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January 2003

         "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."

(Eph. 6.17-18)

"When I pray, I'm like an electric bulb put into its socket, full of light and power. When I don't pray, I'm like that same electric bulb disconnected from its socket: no light and no power."


"Prayer at its best opens earth to heaven."

(Selwyn Hughes)

Wednesday 1st January.

"Terrorism provides the means by which quite small groups, with little economic, political or military power, can inflict huge damage on rich countries with vast armies." (Robert van der Weyer in "Islam and the West"). "The invasion by America of a Muslim country and the humiliation this would inflict on Muslim sensibilities would recruit hundreds, perhaps thousands, of additional young men to the terrorist ranks and attract millions of dollars to the terrorist coffers. It is not fanciful to imagine suicide bombers bringing the same degree of fear to the streets of Birmingham and London, Chicago and Boston, as they currently do in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Ardent Muslims are as plentiful in America and Britain as they are in the West Bank and Gaza." Pray that God will inspire Western leaders and opinion-formers to avert this dreadful outcome.

Thursday 2nd January.

Last July a report by the World Policy Institute revealed that 32 major appointees in the Bush Administration were executives, shareholders or consultants of top weapons contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. According to the Center of Defense Information, the 2003 US budget for military spending is $396 billion, an increase of $45 billion on the 2002 budget and 15% up on Cold War levels. The US, though no longer threatened by another superpower, justifies such spending by suspected threats from "rogue states" such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea and from terrorist groups which might attack the US with weapons of mass destruction. By contrast, US expenditure on promoting democracy abroad is some $700 million a year, while the whole foreign aid budget for 2003 is $8.5 billion - just over 2% of its military budget.

Friday 3rd January.

The Soil Association National Conference opens today at the Royal Agricultural College Cirencester under the title "Trading fairly from plough to plate: new models for ethical and sustainable trade in agriculture." The speakers include Jonathan Dimbleby, Zac Goldsmith and Eric Schlosser. The aim is to harness the organic movement to promote socially and environmentally sustainable trading practices. For details ring 0117 987 4586 or visit Pray for the rapid spread of organic agriculture.

Saturday 4th January

While any US citizen may run for high office, the cost of doing so is a huge deterrent. In the 2000 elections both George Bush and Al Gore spent over $300 million on their campaigns. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the average winning Senate campaign in the 2000 election cost $5.6 million, while it cost each Congressman $636,000 to be elected. Only those with private wealth or the support of the rich can afford to run for high office. Unsurprisingly, few politicians dare to question business or defence spending, knowing that such moves are unlikely to get them elected. John McCain, a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2000 election, warned of the dangers of plutocracy in America, but he was defeated by George Bush, who was heavily funded by big business. Pray for the restoration of political integrity in every nation where democracy is threatened by unaccountable forces.

Sunday 5th January

O God, King of kings and Lord of Lords, we pray for statesmen, leaders and rulers. May they be quiet in spirit, clear in judgement, able to understand the issues that face them.
May they think often of the common people on whose behalf they must speak and act.
May they remember that in keeping your laws is man's only good and happiness.
Grant them patience, grant them courage, grant them foresight, grant them great faith.
In their anxieties be their security, in their opportunities be their inspiration. By their plans and actions may your kingdom come, your will be done.

(Lilian Cox)

Monday 6th January

Because of the rapid pace at which electronic products become obsolete and are replaced, production is expected to rocket to 1 billion transistors per person by 2010. Yet the industry requires copious amounts of chemicals and leaves behind huge quantities of dangerous wastes. Production of a single 6-inch silicon wafer results in 14 kilos of solid waste and 11,000 litres of wastewater. Workers in the industry are on the frontline of exposure and at risk of developing cancer or seeing birth defects in their children.

Tuesday 7th January

Cellphones give millions of people first-time access to a phone service, yet discarded cellphones contribute to the growing mountain of electronic waste, while there are unresolved questions regarding possible harm to humans from the radio waves they emit. According to the Worldwatch Institute, more than 80% of the world's hazardous waste is produced in industrialized countries and about 10% of this is shipped to other countries. The Basel Action Network found that huge quantities of computer monitors, cellphones, circuit boards etc. end up in China, India and Pakistan where they are either dumped or their materials - such as lead, mercury, cadmium, copper and gold - are salvaged in such crude ways as to pose a severe occupational and environmental threat.

Wednesday 8th January

Time and again, technological innovation has unleashed a range of unintended consequences. Technological optimism, an overly-narrow scientific focus, a prevalence of the profit motive or just lack of foresight, may lead societies to adopt innovations only to discover surprising side-effects, unsuspected long-term consequences and unanticipated feed-back loops. "The world is still learning to cope with the repercussions of the chemical revolution, even as it hurtles at breakneck speed through the electronics age and plunges headlong into the biotech era." (Michael Renner, Director of the Worldwatch annual "Vital Signs")

Thursday 9th January

"The challenge for us all is to use human inventions more judiciously, with an eye to the likely implications for equity and sustainability. Simply striving for the technically feasible is no longer a responsible option. The precautionary principle becomes ever more important as our lives are increasingly permeated by the creations of human ingenuity and hubris. This is only possible with a holistic view of the world and a better idea of how everything is connected."

(Michael Renner)

Friday 10th January

The church of St.Francis, Sandycroft, Flintshire, and its associated church hall have received a faculty for re-roofing the hall with photo-voltaic shingles to power storage heaters in the church and to feed the surplus electricity into the national grid. The Energy Saving Trust has a grant scheme for such developments, though no church has yet benefited. Other projects planned include a community composting scheme in the churchyard and a community recycling scheme. Everything is driven by the view that, in order for the Church to have a credible voice in sustainability, it has to be seen to be doing what it can within the bounds of available resources. For details visit and for information on grants check out the DTI's Solar Grants Page

Saturday 11th January

Britain's only Green Roadshow, now into its 11th year, last year attended 19 major outdoor events and has a busy programme for 2003. With its colourful Solar-powered circus top, it includes a solar-powered roundabout, a scrap-store play area, woodland crafts, a sustainable living exhibition, electric bicycles, a renewable energy stand and the world's largest solar-powered public-address system, plus a rolling programme of workshops and family entertainment. For details ring Andy or Sally on 01749 343953 or visit

Sunday 12th January

O Spirit of God, set at rest the crowded, hurrying conscious thoughts within our minds and hearts.
Let the peace and quiet of your presence take possession of us.
Help us to relax, to rest, to become open and receptive to you.
You know our inmost spirits, the hidden unconscious life within us, the forgotten memories of hurts and fears, the frustrated desires, the unresolved tensions and dilemmas.
Cleanse and sweeten the springs of our being, that freedom, life and love may flow into both our conscious and our hidden life.
Lord, we lie open before you, waiting for your healing, your peace and your word.

(George Appleton)

Monday 13th January

A new and independent Veterinary Residues Committee has focused attention on two drugs, nicarbazin and dimetridazole (DMZ), used to control coccidiosis, a parasitic infection rife among intensively-reared poultry. Both drugs have been banned by the EU, but DMZ is still permitted in intensive rearing of pheasants despite it being recognized as carcinogenic. Also used on intensive turkey farms is the antibiotic drug lasalocid, which regularly causes death or illness in farm animals and pets due to accidental contamination of their feed. Last year a quarter of one flock of turkeys died from lasalocid poisoning. The drug companies had it licensed not as a veterinary medicine (which would not have gained approval) but as a feed additive. The Soil Association The use of antibiotics on chickens, though banned elsewhere in Europe, is now permitted in Britain under the "little red tractor" farm assurance scheme, despite evidence that their use leads to resistance in humans to important medical drugs. The Soil Association believes that the poultry industry should move away from drug-dependency and towards well-designed free-range systems. Where this is not possible, most of the problems for which these drugs are used could be solved by a reduction in the density at which birds are kept, changes to their diet and the introduction of fresh air.

Wednesday 15th January

More than 80,000 industrial chemicals and 20,000 pesticide formulations are in use today, many of them finding their way into our food and everyday products such as plastic containers, cling film, televisions and stereos. From there they gradually leach into the air and water and eventually into our bodies. Of particular concern, says WWF, are the following:
  • " Persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals such as brominated flame retardants which accumulate in the bodies of people and wildlife;
  • " Hormone-disrupting chemicals which interfere with the development and reproduction of animals including humans.
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants will phase out and ban twelve of the most dangerous pollutants, but the EU, Russia and the USA have yet to ratify it.

Thursday 16th January

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is equally concerned at the rising tide of chemical contamination: it cites the female molluscs that have changed sex, male alligators with reduced penis size and the males of some UK fish species that have produced eggs or ovarian tissue in their testes. According to the University of California, the use of pesticides in the home is linked to a significant increase in childhood leukaemia. The earlier a child is exposed to pesticides, the higher the risk of developing the illness - and exposure during pregnancy carries the greatest risk. Other problems thought to be associated with chemical contamination range from birth defects and reduced sperm counts to impeded brain development and various cancers

Friday 17th January

Botanists have identified more than 400 species of plants growing in soils that naturally contain pollutants such as zinc, lead and copper. On some contaminated sites they have removed such metals from the soil. An experiment with a species of brassica which accumulates nickel showed that plants grown in contaminated soil were nibbled by animals in preference to plants grown in containers in soil without any nickel. Although the animals could accumulate nickel in their tissues, the ecological effects were not thought to be enough to hinder the continued use of plants to clean up waste sites.

Saturday 18th January

The Johannesburg Summit sought to focus attention on five key areas: water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity. About 900 million people out of the 1.2 billion living on less than $1 a day live in rural areas where they are highly dependent on biodiversity for their living conditions. They depend on vegetated water catchment areas for their water supplies, they harvest fuelwood for cooking and heating, and they use a great variety of plants for food and medicines. The Plan of Implementation agreed at Johannesburg called for the preservation, development and use of effective traditional medicine. In the words of Peter Crane, Director of Kew, "It is self-evident that this simply can't occur without the preservation of the plants on which these practices depend." Pray for the work of Kew and other botanical centres in providing useful information on plant resources, accelerating the growth of in-country biological expertise and helping to meet the needs of developing countries by enabling better management of their plant resources.

Sunday 19th January

God our Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over the earth. Increase our reverence before the mystery of life. Give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Frank Colquhoun)

Monday 20th January

Global temperatures for the first 11 months of 2002 averaged 14.650C. according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. This makes 2002 the 2nd warmest year since global records began in 1867. The fifteen warmest years since 1867 have all occurred since 1980; the three warmest years have come within the last 5 years. Lester Brown, President of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, says that this is further evidence that the trend of rising temperatures is gaining momentum. In this case, the Kyoto Protocol (which the USA has refused to endorse) "will soon be seen as completely inadequate."

Tuesday 21st January

Farm-scale trials of GM crops will end this year and a decision will be made whether to grow them commercially. Many questions about genetic pollution, food safety, consumer choice, transparency in decision-making, liability for damage, the socio-economic impacts on farmers and the impact of patents on agriculture, all these remain unanswered. A recent Soil Association report called "Seeds of Doubt" catalogues the economic impact of growing GM crops in North America: problems with yields, greater reliance on herbicide use, losses for the organic sector as a result of contamination and problems for farmers over patent rights - all these suggest that GM crops are not the economic saviour that the biotech industry once proclaimed. Public consultations continue monthly in Central London. One of them is today. Others are on February 20th and March 20th. For details ring Pat Wilson on 020 7215 3863

Wednesday 22nd January

In the Swiss village of Pontresina, workers are completing a giant earth dam 500 metres wide and as tall as a four-storey building as a defence against a cliff which is crumbling as global warming melts the permafrost that anchors it. When completed, it will cost the equivalent of $5 million. Andreas Kaab of the University of Zurich, who is mapping the creep of permafrost and glaciers, says that there has been a distinct acceleration in melting in the past 20-30 years. Switzerland is particularly at risk because its mountains are more densely populated than in most other countries.

Thursday 23rd January

The 3rd World Social Forum begins today at Porto Alegre, Brazil, timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum of industrialized countries taking place in Davos, Switzerland. The WSF will seek alternative means of building globalisation - one that respects human and social rights and puts people before profit. It is working to create a culture of co-operation among different people and countries to counteract the present economic system. 100,00 people are expected to attend. The Mayor of Porto Alegre says "We in Brazil are giving life to a new social and political contract. Is it possible to create a new kind of relation between state and civil society in a democratic way? A new social pact? A new public ethic? Or is all this a democratic Utopia? We in Brazil believe that, yes, this is possible."

Friday 24th January

Fritjof Capra in "The Hidden Connections: a Science for Sustainable Living" refers to global capitalism as the "new economy", where, he says, capital moves from one option to another in a relentless global search for investment opportunities. "The new global capitalism has threatened and destroyed local communities around the world; now, with the pursuit of an ill-conceived biotechnology, it has invaded the sanctity of life by attempting to turn diversity into monoculture, ecology into engineering and life itself into a commodity."
"The so-called 'global market' is really a network of machines programmed according to the fundamental principle that money-making should take precedence over human rights, democracy, environmental protection, or any other value. However, the same electronic networks of financial and informational flows could have other values built into them. The critical issue is not technology, but politics."

Saturday 25th January

"We need to teach our children the fundamental facts of life - that one species' waste is another species' food; that matter cycles continually through the web of life; that the energy driving the ecological cycles flows from the sun; that diversity ensures resilience; that life, from its beginning more than 3 billion years ago, did not take over the planet by combat, but by networking." Capra believes that the rise of global capitalism and the creation of sustainable communities are currently on a collision course. However, human values can change; they are not natural laws. The issue is not technology, but politics and leadership. "The great challenge of the 21st century will be to change the value system underlying the global economy, so as to make it compatible with the demands of human dignity and ecological sustainability."

Sunday 26th January

O God our Father, the fountain of love, power and justice, the God who cares, particularly for the least, the most suffering and the poorest among us.
O God, Lord of creation, grant us today your guidance and wisdom so that we may see the human predicament for what it is.
Give us courage and obedience so that we may follow you completely.
Help us, Lord, to bear witness to the cross of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is the reason for hope, and in whose name we pray. Amen.

(Koson Srisang, Thailand)

Monday 27th January

The collapsed nuclear power generator British Energy has been awarded a further 26 million of public money to keep it afloat. Yet BP has calculated that if we put solar PV cells on all available roofs and facades, we could generate far more electricity than the country uses. Thus, if we put solar rooftiles, available today, on just 10% of British roofs, we could shut down every nuclear plant in the country. Comments Dr. Jeremy Leggett of Solar Century: "Continuing to pour hundreds of millions into an old, failed technology which is environmentally unsound, while renewable energy technologies attract only a few tens of millions in support, cannot be a sound basis for ensuring national security, security of supply and leadership in the international fight against global warming."

Tuesday 28th January.

A new study by the Royal Society on the management of nuclear waste says "There is a serious and urgent problem of how to manage and dispose of the legacy of 50 years of nuclear waste production by the nuclear weapons programme and the civilian nuclear industry." The report concludes: "It is vital that the UK adopts the best available technologies to ensure the safest possible management of waste, and invests in the development of technologies for waste types for which there is currently no proven treatment. The UK has lost much of its expertise in the research needed to find solutions. There has been a failure to recognize that the management, decommissioning and clean-up of radioactive waste require the same focus on research and innovation as the original programme to develop the nuclear industry." Are we going to leave this problem to our children's children - as an earlier generation left it to theirs?

Wednesday 29th January

300 solar-powered bus shelters are shortly to be installed throughout Plymouth - the world's largest installation of solar bus shelters. The technology allows them to convert low levels of light into electricity and to be illuminated automatically at dusk. The City Council comments: "This project addresses both environmental and safety issues for public transport users. The solar shelters provide us with an environmentally-friendly and safe level of lighting."

Thursday 30th January

Electric trams traditionally require overhead wires. Now John Parry Associates have developed a cheaper tram which collects electricity when it stops to pick up passengers and stores the energy in a spinning flywheel. The tram is no bigger than a bus, creates no local emissions, needs no poles or wires and offers a smooth and gentle ride. It will shortly be carrying passengers between Stourbridge Junction and the town itself. For further details ring 01384 569171 or fax 01384 637753 or e-mail or visit

Friday 31st January

The House of Commons and its staff now recycle all their paper waste to a mill in Kent, then buy back the same weight in 100% recycled paper. This initiative, Local Paper for London, embraces over 500 organisations which save about 20% on their paper bill by reducing paper consumption and having their waste paper collected at little or no cost. This represents 3,900 tonnes diverted from landfill - enough to fill 100 double-decker buses and save 66,000 trees from felling. For the Local Paper for London advice line, ring 020 8404 4884 or e-mail

Sources include:

BBC Wildlife.
Greenpeace Business.
Green Futures.
Small World (ITDG).
Globalisation: Unravelling the New Capitalism by Peter Heslam (Grove Books)

For further information and prayer request please email:

or 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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