everywhere to give a lead in promoting sustainable lifestyles and speaking out against the forces of destruction. Pray for Christians everywhere who are taking this message to those around them and to all who will listen.

Wednesday 2nd October

Today is International Walk to School Day - intended to give children, parents, teachers and community leaders an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of walking. Last year nearly 3 million walkers from 21 countries walked to school in the hope of creating communities that are safe places to walk. For details of this year's events visit

Thursday 3rd October

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has produced a strategy for sustainable consumption of resources called "Consumption Opportunities" which contains two elements:
1. Dematerialisation i.e. delivering benefits for a minimum of resource outlay. (Perhaps "Reduce, recycle, re-use" encapsulates this element)
2. Optimisation of consumption patterns, where governments set the framework e.g. by legislating on investment, subsidies, taxation and planning, whereby people and industry can easily change their ways towards sustainable consumption.
"The biggest lie of the industrial age, and the form of economics which steers it, is that enough is never enough. Something is wrong with the idea that accumulation of material goods is essential for human self-realisation and happiness."

Friday 4th October

According to Cormac Cullinan, author of "Wild Law", all our legal systems are based on the assumption that humans are owners and masters of the world with a right to use it for the exclusive benefit of the human species, leading to the dangerous delusion that we can disengage ourselves from the planet and live happily in a human world where technology can provide all we desire. Yet we know, deep within ourselves, that human fulfilment is unattainable outside a web of healthy relationships with the wider community of life on earth. Pray for a growing conviction among the leaders of our extractive industries (oil, gas, coal and minerals) that the consumption of non-renewable resources must end - and the sooner the better.

Saturday 5th October

"It is no accident that so much harm has been done to the planet through the medium of corporations. The laws that we have put in place not only constitute corporations in a manner that requires them to act rapaciously to maximize shareholder value: they also shield people from full responsibility for their actions. Indeed, one of the main functions of the modern corporation seems to be to provide a vehicle that enables a small group of people to direct many others, often at a great distance, to do things that would be regarded as deeply anti-social if done in their personal capacities."

(Cormac Cullinan op.cit.)

Sunday 6th October

God our creator, whose good earth is entrusted to our care and delight and tenderness, we pray

For all who are in captivity to debt,
Whose lives are cramped by fear
From which there is no turning
Except through abundant harvest;

For all who depend on the earth
For their daily food and fuel,
Whose forests are destroyed
For the profit of a few.

For all who labour in poverty,
Who are oppressed by unjust laws,
Who are banned from speaking the truth,
Who long for a harvest of justice.

For all who are in captivity
To greed and waste and boredom,
Whose harvest joy is choked
With things they do not need.

Turn us again from our captivity and restore our vision, that our mouth may be filled with laughter and our tongue with singing.

(Janet Morley)

Monday 7th October

The UN has declared this to be the Year of Ecotourism. A recent study commissioned by the Ford Foundation looked at 14 game lodges in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. It identified five possible benefits to local people:
  • Better conditions of employment and wages;
  • Employment that provides work for vulnerable people such as single mothers;
  • Fair rentals for the use of the land;
  • Joint venture arrangements in which local people receive a share of the profits;
  • Use of local crafters, cultural groups, construction teams and other local resources.
But where local empowerment is weak or poorly defined, all that flows to local people are low wages for a small number of menial posts. It concludes: "Ecotourism can indeed improve the lives of rural poor, but only where there is careful planning, an avoidance of hyped-up rhetoric about the wonders of ecotourism and, above all, an insistence on basic human rights."

Tuesday 8th October

Modern ease of travel encourages the spread of alien species into new habitats, often with disastrous results. The 1991-93 Latin America cholera pandemic was caused by the introduction of vibrio bacteria into rivers from ballast water taken on board ship from India. The introduction of the Nile perch into Lake Victoria in the early 1960s led to a catastrophic decline in native fish on which whole communities had depended. Yet there are still governments that are prepared to authorize the introduction of new genetically-modified plant strains into environments where they have never before occurred. Greenlash is an organization which challenges the current thinking that treats ecosystems as static entities rather than linked, complex and dynamic systems. For information visit

Wednesday 9th October

In recent years the impact of our technologies on the biosphere has loomed ever larger: global warming, ozone depletion, species extinction and deforestation. Yet much of humankind has become addicted to the technological environment, even as technology is seen to threaten the viability of life on earth.
Commonsense would indicate a need to change the technology in order to fit the needs of living things. Instead it was decided to engineer life so that it would better fit the technological system. Living systems had to be redesigned, engineered at the genetic and molecular level, to comport with the technological milieu. "All nature was to be subject to the process of techno-genesis."

(Andrew Kimbrell, author of "The Human Body Shop")

Thursday 10th October

According to Andrew Kimbrell, biotechnology is the ultimate technofix for environmental problems:
  • Global warming is dealt with, not by stopping pollution, but by re-designing plants and animals to withstand the temperatures and droughts resulting from climate change;
  • Chemical pollution of the land is addressed, not by reducing herbicide and pesticide use, but by engineering herbicide-resistant plants that can survive any dosage of chemicals;
  • Deterioration of food is solved, not by encouraging local food production, but by genetically-designing foods for longer shelf-life;
  • Factory-farm systems are not adapted to fit the nature of animals: instead we genetically-engineer our poultry and livestock to withstand the intensive confinement and multitude of diseases endemic to the system.
Species after species is being altered for better survival in the technological milieu. The ultimate agenda is the remaking of life in the image of technology. Unless halted, this will for ever bar any rapprochement with nature. Are we so ensconced in our technological cocoons that we can stand by and see the permanent loss of much of God's creation?

Friday 11th October

Andrew Kimbrell asks us to imagine an alternative future, a "biodemocracy future", where the needs of living things dictate what our technology will be, not a nightmarish future where technology dictates the shape of creation and humanity. We must, he says, take the political, legal and organizing steps to say "no", to halt these technologies before they are fully disseminated and decimate nature. Given the scope and pace of the technological takeover, the time for action is short.

Saturday 12th October

As war fever spreads, Gulf War syndrome again becomes an issue. The US Congress enquiry into the condition has learnt that of the 25,000 French troops in the Gulf War only 149 (0.5%) reported any war-related illness, compared to over 5,000 (10%) of UK troops and 137,862 (19%) of US troops. The difference is that no vaccines or protective drugs were forced on French soldiers. Pray for all who risk exposure to the deadly chemical and biological agents that have become the focus of attention in the Middle East.

Sunday 13th October

Father, as we read and see daily in our newspapers and television programmes the devastation caused by the selfish promotion of political and economic ideologies, we pray earnestly for a change of heart among the nations and for a massive diversion of human resources towards the relief of human suffering and the restoration of your world.

Monday 14th October

According to an FoE report, levels of cancer-causing air pollutants emitted by factories in Britain have fallen by 40% since 1999. 70% of current pollution is produced by just 10 large sites. One of them, Ineos Chlor in Runcorn, Cheshire, is responsible for 28% of the pollution. Besides its 2531 tonnes of recognized carcinogens, it emitted 686 tonnes of ethylene dichloride and 879 tonnes of trichloroethylene, both recognized as carcinogenic in the USA. Pray that the British Government will provide the Environment Agency with the resources and powers it needs to eliminate these black spots without further delay.

Tuesday 15th October

Coral reefs protect coasts from the worst effects of sea surge and storm damage. They are also a major source of useful drugs: half of all new cancer drug research is based on marine organisms, and AZT, the drug given to people with HIV, is based on a chemical from a Caribbean reef sponge. Thousands of species of fish and seaweeds depend on coral reefs and 500 million coastal people living within 60 miles of a reef depend on those fish and weeds for food. Yet there is no environment at greater risk from global warming. By 1997, 27% of the world's coral reefs had been lost. This year the Global Coral Reef Alliance has reported an epidemic of coral bleaching across the South Pacific due to rising temperatures. Pray for all who are working to convince people in the developed world that remedial action must start with them.

Wednesday 16th October

Britain is the world's biggest importer of illegally-harvested timber, yet in a recent MORI poll 87% of those surveyed wanted the Government to ban imports of illegal wood from tropical forests. Of the 20% of the world's forests still surviving, an area the size of two football pitches is destroyed every 2 seconds. Greenpeace has asked the Government to seize all uncertified mahogany either bound for the UK or already in UK shops and warehouses, also to create a Global Forest Protection Fund to pay for forest protection. To support this call, log on to or write to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.

Thursday 17th October

The Indonesian and British governments have signed the world's first inter-governmental agreement to combat illegal timber trading. FoE estimates that 73% of logging in Indonesia is illegal, contributing to the destruction of 2 million hectares of primary forest a year- the equivalent of an area the size of Belgium. The UK is Europe's biggest importer of Indonesian timber and illegal shipments are thought to be worth 76 million a year. UK corporations known to be profiting from the destruction of Indonesia's forests include Barclays, HSBC and Morgan Stanley.

Friday 18th October

A 3-day blockade of the Jaranau River in Amazonia by local community members and Greenpeace activists protesting against forest destruction and demanding the creation of an Extractive Reserve ended when two barges carrying 203 illegally-harvested logs were stopped by a chain of river-boats. IBAMA (the Brazilian Environment Agency) impounded the logs and the owner has been fined 200,000 reals, equivalent to $60,000. Although the Brazilian government has banned logging of uncertified mahogany, enforcement can be a problem, especially if, as in this case, the local mayor is himself involved in the trade.

Saturday 19th October

A WWF report "International Wildlife Trade and Organised Crime" reveals that half those prosecuted in the UK for wildlife crimes have previous convictions for drugs, violence, theft and firearms offences. At Heathrow in 1996 a consignment of live snails was found to be packed with heroin. In 1993 US customs found 39 kg. of cocaine-stuffed condoms inserted into 225 live snakes in a shipment from Brazil. Michael Meacher has responded: "We must seriously consider increasing the penalties for wildlife offences and making them arrestable. At the moment people cannot be arrested once they are through customs." A WWF petition to Parliament is obtainable by logging on to

Sunday 20th October

Lord Jesus, you have called us to be your witnesses on earth. Help us to proclaim, by word and deed, the message of your love to all humankind, and to declare your lordship over creation and our responsibility as your stewards.

Monday 21st October

"Biomimicry" by Janine Benyus set a trend in redesigning industrial and agricultural systems on biological lines, copying materials and processes found in nature and continually reusing materials so that nothing is wasted. An example is the work of Wes Jackson at The Land Institute in Kansas who aims to imitate the productivity of natural prairie, which yields endless growth without the use of a plough or anything else commonly associated with crop production. Perennial high seed-yielding edible grains are grown in mixtures: these domestic prairies hold the soil, fertilise themselves and protect themselves against pests. Perennial wheat, rye and sorghum have been successfully bred and conservative agricultural scientists are taking the work seriously. The goal of "no-plough" agriculture is in sight, so cutting soil erosion and fossil fuel use, while increasing diversity and habitat for the rest of life.

Tuesday 22nd October

A reduction in car use could be achieved by a new Pay-As-You-Drive insurance scheme - a radical new idea that works out a variable premium based on annual mileage rather than the current fixed rate system. "A mileage-based instead of a flat-rate insurance premium could reduce insurance costs for low-income motorists and provide an incentive for all motorists to drive less. This change would both tackle social exclusion and help the government cut congestion and pollution" said Tony Grayson of IPPR. The Norwich Union has announced a pilot scheme. For details ring 0800 096 4715 or visit

Wednesday 23rd October

Modern farming practice, by producing vast quantities of carbon dioxide and methane, is a major contributor to global warming according to Jules Pretty of Essex University and author of "Agri-culture" (Earthscan): "The soil is a major absorber of carbon dioxide, but not if ploughed, which encourages soil erosion and reduces the levels of organic materials in the soil. Simply switching from industrial ploughing to 'conservation tillage' or 'zero tillage' makes a huge difference. The systems maintain a permanent or semi-permanent organic cover over the soil, protecting it from sun, rain and wind, and feeding soil organisms. This improves soil fertility, thus requiring less fertilizer, reduces the amount of ploughing, reducing petrol consumption and emissions, and increases both carbon absorption and carbon retention (up to 1.3 tonnes per hectare)." For further information visit

Thursday 24th October

With sales of computers passing the billion mark, the mountain of discarded PCs rises ever higher, with only one in five being recycled in the Britain. Used computers can be donated to the charity Computer Aid International, to be refurbished and shipped to schools and community organizations that could not otherwise afford them. About 10,000 computers have so far been sent to 60 developing countries. Alternatively, the Dutch electronics recovery firm Flection has engaged the UK charity Recom to collect used computers from companies for refurbishing. All existing data are removed, the computers are fitted with new accessories and shipped back to Britain for sale to organizations such as special needs schools for a quarter of the price of a new computer. On-site servicing and guarantees will be available. Contacts: Computer Aid International tel.020 7281 0091 or visit Ronald Stephens at Recom tel.01425 657844 or visit

Friday 25th October

Recent OECD figures show that
  • Donor assistance for environmental protection and social services has declined to less than 15% of all aid, compared with 35% at the time of the 1992 Rio Summit;
  • Rich countries subsidise their industries by nearly $1,000 billion a year - including more than $300 billion for agriculture;
  • OECD countries subsidise the emission of greenhouse gases by $57 billion a year - almost exactly the cost of meeting targets under the Kyoto Protocol. "Through their subsidies on fossil fuels, governments are effectively subsidising pollution and global warming, as more than 60% of all subsidies flow to coal, oil and gas."
  • If the USA, Canada, Japan and the EU countries accept migrants to the extent that they make up 4% of the workforce, the returns to poor countries could be over $160 billion a year - far more than any debt relief could provide.
Pray for the widest publicity for these figures which could, if governments were to take notice, lead to major changes of policy.

Saturday 26th October

WWF's Living Planet Report 2002 says that there is an average of 1.9 hectares of productive land for each of the 6 billion people now on earth, but we are actually consuming the capacity of 2.3 hectares, while North Americans consume an average of 9.6 hectares, compared with less than 1.4 hectares for the average African. It proposes three steps to mitigate the problem:
  • Move away from fossil fuels to the use of renewable energy;
  • Promote healthcare and education to control human population;
  • Use technology to increase resource efficiency.

Sunday 27th October

Father God, please teach us how to live more simply, to be more sensitive towards your creation and to care for all the life that you have created. Help us to turn from our arrogant ways. Redeem us, redeem your world, heal its wounds and dry its tears, for the sake of your dear Son who died for your world.

Monday 28th October

A report sponsored by the British Government and RSPB estimates that the world loses about $250 billion a year through loss of habitat. In effect, by our bad accounting we are counting the destruction of nature as revenue. The report, published in "Science", compared the marketed benefits of converting wild habitats to human exploitation (for example, converting Malaysian rainforest to intensive logging or a Thai mangrove system to shrimp farming) and found that in each case humanity got a bad deal. A global nature reserve network would guarantee goods and services worth at least $4,400 billion more than the profits to be made after conversion. One solution would be to tackle existing tax and subsidy regimes that too often encourage conversion. Andrew Balmford, a Cambridge economist, comments: "Directly challenging tax and subsidy regimes is a good way both to improve economic efficiency and the environment. We thought that the numbers would favour conservation, but not by this much."

Tuesday 29th October

More than 130 new wind farms are planned for Scotland, of which 32 (according to the Sunday Herald) are at an advanced stage and could supply up to one-third of all Scotland's electricity, far more than a large nuclear power station. Involving more than 1200 turbines, these farms will have an installed capacity of over 2000 MW, compared to the 1300 MW capacity of the Hunterston nuclear plant and the 6000 MW needed to power the whole of Scotland. Meanwhile, in England, the Ministry of Defence has objected to 238 of the 506 proposals for wind farms accepted since 1999.

Wednesday 30th October

Government inspectors have revealed that huge gas circulating fans at British Energy's Torness nuclear plant, which provides 13% of BE's capacity, were "severely damaged and in pieces of various sizes." Both reactors have been closed for safety. The Nuclear Installation Inspectorate cannot say with certainty the cause of the fault. The Heysham 2 nuclear plant, which has identical gas circulators, has also been shut down, but for unconnected electrical faults. BE is now operating with only 40% of its capacity and has applied for government assistance to meet its cash obligations.
Meanwhile a report from AEA Technology finds that 30 offshore windfarms off the East Anglian coast alone could supply the same amount of electricity as all Britain's nuclear plants put together.

Thursday 31st October.

UK supermarkets give away 10 billion plastic bags each year. They are commonly used for less than an hour, then thrown away. They take 10 years to decompose naturally in landfill sites. Now the Government plans to tax shoppers at 9p. for every plastic carrier bag they take from the shop, using the revenue for environmental and recycling initiatives. Experience of a similar initiative in Ireland suggests that this will much reduce our litter problems and the pressure on scarce landfill sites. The Government hopes to have the scheme operating within two years.


Green Futures.
WWF News

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Philip Clarkson Webb
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