Christian Ecology Link's Home Page Home   What's on?    Ideas    About CEL    Resources    Sustainable Transport    Magazine    Links    Tourism    GMOs    Climate Change    ChurchLink    News    Search    Sitemap    email CEL


March 2003

         "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God".


"God could do his work on earth without us, but he chooses not to because he wants it to be a team effort. Does that mean that if you and I do not make ourselves available to him, then some things might just not get done? I wonder.

(Selwyn Hughes)

Saturday 1st March

At this eleventh hour for the prospects of peace in the Middle East, pray for unity among all who are working for a UN solution to the problem of disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Pray for agreement among all nations on the absolute necessity of upholding the rule of law in international relations.

Sunday 2nd March

God of all grace, call to the nations of the earth to cease from strife, that all may join to fight not one another but their common foes of want and ignorance, disease and sin.
Lead back humankind out of the way of death into the way of life; and from destruction to the building up of a new world of righteousness and peace, of liberty and joy.
End the dark night of lies and cruelty: bring in the dawn of mercy and truth.

(Week of Prayer for World Peace)

Monday 3rd March

Today marks the beginning of Fair Trade Fortnight, when the new international FAIRTRADE mark will enable customers to choose fair-traded products with confidence, so guaranteeing a better deal for farmers everywhere. For more information write to the Fairtrade Foundation, Suite 204, 16 Baldwins Gardens, London EC1N 7RJ or ring 020 7405 5942 or email:

Tuesday 4th March

In order to feed Britain's appetite for all-year-round vegetables, vast areas of the Spanish province of Murcia, the driest place in Europe, have been covered with polytunnels for tomatoes and lettuces, using irreplaceable water from underground aquifers. The Government's stated policy is to stop the expansion of irrigated land because of water shortages and depleted aquifers, but in Murcia an estimated 5,000-10,000 hectares of new illegally-irrigated plots are created each year.

Wednesday 5th March

Around the Ebro delta in north-east Spain 80% of the economy is dependent on the river for rice-growing, fishing and transportation. Yet the Spanish National Hydrological Plan (SNHP) involves the construction of many dams and aqueducts to transport water from the Ebro to dry provinces such as Murcia. The result is serious conflict between the two regions - typical of what is happening throughout the Mediterranean region. Could this be a foretaste of future conflicts in other areas? Pray that the Christian message of our common inheritance in God's world may be proclaimed everywhere.

Thursday 6th March

"We will only know the worth of water when the well is dry" (Benjamin Franklin). A UN Food & Agriculture Organisation report quotes a study comparing popular brands of bottled water: the study showed that none of them were in any way superior to New York tap water.

However, commercial water-takers in Ontario hold permits allowing them to drain up to 11 billion litres a year from the province's aquifers: bottled water is indeed a huge industry. But last November a court in Ontario ruled that commercial water-taking comes under the control of planning laws. Will Britain learn the lesson here before vast new areas are concreted over for housing and industrial use?

Friday 7th March

On average, each person in China consumes 2 litres of bottled water a year: in the USA the figure is 45 litres and in France 111 litres. The Chinese market for bottled water is projected to grow by 150% in 5 years. Both Perrier (owned by Nestle) and Evian (owned by Danone) have opened new plants in China. The Nestle plant in Shanghai has an annual production capacity of 100 million bottles of water but, given the pressure on water tables in northern China, it is uncertain where the water will come from. Drinking water used to be a basic right: now it has become a commodity to be traded, like coffee and sugar.

Saturday 8th March

The UN estimates that 1.1 billion people have no access to safe drinking water. In Busoga and Luwero provinces in Uganda, the Busoga Trust, working with the Church of Uganda, has since 1982 completed over 950 wells, protected springs and boreholes. With an average of 500 people using each source, this means clean water for over 475,000 rural people. Each water source is owned by a local committee which provides the local materials: the Trust provides the pumps. Each new well costs 2,000, so that 4 provides each person with clean water. For more information write to The Busoga Trust, Margaret Pattens, Eastcheap, London EC3M 1HS or ring 020 7283 2304 or email: or visit

Sunday 9th March

Dear God, thank you for the rain -
For the rain that runs and trickles down the window and makes patterns on the glass;
For the rain that makes the crops and flowers grow and gives us water to drink.
Thank you for the rain which makes big puddles in which we jump.
Dear God, thank you for the rain,
And please take care of people who don't have enough rain and water to drink and must go many miles to get it.

(Virginia Salmon)

Monday 10th March

While illegal logging continues to destroy the world's rainforests, proposed new EU rules would outlaw the import of timber that has been illegally sourced. 60% of all timber sold in Britain has been illegally felled, often from land stolen from indigenous peoples. A vigorous postcard campaign could persuade our Government to support this legislation. For details call Freephone 0808 800 1111 or visit

Tuesday 11th March

Several UN reports have shown how the tropical timber trade is fuelling armed conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Congo. Next month African governments and donor agencies will meet at the AFLEG conference to tackle the issues of conflict timber and illegal logging. One aim is to strengthen the involvement of African civil society in the forestry debate; another is to improve law enforcement through the promotion of independent monitoring and increased transparency. Publication of uncensored economic audits and acceptance of independent field investigations into forest concessions are pre-conditions for sustainable forestry. Pray for the success of this conference and for the provision of the money needed to monitor any resulting agreements. For details contact:

Wednesday 12th March

A report from FERN (Forest & EU Resource Network) and the Royal Institute of International Affairs finds that over E1.2 billion-worth of illegally-sourced timber is imported annually into the EU. It calls for new EU legislation, bilateral agreements between produce countries and the EU, support for such countries in developing licensing systems as proof of legality, improved regulation of timber trade finances and for money-laundering legislation to cover forest crime and to alert banks and insurance companies to suspect timber firms. The full report and a summary can be seen at

Thursday 13th March

According to FoE, 20-30% of timber sourced from Russia is illegally cut and sold. Russia's scientific reserves, the zapovedniks, represent 40% of the world's scientific reserves, but two years ago the Forest Department responsible for them was closed down and the responsibility was passed to the Ministry of Natural Resources - a department dedicated to resource exploitation. In 1996 the World Bank and UN provided a $20 million environmental protection fund which however was used to open high-profile reserves for eco-tourism and sustainable hunting. Yet, according Vladimir Mosolov, deputy director of the Kronotsky zapovednik in Kamchatka "Ecotourism will only destroy the Russian system of reserves. What has to be supported are protection activities, not the infrastructure of ecotourism."

Friday 14th March

A study of fertile pockets of Amazonian rainforest known as terra preta by Bruno Glaser of the University of Bayreuth has found (according to a Horizon programme) that the land is rich in charcoal. Archaeologist Bill Woods of Illinois University has mapped many prehistoric sites on terra preta along Brazil's Tapajos River. It is believed that this fertile land was the site of the thriving civilization reported in 1542 by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Orellana, described by him as El Dorado. What he described was never seen again: it is thought that the Indians succumbed to European diseases not previously encountered. The programme concluded: "Today scientists are searching for the biological cocktail that makes barren earth productive. If they can recreate the Amerindians' terra preta, then a legacy more precious than the gold the Conquistadors sought could spare the rainforest from destruction and help feed people across the developing world."

Saturday 15th March

Deforestation in Indonesia continues at a rate of 2.4 million hectares a year - the highest national rate in the world - of which 80% is estimated to be illegal logging. FoE has identified Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) as a buyer of illegally-sourced timber in Sumatra. Slough-based David John is one of the UK buyers from APP. Also, evidence has emerged that APRIL, an Indonesian paper manufacturer, is buying illegal timber which, in turn, is sold to UK paper merchants including Ovenden Papers of Epping, Rosefox of Preston, Frederick Johnson of Enfield and the South Wales Paper Co. of Barry. FoE comments: "UK paper merchants are fully aware of the impacts of APP and APRIL's activities. By continuing to do business with them they are supporting the destruction of the most endangered rainforest in the world and inflicting untold damage on local communities."

Sunday 16th March

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111.10) Father god, teach us to use your gifts of inventiveness in the service of your created world, acknowledging you as the source and inspiration of all wisdom and strength. Amen.

Monday 17th March

A report by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and the Laboratory of the Government Chemist has indicated that GM oilseed rape cannot be grown in the UK without massive contamination of non-GM and organic rape. According to the Independent, the Government sought to "bury" it by publishing it, in a heavily-edited summary, on Christmas Eve, the only day in the year when no newspapers are prepared. The report is available on the web at:

Tuesday 18th March

The Chair of the GM Public Debate Steering Board, Professor Grant, has attacked the Government over lack of funding for the debate and called for a postponement until May, with a report following at the end of September. Last October an NOP survey found that 57% of the public did not want the Government to allow GM crops to be grown commercially, while the Grocer magazine found that 58% of readers would avoid products containing GM ingredients.

Wednesday 19th March

As food shortages threaten 14 million people in Ethiopia, Dr. Tewolde Egziabher, head of Ethiopia's Environmental Protection Agency, is reported as saying: "The claims of the biotech industry that Africa's food problems would be solved by GM are rubbish. They are assuming biotechnology would increase agricultural production, but data released by the US Department of Agriculture show that, if anything, there has been a depression in yields grown." He believes that protecting Ethiopia from famine in the long term requires improving their capacity to transport and store grains when harvests are good. (Perhaps Joseph could have taught us something here - ed.)

Thursday 20th March

FoE's Factory Watch website, which exposed sources of factory pollution, has now closed, as the Environment Agency has taken up a watchdog role on its own website ( According to FoE's league tables, accessible at , the chlorine industry, specifically Ineos Chlor of Runcorn, still tops the list of UK polluters.

Friday 21st March

In 1984, at Bhopal, a chemical explosion at a Union Carbide factory killed 8,000 people while another 200,000 + survivors are still chronically ill. Two hundred of them, all women, protested outside the local HQ of Dow Chemicals, the successors of Union Carbide, demanding that the survivors receive economic rehabilitation, long-term health care and clean drinking water, and that Dow should clean up the factory and face criminal charges in the Bhopal district court. Dow responded by suing the women for damages after a meeting with one of their employees. Dow's operations span 170 countries with annual sales of over $30 billion. It is the world's biggest chemical company and manufactures Agent Orange, Dursban (a pesticide) and asbestos, all highly restricted or banned in the USA. Dow has recently withdrawn charges against the women but has yet to assume any responsibility for the disaster.

Saturday 22nd March

As crude oil from the sunken Prestige tanker continues to wash up on the Spanish coast, Greenpeace has condemned new EU rules as inadequate. It calls for:
  • Unlimited corporate liability and full compensation for damage incurred
  • A ban on single-hulled tankers carrying hazardous cargoes
  • Exclusion of ecologically-sensitive areas from shipping routes.
"By calling on the International Maritime Organisation to initiate the phase-out of single-hulled tankers . . . the EU is shifting responsibility rather than taking action itself."

Sunday 23rd March

Father, we have not been good stewards of the world that you have given us to tend. We confess and repent of all the ways in which we have misused your creation. Teach us how to care for it with wisdom, compassion and dignity, and to pass on to our children a world that is in some degree better for our having lived in it.

Monday 24th March

NATO navies are testing a submarine detection system called Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS). Research has shown that:
  • Humans can stand sounds in the air up to 120 decibels, but LFAS reaches 240 decibels
  • At a distance of 300 miles LFAS still reaches 140 decibels
  • Whales can be adversely affected by sounds as low as 110 decibels
  • At 180 decibels a whale's eardrums can explode
  • A Navy diver exposed to LFAS for only 12 minutes experienced dizziness and had to be hospitalized
  • Mass beachings of whales exposed to LFAS occurred in Greece (1996), the Bahamas (2000) and the Canaries (2002). Post-mortem examinations showed extreme auditory trauma
  • After LFAS tests in Hawaii in 1998, marine scientists found abandoned and distressed whale and dolphin calves, including those of humpbacks.
For further details write to the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society at Brookfield House, 38 St Paul Street, Chippenham, Wilts. SN15 1LY or ring 0870 870 0027 or email: or visit:

Tuesday 25th March

A federal US judge has issued a permanent injunction against testing LFAS along the Californian coast where gray whales regularly migrate. The plaintiffs were the Hawaiian County Green Party, Australians for Animals, Stop LFAS Worldwide Network, Channel Isles Animal Protection Association and Sea Sanctuary Inc. This coalition is now drafting a petition aimed at returning gray whales to the endangered species list. (Is it only gray whales that need this protection? - ed.)

Wednesday 26th March

While Belgium has announced the phasing-out of its seven nuclear power stations between 2015 and 2025 (even though they account for 57% of its energy supply), the British Government has given 650 million of taxpayers' money to rescue British Energy, despite the fact that closure of BE's nuclear power stations could relieve the 25% over-capacity of our energy supply and would focus efforts to develop renewable alternatives. Greenpeace and Ecotricity have taken the matter to the European Court of Justice as an infringement of European competition law.

Thursday 27th March

The Government's Performance & Innovation Unit (PIU) in its 2002 Energy Review modeled two non-nuclear scenarios which would achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions. The Energy Saving Trust has spelt out the range of measures that could achieve this, such as the use of bio-ethanol in petrol, a tightening of the voluntary agreement on fuel efficiency in new vehicles and a greater emphasis on Combined Heat & Power plants. Finally, the ease with which Greenpeace activists broke into Sizewell in January is a reminder of the terrifying vulnerability of nuclear plants as compared with the widely-dispersed sources of renewable energy.

Friday 28th March

The Government's Aviation White Paper forecast that by 2030 UK air passenger numbers would reach 500 million a year, compared with the current 320 million. This would require a new airport the size of Stansted every year for 30 years - or six new airports the size of Heathrow. Yet last August Mexican farmers defeated plans for a $2.3 billion airport east of Mexico City that would have covered 10,000 acres and 13 villages. Greenskies Network (accessible at links organizations concerned to reduce airport noise and cut the industry's growing contribution to climate change.

Saturday 29th March

Today sees the Climate Change March on London. It begins at the ExxonMobil headquarters in Leatherhead, then forms a rally at 3.30 at the Imperial War Museum and continues to the US Embassy in London, where an End of the World Party begins at 5.30. For more details ring 020 8855 3327 or email:

Sunday 30th March.

Lord, we pray that all your people, whether they be ministers, scientists or lay people, may be given the strength to witness clearly to the need to care for the world you created. May they speak out courageously on the changes in lifestyle that are needed to protect your creation.

Monday 31st March.

700,000 unwanted cars are abandoned and dumped each year in Britain: that is nearly 2,000 cars a day. New EU regulations will require car manufacturers to take back and dispose of unwanted cars, but the regulations only come into force in 2007. Meanwhile the problem is likely to get worse. Ecosalvage is a team of volunteers working in the Brighton area to recover cars from inaccessible places - though even they might baulk at recovering cars from the foot of Beachy Head. It is a national problem. Therefore the Government could bring in legislation now to enact what otherwise must be postponed, with great harm to the countryside, until 2007.


Earth Matters (FoE).
The Ecologist.
Greenpeace Business.

For further information and prayer request please email:

or write to:
Philip Clarkson Webb
15 Valley View
Tunbridge Wells
Kent TN4 OSY

Copyright © 2003-2007 Philip Clarkson Webb and Christian Ecology Link     email: CEL
Home   What's on?    Ideas    About CEL    Membership    Resources    Sustainable transport    Magazine    Links    GMOs    Prayer guide    ChurchLink    News    New on Website    Sitemap