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"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up . . . And he said: Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly." |
(Luke 18.1-8)" . . . If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven."
Tuesday 1st AprilThe Western way of life is massively dependent on the supply of oil. According to James Woolsey, former director of the American CIA, "Well over two-thirds of the world's remaining oil reserves lie in the Middle East (including the Caspian basin), leaving the rest of the world dependent on the region's collection of predators and vulnerable autocrats. This unwelcome dependence keeps US military forces tied to the Persian Gulf, forces foreign policy compromises and sinks many developing countries into staggering debt as they struggle to pay for expensive dollar-denominated oil with lower-priced commodities and agricultural products. In addition, oil causes environmental conflict. The possibility that greenhouse gases will lead to catastrophic climate change is substantially increased by the 40 million barrels of oil burned every day by vehicles." He argued strongly to the US Congress in favour of alternative energy technologies, saying: "There is no incompatibility between being a hawk and being a green." Will the huge investment required to develop alternative energy come soon enough to forestall further wars to protect oil supplies from the Middle East and the Caspian? Pray about this.
Wednesday 2nd AprilAccording to scientists at Reading University, global oil production will start to decline in or shortly after 2010. This will mark the beginning of a sellers' market when oil production will become the victim of politics: any single large supplier will be able to raise global prices and, as in the 1970s, the first victims will be developing countries. Peter Hain, formerly Minister for Energy, put it like this: "You can't continue . . to just keep erecting security and defence barriers all around you. We have a way of life, a set of consumption patterns, that are going to have to change. We have to recognize that without a major shift in the way we organize ourselves, our pattern of life is simply not sustainable."
Thursday 3rd AprilAccording to Dan Plesch, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, "Replacing oil as the mainstay of our energy policy should be a vital part of winning the struggle against terrorism and would dramatically improve western policy options." Even though the earth's oil resources may last a few more decades, struggles over access and profits between countries and corporations are becoming ever fiercer. Similar struggles are seen within oil-rich countries: in Nigeria, Venezuela, Angola, Indonesia and the Arab sheikhdoms sudden oil wealth has led to corruption, economic decline, political oppression, revolutions and civil war. OPEC's founding father, Juan Alfonzo of Venezuela, has said of the oil boom in his country: "We are drowning in the excrement of the Devil." Current events in and around Iraq demonstrate that a new energy policy based on renewable resources would not only have obvious ecological advantages but be a wise security policy also. Pray that our leaders may soon accept that morality and prudence are both pointing in the same direction.
Friday 4th AprilOil from the Prestige oil tanker has now polluted beaches in Portugal and France as well as in Spain. Fishing is banned in an area of 180 square miles round the wreck and the livelihoods of 90,000 people have been affected. More than 80,000 oiled birds have been found and the corpses of 25 dolphins and minke whale, 4 turtles and a river otter are probable casualties of the disaster. WWF has called on our Government to deny shipping access to delicate marine areas around our coasts. In particular, tankers passing through the Minch on the west coast of Scotland are within a mile of one of the most pristine areas of natural beauty in Western Europe. "If a spill were to affect areas such as this, there would be incalculable consequences for wildlife as well as the livelihoods of remote communities."
Saturday 5th AprilIn response to the 120,000 WWF supporters who signed a petition on the wildlife trade, the Government has announced a public consultation with recommendations for increased prison sentences for wildlife smugglers and increased powers for the police to arrest wildlife criminals. Pray for early legislation to give effect to these proposals.
Sunday 6th AprilO God of earth and altar, bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly leaders falter, our people drift and die.
The walls of gold entomb us, the swords of scorn divide;
Take not thy thunder from us, but take away our pride.
From all that terror teaches, from lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches that comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord.
Monday 7th AprilThe Advertising Standards Agency has rejected complaints from the disposable nappy industry and upheld these statements in an advertisement of the Women's Environmental Network (WEN): " The UK produces about 800,000 tonnes of nappy waste a year; the total national cost of this single-use, limited-customer product is £40 m. a year; " Savings from using real nappies for a first child alone can amount to £600. Real Nappy Week runs all this week and is jointly organized by WEN and the Real Nappy Association. For information contact WEN at PO Box 30626, London E1 1TZ or phone 020 7481 9004 or visit www.wen.org.uk
Tuesday 8th AprilAviation is the fastest-growing source of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, yet tax exemptions and subsidies provide massive support for this growth. Hidden subsidies include:
No VAT on air travel;
Income from duty-free sales;
A level of Air Passenger Duty that fails to cover the external costs of aviation.
Wednesday 9th AprilThe Government's Energy White Paper, published in February, provides a mere £300 million for the development of renewable energy over the next few years. This is less than 1% of planned spending on roads over the next 10 years and only 0.5% of the tax breaks to be given to the aviation industry over the coming decade, yet road transport and aviation are the two fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases.
By contrast, Peter Hain, former Energy Minister, estimates the cost of protecting Middle East oil supplies at $15.25 a barrel. As OECD countries import about 10 million barrels a day from the Persian Gulf, this puts the cost of defending those imports at between $54 billion and $91 billion a year. That is the price we are paying for under-investment in renewable energy. With foresight, it could be otherwise.
Thursday 10th AprilTony Blair, in a speech hosted by the Sustainable Development Commission, declared: "There will be no lasting peace while there is appalling injustice and poverty. There will be no genuine security if the planet is ravaged by climate change." Yet UK emissions of carbon dioxide actually rose during 2002.
He and the Swedish Prime Minister are to present a plan to the EU to get all existing and future members to adopt a target of 60% lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Pray for their success.
Friday 11th AprilAll this weekend the Ethical Consumer World Exhibition is open at Wembley Stadium for visitors to buy or find out more about ethical and environmentally-friendly products and services. Described as "an Aladdin's Cave of organic, ethical and environmentally-friendly options", it features seminars, competitions and prizes, live music, fashion shows, children's entertainments and celebrity guests. For details ring 0800 052 9911 or visit www.ecw2003.org
Saturday 12th AprilA report from the New Economics Foundation entitled "Ghost Town Britain" finds that between 1995 and 2000 the UK lost 20% of its corner shops, high street banks, post offices and pubs - amounting to a total loss of over 30,000 local economic outlets. The Village Rural Shops Association (VIRSA), a charity based in Dorset, has helped more than 800 villages and established about 40 community shops and post offices in England and Wales. It encourages local people to form village shop associations, then to rent or buy premises and to run them themselves. It negotiates funding through the Countryside Agency's Vital Villages scheme or other sources. For details contact VIRSA at Little Keep, Bridport Road, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1SQ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 13th AprilO Lord God, when thou givest to thy servants any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning but the continuing of the same until it be thoroughly finished which yieldeth the true glory, through him that for the finishing of thy work laid down his life, thy Son Jesus Christ.
(Sir Francis Drake)
Monday 14th AprilBritain has declared its first No Take Zone (NTZ), an area of sea where no living natural resources may be taken. It is only 3.3 square kilometers, on the east side of Lundy Island, but English Nature hopes it may start a trend of setting aside areas of sea, both for wildlife benefits and fisheries management. Ten NTZs already exist around islands in the Santa Barbara Channel, California. Potential benefits of NTZs include:
Providing a long-term viable area for fishing;
Increasing the wealth of marine life;
Bringing benefits to the local economy from tourism, diving and research.
Tuesday 15th AprilA record total of 123 dolphins were washed ashore in Devon & Cornwall in the first 6 weeks of 2003. Most suffered from broken beaks or damaged skin - signs of struggling in fishing nets. Experts believe that many more dolphins are killed in this way but never reach land. The Wildlife Trusts have launched a petition calling on the European Commission to stop the slaughter. It may be signed online at www.wildliferush.org
Wednesday 16th AprilThe world's biggest trawler, the 14,055 tonne Atlantic Dawn, was launched in Dublin despite breaking the size limits for fishing fleets laid down by the European Commission: this was dealt with by transferring another supertrawler, the Veronica, to the Panamanian register. The Atlantic Dawn is allowed to fish for 9 months each year in Mauritanian waters, where it can catch in a single month what would take 7,000 local fishermen a year to catch. Its purse seine nets measure 3,600 feet in circumference and 550 ft. in depth - big enough to engulf two Millennium Domes one on top of the other. Its trawl nets are 1,200 ft. across and 96 ft. in height - big enough to span four football fields. The target fish are sardinella, but up to 15% of the catch is incidental - snapper, bream, tuna, turtle, dolphin and shark - which is either thrown back dead or sold on international markets. 251 factory-fishing ships now fish in Mauritanian waters, mainly from the EU, Japan and China. This has led to drastic falls in catches of fish such as octopus and sawfish. When local stocks are depleted, local fishermen are ruined, but the factory-fishing vessels simply move to other fishing grounds.
Thursday 17th AprilToday is an international day of protest against GMOs and GM patents. The British Government intends to proceed with 18 GM crop applications for use in food or animal feed before the public debate reaches its conclusion in September. A new report from Christian Aid entitled "Hunger for Profit: the genetic modification of developing country agriculture" finds that most GM patents are for seeds of herbicide-resistant crops rather than for seeds of higher yielding crops. This reflects the fact that many companies owning seed patents are also producers of herbicides. For more information write to Christian Aid, PO Box 100, London SE1 7RT or phone 020 7620 4444 or visit www.christian-aid.org For details of the day of protest visit www.rds.org.hu/via/17april
Friday 18th April (Good Friday)Lord Jesus, as we dwell on your great love for humankind in treading the path of the cross for our sakes, help us to take up our own crosses in the struggle to protect your beautiful world. Give us strength of purpose and the courage to go on, even when the path ahead seems beset with difficulties.
Saturday 19th AprilAccording to Martin Palmer, secretary-general of the Alliance of Religions & Conservation (ARC), many people criticize the environmental movement for marginalizing poor communities and for its lack of concern for social justice. ARC supports environmental projects run by the world's major faiths and helps local communities to restore, revive or create sacred spaces. An example is the area around St.Paul's, Salford, one of the poorest parishes in the country, which was transformed from a concrete jungle into a living example of the Christian belief that there is a duty to care about the beauty of God's creation. Dr.Palmer believes that, by 2004, $7 trillion-worth of religious investment will shift the majority of its funds into socially-responsible investment, with a central focus on social justice and environmental well-being. For details of ARC phone 0161 248 573 or visit www.arcworld.org
Sunday 20th April (Easter Day)Heavenly Father, Creator of all life on earth, we praise and bless you that you sent your Son to die for us on the Cross and by his resurrection to destroy the power of death and to win for us the hope of everlasting life. Help us to go forward in the confidence that nothing in life or death can separate us from your loving care.
Monday 21st AprilThe Central London Congestion Charge has encouraged serious thinking about traffic management all over Britain. In particular, the 100% discount for vehicles fuelled by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG), electricity and hydrogen, has persuaded many to study these alternative fuels. If all London's taxicabs were converted from diesel to LPG, around 3,000 tonnes less of particulate emissions a year would ease the health hazard to Londoners arising from these emissions. A poll on air quality in 2002 found that 70% of respondents saw air pollution as a serious problem in London. Will other authorities now accept that congestion charges are a legitimate and effective way to improve the urban environment?
Tuesday 22nd AprilToday is Earth Day, when people all over the world meet to send out the message that the planet is precious and perishable, and that we are all responsible for its well-being. For details of events visit www.earthday.net
Wednesday 23rd AprilAldicarb is a highly toxic pesticide used to kill insects and nematodes on crops, and is classified by the World Health Organisation as "extremely hazardous." Yet EU farm ministers, including Britain's Lord Whitty, recently voted to allow its continued use on potatoes, parsnips, carrots, onions and ornamentals. FoE comments: "By keeping this highly toxic substance on the market in the UK, Lord Whitty has put the interests of the pesticide companies above those of consumers and the environment. How can he argue that a pesticide is essential when major retailers such as Tesco and Waitrose have already managed to prohibit its use by their suppliers?"
Thursday 24th AprilSelling services rather than stuff has long been thought to be an effective path to sustainability. The US-based Chemicals Strategy Partnership establishes service contracts between chemical companies and customers in the auto, electronics and aerospace industries. For example, instead of selling solvents, paints and oils to car manufacturers, the partnership arranges for cleaning, painting and lubricating services to be provided direct to the production line. So there is every incentive to use the least quantity of chemical needed to do the job, so reducing the environmental impact without any loss of profit. Likewise, Sainsburys have a service contract with energy supplier RWE: instead of issuing electricity bills, RWE is committed to reducing electricity consumption by 11% over two years through improving the efficiency of Sainsburys' refrigeration, lighting, heating and ventilation. For similar examples visit www.greenalliance.org.uk/Programmes_ServiceInnovation.htm
Friday 25th AprilThree Welsh hill farmers have turned to harvesting the wind as they saw no viable future in farming. Moel Maelogen, with its three wind turbines, is one of many small wind power schemes financed by Triodos, the ethical bank. It provides enough electricity to meet the needs of 2,500 homes. Ideas are in place for a local share issue to enable local people to own the energy they use. For details ring Triodos Bank on 0117 973 9339 or visit www.triodos.co.uk
Saturday 26th AprilBritain's first beverage carton recycling facility has opened at Leslie, Fife. The recycling process rejects the aluminium and polyethylene in cartons. However, since the cartons are made from virgin pulp with long fibres, they can be used to make particularly strong recycled paper. The Liquid Food Carton Manufacturers Association, which organized the initiative, aims to be recycling 20% of all UK cartons by August. The key to success is to find organizations willing to store the cartons and, ideally, to bale them for transport to Fife. For details ring LFCMA at 020 8977 6116 or visit www.drinkscartons.com
Sunday 27th AprilLord of creation, the life we possess is your gift. Teach us to value it and to use it wisely and responsibly, for we have but one life to live, one life in which to serve your Church, to advance your Kingdom and to be of help to others. Show us your purposes for our life and fire us to act.
Monday 28th AprilOf the $1 billion traded each day on international markets, only 20% is traded for real goods: the rest is speculation in currencies to take advantage of fluctuations in exchange rates. The Tobin Tax would be a small charge of 0.1% on all transactions on the international money markets and is designed to curb speculation in currencies. The proceeds would be diverted into projects in the developing world. Canada has led the way in promoting its implementation. France is committed to it once other Europeans agree to do likewise. 147 British MPs have signed a motion in its favour and Chancellor Gordon Brown admits to an open mind on it. The charity War on Want is in the forefront of the campaign to have it adopted. For more information write to them at 37-39 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 OES or visit www.tobintax.org.uk
Tuesday 29th AprilThe 1987 Montreal Protocol was successful, by 1996, in stopping the use of CFCs in developed countries, although several ozone-damaging substances are still used in developing countries. A new agreement, signed by 130 nations in Rome last year, set new targets for developing nations to reach by 2005: " To cut CFCs and halons by half of the 1995/7 average; " To cut the fumigant methyl bromide by 20%; " To cut the solvents carbon tetrachloride and methylchloroform by 50% and 30% respectively. A further target was to cut CFCs, halons and carbon tetrachloride by 85% by 2007 and to phase them out completely by 2010. Concentrations of chlorine in the stratosphere are likely to peak by 2010 and then slowly decline until the ozone layer completely recovers in about 50 years. Praise God for this example of international co-operation and pray that it may be a blueprint for many other such agreements.
Wednesday 30th AprilAmerican TV viewers were startled by an advertisement in which a preayer was read containing the words: "This is a beautiful world I have given you. Take care of it. Do not ruin it." This was followed by pictures of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and arguments against its exploitation for oil. It concluded: "Brought to you by the Sierra Club and the National Council of Churches." May we look forward to similar co-operation between Friends of the Earth (or Greenpeace) and the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland? To many this would be evidence that Christians had something worth saying on the threats facing God's creation.
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